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Nureen Sabrina Albakri Shahrin Albakri

Nureen Sabrina Albakri, you'll always be my baby girl.

Nureen Sabrina Albakri, you’ll always be my baby girl.

I’m sure anybody who bothers to read this blog would’ve come across the mention of my eldest child, Nureen Sabrina Albakri. Well, this post is dedicated to her. She was born on 27 October 2000. That day remains as one of the best days of my life. Among her siblings, Nureen has always been the cool one. When we stayed at Nenek’s house and she was still a baby, she would be happy just playing on her own and not bother anybody. Even when it’s time for bed, we could leave her on her own, she’d play with her toys and eventually fall asleep on her own. Raising her was generally trouble free.

When it was time for her to go for her preschool, we sent her to Smart Reader Kids in Taman Seri Gombak. That was when she started surprising everybody. Barely a month into preschool, she spoke beautiful English. “With an American accent”, said her kindergarten teacher. We blame that on the countless Playhouse Disney shows she watched (not that it’s a bad thing though). She would never get tired of the shows. She began to use words like “humongous” and the like. Although my command of English is not shabby by any stretch of the imagination, I don’t recall having even heard of “humongous” when I was 5 years old. Since then, Nureen’s command of the English language improved by leaps and bounds.

In primary school, she was an average student. Of which I have absolutely no complaints. Her progress was steady if not spectacular. But when it came to English, she was the absolute star of the bunch. Reminds me of myself to be perfectly honest. I was never an excellent student back in primary school but I had no competition where English was concerned. And so the journey continued smoothly. When she was in Standard 5, I had to move to JB to work. At first I was concerned that without me around, her studies would suffer. Alhamdulillah that was not the case. Although all the time I am in JB, I’ll miss her terribly.

We were rightfully concerned when she was about to sit for her UPSR exams. I didn’t want to exert any pressure on her. In any event I thought that since we didn’t want her to go to any boarding school, UPSR would be a mere formality. But I understood the pressure she was under. It was not easy with UPSR being her first major examination since entering primary school. She suffered a fever as the exams approached which made me become aware of the level of stress. I told her to take it easy, at the same time managing my expectations. Results time came and she scored 5As. I was overjoyed and extremely proud. Who wouldn’t?

That having said, we didn’t want her to go to any boarding school although she qualified. So we enrolled her into one of the schools near home. And she has proven to be a revelation in her school. She was accepted into the best class in Form 1, the Special Program class. Apparently students who are accepted into the class were all top scorers in the UPSR exams. Again she made me really proud. In secondary school, her excellent command of English proved to be her strength again. Her teacher selected her to represent the school in an inter-school public speaking contest.

She didn’t disappoint and was placed second among participants from 20 schools. Apparently the judges were impressed with the way she opened her stint and that she was eloquent in the delivery of her piece. I truly wish I was there to witness her performance. I’m sure it was a joy to behold. Moving on from that success, she has been selected to be a member of the school debate team. Which I’m sure she’ll do well. There’s no doubt. Not any more.

To be honest, she reminds me so much of myself. We could laugh at the same Seinfeld jokes and she enjoys comedies as much as I do. There have also been occasions when I notice that our thinking and approach to things are even alike in some ways. What more could a father ask for?

Now every time before I leave for JB she’ll be my walking checklist. Did you bring your charger? Did you bring your wallet? Is your Smart Tag with you? What about your iPad? I’ll have to answer yes, yes, yes and yes again. I know she means well. And she’ll hug me really tight every time. Oh, and she’s a big anime fan.

I do not know if I’ve been a good father to Nureen. I hope I have. I’m so proud to have a daughter who is so matured, so easy to talk to, shows responsibility (sometimes she can be a bit of a child, but that’s OK) and is the best daughter a father could ever ask for. I know she’ll grow up to be a successful woman. There’s just so much more I could write about this wonderful daughter of mine. But I just want her to know that I love her and I promise to do my very best so she could lead the best possible life.

Don’t ever stop being who you are girl. I love you.

