Today, the world as we know it is still battling the dreadful COVID-19 pandemic. The global workforce is indisputably affected by massive layoffs as businesses were forced to downsize or fold up due to the economic damage caused by lockdowns and other measures to contain the pandemic. Not only are we battling an unseen enemy, the working communities are battling to keep their jobs! Unemployment worries are real. Were you one of the many who have been laid off since the pandemic hit? If you’ve lost your job because someone else could do your job better, perhaps it’s time for you to question why. To stay relevant in today’s cutthroat workplaces, you need to be BRUTAL…
Is Your Workplace A Brutal Place?
During my two-decade experience working in the corporate sector (i.e. banking, investment holding, property development, manufacturing and manpower services), I had the privilege to serve over 50 top corporate figures and prominent business owners, who were mostly board members of public listed companies. I’ve observed how bosses think, and what made them ticked. I’ve undergone four hostile management buyouts in one sitting. Manpower hiring and firing was part of my job scope then.
Let’s face it, most workplaces are brutal places. It’s a dog-eat-dog world as competition is rife in the workplaces. So how do you stay relevant and keep ahead of your competition? In my humble opinion, the B-R-U-T-A-L approach might be one of the many principles you can adopt to secure your job. It stands for: Bloom, Respect, Unite, Trust, Adapt and Learn.
Let’s break down these attributes into a nugget each :-
1. Bloom Where You Are Planted
Understandably, many of us may still be working from home or opt to do so nowadays. Regardless of where your physical office is, bloom where you are. Strive to give and do your best in your given responsibilities. Going beyond your normal scope of work when the situation warrants it will do wonders for career advancement.
Respect the work that you’ve never done before.jason fried, American entrepreneur and co-author of the international bestseller “rework“
There will be times when your superior or employer [i.e. supervisor, manager, higher management, or boss(es)] requires some urgent work outside your scope of work to be done. No matter how insignificant or trivial it may appear to you, just do it. Remember Nike’s slogan? And do it willingly not grudgingly. Because not only bad news travels fast, your negative vibes do too. In the first place, by them asking you for help means they trust you enough to do the job. Even if you’re whining why you’re doing someone else’s job, this really is putting a feather in your cap. You’ll learn new lessons which otherwise would not have been possible. Show them that you can deliver the given tasks and are willing to take on new responsibilities. And guess who’ll benefit when appraisal time comes?
2. Respect Is Earned, Not Forced
You and I know this well… If you want to be respected, you ought to start respecting others at work. Simply put, a tit for tat. Irrespective of where your position is in the organisational hierarchy, if you force others to respect you, it will not stick for too long.
What’s worse than forced respect is feigned respect, or one that is given obsequiously by others. Either does not bode well for a healthy, open and honest working relationship. When the relationship turns sour at a later juncture, it will only be a lose-lose-lose (you-peers-company) situation that will put a dent to mutual respect, and affect work productivity. I believe to earn respect, one needs to start by being humble. Be quick to admit you’re wrong and say ‘sorry’. Be quicker to say ‘thank you’ for every good deed or word you receive. Needless to say, ‘please’ is the magic word you should use more often. These oft-underused pleasantries will earn you the respect you deserve, not by force but by design.
3. Unite, Not Divide
“United we stand, provided we fall”… Nah! “United we stand, divided we fall” should be the clarion call for every organisation. And it starts with one person: you. Yes, you. No matter which department you work in or what position you hold, intra-department and inter-department teamwork or unity, is key to any organisation’s overall success. You may be the only individual working in your department (especially IT, or Accounts) but that does not preclude you from being a team player. No man or woman is an island. T-E-A-M simply means ‘Together Everyone Achieves More’.
One of the most effective ways to inculcate teamwork is to avoid unhealthy office gossips and politics. Better still, don’t be the fodder for chatter. Instead, why not use those precious idle times to bolster team spirit by having group activities such as playing board or computer games, sharing cooking, gardening or exercise tips/skills (these are superhot topics during this pandemic era), etc. There’s always more fun when done in a group setting.
4. Trust Is Forged Over Time
Like respect, trust is earned. I remember vividly a bosom friend of mine telling me that she doesn’t trust anyone until they prove to her that they can be trusted. It’s akin to saying one’s guilty until proven innocent. However, I beg to differ. We must first learn to trust people. Give people the benefit of the doubt. If and when the person betrays your trust, then it is justifiable to distrust the person. Likewise, the same principle applies in the workplace. You must be trustworthy to earn the trust from others. Trust is built over time, never overnight. And honesty is the foundation of trust. In any organisation, honesty is always the best policy.
I can attest to the principle of trust. I’ve learnt from my ex-bosses that trust is the number one attribute they looked for in an employee. It is not one’s aptitude as most of us would think so, although that’s essential for a whole other reason. Trust holds a very dear place in bosses’ heart. When you earn your boss’ and colleagues’ trust, your vocation is really your holiday.
5. Adapt To People And The Changes Around You
The only thing that is constant is change. This obviously applies to your work life as well. Work ecosystem such as people, office, work processes, protocols, systems, technologies, gadgets and the like undergo changes all the time. As such, learning to adapt with all these elements as quickly as practicable will be beneficial to your career growth.
In fact, it is more empowering if you are an agent of change. You’re someone who identifies problems or shortcomings in the workplace, and wants to do something about them. By taking remedial or corrective actions, everyone will benefit from the positive changes you’ve sourced and acted upon. That will surely bode well for you in climbing the corporate ladder.
