Sunday, July 29, 2007

Make Your Employees HAPPY

an article from the Straits Times (Saturday, July 18, 2007) - Executive Appointment (R56)

The article article started off with this:

If you are an emloyer or a manager, chances are that workplace absence is costing you money and inconvenience and upsetting your customers.

  • >> Does it really cost money and convenience? Yes, it not just applies to the private sector, but more so in the school scenario! That reminded me of the days when I was in-charge of making arrangement for teachers to relieve classes when colleagues could not come to school - commonly, sick leave, childcare leave, of course, there are also those who are on course. Yes, all these, if we want to calculate in dollars and cents, it costs a lot.
  • >> Rate of relief teacher can range from around $100 to almost $300, depending on their qualification and experience! On the other hand, when it comes to ad-hoc instances, students' learning are interrupted.
  • >> Still remember, some colleagues' days to go on medical leave became so predictable! In some days, I do question (in my heart) - Is that genuine case or not? Is that so serious? Are your pupils' learning at stake? For pupils, teachers would call the clinic to check when there are observable patterns. For teachers? Professionalism and integrity are being questioned if we are to go to that extent.
  • >> In fact, heard from an ex-colleague that now the school has started the "TOP 10" chart to chart and track teachers' absence - one interesting observation - one of the teachers, no matter include or exclude her maternity leave, she still tops the chart... If I recall correctly, she has been on the top 10 since those days I manage the relief duty arrangement - Wow! She has been very 'consistent'... hahaha...
  • >> As of those who attended course, definitely, their absence is more costly than others - on top of their course fee, there's also the money pump into getting relief teachers to take over their duty. No wonder training has to be taken very seriously, especially in schools! So far, I think teachers who signed for up workshops will dutifully attend the training.
  • >> The other day, one of the current colleagues who previously worked in another Ministry many years back (in her first career) shared that they usually attend the workshop in groups and will 'disappear' after the lunch to gain free time for themselves. I was totally shocked!!! Where's your integrity? I start to wonder... What's your professionalism? I start to doubt... As an adult, what's right? what's not right?... I start to question (or should I say, I start to look out for...) your value...

It further said:

  • If people are happy at work, then they are less likely to take a day off every time they wake up with a stuffy nose.
  • Really? I wonder.... There's another group - People who have no choice, too...
  • OK, look at a case whereby one is more sick than a stuffy nose... In an event that one has to go on medical leave, can the outstanding job be delayed or taken over by another person would be another determining factor to go on leave for that day or not.
  • A friend who's working at NIE now shared that she would not be able to go on leave even when she's not well - because there are more than 300 in a lecture theatre waiting for you! One could not just cancel or postpone the lecture in this manner.
  • Another friend who worked in a polytechnic in the past shared that unless one has made prior arrangement with the team to cover each other... otherwise, she still have to turn up - "75% attendance" is something at will be at the back of her mind. Moreover, to do a make-up session with a large group is very very different from a tutorial group.
  • I think, this now applies to my current job, too. Although on one hand, we have been reminded that the co-trainer has to know what the training is about and to be prepared, I just wonder... one still have to assess the situation very carefully - is the co-trainer ready to deliver... it's not a matter of an individual's performance (if don't do well this time, can try again), but I think the reaction / perception / impression the stakeholders have on the workshop delivered by the section will be more crucial.
  • Do I have colleagues who show symptoms described in the article? Yes, I think... Is it something to do with the 'weather' here? Someone jokingly said, we started to sense the globalwarming effect here... Oops! El Nino and La Nina effects?

The article also touches on

  1. Pick the right person. This is not enough... but also to find out... what makes them happy, how well they get on with others and how much energy and enthusiasm they have. Make sure they know what they are getting into, and be sure the job suits them!
  2. Believe in your people. Demonstrate through... words, tone of voice and body language. It says, If you believe that your people are not to be trusted, are unable to make decisions and will turn up late and go home early, then that is exactly what they will do. So, is this the "self-fulfilling prophecy and make-belief" that will influence the 'subjects' to make it happens? Definitely, this is going to generate more negative effects as the time goes...
  3. Give feedback. It says, most employees want to know how they are performing in their job - they want to know if they are doing it right or how they can do it better. It says, If your really want to motivate your people, give them feedback on what they are doing well and what needs improvement. Why I underline "doing well"? Because, I think this is something really lacking in the working environment - except in stories like Fish... and many of us forget - feedback can be positive, too!