Of performance appraisals and Azwan Ali (just a little bit)

Well, it’s time for performance appraisals again. For those companies with a December year-end that is. That time when KPIs get tallied and the scores of which is considered towards the payment of performance bonuses. I have been told that KPIs need to be as objective as possible, thereby doing away with the need to use too much judgment in assessing staff. I do not disagree with this notion for a single moment. The objectivity of KPIs present a tangible yardstick in which performance is measured. You get 80 percent, you get 4 months’ bonus. You score a 50 per cent, you receive 2 months, something like that.

There are also mechanisms to measure other qualities of the staff i.e. leadership, initiative etc. Some instances require the staff to self-assess themselves prior to being assessed by superiors. In most instances, there will be a session between the superior and staff in which the staff will be evaluated on the self scoring done. The superior may agree with the scoring or decide to moderate the marks to a more realistic or a score which is in most cases acceptable to him/her.

Every time I  evaluate my staff, I try to be as objective as possible. I will always stress their positives. At the same time I try to make the staff aware of their shortcomings. While at the same time I am also aware of my own inadequacies. I am of the firm believe that superiors need to always exercise a high level of consciousness in conducting performance appraisals. There’s just one point I’d like to make. Superiors should always concentrate on a staff’s strengths. Undoubtedly there are flaws as well but that should never be the focal point of the exercise. I find that there is a tendency to focus on flaws which could result in a high level of prejudice against a staff member.

The performance appraisal should never be started with a statement stating a staff’s shortcomings. An absolute no-no is coming into a session with a pre-judgment against the employee. It must be remembered that for most staff the annual bonus payment (which is preceded by the performance appraisal) is the only time for the staff to look forward to a larger remuneration apart from their monthly salary. So any level of prejudice must be avoided at all costs.

On another note, every day when I return home from work I’ll turn on the TV. Today, I watched this programme “Propaganza” on Astro Mustika HD (don’t ask me why I watch this programme. It was on). They had this segment called “Katanye” where gossip on the local entertainment industry are covered. The segment is presented by Azwan Ali (no need for introductions on who he is. For those who know him probably you know where this is heading). Just how annoying can this guy get? Well, the answer is very much. I can’t say much more because this is a personal attack. Nothing but that. But I just had to say it. So I elect to not proceed on this subject.

I took part in a table tennis tournament in the office today.  As a result, I’m knackered and would like very much to retire early. Until then, good luck with your performance appraisals!

Do Like Steve Jobs Did: Don’t Follow Your Passion – Follow The Cash

I’m sure most of us know who Steve Jobs was. A maverick, a perfectionist, a man who revolutionised computing and generally the way we view technology. A true legend whose first calling, surprisingly was not in IT/computing despite the oft-quoted commencement speech he gave to Stanford University graduates back in June 2005. The take-away from that speech was “the key to occupational happiness is first to figure out what you’re passionate about and then find a job that matches this passion“. In actual fact, it was not necessarily true, even where Jobs is concerned. I would like to reproduce below, an excerpt from an article in written by Cal Newport which demonstrates this fact:

If you had met a young Steve Jobs in the years leading up to his founding of Apple Computer, you wouldn’t have pegged him as someone who was passionate about starting a technology company. Jobs had attended Reed College, a prestigious liberal arts enclave in Oregon, where he grew his hair long and took to walking barefoot. Unlike other technology visionaries of his era, Jobs wasn’t particularly interested in either business or electronics as a student. He instead studied Western history and dance, and dabbled in Eastern mysticism.

Jobs dropped out of college after his first year, but remained on campus for a while, sleeping on floors and scrounging free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple. As Jeffrey S. Young notes in his exhaustively researched 1988 biography, Steve Jobs: The Journey Is the Reward, Jobs eventually grew tired of being a pauper and, during the early 1970s, returned home to California, where he moved back in with his parents and talked himself into a night-shift job at Atari. (The company had caught his attention with an ad in the San Jose Mercury News that read, “Have fun and make money.”) During this period, Jobs split his time between Atari and the All-One Farm, a country commune located north of San Francisco. At one point, he left his job at Atari for several months to make a mendicants’ spiritual journey through India, and on returning home he began to train seriously at the nearby Los Altos Zen Center.

