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.*
Advertisements

on sharing

Being an introvert when I was at school (I’m best described as an ambivert today), you can always be certain that I wasn’t one of those students who would proactively ask and answer the teachers in class. Of course, the bigger things like me presenting in front of class are more unlikely to happen.

I had always felt like I was the most inactive student in class until I got into college, where apparently students from other schools were even more inactive than me, and I became one of the most active students then. One thing that I’ve been facing in many organizations since my college time is sharing in events. The skill of sharing is one of the life survival skills in any organization. I’m not an expert myself, but there are certain things that you must master to be a good sharer/speaker:

  1. Be confident. You’re the one who understands the matter best out of all the people in the room.
  2. Be prepared. Prepare the meeting agenda, know what points are to be presented and to which depth.
  3. Know your audience and deliver the contents with their capabilities/expertise.
  4. Speak at the correct speed. That is, not too fast nor too slow.

Anyone want to add some points?

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 leaving things behind

I bumped into a relative last weekend in a mall (yeah, where else in Jakarta can you spend your weekend comfortably??) and I noticed that he has lost some part of his hair (his head hair, not the other hair). When I asked what happened, if maybe he’s been using the wrong hair products, he only replied with a weak tone: many things are going on at work lately, and I might have been thinking too much about it. I didn’t say anything to respond to that expression (well, seeing that he seemed so depressed and so on), other than “oooh.. that’s bad” as an expression of sympathy at that moment, but I have something else in mind.

Image
Work-life integration can lead to depression *at least for me 😛

In my relatively short working period, I’ve worked for 3 different companies. It’s not something to be proud of – I look a lot like a job-hopper and it’s not good for my image, but at least I learned something from the companies. The first company that I worked for was a multinational company, where the people tend to be very competitive. In short, one can even knock his friends down in order to be the best. Despite the competitiveness, I learned about professionalism from there. Yes, it’s true that people step on your head to reach the top, but they do that professionally (at least for most of them). We had a work-life balance there. Outside of work, we can be friends and laugh together, forgetting what’s happening at work. I believe it’s a good working environment, where I could leave all things work behind and not think a bit about it at home.

The second company that I worked for was a 180 degrees of the first. It was a local company, where work-life integration is the principle. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate or blame the company or the management. It’s the industry that shapes it. In that particular industry, every second matters and working there means you have to be part of the rush. Not only after office hour, but also on the weekend you have to deal with work. The competition inside is much less, but the pressure from outside is much much more. Given the condition that I’ve worked for the first company, I couldn’t stand working there for long.

In my opinion, most local companies in Indonesia are the typical “second company”. We are moving toward Singapore, where people are forced to be workaholics. As I know it, that relative is also working for a local company, so maybe the “work-life integration” where it’s impossible for you to leave things behind outside of office hour is the case. If the company owners and management are not changing their mindset about work, then there will be more and more “relatives” who become bald and depressed. 😦 Hope it’s not gonna happen.

I’m not going to comment about the third, because I just started it. Gonna write another post about it in maybe 2-3 years. 🙂

expectation

In every job interview, the human resource personnel will surely ask you this one thing: what is your expectation when applying for this job? [The sentence can vary but the meaning is that.]

I never knew the answer to that question until now:

  1. To be able to do the things I love everyday (because you’re dealing with your job everyday)
  2. To get what I deserve after I do what I have to do, without any reminder
  3. To get support from all the clients I’m working with, in order to make all my work go smooth

Only now that I realize that the work condition is not always as good as I can get. I’ve been in a better company, and now that I’m in a worse one, I feel like everything is not paid properly.