Singapore Office Politics

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hiromice
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Singapore Office Politics

Post by hiromice » Fri, 10 Jul 2009 2:34 am

Please share your experience with me on how office politics plays in Singapore?

What to do and what not to do?

Many thanks!!

:o

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Bafana
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Post by Bafana » Fri, 10 Jul 2009 4:24 am

From my experience in the Construction and Law Enforcement Sectors Singapore Office and Work (between companies, etc) Politics is some of the worst I have ever seen having worked in Australia, Europe, Africa and Asia. Where to start giving examples when you spend at least half of your day avoiding, suffering from or watching out for it?
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Post by hiromice » Fri, 10 Jul 2009 8:21 am

Can you be more specific please?

Thanks,

e.g. someone who comes to work first day from the US, how should I behave?

lol

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 10 Jul 2009 9:23 am

Like a new employee? Just use common sense and you will be okay.
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Post by phil30k » Thu, 16 Jul 2009 7:53 am

Part of the attraction of expatriates is that they are not suffused with the local influences, especially where that local influence may be seen as a hinderance.
I'd say just do what worked back where you came from and let the boss decide if he/she is going to order the rest of the company to follow suit. Be aware of local practices but communicate any discrepancies with your boss immediately for their evaluation.
Blindly going native may not be the best option.

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Post by hibri2 » Thu, 16 Jul 2009 5:10 pm

hiromice wrote: e.g. someone who comes to work first day from the US, how should I behave?
hello there hiromice;

it seems to me that you are asking about office etiquette and not politics,

anyway, if it is not too late to offer you some advice, it should go a little bit like this:

(i am assuming you are working in a asian majority office)

offices here tend to be quiet, people do not yell or raise their voices

body language and contact is not common here, gesticulating too much is seen as an aggressive stance, while hugging, patting on the shoulder or even shaking hands are not really that common, gender wise it is better to keep more distance between different genders

people tend to make a lot of silences in the middle of a conversation which it could be weird to some...

using bad words (even if it is not openly vulgar) it is really seen as a bad thing, for example i tend to use the word "shit" instead of "stuff" as in "i need to buy some shit tonight" and people at the office (even on informal situations like lunch time) gets irked, i remember a girl who told me not to day "messed up" actually :-\

talking about parties and beer and drinking later is generally frown upon (again even in informal environments)

on the other hand, people are sort of informal when it comes to titles of respect, for example, they generally use the name instead of Mr <first>, including VP's or CEO's they just call them by their name, and they will do the same to you, so dont think they mean disrespect.

people expect you to know nothing about asia or to dislike singapore or asia, they just assume all "ang moh's" are basically eurocentric ignorants or something... and they may answer some question with certain condescending attitude that may annoy you.

it is not very well seen to be very political, social or generally opinionated about stuff, talking about "free tibet", "iraq war" or even simple things as the ukrainian ban on Bruno will make people uncomfortable

sometimes people get annoyed if you dont get their accents be it indian, chinese or whatever, it is kind of rude to say "excuse me? sorry? cant get you man!" more than a few times.

the name card ritual... they dont expect you to know, so do this will get you some points... give and take the cards with two hands, if you take a name card, look at it for some seconds (up to 5 maybe) nodding your head in approval... some people say that comenting about the card font and shit is expected. never put it in your pocket, keep it in front of you (at the table) at all times during a meeting.

people here normally dress up conservative, even in "casual fridays" they dress up conservative.

they like to email to mary, joseph and baby jesus everytime they send an email, be ready to gets emails with a lots of CC's in it, it is good manners to always think about hierarchical echelons when emailing, for example, if you need the IT support guys to help you with the printer, email the guys and CC their manager or something, it shows that you are not bypassing their manager authority (exercise common sense as always).

people never... never ask about their families here, like even if you know that a colleague kid is sick, they dont ask about "hey how is your kid doing?" doing that may get you very positive results or people thinking you are too intrusive, again exercise common sense.

