Disagreeing With Your Boss The Right Way

You’re in a meeting with your supervisor and he suggests something you know is infeasible.

Or perhaps your department head sends instructions for performing a task you’ve already scouted out and know there’s a more efficient way to accomplish things and still stay on budget.

Whatever the situation may be, at some point or another in your career, you’re going to disagree with someone more powerful than you. So what do you do when this situation comes?

It might be logical to toss your ideas aside, get in line and do what your superior believes needs to be done. That may not be the best idea.

There are certain circumstances where you must put your fears aside and speak up. What happens if the issue is going to cause problems by going significantly over budget? What if the project will obviously blow up in your team’s face at some point during the process, or worse, after delivery to the customer?

However, before you go charging into your manager’s office, take some time to evaluate your argument and consider these practical tips from Amy Gallo, a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review and author of HBR Guide to Managing Conflict at Work.

Contemplate Your Opinion and Approach

So, you know how to do something better than your boss does. Great!

Don’t assume that your insight into the issue is more valuable than your superior’s insight, and don’t automatically write off their approach.

When you have an opportunity to speak to your supervisor, carefully lay out your disagreement and alternative approach.

Use figures, examples or hypothetical scenarios that support your argument.

Frame the Conversation

Don’t get cocky about your argument and believe in your idea alone.

Often, disagreements are a great inroad to compromises that work better than any one idea alone would.

Before you even open your mouth, ask some probing questions about the issue at hand and listen to your superior’s perspective.

Then, before you insert your differing viewpoint, ask whether it’s okay for you to share an idea that contradicts the one to which your boss adheres. Getting his or her verbal buy-in will help the ensuing conversation to go much more smoothly.

Body Language and Speech

Your body language speaks volumes before you even finish crossing the threshold to your boss’s office.

Don’t walk in with your arms crossed and appear unwilling to listen. Nor should you walk in like you own the place.

Conversely, if you’re nervous, fake confidence in your stride and posture to let your boss know you mean business and believe in the proposal you’re about to put forth.

It can be intimidating to have a disagreement with a superior, but you don’t want to erode your position before you even open your mouth. Don’t tap your feet or physically shrink away from the conflict.

The way you speak, too, can belie your confidence. Focus on speaking in measured tones, placing enough emphasis on your words and keeping your volume level in check. People tend to raise the pitch of their voice and speak too quickly when they’re nervous, so try your best to control these tendencies.

Again, if you’re on the opposite side of the spectrum and feeling particularly angry or agitated about the situation, take care to control the tone of your voice. Measure your words and keep your voice down. Raising your voice and using poor word choices can escalate the situation, and that may have many negative effects on your conversation.

Think Through the Consequences

Think through the ways that the conversation could go, and try to come up with a defense for the best parts of your argument.

Similarly, think about what might happen if you don’t address the issue. Will your boss’s method of handling the situation cause your team to implode? Is the company’s reputation at stake? Are there significant financial ramifications to doing it your boss’s way, rather than another way?

There may be conversations that you can sit out of because not all disagreements need to be voiced. Learn to pick your battles carefully.

However, if you see that you have a solution that could save your team or your company from running into a serious problem down the road, you need to address it. Most reasonable managers will see the logic behind a better solution and shouldn’t let their pride get in the way of considering a new approach.

Modest Hiring Expected In Singapore During 2Q 2017

A moderate pace of hiring is expected in Singapore during 2Q 2017.

ManpowerGroup surveyed 700 managers to find that 13 percent noted a rise in their staffing levels during the second quarter, with 5 percent expecting a decline and the remaining 81 percent anticipating no change.

Singapore’s “net employment outlook,” or percentage of employers expecting to increase their recruiting minus the percent noting a drop in employment, is at +8 percent for 2Q 2017.

This is after adjusting for seasonal factors and indicates that second-quarter hiring intentions will keep fairly stable quarter-over-quarter. However, when contrasted with hiring from a year ago, the net employment outlook shows a 2-percent dip.

According to ManpowerGroup’s Linda Teo:

Hiring sentiment is moderate, as the market remains clouded in uncertainty with the election of Mr. Trump as U.S. president and the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership…In general, companies will definitely still need to hire but many of them lack the budget for permanent headcounts and are thus using agency contracting as a workaround.”

The research shows a mixed report from industry to industry. The following sectors indicate weaker hiring compared to the previous quarter:

  • Manufacturing
  • Finance
  • Insurance
  • Real estate

On the other hand, these sectors have indicated an intention to increase their staff:

  • Public administration
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • Utilities

The public administration and education sectors boast the most aggressive net employment outlook of +17 percent. Real estate, finance and insurance follow with a +16 percent outlook.