昨天,我们终于聚在一起了 - 月慧,丽莲,彩莲,Theresa 和我。

那是自我们 - 月慧,丽莲和我离开义安后,首次五个人聚在一块。


>> 五点后才打烊的习惯。
>> 星期六早上HOD Room照常营业
>> 平日的电话接线“员”和开门“侍应”
>> 还有,我们的“独胖胖,不如众胖胖 ”零食时间。。。
>> 也忘不了做SEM的苦与乐。。。

Friday, July 27, 2007


国旗国旗我爱你 有红有白多美丽

Heard few little kids singing this song... it sounds so familiar!
Yes, I sang that... while I was still in kindergarten. Oops! that's how many decades ago?
I didn't know the significance the words then, but now I know!
It describes our flag, our Singapore flag that we are proud of!
Keep on flying! Singapore flag!

Monkeys on the Train Cabin

Today, saw 2 monkeys in the train cabin... The cabin was crowded... one of the passengers standing beside the pole was talking to the phone (with one hand covering his mouth as he spoke through the mouth piece. Why? 2 girls were 'swinging' there! The mum sat right in front of the girls. She did nothing... The girls were having much fun, giggling...


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

You've made my day ^.^

今早,如常。 八点多走进了办公楼。按了电梯。很机械化的,抬起了头。


是他!他,仍是那么的亲切。 他的笑容。。。还是那么地迷人。。。 是的,那微微的酒窝。。。那并不大,但会微笑的双眼。已各了差不多四年了。没有改变。 只是多了不少的白发。该说,是更带有成熟稳重的男人味吧! 当然,他那温柔的声音, 仍在耳边响着。。。送来的阵阵温馨,甜在心里。




Monday, July 23, 2007

Even taxi drivers strategise!

The other evening left office around 8.30 pm. The taxi came soon.

Got a very chatty taxi driver - we chatted for almost 20 minutes non-stop! Oh yes, once in a while, I will come across interesting characters... yes, in fact, taxi drivers can be very interesting people and they have so many things under the sun to talk about.

This taxi driver shared that he would usually come by this road (from Commonwealth Drive turn in to North Buona Vista) after 8 pm 'cos there's guaranteed business - especially from NUH. Interesting, he said he won't drive to this direction earlier than 8 pm as most people will go to the MRT stn (from NUH) by the free feeder service, that stops after 8 pm everyday. He's quite sure there isn't much business before 8 pm there.

One learning point here, it's important to study the environment and know it well - of course, it comes with analysis! so that can leverge on and gain through its 'lacking aspect'.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ah!!! U're Belinda Ang???

On my way home the other evening (one of the earlier one) - as usual, sat on the longer 'bench' at the front of the bus... that's my favourite seat, 'cos

  • it's very spacious, especially when I normally carry 2 to 3 bags with me! (oh yes, when the tablet followed me!)...
  • of course, a shorter distance to the door (yes, have been so used to alighting from the front door of the bus and
  • normally there're very few passengers board the bus at my bus-stop, so, why not quicken the 'off-loading' process?

One young lady sat beside me - She didn't look familiar, must admit, I could not recognise her! She introduced herself "Belinda Ang"... Oh yes, it rang the bell! But doesn't look quite the same - hm... more tan... much slimmer - on the whole, especially the face, the baby fats were gone! But the way she talked - yes, still the same :D Yes, I remember her... it's just like Chock Kwun's god-daughter - those days when she was still with Ngee Ann.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Dim Sum Dollies in History of Singapore

This afternoon, watched the "Dim Sum Dollies in The History of Singapore". I thought the play was really whacky and witty on one hand, where it brought in 'stuff' that we could associate with... on the other hand, it reminded us of some episodes of our History:

