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05 May 2013

Four Things We Can Learn from Koreans: "The Work Not the Time"

Part 2: Four Things We Can Learn from Koreans

I worked with Koreans for almost ten years and Koreans work for long hours.  For Filipinos, this may be unacceptable because family and friends are important to us.   I think Koreans work long hours not because they are obsessed with work but because they are more focused on their accomplishment for the day than the number of hours. For some Koreans, they do not go home until the work is done, if not completely, at least most of it.  As a result, Koreans are some of the most productive and disciplined workers in Asia, and they are known for their fast and efficient services.  It is not an accident that Korea is the fifteenth largest market economy in the world. 

Most of the Koreans with whom I have worked are not clock-watchers. They do not sprint out from the office once the clock strikes 5 p.m. They stay a bit longer to tie up loose ends.  Now of course, it is understandable to leave work once you are not paid for the succeeding hours anymore, especially if you are being paid unjustly.  This is another case.  However, based on my experience, the salary is immaterial. Sometimes, in order to become a cut above the rest, you need to put in those extra unpaid hours. Mediocrity requires less time.  Excellence demands more.  Then again, if after all your efforts, you are still not rewarded. Quit.  Leave gracefully. 

If you are really that good, you can afford to quit because you know you can find a better high-paying job. But if you are just fooling yourself and acting like a prima donna, then think twice. Work more and complain less.  Definitely, quitting is not that easy if you live in a country where jobs are not always readily available. If this is the case, then be great at your current job.  I used to have an employee who boasted of having a Master's degree in Education and being the best teacher in our school.  No matter how great he or she was, this person could not erase his or her deplorable attendance record. Fortunately, the last I heard, this person is now financially very successful.  I think somewhere along the way, he or she changed or he or she found work in a place where being tardy is rewarded.

An older friend once told me that life is really simple. Choose your priorities. If family is your priority, then so be it. Work just enough to support your family so you have enough time for them. Do not feel guilty if you lose that promotion because you cannot commit to the long hours.  If your work is your priority, then do not feel terrible for being single and successful. It is not a crime.  If you do have a family, do not feel bad for leaving the kids and the spouse at home or missing a family get together.  Indecision is the worst thing.  You cannot commit to something if you are in between.  

4. Absence of Slave Mentality [and Disclaimer]

(First published in “The Chair” Blog) By Rob San Miguel

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