The only sector anticipating a negative net outlook is wholesale trade and retail (-1 percent). After the busy seasons of Christmas and Chinese New Year, demand is down for employees in this sector.

Over the Asia-Pacific region as a whole, quarter-over-quarter growth shows a falling net employment outlook in three markets, neutral growth in four and improvement in the last market.

Taiwan’s jobs forecast is the most upbeat for the second quarter in a row, both within the region and globally. China’s prospects remain the weakest, with four straight quarters of decline.

11 Research-Backed Reasons To Work Less

You might find yourself thinking of the weekends as a time to get caught up on work, or to get ahead for the next work week. Or perhaps you’re in the habit of working long hours and plan to work even more this week.

If that’s the case, you may want to rethink your plans.

Research show that working too much and staying connected, with no breaks, can be just as damaging to your health as it is to your career.

Getting in the habit of closing your laptop, putting your phone on vibrate and shutting down social media could have long-lasting effects on your life. Here are 11 points to help convince you of the benefits.

  1. One study from The Business Roundtable found that employees who work 60-hour weeks over a two-month period tend to become less productive. The net result? The productivity equivalent over those two months is the same as if they had just worked 40-hour weeks.
  2. Working overtime, in addition to decreasing productivity, might also double the chances of an individual experiencing a major depressive episode, even without other risk factors.
  3. A study showed that 195 men between the ages of 30 and 60, who regularly worked more than 11 hours each day had more than twice the chance of having a heart attack than those working fewer hours.
  4. Different studies have shown that wakeful rest, or the period of being awake and not working, is when your brain processes vital components that can lead to better memory and greater problem-solving abilities.
  5. The stress hormone, cortisol, is much higher when waking up on work days than it is on rest days.
  6. Resting helps you to have a better work-life balance that can lead to greater job satisfaction.
  7. Ernst & Young found that employees’ year-end performance ratings increase by 8 percent for each additional 10 hours of vacation.
  8. The Women’s Health Initiative found that women who sit for longer periods have a reduced lifespan.
  9. Vacations aren’t a long-term rest solution, since studies have shown that vacation benefits tend to last only two to four weeks; mini-vacations from work on the weekends, though, can help more.
  10. Temporary eye strain, which can be caused by working at computers, can lead to glaucoma, which is one cause of blindness.
  11. In one study, couples where both spouses felt work stress were also more distant, independent and anxious.

If Not Handled Well, Having Younger Bosses Can Be Harmful

There are multiple generations that work together in the workplace today.

Baby boomers are starting to edge toward retirement age and they may even be staying in the workplace longer than before, while millennials are just at the start of their careers, with generation X sandwiched in the middle.

This can cause some discomfort for people, especially in circumstances when the traditional hierarchy of the most senior person being in charge changes.

What happens when you have older workers and younger bosses?

Affects the Whole Company

The Journal of Organizational Psychology recently published a study based on a survey that examined the phenomenon of workers having managers that are younger than they are. In some cases, the younger workers were the same age as the children of the older workers.

Researchers noted some interesting results.

In this survey of 8,000 German employees at 61 different companies, organisations where people had a greater number of younger managers had 12% more negative feelings about the workplace. 

A few employees feeling negative thoughts can have an impact on the company as a whole. The negative feelings may even affect those employees directly a part of a situation with unconventional age differences.

These businesses also did worse when it came to organizational and financial performance.

Status Incongruence

This phenomenon of having younger people promoted over more senior workers is part of what is known as ‘status incongruence’. Status incongruence is not a new phenomenon and was also seen when women began being put into positions of management over men.

In the past, older employees tended to be in executive positions within a company while the younger employees were the rank and file.

Now, the recession of 2007 changed this with more older workers staying in the workplace longer. One survey by Careerbuilder.com found that 69 percent of workers over the age of 55 had bosses younger than them.

The Solution

The differences among the generations in the workplace today can have a positive effect by creating a more diverse workforce.

However, these differences can spark some issues. Among other things, for older employees, a younger manager may make them feel like a failure in their lack of upward movement.

The best solution to deal with this is in manager training. It’s important that managers be trained to understand status incongruence and learn how to deal with those that may feel uncomfortable with the age difference in a supervisory relationship.

Almost Half Of The People In Singapore Have Poor Work-Life Balance

A survey of employees in various locations, found that almost one in two people in Singapore report a poor work-life balance. In the Emolument study, 47 percent of respondents stated that the balance between their professional life and personal life is awful.

