Culture differences

Before reading my thoughts for this entry, I would like to make it clear that I’m not pin-pointing any organization or person. References, if any, are simply quoted as examples. All of these are my personal opinions and thoughts and in no way it shall represent the organisation and/or views of anyone. In fact, if you observe closely, what I’ll be expressing in this article can most certainly occur in almost everywhere in our daily lives. Please read my disclaimer for clarifications.

Having served the military for a year now, I’ve had many opportunities to have an insight and learnt about the organisation, its management and people. I’ve come to realize that it is not easy to management a group of people, especially so if you are working in a big organisation. I’m sure many would agree that there are bound to be office politics in any organisation but in a military organisation, there’s simply more than office politics as there is a standard chain of command as well as the rank hierarchy to respect.

There are a few incidents which I’ve observed and would like to share and express my views on. As a trainee, one has to listen to the instructors and take orders without displeasure. Most of the time, these are errands out of your job scope but because you have no say and to avoid getting into trouble, you’ve got no choice but to do it. For example, recently, there was a donation drive. Instead of donating any amount (which should be the case) as wished, one is expected to donate a minimum amount. I believe that donation is one’s will of willingness and should not be forceful. In this case, because of pressure and orders, we have to adhere to it in order not to get into further argument or even worst, be invited to have a “sharing session” with senior commanders.

Next, I’ve seen what is known as “abuse of the system”. For example, there will be duty personnel scheduled to perform various duties in the office daily. The job ranges from picking up newspapers, cleaning the pantry to making coffee and many others. One may argue that this is a good form of training but personally, I may not have seen the bigger picture of how this will teach, cultivate and benefit the trainees in particular. Basically, one will rely on the “extra hand” and eventually it will be abused for personal gains and pleasure. I think all of these are not right and it instils the wrong teachings to the younger generation.

Compared to what I’ve seen during my internship at a renowned US company, it is a total culture difference. I see that US companies value their employees, are more transparent and this in turn give an impression of an open and relax working environment. If you would to ask me can Singapore achieve this kind of environment and cut the red tape? I think for now, the answer would be a no. Our bad habits have been around for too long that it’ll need a powerful sweep before we can see things change for the better. I presume this would be one of the factors why many decided to migrate to other places where one can taste the true meaning of life, work, family and fun without a stressful and yet political working environment we experience in our daily lives!