  • the little island of Temasek that no one of that 'period' was interested - Julius Caeser, Ghandi, Cheng Ho, and several others made their appearances... hahaha... yet nobody wanted to claim ownership of the island simply because... it's too small!
  • Then came our "Palembang Prince" who liked to 'relax at a corner' - one day was driven by his mum to look for city ... and there he travelled with "Siti".
  • Next came the ERA broker... hahaha... to 'sell' the island to him - with lots of trees, 3 natural reservoirs and er... natural resources??? Lion! hahaha... He bought it because there's this creature 'lion' there!!! hence, naming the island, Singapura.
  • The pirates at the straits of malacca were not spared either... then it also talked about the influence of the missionary schools... and brought in the River Dance that was once popular in Singapore, too!
  • 'en-bloc' in the late 60s... The 'integrated resort'... "free port and therefore no tax"... hahaha... these are familiar stuff that echo some of the thoughts... and certainly, the witty "lucky-lee", "...-lee", etc... subtle yet obvious :D
  • Of course, how could this do without a few people all in white, the 'lightning" sign, and the talk of the tear-sheding moment in the mid-60s!
  • It will not be complete without the mention of the invasion of the Japanese... then came with the "NTUC" comfort women... the banana money (that refers to the Japanese money!) and the talk of our relationship with our closest neighbour!
  • Of course, it also touched on the closelessness of the neighbours in the kampong compared to what we have today.
  • The props are simple - make-shift 'wooden boards' - they are good enough :D
  • There were also clips of familiar music pieces that I learnt in my primary school days - "Singapura", "Rasa Sayang", "小人物的心声", "雾锁南洋", the Tamil song that I could never the name, oh yes, our Pledge!

It was a good one :D Hm... an NE lesson in a light-hearted manner....

Quoted from the sistic website "Catch Sang Nila Utama wondering if it truly was a lion he saw, Raffles leading his contingent of mosquito-beating ang mohs, bungling J-pop pilots and clueless British soldiers deciding where to aim their big guns!The Dollies breathe new rib-tickling life into Samsui Women, Ah Ma Chehs, Malay Kampong Beauties, Money-lending Dhobis and Opium Dens - then morph into terrifying Peranakan Matriarchs and Hainanese Chefs whipping up killer pork chops!From Cavemen roaming our fair shores, to getting kicked out of Malaysia. From tea dances and beehives to giant amusement parks. There's a tear-jerking ballad or show-stopping tune waiting to be sung!"

Watch how your Body Talks

Something... (as a reminder...) that I read from the Straits Times this morning (July 15, 2007)

  • It says, many a time, when we talk about communication, almost immediately we associate that with verbal communication. TRUE, very true... we nearly forget about our non-verbal cues... yes, body language 'speaks' louder than words!
  • "The body has many ways to experess itself." Agree! The 'Body' includes the hands-gesture, how we 'position' (stand/sit) our trunk(!) and certainly, our facial expressions that plays the key part to it. Of course, others like the 'personal space bubble' comes in, too!

  • Personal space bubble - "some people have very large space bubbles which they consider their personal space". It is deemed as a invasion to privacy when one gets too close for comfort! Oh yes, to some cases, it's interpreted as rudeness, too! On the other hand, I think it's a very personal and 'amazing' thing that each person could define a different personal space with different individuals. In fact, I think the size of the person space bubble changes from time to time though it may always start off as the 'same initial size'. Its size shrinks or expands, I think, depends largely on the relationship built with individuals - it also changes as the interactions increases (pleasant and ugly encounters!), when one starts to see how closely are their beliefs and norms 'align'.

  • "It is capable of expressing power relationships." What the article mentioned is the one between the boss and the subordinate. There are things that the boss can do, but the subordinate should not reciprocate in the same manner!