Many of the people with the worst work-life balance also have the largest paychecks, but is this too high a commitment for employees?

Locations and Jobs That Offer Top Salaries in Exchange for High Commitment

Out of all the locations in the survey, the ones that are offering top salaries in exchange for a high commitment from employees include Singapore, UAE, and Hong Kong.

The most unhappy set of employees are consultants. Due to the nature of the  job, consultants are often subject to longer working hours and have less control over their environment.

49 percent of consultants are unhappy with their work-life balance and categorize it as awful. They often deal with clients, need to readily obey their commands at the drop of a hat, and they have no control over where and when they work.

Gender and Work-Life Balance

The study also examined the differences in gender when it comes to work-life balance.

It was found that a higher percent of women than men find the balance between work and personal life to be awful, with nine percent more women feeling this way.

Often there is relatively more pressure on women when it comes to what they handle in their lives.

Most women deal with the commitments that come with children, such as the children being sick or having events at school.

Women also have to deal with all the logistics that come with raising a family, such as arranging day care or transportation, in addition to handling/overseeing the housework, cleaning and cooking.

A successful career and a fulfilling personal life can be a huge juggling act.

Future Implications

Alice Leguay, the COO of Emolument.com, says that although large companies have been talking about work-life balance for many years, it’s only recently becoming a factor for people when they go through the process of picking a career or employer.

The younger generations are coming into the workforce looking for jobs that are flexible in that they expect less face-time and micromanaging. More and more young people want to be trusted to do the job under their own terms.

Depending on the industry, these expectations may be a long way off for some employers, but many are starting to understand that a poor work-life balance could result in higher turnover rates.

These employers are realizing that more employees aren’t finding higher pay enough compensation for a poor work-life balance.

Salaries And Expectations Of Graduates In Hong Kong

89% of the recent crop of university graduates in Hong Kong, landed a job within three months of graduating.

And most of them (76%) are happy with the job they managed to get.

This is as per a survey by JobsDB, of approximately 760 local graduates in Hong Kong. Here are a few more highlights:

  • The average salary for fresh graduates is HK$ 14,685 per month (HK$ 13,413 last year).
  • The three most preferred sectors for graduates are accounting, marketing/ advertising/ PR, and the civil services.
  • 41% expect to stick with their first job for over three years, as compared to 20% in the previous year. This is most likely a function of the uncertain economic environment.
  • Factors that graduates value most in a job, include compensation (27%), ability to pursue/develop their interests (15%), the organisation’s environment/ culture/ reputation (11%), job security (11%) and career development (10%).
  •  71% of students were optimistic about their careers.

“The results of the survey speak for themselves. With the right conditions, employers can expect to retain many of their fresh graduates for three years or more,” said Justin Yiu, Hong Kong General Manager at Jobs DB.

salary for undergradutes in hong kong

career goals students hong kong

The Skills Gap In Singapore’s Finance Sector Is Widening

The skills gap facing many companies in Singapore is about more than the skills themselves, especially when it comes to companies looking to hire professionals in the finance industry/function.

More than three-quarters of CFOs note that they see greater competition from overseas corporations who want to attract the same skilled professionals.

A recent study from Robert Half showed that because of the competition, finance companies and banks are running into more difficulties as they meet with and try to attract potential employees. In fact, the study showed that 79 percent of CFOs report that this overseas competition is making the skills gap even wider.

Medium-sized companies are being hit the hardest, with 94 percent of CFOs in these firms noting that overseas companies are increasing their offers to talented potential employees.

However, that hasn’t stopped almost half of these Chief Financial Officers from doing the same thing. Around four in 10 — or 44 percent — said that they will also look overseas to hire skilled professionals for their own departments. They plan to look for and fill at least 10 percent of their positions with employees from foreign countries.

Robert Half Singapore’s Managing Director Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard notes that Singapore has an advantage as a result of its global reputation, innovation, and business excellence. All three factors are traits that financial services professionals appreciate. Even so, the report shows that when the companies in Singapore want to add employees, they have no choice but to work with the foreign markets to offset the skills shortage in the country.

The skills shortage weighs heavy on the mind of CFOs. Almost 79 percent of these CFOs note that their innovation — in both ideas and execution — is hindered because of the shortage. Hong Kong is a strong regional competitor, and if companies in Singapore want to compete regionally, they need to continue stepping up their game.

If companies want to attract skilled talent, they should be willing to re-examine their policies for attracting prospective employees and retaining them for years to come. There has been an increasing focus lately on looking at ways to put together packages that would attract talented and senior candidates, both local and foreign, to alleviate the skills gap in the financial sector.

