Employee Engagement

How To Be A Bad Boss Effectively

by Mark J Galea

In my (wait a minute. Pause. Stop. I’m 41….so shall I describe my life as long, longish, or short, or relatively short?) professional life, I came across a number of books, articles and papers advising people how to be good or become better managers.

Every single piece of literature under this category aims at converting The Evil Witch/Queen into a whiter-than-white Snow White. I guess, that this creates a gap in the market. So how about addressing those people who want to play the villains at work? Someone needs to acknowledge and address these poor souls, right?

For this reason, I decided to come up with the Bad Boss’s Manual. Political correctness dictates that ignored minorities (or are bad bosses in the majority?) be accepted and embraced. By writing this manual, I feel that not only will they feel embraced, but they will also enjoy a reference guide….a sort of a satanic bible 🙂

Out of respect for generations X, Y and Z who lack enough patience to read articles but have enough time to “invest” in social media, I hereby present you with some brief points to help you become an even worse boss. These are my tips:

1) Empathy is for wusses: You are employed to get a job done. You were given a team to help you achieve YOUR goals….and bonus at the end of the year. Tough luck if they don’t like your style. The door is always open for them to leave and for their substitutes to come through. “Shape up or ship out”: THAT should be your mantra.

2) Terrorise your subordinates: The more your underlings fear you, the more productive they are. This also comes with the added benefit that no one will dare badmouth you. Ever. Not in private. Not in public. Actually, they will praise you with others (both inside and outside the company), and make sure that you get to know they did so. What could possibly give you better gratification than your underlings’ praise? On the flipside, look at how the “kind bosses” get criticised and denigrated in public (both openly and behind their back). Idiots!

3) Divide and conquer: Make sure that you have – at the very least – two factions in your team. Play to their weaknesses and make sure that you can effectively manipulate the weak and insecure team members. In such a scenario, your people will be elbowing each other to curry favour with you. To be in your good books. And while you’re at it, do encourage your underlings to spy on each other and report back to you (1984 style). Reward these loyal servants accordingly. Who can deny that this is a scenario that any manager dreams of?

4) Do your best to lose their trust: If your team fears you already, mistrust is a great bonus! You will become unpredictable in their eyes and THAT’S the one thing they clearly want to avoid. The last thing you want is for your underlings to feel safe. Remember that safe = complacent.

5) Make it clear that you play the political game, and that you have your own agendas: Nothing will make your people feel more insecure and terrorised than the fear of being left out of your grand plan. Actually, they will fight each other out for the leading role of your scheme. They will happily volunteer to do the dirty work for you. They will fight each other to the death like gladiators to climb the beanstalk and steal the magic harp from the giant. Make them play the political game like a video game: kill the ogres to score points. The more they kill, the higher the score…….Which gives me an idea. How about actually creating a leaderboard? No one would want to be at the bottom of the table, right? Muwahhhaaaahaaaaahaa.

6) Badmouth your underlings with other team members AND other managers: If you want to make sure that your underlings will treat you like a deity, you must prevent them from trusting you. Gossip as much as you can….and while you’re at it, make sure to add some of your spice. Go on. Spill the beans. Let them suffer and beg for your kindness.

7) Make sure they don’t trust you: Remember that trust also leads to complacency. If you earn the reputation of bad mouthing people, no one would want to fall victim of your rants. And what’s the best way for them to prevent this? By working hard to be in your good books….and to stay there.

8) Be angry all the time: No one likes to deal with angry people, and this would keep your underlings off your back. Would they dare bothering you with their personal problems? Of course not! Would they come up with some lame excuse for failing in their tasks? Unthinkable. Better still, no one likes to cross an angry manager. Who would be stupid enough to volunteer to fall victim of your wrath? No one should be that stupid, right? And if someone is that stupid, then they shouldn’t be on your team. This is an extremely effective way of getting things done, and achieve your goals.

9) Bark orders at your underlings: Nicities are for softies. Ditch any flowery language and make good use of your voice to show your people that you’re the boss. When ordering them around, make sure to bark your orders thus ensuring that your team is badgered into submission.

10) Be as unfair as possible: Make it clear that you have your own pets. That some animals are more equal than the others. Fairness is for the weak. You must also make sure to be unfair when rewarding your loyal servants. Kick logic and common sense out of the window. Make them crave and work hard for your favours. Convince them to turn their bitter disappointments (when you decide not to give them their rewards) into an even bigger strife for your favours.