In 1974, after Jobs’s return from India, a local engineer and entrepreneur named Alex Kamradt started a computer time-sharing company dubbed Call-in Computer. Kamradt approached Steve Wozniak to design a terminal device he could sell to clients to use for accessing his central computer. Unlike Jobs, Wozniak was a true electronics whiz who was obsessed with technology and had studied it formally at college. On the flip side, however, Wozniak couldn’t stomach business, so he allowed Jobs, a longtime friend, to handle the details of the arrangement. All was going well until the fall of 1975, when Jobs left for the season to spend time at the All-One commune. Unfortunately, he failed to tell Kamradt he was leaving. When he returned, he had been replaced.

I tell this story because these are hardly the actions of someone passionate about technology and entrepreneurship, yet this was less than a year before Jobs started Apple Computer. In other words, in the months leading up to the start of his visionary company, Steve Jobs was something of a conflicted young man, seeking spiritual enlightenment and dabbling in electronics only when it promised to earn him quick cash.


Now, I bet you would’ve thought that Jobs was this technology junkie who struck it big with Apple Computer. His legend at Apple is well documented. How he established the company, got kicked out, got back in and transformed it into what it is today. Who would’ve thought that he was a person who yearned for spiritual enlightenment and was originally passionate about all things spiritual. He even left an IT-related job to pursue his interest only to find out he has been replaced when he returned.

My question is, what’s the deal with finding a job that suits your passion? I spoke about the topic with someone who offered me a simple conclusion – Steve Jobs “cakap tak serupa bikin”. In English, that means not walking the talk. He only was passionate about IT late on, presumably because it made him more money than going on a spiritual journey which was his interest in the first place. The thing about Jobs was that he eventually became passionate about IT and became incredibly good at it.

Let’s relate this to what we do. I am passionate about racing motorcycles. Could I do it? Probably I could if given the chance but when I was little, riding a bike or racing a go-kart was simply unheard of. I ended up doing law, which I became passionate about rather belatedly. Would I switch to motorcycle racing if I was given a chance now? Most probably not. Simply because by being a lawyer I am able to pay my bills, which I must say is substantial. It doesn’t keep me from being happy. I have other indulgences which keep me occupied and my interest stoked.

Are you currently doing what you’re passionate about?

steve jobs

Steve Jobs
* image courtesy of Google


While traversing the endless frontier that is the internet tonight, I found a mighty useful site which I’d like to share with anybody who’s willing to read this blog (somehow, even after a two-month absence in entries, this blog is still getting a reasonable amount of hits, which is quite remarkable). The site is The tagline for the site is “beautiful women, men’s fashion, best music, drink recipes”. Haven’t had the chance to fully browse the site, but for people who care about dressing and appearance (like moi) it’s a great little site which provides a great guide on buying shirts, shoes, watches, how to dress well and things of that sort. Just click the link above and go to the “Style & Grooming” tab. At the bottom of the page, there’s this handy section called “Tips, Tricks and Tons of How-To’s”. That’s the useful bit. Click on it and a whole new dimension opens. It even teaches you how to tie a necktie. How a tie should have a dimple etc. Very useful.

All this sets my mind thinking…am I a vain person? Probably I am. Well, look good and you can’t lose. At least not until people get to see the real you behind all the glitz and style that is. As the Malay proverb says, “menang sorak”.

Well, that’s all for now. Until then…


Image courtesy of Google

Grey hair equals wisdom

Tonight I feel like writing. I can’t sleep. So here goes…

I’ve always a degree of admiration for people with grey hair. For me it’s the mark of a wise person. I’m sure some of you will not agree with this statement. Of course it’s a superficial notion. What has grey hair got to do with wisdom right? I’ve got no arguments to support my theory but it’s just the way I feel about the matter. When I was doing my pupillage, my master had a head full of grey hair. You should see the guy perform in court. I say “perform” because he is what you’d call a gallery guy. He puts on a show for the gallery. He’ll pose questions to the witness and take the occasional glance at the gallery as if showing the people seated there, “look at me in action”. And the guy packs a powerful punch. Great litigator, has confidence by the bucketloads. The moment he enters the courtroom, I could tell that the more junior judges (mostly in the Sessions Court) had a lot of respect for him. And accords him such respect.

