Monday, May 18, 2009

How to come out better and stronger in an Economic Crisis ...

... and keep your job too!

I write this article, assuming you want to be successful and extraordinary. If you want to be mediocre, go read something else.
If you are one of those serious ones, looking forward to become Top Management or want to set-up your own business someday, this article will suit you well. If you want to be successful, keep your job and come out of the crisis stronger and better, do the following.

Firstly, you must know the three core competency that is needed in all organisations, namely conceptual skills, people skills and technical skills. You will need to match your capability to what the company requires to keep your job.

Secondly, know that at different levels, the skills required differs noticeably. Organizations tend to need more technical skills at the lower and implementation level and conceptual skills at the top. As such, as you move upwards in the organization, you are required to use more of your conceptual faculty and less of your technical knowhow.

People skills are needed throughout the organization but at different levels you need different types and combinations of these skills. At the lower end, you will need the ability to interact on a ‘one-to-one’ basis, ie with your colleagues, superior, subordinate, clients and vendors.

Once you have reached middle management you need to add another people skill set, the ‘one-to-group’ skill set ie, supervising a group of people or work-teams like running a meeting, motivating a team of people and public speaking amongst others.

As you become a senior level manager, another essential people skill set is the ‘group-to-group’ proficiency, the ability to connect and move two or more groups of people towards a common goal.

Technical skills are skill sets that you acquire through education, training, skills development programs or experience in which it allows you to perform specific task related to your day-to-day operations. Usually these tasks are repetitive, can be written into a job flow or standard operating procedure and in the longer run could be taken over via automation of processes. (by computerization or machines.)

Conceptual skills are the flair to think strategically – seeing the big picture. It is the ability to understand the complexities of the total organization and see how your operation fits into the whole thus working for the total success of the organization rather than being myopic and silo towards your own departmental or immediate needs.

Most people fail to understand these dynamics and work against company need. For example, when their job is to do the task (technical skill) they tend to talk too much. For some, when the task is to think strategically (conceptual skills) they do the job instead; while others who are suppose to engage with their people (human skills), they spend more time thinking!

This is the main reason why your company does not promote you in good times and in time of crisis, want you out!

Thirdly, to keep your job you need to fulfil company needs well before the crisis strikes. Employers and superiors have a memory of your performance. So work hard and get your skills set right when time is good so that when time gets bad and there is a need to be lean, you are seen as the ‘muscles’ that the organization deeply yearn for and not the ‘fats’ that needed to be rid off.

What you must change immediately to get ahead


Make your boss and company goals yours.

Your job is still yours only if your company survives. You must do everything within ethical means to keep it afloat. So work like hell! Come in earlier and go back later. Work, work and work! Talk less and do more.

Check your performance and productivity. Unless you are a genius and have self discipline do not spend your working time visiting your facebook, MSN, blogs, etc. For lesser mortals just do and focus on your job. Flexi-hours are for advance countries and extremely well organised and well run organizations. For the rest, go back to basics – work harder than competition even if you must work after the usual working times and weekends – just do it.

No one will fault someone who works very hard and have the right attitude. It will be hard for an employer to ask a person to leave even if the economy is bad; nobody enjoys sacking people unless they are a nut case. Just be productive and add value, your job will be safe. If you're paid RM3,000 but work like you are given RM15,000 worth of salary, and produce at least 5 times what you are paid for, who wants to let you go?


Work hard AND work smart. If anyone advise you otherwise, that is it is enough to just work smart, he or she would probably be not a Top Management material and definitely not a CEO potential.

Be happy with your salary

Never question your salary especially if you are working in a reputable organization. Your HR people are not daft or foolish, they know what they are doing and has research and compared your income with comparable jobs and organizations and fixed yours within a band. Arguing about your salary irritates your employer and is a waste of time. A few more percentage of salary increase is what the Malays say ‘Buat tahi gigi’ only, as it can only give you short term benefits.

While money is essential, it should be the least important motivation. More crucial is the opportunity to pick up, experience and practice conceptual and human skills. If your current organization provides you with such openings, you are in a good place. Because to move up, you need those skills, not a bigger salary; a bigger salary comes with those skills, not the other way round.