11) Avoid consistency at all costs: Consistency makes you predictable; and you don’t want that, do you? Make sure that your underlings are constantly guessing what you’re scheming and that they can never be in a position to predict how you’re going to act. Spice this up by doing things in a diametrically opposed way to what you preach. Avoid acting like this all the time though, otherwise, you’d become consistent. After all, the element of surprise will keep your team motivated to follow your orders to the letter. You also need to master the art of dishonouring promises. Do it tactfully, and you’ll be laughing.

12) Clarity is a weakness: If you want to keep your team under control, make sure that your orders, instructions, and communication are as vague and convoluted as possible. This will inevitably make your underlings come to you asking for direction thus strengthening your power and forging their dependence on you.

13) Denigrate and ridicule your team in public: Make sure that you ridicule different individuals at least once a day. Quash their dreams. Make them understand that they are not worthy…..and keep on reminding them that there IS a reason (or more than one) why YOU are THE manager, and THEY are your servants. THEY are a means to an end. YOUR end. You’ll be amazed by the results you will achieve.

14) Take and keep complete control: Team members are like characters in a video game. You are the player holding the controller. Make sure that you dictate every single step. Every single move. There should be no room for individualism and personal ideas. YOU are the manager and YOU know best. Their role is to do what you say. To follow your instructions. You have no other option but to micromanage your underlings. You’re the only one who knows how every single task has to be carried out  😉

15) You know best: How dare they come up with ideas? How dare they suggest something that’s different to your way of doing things? How dare they question your you?There’s no room for suggestions or any form of discussion. This is yet another reason why micromanagement is the name of the game. Surely IF they were THAT good, THEY’d be managers, right?

16) Make them work hard for you: You will not tolerate anyone who dares to turn up late. It is also unacceptable for you that anyone dares to leave on time. Any “reasons” which – let’s face it – in reality, are excuses should be rubbished straight away. Make it clear that you expect your team to be at work early and leave as late as possible. You shouldn’t be happy to meet deadlines. Impress your bosses by finishing tasks before agreed deadlines. Needless to say, it’s OK for you to leave before any of your underlings.

17) Take all the credit for your underlings’ performance: This is precisely the reason why you need to hold the game controller. How can you claim success if you don’t have complete control? Make sure that your own bosses, your peers and your underlings know that your team’s excellent performance is SOLELY down to your input. If the company ever gets to lose you, there will be no tomorrow! They might as well shut down when you walk out the door.

18) Fire an employee every month: This will definitely keep them on their toes! Fire someone for the stupidest (and most illogical) of reasons, and you will see the team’s productivity soar. Keep this going every month, and you will be unstoppable. And remember: unstoppable = untouchable 😉

19) Hire underachievers: The more unemployable (for others) job candidates are, the more attractive they are for you. You will be the only one who gave them a job after weeks, months or years of searching. They will be forever grateful and will never, ever think of disobeying your orders. Furthermore, not a single one of these underlings will ever even think of dethroning you to take your job.

20) Surround yourself with yesmen: You already have to deal fellow managers and your bosses. Unfortunately, they don’t always do as you say. So why should you allow your underlings to add to the grief and frustration? You are the boss and their sole function is to march to your orders. Make sure that they clearly understand their place in your kingdom. Oops! I mean….department.

I will now leave you with this parting shot: always keep in mind that your decisions are irrevocable and final because, without a shadow of any doubt, you are always unquestionably right!

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Malta and my first impressions / Malte et mes premières impressions

by Cyril Chanson

I have chosen in this article to focus on several aspects of Malta, I will then share my first impressions from when I arrived on the island.

The population of Malta is approximately 430 000 people. This can increase to one and a half million due to tourism. The island is located in the centre of the Mediterranean, at the crossroad between Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Malta gained independent from the UK in 1964, while keeping English as one of their national languages together with Maltese.

Let us talk about Malta’s weather … To be candid; Malta looks like a splendid island! If you are unlucky you might see rain, but it is quite scarce. The island benefits from a subtropical-Mediterranean climate: this means a hot and humid summer and a relatively mild winter – you may like to know that in the middle of November it is around 23 degrees during the day.

Regarding to the cost of living in Malta, it is quite good. On one hand the island is a member of the Eurozone, so this avoids the exchange costs. On the other hand, the cost of living is approximately 20% lower than in France. It is not so hard to eat lunch with less than 5e in cafes – Pastizzerias are mostly found at every corner. You also have the possibility to go out for lunch, and enjoy a good pizza for less than 10e, while overlooking the sea like at Piccolo Padre in St Julian’s.

What can I say about the Malta public transport?

Obviously, it is horrendous! Even if it has been updated a few years ago to reach customer expectations, there are a number of buses which do not pass… The only one advice I can give you is to be patient!