For some reason, I think the grey hair had something to do with it. Rightly or wrongly. And that was not the only example I could quote. Being very used to the courts, I could see that most great lawyers have got grey hair. Lots of it. So despite the apparent crusade of guys against having grey hair, I welcome it. Although not to the point of being obsessed of course. I notice that in while in my current employment, the volume of grey hairs has grown quite exponentially. I get comments from friends who notice it as well. I think with the level of stress I face on a daily basis, it’s going to spread to cover my head in no time.

Have I gotten wiser in line with the increase of grey hair? I guess to a certain extent I have. I am now more measured in my actions. I don’t trip at every single problem any more. The level of composure has also noticeably increased. I’m sure in reality this is a total waste of an exercise. That grey hair has got nothing to do with wisdom. To be fair, I’ve got a friend who had substantial grey hair when we were in Form 5. Believe me, he was not a wise person then judging from his countless juvenile antics. But to prove a point, I have substantial grey hair now, and I still have my juvenile antics. To the point that a person actually said I let out the boy in me rather more often than necessary. So being a bit of a boy doesn’t dilute the correlation between grey hair and wisdom.

So, I’ve made my point. Although I honestly think it’s a weak one, but who cares? The internet is a place where you can express yourself, is it not? One caveat though. Grey hair rules. No hair sucks.

Sean Connery

Grey hair equals wisdom? Definitely! Photo courtesy of Google.

Of style, flair and panache

Is it important to do things with a particular style, panache or flair? To me the answer is an unequivocal yes. Everybody is associated with a certain style of their own. Style here is defined as a particular kind, sort or type as with reference to form, appearance or character. Some people walk a certain way, sit and stand in a certain style. And almost everybody talks in their own unique way. In relation to that, everybody also has some sort of judgment against others for their style. “This guy hunches when he walks”, “she talks too fast” etc. There’s always something isn’t it? I’m not writing about people’s attitude or anything like that. It’s just the way you carry yourself physically and in addition, the way you talk. It really reflects on the person that you are.

I am very conscious of the way I carry myself in every way. Standing, walking, sitting, talking, the whole works. And I believe everybody should too. Because inevitably you’ll be judged based on all these things. At first. Obviously then all the other things, like substance matter. But your physical mannerisms form the first impression that people make. Sounds very superficial isn’t it? But that’s how the world works. We evolve and adapt. Wouldn’t pay too much attention to it say, 15 years ago. But it makes a lot of difference in today’s world.

As a lawyer, I was told that I am blessed with the ability to articulate ideas in a clear fashion. In short I can speak well. I really hope that’s true. I believe the key to speaking well is the choice of words and the speed in which you speak. Since English is not my mother tongue, I’ve largely learnt it from the reading that I do. As such, I start to speak grammatically correct English and have been doing so ever since. I remember Abah buying The New Straits Times every single day since I was in primary school and I would always spend time reading it. In doing so, the level of English became above average. I remember vividly reading the dictionary before my English exams and finding a few bombastic words to be included in my essay. I believe that makes a lot of difference in the final reckoning.

I also believe that all of us forge ahead in our lives based on a set of beliefs. Not religious beliefs (that’s a given) but beliefs that we apply in our everyday endeavours. One of my beliefs is that I strive to be different. You see, when you are different, you are remembered. When I was in legal practice, we had to strive to get clients. Competition was tough then. Half of the day is spent going to visit clients and prospective clients. I recall wearing bright coloured neckties. Not the very flamboyant ones but just nice in order to make that image stick in my clients’ minds. It’s a hit and miss exercise, but quite effective nevertheless.

When I was in my previous workplace, I rode my Ducati to work for one and a half years. That was an image which stuck in people’s minds. Once you reach that stage, you are easily identifiable. The black Ducati in the car park stuck out like a sore thumb. And not to mention the beautiful sounds it makes. Simply magnificent. It was indeed different.

