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Careering towards the abyss

STUART WHITE
THE WORLD IN BLACK-N-WHITE


Many of you out there are probably familiar with LinkedIn – the professional networking e-club which specialises in linking up like-minded business people both locally and around the globe.  It also publishes on-line articles on any number of corporate advice, often topical and worth reading.

One such recently posted article was by Alan Cutter, CEO of AC Lion which specialises in recruiting senior management staff for digital and emerging media.  Entitled ‘How To Ruin Your Career in 6 Easy Steps’, the piece lays out some serious DON’Ts which are tantamount to professional suicide and which merit repeating here today.

Number 1, according to Alan:
 
1. Back out of a new job
“Once you make a decision to accept a position, you should stick with it. Be a man/woman of your word. Unless there is an extremely strong reason to jump ship, stop going on interviews and pursuing other options.  You can bet your jilted employer will talk, and word will spread. It is usually a small world in industry circles, and it is wise to always conduct yourself with the utmost professionalism.”


I would temper that by saying if you find yourself in the situation where after some soul-searching you decide the new post you’ve been offered and accepted just isn’t for you, or if indeed their offer has been gazumped and you’ve found a better deal, man, or woman, up.  Call the CEO or the HR manager as soon as you’re sure and let them know what and why – they may not be too happy but they’re all grown-ups and they will understand.

Number 2 is a really common fault hereabouts:


2. Resist change
Remove the “never”s from your vocabulary and be open to alternative ways of thinking or doing things. Keep an open mind! Close-mindedness will only get you so far. Failing to embrace new ideas and perspectives will significantly increase your chances of being left behind or descending into complacency.


The world is changing and so is the world of business.  There are newer and better ways of doing things so be open to them.  Try them out and then and only then if you’re not happy with them or you genuinely believe they’re not working then you should bring it up with management or the Board.

Number 3 should be the byword of every single company in existence:


3. Over-promise and under-deliver
You think you are doing yourself (and others) a favour by talking yourself up, but if you can’t walk the walk, you will surely end up disappointing co-workers and clients. Do not make any promises you can not keep. Manage your time effectively and turn in your projects on or ahead of time. If you feel overwhelmed or know that you may not be able to complete something on schedule, speak up and delegate tasks to others if possible. Keep communication open and ensure everyone is on the same page.


This doesn’t mean lowering your standards – far from it.  It means raise the bar as high as you can but know you and your company’s limitations.  And if a delay or problem arises, let the client know.  Lack of communication will lend the kiss of death to future business.

Number 4 leads right on from 3:


4. Make excuses
Do not make yourself the victim at work. No one likes a martyr, and honestly it gets old fast. It should not be anyone else’s fault that you missed the mark. If you don’t have the answers, ask the right questions. Be a problem solver, not just a problem identifier. Beating yourself up won’t do you any favours either. Learn from your mistakes, and most importantly, take responsibility for your actions.  On the flip side, take responsibility for your successes too! You may see self-deprecation or deflection as humility, but all it really does is negatively alter other people’s perception of you. Don’t attribute your talents or accomplishments to pure luck. Accept credit where credit is due.


In other words, offer solutions, not problems – simple.  And if your good work gets noticed, bask in the glory but only until the next problem arises.

Number 5 is basically shooting your-self in the foot:


5. Send a nasty email
It happens. You are livid and want to send an angry email to tell off a co-worker who threw you under the bus. Or maybe you’re feeling bitter about being turned down for a job unfairly. You believe you will come out on top and really “stick it to ‘em,” but in reality you’re just portraying yourself as immature and hot-headed. That is not who people want to work with. Always allow yourself to cool off before hitting send. You ideally do not want anything in writing that could be distributed around the block. Defend yourself when necessary, but always remain strategic.


To that I would add be very very careful to whom you copy any mail.  And of course in these days of social network sites, remember that Big Brother from work is often monitoring you so be careful mouthing off or venting on Twitter or Facebook.  Have a good old-fashioned moan with your mates in the pub if you must, but don’t commit anything to writing and don’t send it off zipping round Cyberspace unchecked.

Number 6 – you know it’s wrong, so why do it?


6. Tell Lies
Being trustworthy and honest is a fundamental characteristic that will always be valued. When you make a mis-step you should own up to it right away. Getting caught in a lie is more detrimental to your reputation than admitting you are wrong.
I tell my staff this all the time—I’d much rather have someone own up to a mistake than try to cover it up. The cover up always just makes it worse, and makes me doubt them even more. Honesty is always the best policy, even if it’s a hard truth to take. And it is not enough just to tell the truth — be somewhat transparent rather than mysterious. Your credibility will be more stable when others feel they can understand your processes and aren’t left in the dark.


Remember the wise words of Scottish poet Robert Burns: ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive’.  And as the saying goes, ‘Tell the truth and shame the devil’.
So if you ticked any of the above boxes, you know what your New Year work resolution is going to be, don’t you?


STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at www.hrmc.co.bw

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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