Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Management Lesson #1

Have decided to write about my first management lessons. Today Sipha approached me to tell me I should consider not paying so much to the women sew-ers. She is of the view that this makes the women lazy. Alan thinks it's perverse, for if you were paid well, wouldn't you work harder to keep the job? I have been told by other people that this is the reason why the garment factories pay so badly--USD45 a month. With overtime, people make USD70-80 a month. They pay poor basic salaries because the belief is that locals will get slack. I am not convinced this is the real reason for the poor pay. Obviously for many companies, they simply want to get away with paying as little as possible.

Anyway, the real lesson is I failed to ask the right questions when I approached Hagar. I had assumed the women had received the same training and were all competent in sewing. As it turned out, some were there for 6 months, while one woman had been there for a year. Some are better at sewing. Yet I offered all the same pay, which obviously is not fair. Anyway we will see. I have a meeting with Chhovy the reintegration manager at Hagar and a very sweet lady later today and I will seek her advice.

We are also on deadline (I am aiming for my shop to open in November, when the tourist season picks up) and this has put pressure on Sipha. As a result, she has asked that I hired yet another person, someone more experienced in sewing. That would make 8 people in our team and we have not even sold anything yet! I keep thinking about this thing I read: don't spend any unnecessary money in your first year of business. I guess I have to assess if this new lady is necessary. The smart thing to do is of course replace the inexperienced women with women like her, but I feel I ought to give the others a chance. I have learnt from my staff that Hagar keeps the good ones after training and finds jobs for the less than stellar performers! Uh-oh!


Jimmy Yap said...

Hey Diana

I'm glad to see you finally have a blog. Personally, I think the philosophy of paying people less so that they work harder is bullshit. They are just trying to get away with paying as little as possible. Put your pictures up! We want to see the bags!

nidnotnoe said...

Hello ms Diana, the Designer,

i dunno if you received my email, this is the 1st time i am reading your blog, and u know what, i think u probably can publish a book at the end of your stint!

i know what it feels like to be sick and alone, i suffered the same fate not too long ago.

anyway, i have a friend who has a website selling bags, not sure if he is still doing it. I will ask him and see if he would want some of your bags ok? I will ask Hsiao Ying too, maybe u can put some in her vintage clothes store.

righto, shall get back to work now. you take very good care of yourself and continue to have fun.

lots of love,
ah khim

Unknown said...

Hey hey hey from Raoul! Way to go Diana!

I second Jim's call on the bags! We want bags (pictures)! We want bags (pictures)!

U can post ur pix and link to them from this blog. Lots of free, good sites: personally, I like webshots.com

Take care you!
PS: JIM! I saw u n Dale at the Apple Center Orchard this weekend!

HomeChef said...

hi dino!

don't forget the fine home econs lessons sewing lessons we received at st nicks ;-)

stay cheerful and happy!

your friend always,
chin siew

El Farto said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
El Farto said...

hey Prada,

nice blog going here!

Am going to play devil's advocate on this one -- I think you pay no more than necessary. Obviously cost-efficiency is the key thing for me when I say that; unless you're running an absolute charity, the profit-motive should drive your business, even if not as hard as would a purely commercial enterprise. Chasing huge bottom-line surpluses will help your operation avoid ineffective practices and flabby growth. In the long run, the greater good (I'm assuming keeping more women employed in a sustainable business operation is a socially preferable option than hiring 6 women for the 2 years or so that you might be there) is better served if your business survives teething problems and impending competition.

I'm not all evil though. I do disgree with the notion that paying more keeps your staff lazy. It's flawed, but in the same way paying more assumes your staff will be more motivated to keep their jobs. Work ethics vary greatly from person to person, and a one-size-fits-all rule to man-management is just asking for trouble.

I would peg pay to performance and company health -- an interesting base that is enough to keep people in the job, but not enough to keep them content. Build in bonuses that give them incentive to keep contributing. If I'm running this op for their good, I'll distribute larger bonuses. But as long as they can see their fortunes are entwined with the company's, then their motivation takes care of itself.

Anyway, I think you'll be alright. Sounds like you're going to have tonnes of fun during this adventure!


Diana Saw said...

Hey guys! So happy to hear from everyone! Thanks so much for the encouraging words, especially. Jimmy, will put up pix soon, I promise!

Learning a lot about you guys too..nidnotnoe, el farto, magical and daddy bassist eh? Really made me laugh!

Thanks Raoul for the tip. Will check out webshots! Khim, take care in Beijing and thanks for offer of help. El Farto in Indonesia, you damn funny lah. I knew it was you when I started reading the posting. Chin Siew, I am afraid I am a disgrace re home econs. Sipha gave up on me today trying to teach me to make buttons!


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