I arrived in my host family with a Ferrari’s driver, I’m kidding, and just a taxi who thought that he was professional driver! Remember that they drive on the left side of the road, it had surprised me a bit and I wasn’t reassured, hopefully they know their roads.

At midnight on September 13th, speaking to my host mother allowed me to discover that she is a teacher! So I was pleased to learn that I could buff up on my English, even at home. It was with a soothing mind that I went to sleep, raring to meet the other students the next day!

The one thing which surprised me was the price of water! All I had to do back home is turning on the tap and drink, but not here – it is to wonder if alcohol is cheaper than water.

The next morning on September 14th, I met my housemates, with who I was going to go to EF school, coming from overseas; Japan, China and Italy. EF is one of the biggest language schools in Malta and has its own Beach club. As soon as we entered, I was pleasantly surprised about the diversity of the students. The first discussions which we had between ourselves were relatively hilarious! Most of us were not very skilled in English which is exactly why we came here. After school all students went to party for an amazing night in Paceville.

Paceville for people who don’t know yet is the most well-known place to party in Malta through several bars, which offer cheap alcohol such as a pitcher at 5e, 60 shots for 22e and better still 2 drinks for less than 3e. One of the greatest things here is that you can find different ambiance according to your wishes; from Fuego’s with its free salsa lessons to nightclubs such as Hugo’s. Indeed Paceville allows people to meet each other for a good time.

Malte et mes premières impressions

J’ai choisi de développer dans cet article les raisons de choisir Malte comme destination et ainsi que d’évoquer mes premières impressions en arrivant cette île.

Malta est une île de 450 000 habitants allant jusqu’à plusieurs millions dans les périodes touristiques, se situant à la croisée des chemins entre l’Occident et le Maghreb et l’Orient. Malte est devenu indépendant de l’Angleterre en 1964, tout en gardant l’anglais comme langue nationale avec le maltais.

Parlons un peu du climat à Malte… Pour ne rien vous cacher on se croirait sur une ile paradisiaque ! Très peu de pluie, sous un climat méditerranéen- subtropical: un été chaud et un hiver relativement doux (actuellement 23 degrés au milieu du mois de novembre).

Le coût de la vie à Malte est relativement intéressant, d’une part l’ile appartient à la zone euro et évite ainsi les frais de change. D’autre part, le cout de la vie est environ 20% moins élevé qu’en France, il n’est pas rare de déjeuner pour moins de 5€ grâce aux pastizzerias que l’on peut trouver à chaque coin de rue.

Seule surprise : le prix de l’eau ! Car ici – contrairement à la France- l’eau n’est pas potable à proprement parler. Il faut donc acheter ses propres bouteilles d’eau et cela revient presque plus cher que l’alcool !

Que pouvons-nous dire sur la qualité des transports en commun ; honnêtement pas terrible ! Bien que le réseau de transport ait été modifié il y a deux ans de cela afin de répondre aux attentes, on ne compte plus le nombre de bus qui ne passent pas à l’heure prévue… le mieux est de s’armer de patience !

Arrivé à malte mi-septembre, ma première surprise a été avec le conducteur de taxi. En effet, ce dernier, s’est cru au volant une Ferrari, je vous rappelle qu’ils roulent à le cote gauche, je vous laisse imaginer les petites frayeurs que j’ai pu avoir !

C’est à minuit, après ce rallye que j’arrivai dans ma nouvelle famille, en discutant avec la mère de ma famille d’accueil je découvris qu’elle est professeur d’anglais, quoi de mieux pour apprendre l’anglais chez un professeur de langues ! C’est l’esprit apaisé que je pars me coucher en songeant avec impatience à la journée du lendemain : découvrir l’école et ses étudiants.

Au réveil je fis connaissance de mes colocataires venant des quatre coins du monde : un Italien, un Chinois et un Japonais. Et, C’est parti pour une nouvelle aventure !

L’école EF possède son propre Beach Club dans lequel on y a été conviés pour la journée d’information ; c’est à cette occasion que l’on a pu observer la diversité des étudiants. Les premières discussions étaient relativement désopilantes ! Et oui parler anglais n’était pas naturel pour nous. La journée se passa plus rapidement qu’il n’en faut pour le dire et se finit dans les bars a l’occasion d’une soirée d’intégration mémorable.