6. Learn To Learn, Unlearn And Relearn
Last but no way the least, be open to learn, unlearn and relearn. If you rely solely on your past academic achievements, I’m afraid you’ll never go far in the brutal (literally) working world. Not unless you’re perfectly happy where you are right now, not wanting anyone or anything to rock your boat.
Otherwise, consider upskilling yourself by learning new soft and hard skills which will add value to your current scope of work. Additionally, be willing to unlearn past lessons that were already obsolete or erroneous in light with current developments. You will benefit much by relearning past lessons or refreshing your forgotten skills which are still relevant and useful in this modern day. It could be a foreign language that you’ve given up years ago. Learning never gets old. You may even share your work-related knowledge and expertise with your colleagues, where relevant. Knowledge is a powerful tool when you share what you know so that collectively everyone moves in the right direction towards greatness.
When The Going Gets Tougher, The BRUTAL Get Going
In all honesty, there is no guarantee for job security. Unfortunately, in the playbook of every employer, no employee is indispensable. Only one person is… your employer. That is the bitter pill we must swallow no matter how many years we’ve served in any organisation. It is indeed brutal.
The only consolation is no one can take away your BRUTAL attributes. No matter where you land in your next career, these intrinsic values that you’ve developed and acquired over time in your career can never lose their lustre. A star will always shine and absolutely nothing can dim its brilliance. And you are that ‘star’.
What If You’re BRUTAL But You’re Not Happy At Work?
Are you already a BRUTAL practitioner at work? If so, kudos to you. BUT you are not happy. If one or more of the following factors are the contributing reason :-
- Overworked and underpaid
- Not appreciated or fairly rewarded
- High staff turnover
- Low staff morale
- Too much gossips and office politics
- No teamwork
- Boss is not listening or always not around
- All work and no play
- No work SOPs or SOPs are outdated
- You’re the only BRUTAL staff…
Please suggest to your HR manager, higher-ups or your employer to reach out to VV Consulting Group for help.
A BRUTAL Community Shoutout To All Employers And Entrepreneurs
Are you experiencing high staff turnover and find it exceptionally hard to retain good employees? Are you wandering and wondering why staffing issues seem to be a perpetual pain in your organisation? Plus the cost of hiring and firing are already biting into your profits. Perhaps it’s time you did an operational health check.
Your employees have lots of opinions about everything – your strategy and vision; the state of the competition; the quality of your products; the vibe in the workplace. There are tonnes of things you can learn from them.jason fried
VV Consulting Group, helmed by Vaishana Vasuthavan (fondly known as Vaish), helps SMEs and start-ups to assess, identify and address their operational pains. Their services encompass all matters pertaining to human resources, business strategies and market research (consumer experience). They are an award-winning consulting agency for Best HR Outsourcing Partner 2020 at the HR Vendor of the Year Awards.
For more information, please contact VV Consulting Group for a fuss-free consultation.
How do you stay relevant in your current workplace? What worked for you and your company? We’d love to hear from you. Kindly comment below.
This message is brought to you in collaboration with VV Consulting Group.
Very well written piece.. straight talking eloquence.
Wish I could say been there and done that… but every new organisation is different, ranging from its DNA, governance and structure.. but one thing I wish to highlight is Divide and Rule has its upside and downside.. depending how one is looking at it
Notwithstanding the BRUTALISED outcome, I think DIVIDE AND RULE will remain the mainstay of many … either through force of habit or a deliberate attempt to undermine the force of nature against many who wish to gain strength in numbers like Tubifex worms….
It will go on until it is big, bulky and grows to be a big languorous breathing specimen, unable to function on its own and too hefty to budge.. In other words.. we just have to live with it and work around it 😉 BUT HEY.. THAT MAKES OUR WHOLE JOURNEY TO EARN ENOUGH TO PAY TAXES A LOT MORE INTERESTING…
Flipside it can lead to another BRUTAL outcome (Bored, Redundant, Unthinking, Terrified, Asinine, Lethargic)… So lets strive for a balanced outcome, join hands to BE HAPPY.. and CONTENTED …
Hi Saza, many thanks for your kind comments, and sage insights.
I do concur with you that the “Divide-and-Rule” culture is very much alive and kicking in certain organisations and industries. I’ve personally been in one, where the boss was the sole decision maker for every division. The consequences: low staff morale, endless gossips and politicking, and high “good” staff turnover. Yes, ‘Jabba the Hutt’ mentality will self-implode at one point in time or another. I’d venture to say that to all the Jar Jar Binks who jumped ship, you might one day be Hans Solos in your own right. Every employee gets to determine their own happiness-and-contentment index.
Whilst you’re in the job, whether you’re BRUTAL or being BRUTALISED, remember to have fun and enjoy the ride! I wish you happiness, Saza 🙂
Spot on with your BRUTAL approach. Now employers are looking for staff with these good attributes & attitude but sad to say that they are hard to come by these days. Gone are the days when bosses asked to do ABC but staff deliver DEF as well.
Hi Ong, thank you for your kind comment. Can’t agree with you more. Let’s hope that the younger generations of employees, i.e. Millennials and Generation Z-ers, will adopt these good attributes to become exemplary future leaders in the marketplace. Have a good day!
This article is brutal enough to stay relevant! All jokes aside, this is so true. I have been in many jobs where I don’t even like their work environment, let alone their co-workers. This article is a serious eye opener!
Hi Preveena, thanks for your kind comment. Glad the message touches you. Be-do-have BRUTAL, the results will follow. All the best in your endeavours.