as above, it is common here that they dont say "good morning, etc" to people of lower ranks, like the cleaning staff or security guards... dont be surprised. doing that will make the cleaning staff and sec guys really like you, which is nice (as they are generally a funny bunch).

they are food obsessive here, people sort of expect if you go abroad to bring some token food from where you go, nothing big, candy or a few thingies will do, they prefer that than if you bring them something more meaningful or expensive (like a key ring or stickers or whatever).

ok, hiromice... i am sort of freezing here at where i am hiding so i will go for a smoke, hope this helps and if you need some other tips let me know.
"Do not pray in my school, and I will not think in your church." - Unknown.

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Post by hiromice » Thu, 16 Jul 2009 7:08 pm

hibri2 wrote:
hiromice wrote: e.g. someone who comes to work first day from the US, how should I behave?
hello there hiromice;

it seems to me that you are asking about office etiquette and not politics,

anyway, if it is not too late to offer you some advice, it should go a little bit like this:

(i am assuming you are working in a asian majority office)

offices here tend to be quiet, people do not yell or raise their voices

body language and contact is not common here, gesticulating too much is seen as an aggressive stance, while hugging, patting on the shoulder or even shaking hands are not really that common, gender wise it is better to keep more distance between different genders

people tend to make a lot of silences in the middle of a conversation which it could be weird to some...

using bad words (even if it is not openly vulgar) it is really seen as a bad thing, for example i tend to use the word "shit" instead of "stuff" as in "i need to buy some shit tonight" and people at the office (even on informal situations like lunch time) gets irked, i remember a girl who told me not to day "messed up" actually :-\

talking about parties and beer and drinking later is generally frown upon (again even in informal environments)

on the other hand, people are sort of informal when it comes to titles of respect, for example, they generally use the name instead of Mr <first>, including VP's or CEO's they just call them by their name, and they will do the same to you, so dont think they mean disrespect.

people expect you to know nothing about asia or to dislike singapore or asia, they just assume all "ang moh's" are basically eurocentric ignorants or something... and they may answer some question with certain condescending attitude that may annoy you.

it is not very well seen to be very political, social or generally opinionated about stuff, talking about "free tibet", "iraq war" or even simple things as the ukrainian ban on Bruno will make people uncomfortable

sometimes people get annoyed if you dont get their accents be it indian, chinese or whatever, it is kind of rude to say "excuse me? sorry? cant get you man!" more than a few times.

the name card ritual... they dont expect you to know, so do this will get you some points... give and take the cards with two hands, if you take a name card, look at it for some seconds (up to 5 maybe) nodding your head in approval... some people say that comenting about the card font and shit is expected. never put it in your pocket, keep it in front of you (at the table) at all times during a meeting.

people here normally dress up conservative, even in "casual fridays" they dress up conservative.

they like to email to mary, joseph and baby jesus everytime they send an email, be ready to gets emails with a lots of CC's in it, it is good manners to always think about hierarchical echelons when emailing, for example, if you need the IT support guys to help you with the printer, email the guys and CC their manager or something, it shows that you are not bypassing their manager authority (exercise common sense as always).

people never... never ask about their families here, like even if you know that a colleague kid is sick, they dont ask about "hey how is your kid doing?" doing that may get you very positive results or people thinking you are too intrusive, again exercise common sense.

as above, it is common here that they dont say "good morning, etc" to people of lower ranks, like the cleaning staff or security guards... dont be surprised. doing that will make the cleaning staff and sec guys really like you, which is nice (as they are generally a funny bunch).

they are food obsessive here, people sort of expect if you go abroad to bring some token food from where you go, nothing big, candy or a few thingies will do, they prefer that than if you bring them something more meaningful or expensive (like a key ring or stickers or whatever).

ok, hiromice... i am sort of freezing here at where i am hiding so i will go for a smoke, hope this helps and if you need some other tips let me know.
Very helpful, thanks!!! :)

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Post by irvine » Fri, 17 Jul 2009 3:59 pm

As for office politics, do your best to stay out of it. Hahaha, and a fun way is to just step 'out of the box' to observe and see who each person really is, or who s/he says s/he is.

