Robots versus humans

  • Business
  • Tuesday, 20 May 2014

HERE’S something about me that not many people know — I am a fan of Marvel and DC comics. Some people have asked me why and to be honest, I do not really know why. But I have a faint suspicion that the superpowers appeal to me.

One of the superhero character that I really like is Jean Grey in the X-Men comic. The fact that she is a “Level 5 mutant” and has the ability to destroy people (and even planets) by the sheer power of her mind is amazing. Not to mention her ability to read minds.

But let me use an example of the X-Men’s comic for today’s column.

For some of you who are familiar with the storyline, you will know that one of the X-Men’s many enemies include the robot Master Mold and his army of Sentinels.

On one side, you have Professor Xavier and his team of not-always-easy-to-manage X-Men.

On the other, you have the Sentinel robot army, which will just obediently follow orders, has no temperament issues or personal problems that will hinder them from doing their job well.

If you are given the choice to be the boss of either side, which would you choose?

Managing an army of robots might probably be easier as they wouldn’t question your judgement and decisions, need no affirmative words from you all the time to make them feel happy and motivated at work and most importantly, they never quit just because they feel like it.

But I have an inkling many of us would not want to manage robots. Despite the many personality complexities and character flaws of the X-Men, we would still want a team like them.

For many SMEs, especially tiny companies that have only a handful of employees, this team (like my former boss used to say) determines whether the company will “eat rice or eat porridge” (a Chinese idiom).

Employees who like a passive, uncomlicated life, will get stressed if they learn about this tremendous responsibility.

Others who are ambitious will see it as a chance to show their worth and full potential; something that they probably might not be able to do as much if they are just one of the many working in a very big company.

So, it depends on what they look for in life.

In my last column, I wrote about the challenge for SMEs to get the right talent. I am one of those who are caught in this conundrum.

But this is what I like to say to existing and potential employees: If our company has not been performing or turning a profit and we are receiving lots of complaints from clients and people in the market, then don’t follow me.

If my way hasn’t worked and there has been no results in how I do things, then don’t do what I do, and don’t follow me.

If people out there have been saying, “That Jeanisha is such an idiot. She does not know what is PR or marketing and she runs a PR and marketing firm”, then you are not in the right place and please don’t follow me.

But if our company has been doing well, we have been profitable every year and we continue to receive strong recommendations and referral from clients, will you follow me?

If we have the respect of our clients who trust our advice, a reputation of integrity and pursuit of excellence, and you want people to look at you in the same way, then follow me!

And if we are known for nothing else except being a small company that has worked very hard to make big meaningful impact, come join me.

I cannot speak for all SMEs but I can probably speak for a select few I know who are going through the same talent challenges as I am. My message to all who are still searching: If you are ambitious, love challenges, don’t wince at moving mountains and love creating something from nothing, come join us! Be that difference you want to make in this world.

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Opinion , Starting Out column


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