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Sunday, May 22, 2011

my Rights

A few weeks ago, I went for a PETRONAS Induction Program for Executives (PIPE) course. Fourteen days of classroom activities plus a few outdoor ones made for a very decent paid holiday. There were those who probably grumbled beforehand about the insanity of going through a corporate 'brainwashing'. It wasn't really like that though. Those who complained initially ended up liking it anyway. 



During one of the first few nights, one of the top guns within the company came to talk about his PETRONAS experience with us and what it would take for someone to achieve success at the top from starting at the bottom. Mr. Yazid Mansur, the Senior General Manager of PETRONAS Exploration is probably one of the most charismatic men I've met for his age, an Asian too nonetheless. Even if you don't feel in awe in the presence of someone big, its always pretty cool to meet someone who's at the top of one of the world's most profitable oil and gas corporations.

Its hard to believe that this person used to work for 11 years at the lowest executive level, yet he never left because he saw long term opportunities for himself. Talk about patience, some of us probably may not even stay in one job after two years (of course there are many valid reasons why people may need to leave their current jobs).It was clear from the way that he spoke that he was a man with purpose in his work.

He always wanted to work well, to find answers and solutions to whatever challenges. Being a people person also helped him a lot in his career, not just giving instructions as a boss, but able to listen and engage with whoever was around him, unconcerned by how much bigger or how much smaller they were than him.

Seeing that he was a learned and well traveled sort of person, I wanted to ask him a question about working in the company. Starting off as a young executive, there's not a whole lot that people tell you, especially if you don't ask. So, that's why I put up my hand and asked, "Sir, in your many years of experience, you've probably seen or met a lot of young executives. What are some of the things they are doing right, and what are some of the things they're doing wrong?"

As I was hoping for, he didn't give an answer that had to do with work techniques but worker attitude. That brings me to the title of this blog entry, individual rights. I was surprised when I first heard it, but it made sense within a split second, lack of humility certainly isn't lacking a world where people are competing for personal pride. There's no doubt that younger people who are still less mature than their older counterparts would be even more susceptible to the egotistical disease.

He started by saying, "You guys are too concerned about your rights...."
Always demanding, always protective of one's personal space can prevent a person from growing out of the stage they are in right now. A simple example of this could be somebody who always clocks in at eight and clocks out at five. While working from eight to five is natural, any hard worker who strives for the best knows that isn't always the case. However, this somebody when questioned, will always state that its his right to go back at five o'clock. 

Even when encouraged to see the benefit of sacrifice, selfishness and an attitude of carelessness stand in the way of progress and build a bridge to an eventual career demise. Results are always different when a person decides to ride on the tide of a challenge as compared to constantly complaining about it.

Another point he brought up was about good people who seek to challenge the status quo of their individual careers to pursue something new, perhaps bigger, most certainly more difficult than their current position. He did attribute this to an element of trust between manager and subordinate. One of the reasons people can turn into high flyers is the experience their bosses can bring to them through mentoring and coaching.

That's why trusting your boss's intentions is important even if he gives you work that you feel shouldn't be yours, or is out of your scope of work, or even better, outside the scope of your individual KPI targets. In situations as those, its better to humble yourself and just do it rather than questioning your boss. Honestly speaking, if your boss gave a task to you, he trusts you to do it, so why not repay that trust? Its a great reminder to me, even as I've just restarted work for two days now.