Adapting at Work

By Sin Lei

Due to a department organizational change recently, my management has hired an Asia Head, based in Singapore and I have a new Manager to report to. The new Asia Head is very interested in department branding and showing visibility to senior management. However, I am one who always tries to keep a low profile at work and not show much visibility to him or the other senior management in the Singapore office. 

One day, the Asia Head asked me to his office. He demanded an explanation on why I did not reach out to the Singapore’s senior management to showcase the work I have done for the past 2 years that I have been with the company. He thought that I did not do a good job in building up the department’s reputation and visibility.  

I was caught off guard and not sure how to respond. He also cornered me with a few other questions, of which some I was only able to answer diplomatically and some I was not able to. I knew he was trying to deliberately belittle me and make me feel worse with each question.  At the end of the meeting, he said he will have one-on-one meetings with me every 2 weeks and wished me a good evening. 

I felt a bit moody after the meeting. I was quite sure I would have felt worse if I have not been practicing the Teachings of the Buddha, which is to try and discard the negative thoughts, whenever the details of the meeting replayed in my mind. But I was still “unstable”. At times, I was not able to discard the negative thoughts and would feel annoyed as I thought the Asia Head was being unreasonable and not a good leader.   

I related this incident to one of my mentors and she advised that I need to be more active in gaining work knowledge so as to manage the Asia Head better.  Although I agreed with my mentor that I need to be more resourceful, I was still unable to accept the fact that the Asia Head’s main purpose is to enhance department visibility and branding. Resolving issues, improving work policies and processes and developing staff do not seem to be of priority to him.  

After thinking about this for days, it suddenly dawned on me that I should not view the Asia Head’s actions and intentions negatively. I should change my mindset. Every time when I meet the Asia Head, I should view this as an opportunity to brush up my interaction skills with senior management. After all, how often does a junior staff get the chance to have a one-on-one meeting with a senior manager? The meetings are also good opportunities for me to understand what I need to improve on, whenever the Asia Head throws a question at me and I am not able to answer. Hence, I should not stress over these meetings, but rather, I should view them positively, as good learning opportunities to enhance my work experience. And to quote one of Venerable Master Shen Kai’s Words of Wisdom from the 108 Gems II Book: “Emulate the positive attributes of others, not the short-comings. More importantly, do not criticize others.”

I realized there is a need to constantly read up on Buddhist Teachings so as to better guide and remind ourselves to deal with work issues with wisdom and correct mindset. Also, I should not be stubborn over my own views of how the department culture should be like, because this is not within my control. It does not matter that the Asia Head likes to build department visibility. In the course of helping the Asia Head to achieve department visibility, I just need to be aware and clear-minded that my objective is to gain more work exposure. With such clear perspective, I will then be able to approach my work with a positive attitude.  

In a constantly changing environment where organizational changes and restructuring are becoming more and more common, it is important for oneself to adapt to work changes rather than blaming the company, the new boss, new colleagues and so on for these changes. It is meaningless to grumble and feel sorry for oneself, which may eventually lead oneself to resign from the company. Since changes are inevitable, we should try to position our mindset positively, allowing us to feel more at ease immediately and to better cope with any types of changes. As long as we illumine our mind, then we will not feel distress and everyday will be a good day!