Shadow [Whatever]

Dear Leaders, admit it. The most effective way in training new employees are by assigning them as ‘shadows’ to existing employees in the same position. The new recruit might be there to either replace, be a subordinate or even a manager to the existing employee. The advantages of implementing this shadowing technique are:

  • The existing employee, which nowadays is typically overloaded, gets the assistance s/he needs
  • The company saves cost for professional training, which normally are not so effective if not followed by real world problems
  • The new employee gets the experience, learning, and a new ‘friend’ s/he definitely needs to adapt to the new environment, without being burdened with full responsibility (yet)
  • (In case the existing employee is resigning midway from his/her position) the company gets the replacement right away

When we’re talking about shadows, there are actually 2 different approach with 1 similarity: the shadows are hidden from the outside world, i.e. other organizations doing business with this organization don’t know that these shadows exist.

  1. First approach, which is also commonly done, is putting the shadows as advisors/consultants to the company. This approach is normally used when an organization has to work on a big, complex project like it has never done before, and they don’t want to bother existing employees other than the ones assigned to the project but also don’t want to hire/contract professional consultancy service.
  2. Second approach is putting new employees as shadows of existing ones, the one we’re discussing in this post.

I might not be a good example when it comes to career path, but my many experiences have somehow enriched me to share. Please note that I’m a project manager, basically an individual contributor to a company, i.e. we work on our own with our own style at our own pace (hence we’re an ‘artist’ to our customer), without hierarchical subordinates.

  • I’ve been in a company where in my first months I was assigned as a ‘co-PM’ to other PM.
  • I’ve been in a company where I shadowed my assistant in my first couple of months before I was able to go on my own.
  • I’ve been in a company where I was ‘tried and tested’ to handle my own projects, closely controlled by my manager, followed by several formal training.

Out of all 3 experiences, I can say that all methods are good, depending on the nature of the company. If the industry allows, then training is the most constructive way to sustain and develop the employees. However, the quicker way to ‘use’ the new employee will be the shadowing technique because it is super hands-on.

*Confession: the title’s been there for more than a month now, but I was too lazy to update the post even though it’s been on my mind ever since. The original title is ‘Shadow Project Manager’ until I realized that this is applicable for all positions.*
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on honeymoon period

As I reached the end of my first month in the new company (yes, again), I came to my boss and asked if he can assign me with something. The problem is I had become idle while others were very busy. I’d even felt uncomfortable leaving the office at 5 PM when everyone else stayed until late.

I talked to a senior about my idleness and he only responded with: “Just enjoy your honeymoon period.”

Recalling my experience, it’s been more than 4 years since my last honeymoon period with a company. I didn’t have one in the previous company I worked for, since the nature of the business is totally different: the previous company’s business is a highly competitive business with high-paced development, while the current one is a more long-term business with slower-paced development. I like working for both, but I think the latter suits me more in the sense that I get to have more time for play (I felt like I had no life with the highly competitive business).

Honeymoon period is actually important, since it enables people to observe and adapt to the new environment. The ideal time for honeymoon period varies depending on the pace and complexity of work. The important things are to get to know people whom you’re going to work with, and the process to make you succeed in the work. Just remember that no company is dumb enough to let its employee idle forever, especially when it’s still paying his/her monthly salary.

honeymoon

Happy honeymoon to myself!

September 2014 quick update

image from http://ithrivethere.com
image from http://ithrivethere.com

So that’s how I look lately, with overloaded works (well, imagine the person in the picture is me, a woman, instead of a guy). Never-ending meetings, reporting, phone calls, with additional “travel agent” to arrange overseas customer visit that I didn’t even get to read other’s blogs. 😦

I’m gonna off WordPress for another while, I guess.. Ciao. *with a heavy heart* (Will update eventually, especially on the food reviews.)

to girls: how to survive in a male-dominated field

In my case: out of 30 engineers-to-be in class, only I was the girl (image taken from http://careergirlnetwork.com)
In my case: out of 30 engineers-to-be in class, only I was the girl (image taken from http://careergirlnetwork.com)

Confession: I did something crazy last weekend – I spent the whole Saturday and Sunday going to Bandung with my 2 male best friends. (Don’t get me wrong here, they’re like brothers to me and they take care of me as much as brothers will do to their sister.) During the 2 days, we had 2 other girls joining us and both gasped with surprise when they heard that I studied electrical engineering with the 2 guys.