Sun Tzu's Art of War or 36 strategems is a good read to start with.

Overall, don't sweat about it. You're a person of expertise, that is why you are hired. And for all you know, they might like to hear your perspective from a new angle. Although, don't be surprise if what you say end up not being considered. There may be days you may feel "then why did you hire me here for???". That is when you come in here to this forum to chat. Ok, just kidding. :p

All the best and have fun in your new adventure!

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Post by Bafana » Sat, 18 Jul 2009 4:43 am

Agree with what's been said.

Relax and have fun, but remember office politics can bite and when someone gets a set on you (whether logical or not) in the Singaporean Office sense it lasts (forever) and they will wait to get their revenge.

Sit back and see what happens for a few months, be friendly to all parties.

What we in the west may see as assertive action in applying our skills can really burn bridges if you are not aware of a locals claim to to fame. Always try to be inclusive before making an announcement/decision but be wary of others agendas. Fifth columnists are abundant.

Sun Tzu is a good read for business life in general. However, in Singapore Office politics I would recommend Machiavelli's The Prince and in Shakespearean terms always watch out for Iago.
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hiromice
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Post by hiromice » Sat, 18 Jul 2009 10:57 pm

Great advice guys!

THANKS A LOT! :)

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Post by napalm » Sun, 19 Jul 2009 1:14 am

agree with staying away from the politics. i think there is a lot going on among the locals and among asians, and it best not to get involved. i quickly learned that race and where a person graduated (uni, poly, O-level) plays a big part on the office hierarchy. but generally they'll be easier on expats. its a different ballgame among asians. usually locals dont like to show their "weaknesses" to caucasians, so you probably wont see the whole picture but trust me there is a lot more going on among us asians hehe

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Post by hiromice » Sun, 19 Jul 2009 3:08 pm

Good to know...

Well, I don't get this picture,plase explain to me-

So far, only the Vps and Managers have invited me to have lunch in the Canteen and talked to me, while the locals ( lower levels) hardly say hi to me. ( I say hi to everyone and smile to everyone I have met).

If there is a so called hierarchy, why would VPs ( Local) have spoken to me friendly???

How do I get to know more people? Can I introduce myself to other people I have met in the company?

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Post by Bafana » Mon, 20 Jul 2009 3:30 am

What level are u compared to the VP and Managers?

My suggestion is do the lunch with them and don't snub them. You will get a chance to mingle with everyone over time. Suggest u ask one of your vp or managers friends that you would like to know where the average office workers hang out - they will take you.
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Post by napalm » Mon, 20 Jul 2009 3:42 am

in a big office with at least 50 people, it is normal that way. people here dont look at each other eye to eye most of the time. some are actually friendly, but they usually wont make the first move. i think its a way locals do to isolate themselves for privacy and/or avoid getting in trouble. they also associate westerners as someone being in position, so people can get cautious when they dont know you. if you really want to know them, make the first move. but if you still get snubbed dont worry, its quite normal here

however if you belong to a small office say < 20, then you should be concerned if nobody smiles back at you...

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Post by irvine » Mon, 20 Jul 2009 9:33 am

With the locals, you may want to take initiative, maybe with one or two first, and then eventually their gang. My style is to have lunch with different groups on different days instead of sticking to the same group (just my dept).

Agree with using Machiavelli. And if you're a woman, there're books on Sun Tsu and Machiavelli written for women. Haha, yeah, secret weapons! :p Sometimes it's more like a secret defence.

Oh yes, don't be surprised when people don't accept your buying them a drink, or offering them a snack. They just don't want to owe you a favor. Yeah, beats me.

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