Now, the strive to be different takes a huge step forward. Now it comes in the form of an black Audi TT. People ask me the rationale behind getting a two door car. A family saloon would’ve made more sense. To that I agree. But my answer to that question is that it’s all part of the plan. I can appreciate if they do not understand what “the plan” is. It’s an all-encompassing one. It symbolises character, uniqueness and the general world view. It shows a go-getter and an endless need for speed. All that combined with the physical characteristics mentioned above. Hopefully it all comes to something.

Of course all the above would come to nought if not accompanied by hard work and quality. People see through all these superficial matters quite instantly. But if accompanied by substance, it could mean the fine line between success and being so-so. Sure you can be successful, but style triumphs over slob any time of the day for me.


Style. Photo courtesy of Google.


I’ve had a chequered life. Ups and at times, spectacular downs. I’ve also been very fortunate to have met a variety of people during my course of living my life. This privilege comes from having the said ups and downs. It has to be said that when you reach a high in your career you meet different types of people. The reverse is true when you’re down.

I’ve been in the company of CEOs, big time company directors and the like. I spent a year manning my own stall at the Danau Kota Uptown night market, as such I’ve also spent a lot of time with Uptown night market vendors. Uptown night market guys are just simple people. No frills. I’ve learnt to love and appreciate them. I remember this Kakak who sells labu sayung (a container used to store water). She goes to Perak to buy her stock. Does business at the night market with her husband. Utterly nice people. And then there’s Sufian, a guy who sells blankets opposite my stall. I vividly remember helping him out with his customers when I am free. We instantly became good friends. The thing with retail business is at times it’s booming. But when things run dry, it’s simply unbelievable. We used to support each other and provide a much needed dose of encouragement. It was never easy. But being such simple folk it was all very straightforward, without a hint of pretension and personal agenda. Those were good times, socially of course.

Now things are a lot different. Back in the rat race, I experience the daily grind of employment. I record minutes of meetings, draft agreements and provide legal advice. Being at the level that I am, I now meet a totally different set of people compared to the night market days. I have a group of good friends who watch out for me. I do the same to them to. The type of people you talk to about the issues you face. There are hardly any secrets. As said earlier, there are hardly any secrets.

That’s the good part. There are also people who you somehow feel have personal agendas. In my many years in practice and in the corporate world, I have developed the ability to read people. Not with Freudian accuracy, but enough to get me by. And this ability has served me well. Through my study and observation, I could reasonably see if I’m facing trouble or not. If I detect trouble, I’ll just stay away. If I can’t, I’ll be wary. There are people who seem to be looking after you (and say so) but in reality they only look after themselves. I think I may be naive where this is concerned. But I am a firm believer of watching over your friends back. The same goes for your colleagues and your subordinates. Of course in the end you fight your own battles but I will help unreservedly as far as I possibly can.

Friendship means more to me than mere acquaintances. And I truly believe you may have many friends, but not that many “sahabat”. Can’t find the English equivalent to that word. I guess things were a lot simpler back then. No agendas, everything was straightforward. Nowadays you’ve even got to be wary of who you talk to and the things you talk about. They say nowadays even walls have ears. Well maybe they’re right. It’s tiring at times. And it definitely stops you being yourself. Anyway, this post took me two days to write. So I beg your pardon if the content seemed a little disjointed. I’ve got a lot more to write on this subject, but it would inevitably come to the same conclusion.

Of going fast and happiness at work

The last time I wrote (which was one month plus ago) was to announce the arrival of my new weapon of choice. Now let’s see how that went shall we? Well, if earlier on I say my driving habits have totally changed, now it has been turned over its head. I used to say I am totally petrified to go fast in a car, not so on a bike. But now I am quite at ease scaling the heights of speed in the car. Probably because it is so at ease going fast. And as fast as you want to go. I read in a biking magazine some time back about the definition of going fast. Just how fast is fast? The answer makes sense to me and everybody else I’ve spoken to. You know you’re going fast when you start getting scared. As such the definition of fast differs from person to person. I shall not divulge my definition. Suffice to say it would break the national speed limit. As many of yours would.

