Friday, August 14, 2009

Being a slave is sad, but making your employees slaves is embarrassing

31o5 is a Japanese engineer and businessperson who runs a software company in Bangkok, Thailand. As a manager, she has to constantly deal with unreasonable requests from her customers in Japan. In her latest blog post "
1 week work is 8 * 5 = 40 hours, not 24 * 7 = 168 hours
" she points out a typical vice in the Japanese customers' way of thinking.

In this post, she puts:


When I say 1 week work means 40 hours work, it doesn’t mean we can work 168 hours. Or maybe I should say opposite way, when I say 40 hours work, means it takes 1 week, not 2 days.

Now I noticed some kind of people expect us to work overtime and holiday as DEFAULT. A client send us data 20:00 pm on Friday night and said deadline is Monday noon.

There were only 3 hours working time, but in their mind, there were 2 days + few hours.


In this particular case, she says she got it done by herself, not asking her employees to work in the weekend. But she also regrets having done so because she had to sell her labor at a cheap price and could not manage other projects in the meantime.

She is a sort of exceptional manger for a Japanese. In similar cases, most Japanese managers would order their employees to work in the weekend without hesitation. In Japan, work is considered somewhat "sacred". It's easy for us to cancel appointments with our family and friends in Japan. All we have to say is "I have to work and I can't come over. Sorry", and then they will not object to it.

Yes, work is important. You can make your living by working. You can express yourself through work. But your private life is as important. You are always supported by your family and your friends. Without them, how could you enjoy yourself in life?

If you are a lowest-level employee, you are just forced to work overtime. Several years later, you would get promoted and have a few employees under you. If you are soaked in a cooperate culture where overtime work is taken for granted, you might casually force your employees to work overtime all the time.

But think about it. What's your job as a manager? A manager is supposed to allocate work evenly to each employee to accomplish the business goals of the division that he or she is in charge of. The ideal state should be no overtime work at all because overtime work is a result of the failure of task allocation by the manager.

As a manager, being a slave is sad, but making your employees slaves is embarrassing. If a company forces its employees work overtime regularly, it should reconsider the structure of work flow so that they can leave work on time and enjoy their private lives at will.

2 comments:

odszkodowania komunikacyjne said...

Cool articule

31o5 said...

Thank you so much for mentioning about my post.

Today, my staff are working late again. My co-founder and I talked about that we have been bad managers this month. Making our staff work till late shows how bad we are.

It taught me a lot. I must be strong. And I'm glad that I have such good team mates, and it made me realize again it was a good choice to setup this company with my co-founder.

Being manager is tough and there are a lot of things I have to learn, but I found the great feeling to have people work with. I can talk and smile everyday, which is a great feeling!

work hard and play (even) harder!