So how did I survive in a male-dominated field? (This will also answer some girls’ questions on how to survive there.)

  1. Be some kind of a hybrid individual: be nice and polite when you’re with girls and be careless when you’re with guys. This will work perfectly, trust me. I’ve been doing this thing for the last 9 years. One thing to remember about this tip is to balance the two – you have to get close to girls as much as to guys, otherwise the girls will start talking about you behind your back. Nobody wants that. Ewh.
  2. Be blunt when speaking. This is the easiest and the hardest part for me. I’ve always been a blunt one since I was in high school (all-girl high school, remember?) that sometimes I forget that I’m surrounded by normal, soft-hearted girls who can’t take blunt words easily. The thing is, guys don’t understand codes and signs girls normally make, so speaking things directly is always the best choice.
  3. Understand guys’ ways of thinking: the key is to be logical most of the time. I know it’s hard for girls to do, even I fail sometimes (specifically during ‘that’ time of the month, doh), but this is the way to get guys to respect you. The easiest way to learn guys’ ways of thinking is by playing games with them – they will become themselves when playing games.
  4. Be ambitious at work. Not to tackle people on your way to success – that’s not ambitious, that’s mean, but to know what you’re actually doing (this also means: never mix up personal and professional matters), where you’re going, and where you want yourself to be next. Pssst.. they will also be very happy and proud if you ask them for career advice. Don’t be too much in this, though..
  5. Keep yourself up to date with politics and economic news. Because those are the topics they will most likely discuss with you during coffee breaks. They like to keep topics about ladies and sports to themselves, but they will discuss about politics and economic with you. Don’t forget office politics as well. πŸ˜‰ I know it’s hard for you ladies to keep your mouth from talking about everything you know, but it’s better to be able to control your mouth when speaking about others. Guys like gossip, but not too much.
  6. Be able to make decisions without hurting their ego. I often find girls answering “up to you” when guys ask them about where to go or what to do now. Don’t do that so often. To survive male-dominated world, you should be able to make your own decisions, with note of not hurting their ego. They’re still guys, so say your decision and ask their opinion about it. They like to feel superior and let them be, without making ourselves inferior.

Hope this helps. I will continue the list if I have something more in mind. πŸ™‚

about being an entrepreneur

Image
entrepreneur

I gotta tell people for the billionth time that when I was younger and so naive, it was almost as if my future was drawn for me, beautifully, by my parents and all older people in the family (thank God (?) I don’t have older siblings). I was meant to graduate college, continue abroad for a post-grad degree, work for 5-10 years before I’d finally start my own company.

Only now, after almost 2 years of working if summed up (things don’t always happen the way they’re planned), I realized that people are destined differently. Everyone CAN be an entrepreneur, but it’s really a choice, and if everyone’s becoming an entrepreneur, who’s gonna help him run the company?

Over the years I’d realized that I’m more of the safe player type, rather than the risk taker. It takes a huge-hearted risk taker to be a successful entrepreneur. I’ve read some entrepreneurs’ success stories and almost all of them have had their down times. Failures are inevitable when it comes to business. It’s not like I won’t be able to endure all the failures – I’m pretty sure I’m still tough enough for that, it’s the fact that I’ll need to spend all my time for work that’s the hardest. Being a safe player, I like to have a balanced, peaceful life where I can totally separate work from life, which I wouldn’t be able to do if I were an entrepreneur.