  • Body Posture - the article says about giving 'commands'... Take a look, back at my work place. Notice one thing, when doing workshop, it's a frequently observed sight "tucking the hands into the trousers pocket" when talking/explaining in front of the participants. Unconscious, but it has become a hard-kick habit, I think, though it has been brought up in the past already... So, it is a sign of authority? Or is it just the guy thing?
  • Something increasing brought up in the article: Body language differs by Culture. Eg. In some Indian cultures, when you shake your head, not from side to side, but from side to side in the sign of an infinity symbol, it denotes a 'yes'.

  • "The slightest tension in a facial muscle... paints a thousand words." I like this "a smile gives a multitude of meanig to an event." Yes, I believe in this.
  • "The eyes are the windows to the soul. One can see truth, deceit, sincerity, pretension, and warmth of a person. They eyes regulate a conversation and they can tell you whether a person believes in himself or not.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Sharing... and what's next?... Impact!!!

Well, recently we have been talking a few new tools - that BY has shared with us... In fact, am influenced by the enthusiasm - that endless energy (at the other end) to attempt (or try out) as many 'new' ICT tools as possible... and I picked up 2 tools to use.

In the course of doing this... and observing the attempts - It suddenly crossed my mind:

  • Yes, it's good to share and invite fellow colleagues to try the tools... on the other hand, while managing the excitement (in ourselves) on seeing what the tool does, it also requires us to explore the tool pretty thoroughly before being able to identify the distinguished feature that value-adds to the whole learning experience... and then recommend. Comparison is certainly necessary... no matter how good a tool is, there's always strengths and weaknesses, depending on how and when it's being employed. We could not compare in an objective manner when there's information gap, when we does not know the tool well... else we are not doing justice to the tools... Remember: Never be tool quick to judge a tool...

  • Very often, when we attend sharing or conferences, presenters shared how popular the tools are...and how they are being used in their country. Well, we also have to bear in mind - in terms of "HOW" the tool is used... the way they see as a value-add in the country may not be the same as how we see (or measure) value-add. It also depends on the environment - hence contextualisation is important here.
  • For example, in last year's visit to London, all the schools have an interactive whiteboard installed in all the classrooms - however, the way it's being used is not impressive. I could see 'this way' of using in our local schools (eg. Tao Nan Maths teachers shared how they used it for Maths learning last year!) Again, it also depends on our awareness of the development and use of tools in our own country context. If I did not know we have schools using the IWB in similar way, I may come back and excitingly share the "interesting encounter" with the tool!
  • Another example is the use of handheld in learning. A few years ago... I think, it was at in a sharing session at NIE (too???) There, we learnt the capabilities of the PDA in classroom - at that time, the selling point was really portability. The presenter also shared about the collaborative feature - the use of IR (that time, Bluetooth was not popular yet). Last year, at UK, we learn that one of the schools actually pushed for the use of PDA for language learning - yes, they shared the strategy on how to equip pupils with a PDA (through instalment... and eventually they own one)... on the other hand, think about it, what's the life-span of a PDA? hahaha... after 3 years... what's next? The point to bring out is, what's the true value of using PDA in language learning? The portability? The ability to allow pupils to annotate as they go through the materials? Well, I think it is also largely dependent on the user habit.
  • While one tries to 'sell' a technology tool, one also have to bear in mind the 'profile' of the user, the habit of the user... it's something that one could only influence... and whether it happens, it's how convincing the 'persuasion' is to the user (that ultimately leads to the change of habit!). So, talking and showing is not enough, perhaps modelling helps in convincing... "Don't tell me to do it unless you have done it and are convinced through your very own experience... and what you get out of the experience aligns with what I hope to get out of the experience, too... " Chim? Well, chew the words, and think again! ^.^ Otherwise, all the persuasion will only landed up as "lip service" :(

  • I think one basic operating principle is: No tool is outdated! When it is no longer popular in one country, it does not mean it has no place in another place. I believe that every tool has its unleashed potential - no matter how 'old' they are... in fact what matters is really how it's being used.
  • Always: Give the tool the benefit of doubt... Give it a chance to demonstrate its unleashed capacity

  • To create an impact, it requires strategy... it's not a matter of inviting and waiting for responses... it does not work - like the NE message says, "No one owes us a living"... so, "No one owes us a reply"! ok... this is something to ponder over...