Tech Firms In Asia Raise Salary Budgets Due To Rising Turnover

Experts might expect that, given the fluctuating state of the global economy, employees would want to retain their positions for longer periods of time. However, at least in the technology industry in the Asia-Pacific region, and in Singapore, specifically, this does not hold true.

New reports show that technology companies in Asia-Pacific have high voluntary employee turnover rates. These high turnover rates are a surprising outcome considering the high levels of instability and uncertainty in economies around the world.

In fact, voluntary turnover rates in all markets, except for Japan and South Korea, are higher than 10 percent. Singapore is fourth when compared to all regional major markets at 11.7 percent, trailing Australia, Malaysia and India in terms of the highest voluntary turnover rates.

These stats came from the Radford Trends Report, which publishes surveys and reports about compensation and development in more than 80 countries. Radford is a part of Aon Hewitt.

As a result of the increasing voluntary employee turnover, the report shows that many of the companies in the region have started to create hiring plans that might be deemed more aggressive than normal. Two-thirds of companies in the technology sector in Asia-Pacific have created detailed plans to help address this situation.

India is also leading this trend, with 13 percent of the companies implementing an aggressive hiring plan. Companies in India are also reporting plans to take their salary increase budgets from 10.5% in 2016 to 11% in 2017.

While the salary increase isn’t quite as drastic in Singapore as it is in countries like India or Indonesia, it isn’t far behind.

Companies in Singapore are also working to improve their employee retention. To respond to median voluntary turnover at 11.7%, technology companies in Singapore are keeping more aside for salary increase budgets (4.4% in 2017 vs 4.2% in 2016).

technology it company salary increase 2017 asia singapore

Economic Activity Improved For 14 Of 19 Sectors In Asia (Nov 2016)

The Nikkei Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) measures economic activity (such as output, new orders, prices) and consequently employment growth/contraction.

A number above 50 points towards an economic expansion and below 50 points toward a contraction.

Here is a summary of the PMI numbers for countries in Asia, during November 2016. Numbers in brackets are for the previous month.

  • Singapore: 52.8 (50.5)
  • Hong Kong: 49.5 (48.2)
  • Japan: Services 51.8 (50.5), Manufacturing 51.3 (51.4)
  • India: Services 46.7 (54.5) , Manufacturing 52.3 (54.4)
  • Philippines: 56.3 (56.5)
  • Malaysia: 47.1 (47.2)
  • Indonesia: 49.7 (48.7)
  • Thailand: 48.2 (48.8)
  • Vietnam: 54.0 (51.7)

The PMI increased for 14 of the 19 sectors in Asia. Below are some of the sectors which showed the strongest growth and contraction.

  • General industrials: 57.0
  • Industrial services: 56.3
  • Commercial & professional services: 56.1
  • Real estate: 48.9
  • Healthcare services: 48.5
  • Insurance: 46.6

What If Your Boss Wants You To Do Something Wrong?

There are plenty of stories all over the internet of people stealing reusable sticky note pads, pens and more, and then they feel varying degrees of guilt over the actions they chose.

Sure, people agree that stealing from your employer is wrong, but what about when the leaders of your company are the ones encouraging the wrongdoing?

Many people haven’t thought about what they would do they were being pressured to do something bad for business, bad for customers and, in some cases, illegal.

In recent news about Wells Fargo, regulators found that employees secretly opened unauthorized accounts to hit sales targets and receive bonuses. Wells Fargo is paying $185 million to resolve the claims that they opened more than 2 million accounts and that thousands of employees were involved in the practice.

Some situations may look clearly wrong, but not everything is always so cut and dry. What should you do if you are in a situation where your boss wants you to do something that doesn’t seem right and there are indications that if you don’t go ahead, he/she might harm your career in some way.

Before you take any steps, Joseph Badaracco (Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School) recommends that you should look at the situation as a manager and think like a rational human being.

As a result, you’ll be able to present a logical, well-organized, detail-oriented response and resolution.

Before you do anything, try and understand the situation objectively.

Put yourself in another’s shoes and look at the situation from many angles.

Is anyone being hurt or experiencing damage? Is this illegal? Is this ethical? What is the standard or best-practice?

By giving yourself some time to conduct such analysis, you can better judge the situation and key players.

Find a trusted confidante.

Look for someone you can trust in the organization who might have more knowledge of the company’s business practices than you, and ask that person for his or her opinion on the situation.

A fresh, new perspective might help you understand the reasoning behind the decisions and actions your boss is asking of you. You can also get some pointers on how to handle the situation.

Write it down.