I don’t really know what the future holds for me. For now, being an entrepreneur is like a really faraway dream. I’m not saying that I’m not going to be one, but I’m just not thinking about being one at the moment. I’m still new in a career’s life and I need to learn a lot from my seniors. Who knows one day I might be inspired to finally start my own business, once I’m confident that I have enough skills and networks, and find someone who’s willing to fund the business.

about marriage

I’m 26 this year and the questions about marriage have become more frequent than before. Normally I will respond with either one of these 3 statements:

  • My religion doesn’t allow divorce, hence marriage truly is a once-in-a-lifetime which you cannot erase and rewind that easily. That’s why I don’t want to hurry and regret later. (Even though in practice, many people cheat religion in order to divorce.) Talking with religious people, they usually cannot argue to this statement.
  • I’m not ready to take the huge responsibility of being in a marriage, not to mention being a mom, housewife and career-woman at the same time. It’s too difficult and I don’t want seeing others staring at me judgmentally because I cannot raise my kids right.
  • My parents also got married at the age of >26 y.o and they did just fine. (Maybe that’s also the reason they don’t hurry me like other parents do – people tend to compare their kids to themselves; the earlier they got married, the earlier they’d expect their kids to get married.)

I don’t know what’s going on with people, but the trend now (like some of my friends also do) is to get married at a young age, postpone being pregnant and giving birth to baby(es) because they simply don’t have enough money to raise kids and sometimes (ehm, ok, most of the time) they don’t even own a house and/or a car. I know I’m setting a high standard for myself, but I just can’t imagine sharing the same roof with my parents (or my soon-to-be spouse’s parents) after I get married. I agree to live real close to them, but just not under the same roof. Please.

wedding
wedding

The preference of getting married is totally subjective and I don’t know why it’s almost generalized here. People see women aged more than 30 y.o and still single as the leftovers without considering those who get married early and left widowed at the age of less than 25 y.o.

Most of all, I want to be able to achieve things on my own before settling down in a marriage. It’s not like I couldn’t achieve them once I’m married like some psychologists suggested (they said it’s better for women to get married at the age of 26 if we want to have 2 or more kids because their biological clock is ticking and the risk of giving birth at the age of 35 quadruples the risk of down-syndrome), but I simply want to dedicate myself to the family more once I’m married. After all the achievements are made, then maybe I’ll settle down for marriage. Or maybe I’m just waiting for the right guy to come. πŸ˜›

about suitable career

A #Leo Suitable Careers: Actor,Cardiologist,Goldsmith or Jeweller,Publicist,Theatrical Agent,Sales Consultant,CEO, Athlete,and Director.

A #Leo Suitable Careers: Educator,Movie maker,Park Ranger, Hairstylist,Professor, Principal,Publicist, Artist,and Exhibitor.

@ZodiacFacts on Twitter

It’s no secret that I like to relate things to types: zodiac, blood type, body shape, and even personality type. For things like career, can one actually decide based on the star sign? I don’t think so.

Firstly, someone’s choice of career is highly determined by his family background. Why did I (and some other family members from my mother’s side) choose electrical engineering? It’s because of my grandfather used to have this electronics repair shop at his house. A kid tends to see and follow older family members. He will look at his parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and older cousins growing up, picking the most interesting job they have, and make it his dream job. Of course, there are other aspects too, but family is the most influencing factor.

Secondly, educational background and passion are other things to influence career choice. Can someone who studies accounting at school work as a doctor? No. Whether we are aware or not, we “choose” our job the time we enrolled for college. (Thankfully my parents made me aware of it, so I wasn’t at all “lost”.) Your job doesn’t necessarily have to be in line with your major; most friends I know are working totally different jobs to their major choice, but all of which are their passion. It’s possible, but again your first job hunting (you can see my post about first job here) will be much easier if you stay in line with your major and will most likely determine your next jobs (if you don’t want to be considered as a fresh graduate over and over again).

Lastly, social environment is also a huge factor. What is the highest demand (which pay you highest) in the market? There is always a trend and you better be aware of it. For example, in the electrical engineering industry, in late 1980 to the 1990s the highest demand will be for engineers, because at the moment there are not many people taking engineering. In the next decade, after more people take engineering, the number of sales people decreased significantly that companies would look for sales. This kind of trend is important to decide your career choice.

Hence, I don’t think one’s career can be deemed suitable based on zodiac, though the success rate of someone working on the “suitable career” for his zodiac might be higher than someone who’s not. There’s no scientific evidence for this. People should pick their career path based on logical thinking rather than superstitious things like zodiac.