Friday, April 9, 2010

How to stay productive regardless of age

Here is something that will surely serve to inspire and get you thinking with a different perspective about working, about ageing, about being effectively productive no matter what your age is. My good, senior friend Mr Ong Teong Wan, has just been interviewed by Singapore. The full interview transcript is on their website and they have given me the permission to reproduce the interview in my that more people can benefit from the excellent advice by Teong Wan.
Unk Dicko would like to thank Singapore for allowing me to share this here.
For Singapore website please click....HERE.

How to stay productive regardless of age - Ong Teong Wan
Post on 30-Mar-10 by ong teong wan Singapore interviews Mr. Ong Teong Wan, Consulting Partner for Corporate Training at SIM and Honorary Advisor to STADA on Professional Development.

Teong Wan, at age 72, it’s very inspiring to know that you are still part of the workforce. What advice do you have, in terms of ‘active aging’, for both older jobseekers/workers, and hiring companies?

A mindset change and values re-orientation is needed on the part of older workers who are the resource persons on the one hand and employing organizations that use such resources on the other. I think it will be useful for older workers to accept, if not opt for, contracts for service and go for variable remuneration or income instead of requiring fixed base salaries at some point in their career, as part of their career planning. This means considering oneself as an outsource provider, running a business within a business, but with a captive client i.e. your current employer as a business partner of sorts.Being debt-free at the final phase of one’s career or occupation does not necessarily mean just doing no work and enjoying full-time leisure with friends and family and playing and ferrying grandchildren (who will grow up soon and may not need you as frequently). This is active aging. I would go for effective aging. We can do less work instead of no work, balance it with relaxation, leisure pursuits, helping others in dire need of assistance or contribute to the community to make it better. Re-orientating values means balancing self-interest with other’s needs to lead a balanced life. Having meaningful work to do, paid or unpaid, in later years helps to maintain one’s self-esteem which is vital for mental health as well as physical health. This is effective aging.Some may question, “Who wants to employ you at this age?” The internet provides limitless opportunities for creative alternative avenues of low risk work from home or in premises outside. It is not just a source of interesting facts, happenings and trivia.My website: hosts a loose partnership with individual independent service providers as well as sole proprietors embarking on a second career while I am pathing into my fourth career. These are two groups of former associates and clients. One group has just retired and the other group opted for non-corporate work in mid-career to be self-employed using their previously gained skills and knowledge to work for different organizations, profit and non-profit. They enjoy the autonomy and flexibility of time to balance family and work life and are distanced from organizational politics and jostlings for position and power. This career option will phase them smoothly past whatever retirement age is designated, if they have a notional retirement age at all.Employers on their part will need to embrace the concept of post-retirement career planning as part of their human resource management system and not external to it. Payroll costs can be mitigated with variable payments instead of fixed payrolls and different employment contracts. One shoe-making company helps ex-employees set up retail outlets for the company’s products and helps them manage the outlets as their own businesses. Although mature workers may have fixed mindsets, they nevertheless have experiences that require little or no training time, except in businesses where technology changes very rapidly and even then these changes do not happen overnight. Work habits and thinking habits can change with a supportive and conducive work environment as most people behave according to the environment created by management. The company-assisted shoe retail outlets is an example of how mindsets can be changed.

What are some HR trends that you foresee for this year 2010?

In the short term, with the economy improving, we can expect to see higher labour mobility, especially in business where expertise is in short supply. With that will come fixed payroll increases as salaries are upped to attract or retain talent. This is where our past efforts at implementing Flexi-Wages or Restructured Wage Systems may be nullified again. These wage reform exercises advocate low fixed salary increases and higher variable bonuses based on organizational results. The short term need for staff when demand exceeds supply will dislocate such a pay system as it has happened in the past two attempts. Increased levies for foreign workers will impact on payrolls and business costs. In some industries, there is a limit to mechanization and automation that can be undertaken as the nature of the business itself requires detailed human interface and judgement operationally.There will be a need to study ways by which older workers past 60 can still be productively employed or self-employed in work that is low risk financially and physically. This will become more urgent as the indigenous population ages. There will be lower participation rates at training courses and even then, attendance will be sporadic, with participants going away to attend to urgent work matters or are called by superiors to attend to such matters. For most people, short term urgency overrides long term importance.

What are some of the key challenges that managers face with regards to managing and motivating their staff in these current post-recession times?
In a positive economic climate where jobs become more available, managers who are comfortable in managing for compliance, ie those who are very directive and prescriptive in approach, will face challenges with getting work done through and with their direct reports. Retaining the productive and talented ones will be more challenging too if such a style of managing persists.Managing for compliance can more easily get work done through and with people during recessionary times, when security and survival needs motivate people to work. During good times, workers are motivated more by higher order needs such as esteem needs, challenging tasks as they can more risks about failure, empowerment or greater authority to take risks at work and receive commensurate rewards for good performance. If managers can understand these, they will be less stressed and concerned themselves.

What are some key strategies for managers to effectively lead and manage their staff so as to retain and nurture them as well?
It may be more productive to manage for commitment, not just for such good times, but also for bad times. Managing for commitment means giving positive feedback when due, constructive feedback when work does not meet expectations, being receptive to suggestions, problems, issues and even grievances. When differences of opinions, perceptions, ways of doing things do arise, there is always the need to manage the differences and work together in partnership to arrive at mutually acceptable, if not beneficial outcomes. Nowadays it is called employee engagement.Ordinary as well as talented people want to be respected as individuals, to maintain self-esteem, to have the flexibility to do things in their own ways to achieve expected results; to be heard, understood and accepted, divergence of views and approaches are accepted and mutually acceptable. Good interpersonal relations or EQ will always remain core managerial and leadership skills or competencies and strategies.Most people leave an organization because of push factors rather than pull factors, given comparable and competitive pay. Pull factors such as “attractive” job offers are only catalysts for dormant push factors. Common push factors are: no respect for or from immediate superior, managing for compliance, uncaring and inconsiderate superiors, politicking, uncooperative workmates, unpleasant corporate culture, non-performance being rewarding, performance either good or poor is immaterial, too many impediments to get work done such as slow decision-making, too many irksome bureaucratic rules and procedures, too many fruitless meetings, lack of empowerment to perform a job not commensurate with accountabilities, too many reporting levels inhibiting personal output and the list goes on.

What inspired you to write your first book, ‘Results Management – effective people management to achieve excellent results’?

The many mid-career managers being laid off during the 2008 recession and their having to look for a transitional career gave me the idea to train them how to train others with the Results Management System that I have refined over the years. I have been doing all the training myself in this system for companies that wanted to improve operational productivity to make wages more cost-effective. I have Participant Manuals, Facilitator Manuals, and DVD’s to demonstrate the competencies needed to implement such a system organisation-wide. I needed a book for reference to complete my whole training package so that I can certify other experienced managers to train newer managers either in-house or as a second career option as a contingency. Besides, I thought I should mark my 70th birthday in 2008 with a localized and practice-oriented management book that I had been mulling over the years.
‘Results Management – effective people management to achieve excellent results’ is published by John Wiley & Sons.


evision said...

i have gone through this blog. nowadays im working from my home as a online businessman. and the above blog is really helpful.

online business

unk Dicko said...

Glad you found the article helpful.
For more ideas, Mr Ong T W can be reached at his website address given in the post.