However that’s not what this entry is about. I’ve been thinking about this subject for quite some time now. It has not put me in any spot of bother, just something that crosses my mind at one time or another. What are your general feelings about your work? Are you happy with it? Do you think you are contributing to your organisation? And if you feel you are, is there anything else you could do to add more value to your contribution?

First things first. Happiness is a relative term. A man’s meat is another man’s poison. So if I’m happy with a specific set of circumstances, you may not. It also depends on a person’s requirements, doesn’t it? But I believe a general principle applies anywhere you go. There’s never a greener pasture. Anywhere you go, you are sure to have complaints. Not a good enough benefits package, your boss hassles you, you can’t get along with your colleagues, that sort of thing. As such, it is up to you to make the most of what you have, in if not all but most circumstances.

As for me, I am generally happy where I am. The work is challenging enough for me to sustain my interest level, I’ve just scraped the top of the industry as such there’s still  a lot to learn and I sincerely believe the organisation that I’m in consists of a good set of people who are professional in the performance of their respective roles. Synergy is the way to go. In an industry which requires a constant re-think of strategies and thrives on being ahead of your competitors, the organisation is in an advantageous position due to the personnel it has. I’m proud to be a part of the team. If I can contribute in a meaningful manner, then I am happy.

I’m generally trying to polish the strategic bit of things personally. Looking at things from a different perspective. Never been a person who thinks out of the box, at least not by default. It takes a bit of practice I’m sure. I’m a firm believer of constant deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is a concept propounded by Geoff Colvin, the author of “Talent is Overrated”. Mr. Colvin doesn’t believe in anybody being gifted. Mozart gifted in music? Nope. Federer a gifted tennis player? Nope. It is all deliberate practice in Geoff Colvin’s books. That provides a bright shining light of hope for people like me. I’ll write about it as soon as I finish reading the book.

Work consists of a process of reflection too. I’ve been told that there’s no use in working too hard. The popular adage has always been, “Why work too hard? You’ve got to get your priorities right. If you die in the course of your work, they’ll replace you without even blinking an eye”. To a certain extent I agree with the oft-said mantra. But then there’s also the belief that you need to complete tasks given to you, if possible adding some value to it. I’ve been told that you need to put some thought into your work and not just for the sake of completing a task. At higher levels in an organisation, that certainly applies and is something that I strive to do on a daily basis. Sometimes over thinking is not necessarily a bad thing.

In conclusion, am I happy where I am? The answer is not an unequivocal yes, but it’s close. I certainly hope to be able to prove myself. And see where I end up.

Weapon of choice

Without giving too much away, the item I mentioned during one of my recent post has arrived. It’s black, has two doors and goes very fast and is now my pride and joy. I seek forgiveness for writing on this matter but the excitement simply outweigh the humility as I am far from being somebody who toots his own horn.

I’ve been traveling back and forth from JB to KL on a weekly basis for about a year plus now. Being someone who absolutely enjoys the driving part of it all, I hardly feel it’s a drag. Earlier on, the plan was to take a flight once every month or so. But that turned turtle. Been driving from the start. No disrespect to the old boy, but I think he deserves a rest after all the pounding I’ve put it through. And to his credit, he has served me extremely well for the past one year plus without so much as a whimper. It was my weapon of choice during my countless highway skirmishes of which I can say we’ve had our fair share of triumphs. I’m proud to say we make a good team, the boy and me.

It’s just that the time has come for me to seek an alternative. Not that I’m disposing the old boy, he’s still in the family I’m happy to announce. A new, slightly younger weapon of choice has come on board. To be honest, I’ve been on the lookout for quite a while now. Been considering a few models according to my fancy. The criteria is rather simple. I need a car that would be a great asset to me during my weekly travels, looks good, quite easy on the pocket and looks good of course. You see, I was never raised with lavishness. We were taught the value of money from early on. As such, the purchase of a car takes a whole lot of consideration.

I looked at a lot of models. VW, BMW and a few others. At last I settled for an Audi. I am of the view that Audi has managed to rebrand themselves successfully from the days when they were down in the dumps compared to other German makes. I also made up my mind on the model of choice. It was going to be the TT, a two door work of art. So I went and test drove a few. Well, a new TT costs RM350,000 which is totally out of my league, so I settled for a re-conditioned one for a lot less that that. Went to this car dealer friend of mine who sold me my present car. The experience was good enough and he brought me 4 cars for me to test drive.