Your salary is probably more than enough for your needs and for you to save a little. If you doubt me go check your closets and see how many items you have that you have not used the last three months. You have more than enough. The reason many young people do not have enough money is that while you earn RM2, 000, you spent RM2, 500 for your hand phone. Get your priorities right. Be frugal and control spending and you will see my point. What you lack is what is not yet in your head and your heart. Fill them up and then you will succeed.

Love Mondays, love working.

Only losers and those who are not CEO potentials hate Mondays. Have you heard of a successful entrepreneur not liking Mondays? Only short-sighted radio deejays lament about Monday blues and celebrate Fridays with ‘Thank God It’s Friday’. Do not be influenced by them each Mondays and Fridays. For heaven sake, God gives you 7 days a week please be happy all 7 seven days. It is really silly to only choose to be happy 2 days in a week. Is that a smart strategy in life? To love Mondays you must love working. Go figure that out.

Do not work for money, volunteer for extra work and projects

One of the major mistakes you can do at work is to go to work for money. This is related to my earlier comment about to not question your salary. The biggest group of people who fail to follow this rule are usually non-management staff while many executives too carry a non-management mentality and fall prey to the same oversight.

When ask to volunteer for extra work and projects outside the work scope, top of mind is overtime payment or allowance. If they are not paid the extra, they would shy away from the job. Little did they realize that there was never in history where people became rich or millionaires by claiming overtime or getting extra allowance?

On the contrary those who became rich stayed away from such nonsense.

Overtime and allowance are created so that most people will be stuck at the bottom. Only a smart few can see this and rise above it. Work not for money, but for the opportunity to learn new things, new skills and meet new people. Projects and extra jobs outside your normal routine work are one of the best platforms in achieving these.

Don’t be mediocre, don’t just perform 100%, do better

Most job targets and descriptions are designed for the average performer so if you perform as it is; you are just a mediocre employee. Unlike school days where 100% is an A, when you perform as expected and score 100% in a business organization, you are only a C candidate.

So move faster, be more efficient and finish your work latest by just after lunch (have shorter lunch breaks if it helps) and do what I suggested earlier like volunteer for extra work, projects, come early and leave late.

Join sales

During bad times, revenue is key to survival. Your company will need to emphasize more on selling. This is your opportunity to jump into sales and learn selling skills – a skill you need to succeed whether you are in sales or otherwise. Once you learn to sell during hard times, you will be able to sell anytime. If you can bring in revenue five times your salary, you job is guaranteed, as Kotler rightly says, “Companies cannot give you job security, only customers can “.

In conclusion

Do, don’t talk, take action, don’t complain, practise don’t preach. Work hard and work smart.

Anas Zubedy

Note : Recommended reading : ISBN 0-88730-615-2 RM69.90 - Drucker's book above


Anonymous said...

Bro Anas,

As a freshie on the job hunt, I'll keep this in mind.. Thank you..


Shahnon said...

Thanks bro Anas for your inspirational blog entry.

I shall aim to love all 7 days in a week from now on. :p

bobby said...

hey anas...what a really good post on work, money and the corect attitute in life...nice reading an inspirational piece

Grace Chen said...


If more people thought this way, there wouldn't be a crisis in the first place.

APK said...

Agree that we should work hard and volunteer for projects. But what if after all that is done, only a few of the selected ones are being groomed to be the successcor because the Management likes "yes man". Time to get out?? Please advise.

Soo Huey said...

hey anas,

you're very right, of course. but i think there's one cautionary note you missed out of #1...

work hard, but remember to breathe when you're too stressed out and don't forget to continue taking care of your body (eg. not too much sleep deprivation)... because if you want to continue working hard & smart, you need to be in good form.

do u agree, anas? i wanted to highlight because i think too many people get consumed by their work. i think even if one works hard, they still need to be in control. it's dangerous to just ask someone to work hard...

i'm saying because i've fallen victim... of course my boss loved me! i can produce results in 1/3 the time of others! at that time, i told myself "i'm young, it is the time for me to go all out n prove myself". now i've proven myself n have a reputation i'm proud of. but looking back, i'm not sure it was wise. that period of my life has probably shortened my lifespan and worse still really drained me in many ways. guess i didn't work smart enough.