There’s a reason your parents told your younger self to write down all of the pros and cons — the list making technique is extremely helpful.

Write down each of your option for handling the situation and think through all of the positives and negatives of each, from getting fired to earning a raise. Also consider the probabilities of each happening.

Use this time to also think through another response to the situation that would be legal and still accomplish the same purpose.

Talk to your boss.

The reason it’s important to think through everything and take a good look at your options is so that rather than encountering negative reactions or responses from your boss when you talk to him or her about the situation, you can present yourself as a team player looking out for the best interest of the company (rather than an employee who is accusing their boss).

Expand Your Networking Horizons To Other Industries

You may have focused on networking inside of your industry up to this point in your career. It’s only natural, right? Why would you need contacts outside of your industry?

According to Dorie Clark, Author & Professor at Duke University, there are a few reasons why you may want to step outside your industry with networking.

It opens up your options if you want to change careers, especially in an instance when your overall industry has been impacted negatively. If that happens, your industry contacts may not be much use for potential employment, since everyone is in the same boat as you.

You never know when you or a client will need some outside industry advice. Plus, networking with people outside your industry will help to broaden your horizons in how you view your industry and the world.

Here are some tips to get you stepping outside of your comfort zone to network with other industry professionals.

Evaluate Your Network

It’s possible that you’ve already completed some networking outside of your industry.

Evaluate the people that you consider part of your network, based on the amount of time you spend with them and the industry in which you work.

If you find that a high percentage of the people that you spend the most time with are within your industry, it’s time for you to start networking to find people outside of your area of expertise.

Get Recommendations

Those already in your network have their own network.

Sure, there may be some overlaps in your networks, but there’s a good chance that they have contacts on their network that would be new to you.

Ask them for an introduction to individuals in their network that are outside of your industry.

If there’s a particular industry that seems interesting to you, ask your contacts to see if they know someone in that industry. See if your contacts can introduce you to these new people.

Always Make Time to Network

Pencil in time to network on your schedule on a regular basis.

Building these relationships, especially outside of your industry, may seem like you’re not getting a return on your investment immediately.

However, this hard work can benefit you in the long run. You never know when that person you met at a scheduled networking event may come in handy in your life. Build and sustain the network of contacts that you make.

It can be easy to fall into a mindset where you believe that your network is big enough thanks colleagues within your own industry. You might become complacent and think that future networking isn’t that necessary.

Often, the most successful people in your life are the ones that have a strong and healthy network of contacts across many industries. These people help them accomplish their goals and stay ahead.

People In Asia Don’t Want Female Bosses

Despite countless campaigns, seminars and movements pushing for more gender equality in the workplace, there are many places in the world where businesses are still dominated by men as compared to women.

Workplaces in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia have a long way to go in achieving gender equality.

It is a known, and unfortunate, fact that women face discrimination, biases and challenges at work.

While these are problems that women also face in the United States and countries in Western Europe, they are especially prevalent in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Unlike countries in the west, Asian countries rarely address these issues. Furthermore, as per findings from a study by Randstad Workmonitor, employees in these regions simply prefer to have a male boss over a female boss.

Randstad Workmonitor’s research measured the preferences employees have for a direct manager in their workplace.

Globally 65 percent of respondents said they preferred a male boss. In Hong Kong the number is 78 percent, with Singapore following close behind at 76 percent and Malaysia at 73 percent.

The study also looked at Japan and Greece, where a whopping 80 percent of respondents said they preferred a male boss over a female boss.

Another interesting finding is that even female respondents declared a strong preference for a male supervisor over a female one. The study found that 74 percent of women in Singapore, 74 percent of women in Hong Kong and 63 percent of women in Malaysia preferred a male boss over a female boss. This compares to the global average for female preference of 58 percent.

Despite numerous reports highlighting the huge pay gap between genders, 79 percent of employees all over the world felt that men and women who had the same job were rewarded equally. This perception was especially strong in Asia, with 81 percent of respondents in Singapore, 81 percent of respondents in Hong Kong and 83 percent of respondents in Malaysia echoing this sentiment.

Michael Smith, the managing director for Randstad Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, expressed his concern over these disparaging results.

The results show a worrying trend in this region with such strong preferences for having male bosses in the workplace, despite open discussions around the issue of gender equality going on around the world. Corporate and government initiatives are just a start, but for real change to take place, the issues around gender equality need to be recognized and mindsets need to evolve. As a staunch supporter of gender equality in the workplace, I expected to see these sentiments slowly change for the better over the coming years as traditional family structures, where the notion of men being the sole family breadwinner is dominant, are starting to be challenged in the region.”