To cut a long story short, all the formalities have been cleared. I took delivery of the car last Saturday (21 April 2012) and drove it to JB the very next day. My conclusion: brilliant piece of engineering. You can’t expect less from a German make. I describe it as being an angry car, especially at low speeds. You go slow, it’ll start making whiny faces and urge you to go faster. And faster. The result: Shahrin is now a happy boy.

Thank you Allah for giving me the rezeki and ability to achieve what I previously thought as being unachievable.


Of some HR rambling and accountability

Read a piece in The Edge about two weeks ago. It was on the aspects which should be considered, human resource wise by companies thinking about venturing into South East Asia. So this HR consultant was tasked to study the focus of employers in SEA in relation to employees. I can’t really comment on the findings of the consultant in other countries, but I can relate to their discovery for Malaysia. As is always, the study may not the conclusive as there’s the thing about sample size, false positives/negatives etc. That having said I think the result is rather representative of the situation here in Malaysia.

The results are displayed below. I included the findings for Singapore and Indonesia just for completeness sake.

“Their answers confirmed suspicions as each geographic group chose to focus resources on a different set of personnel:

Singaporeans: “…our most talented employees as they will bring us the farthest the fastest.”

Malaysians: “…the mid-level performers to better tap the unrealised potential of this large and important cohort.”

Indonesians: “…the lowest performing members of our organisation or they will create drag on the organisation’s growth prospects.”

Malaysia engages in a constant balancing act across its three-race culture. Each group has distinct preferences.”

Look at the observation made in relation to Malaysian employers. It appears we focus our resources more towards employees in the middle level of an organisation. Middle level here doesn’t mean rank-wise, but performance-wise. Is this observation generally true? I think yes and no. Performers in the top percentile are usually neglected to a point that they get poached by other companies. During my time at a multinational, I hear people groaning everyday about not getting recognised for good work quality. To be fair, you cannot expect kudos every single time you do well.

But in a situation where they’ve consistently exceeded expectations and performed beyond expectation I believe at least some appreciation is due. And not only a pat in the back mind you. People now expect a good raise in remuneration and other perks and privileges. Within reason of course.

For the lower level performers, I find that not enough is done to raise their level of performance. Most of the measures introduced are punitive in nature. I know performance is nowadays measured by KPIs, but there could be a reason why people do not meet the specified KPI. By being punitive I mean low bonuses, increment etc. but at the same time causes of a downward slide in performance go unaddressed. Sometimes there are reasons other than laziness and/or disciplinary and/or attitude. There could be no encouragement, an unreasonable superior, a superior who doesn’t coach and the list goes on. It’s a bit like calling Muslims terrorists but not bothering to find out why.

Now, what about mid-level performers? I think largely they share the same fate with the guys in the top percentile, the situation of which was deliberated above. I believe these people are seen as making up the numbers, people who are by and large contented with just coming to work everyday and doing what is expected of them without being exceptional and at the same time not falling into the non-performer category. I agree that this is the group that needs to be provided with encouragement and proper coaching. With a bit of effort and luck, a few could be upgraded to be part of the top percentile. But it is a chicken and egg situation isn’t it? Once they move to the top percentile, they’ll very easily get too big for their own shoes and would probably (note “probably”) demand for something which may not be provided by their current organisation. That happens and the time to go would come rather instantly.

I don’t like to write about matters of a political connotation. The only time I did so was to comment on the massive jam a few months ago because of roadblocks resulting from the “Bersih” gathering. It’s time for another minor piece. This morning I read a few hilarious bits on this thing concerning a very public figure recently dragged through the mud due to some things done by her family. Let me share just one:

Anything related to her husband and their children has nothing to do with her leadership…

You know I will not write about things like this if I don’t feel strongly about it. Well, it’s all about accountability isn’t it? I could go on and on about it, but the less said the better. With that, I bid you adieu.

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