Ha j’oubliais ! Les sorties à Paceville ne sont pas chères ; il n’est pas rare de trouver des pichets à 5€, 60shots à 22€ ou encore 2 verres à moins de 3€. Chaque bar possède sa propre ambiance, du bar latino avec des cours de Salsa au Fuego’s jusqu’à la boite de nuit du Havana, tout en passant par les bars-club du Hugo’s ou Soho.

Quad Malta’s MD Interviewed By The Commercial Courier

The Commercial Courier is the official business magazine of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.

This month’s issue carries an interview with our Managing Director in Malta who talks about the company’s successful journey as it celebrates its 5th anniversary.

Commercial Courier - Pg 111

Let The Specialists Deal With It

by Mark J Galea

As businesses become more focused on delivering what they’re good at, the concept of outsourcing services to specialised providers is on the rise. While the cost of outsourcing a service may seem unnecessary at a first glance, it is easy to understand why businesses see this as a long-term investment.

Through their own experience, businesses found out that it pays them more to focus their energy to research, study, focus, and deliver the products or services that they’re good at, rather than running multiple “mini” operations from within thus giving rise to issues that end up being a distraction rather than added value.

It is precisely for this reason that the outsourcing of payroll is on the rise. It is extremely important to deliver employees’ salaries accurately and on time. If this is achieved, then payroll becomes invisible, but the very instance when employees lose trust in the payroll process, this becomes a really huge and sometimes insurmountable issue. Believe me, in one of my previous jobs I have experienced the latter, and I can confirm that it is very difficult for an organisation to recover from a situation where its employees lose trust in its payroll department. Especially when they end up thinking that this is being done deliberately by the organisation as a means to cut its payroll cost.

As the number of companies that are outsourcing their payroll service is on the rise, they must see some benefits in doing so. These are some of the benefits yielded by their decision to outsource payroll.

  1. Productivity – Payroll processing is time-consuming. With this burden removed, teams can focus on doing more productive things that have a direct impact on the organisation’s cope operation. So, rather than running a number of mini ancillary operations internally, a number of businesses prefer to just focus on what they should be doing, and what they’re good at
  2. Lean – With businesses “trimming the fat”, many have realised that it’s actually better to outsource services to providers who have the necessary expertise and infrastructure, rather than to set up a mini infrastructure in-house. When you add on the additional burden that one needs to strive to attract and maintain expertise, the whole process becomes even more taxing on the organisation’s energies
  3. Cost – It is generally more cost effective to outsource the service than to employ a reliable payroll clerk (salaries are reasonably high for payroll specialists), invest in a payroll software system, pay for service updates and maintenance
  4. Focus – Business owners, especially SMEs, are so focussed on the regulatory processes of their core business, that they tend to lose sight of new employment regulations that come into force from time to time. This may give rise to actions that, if challenged in a tribunal, may lead to hefty fines and bad branding through suspicion of intentional wrongdoing
  5. Accuracy – A business is likely to enjoy a more reliable payroll service if this is delivered by an experienced specialist, than if this is being performed as an additional task by an employee
  6. Continuity – With an outsourced payroll service, a business will not affected by leave of absence, sick leave, or resignations. If, on the other hand, an in-house payroll specialist leaves the organisation, the whole process together with its reliability, efficiency and accuracy is in jeopardy
  7. Accountability – In case of irregularities (no matter how genuine the mistake), it is the payroll service provider’s responsibility to make things right. On the other hand, if payroll is handled in-house, it is that business that has to deal with the tax authorities thus resulting in a considerable opportunity cost
  8. Confidentiality – Leaks about people’s salary are not a rarity in organisations. If, on the other hand, someone somewhere is processing the payroll remotely while only being in touch with only one or two business liaisons, it is more likely that this sensitive information is contained and therefore confidentiality is ensured

Generally speaking, these are some of the advantages of outsourcing payroll. Indeed, every company has its own needs and circumstances; yet productivity, cost efficiency and employee engagement are common factors that have a direct impact on the success of any organisation. No matter how big or small.

Cost? Really?

by Mark J Galea

In our (business) world of numbers, many are those who tend to practice what I like to refer to as “management by spreadsheets”.  In a nutshell, they look at the numbers on the spreadsheet and strategise to make those numbers change in order to raise the bottom line.

Keeping a healthy bottom line is vital for any business, but doing this in isolation as though you’re operating in a vacuum may actually raise the cost of collateral damage and opportunity cost.

Many business owners would argue that their biggest cost is…….payroll. Yes, the biggest number marked in red (or in between brackets) on the spreadsheet is the one next to “payroll”, but is that number really a cost?

What would that business look like without the human element? What would its competitive advantage be? Would it have as many repeat customers? Would it still enjoy the same word-of-mouth advertising?

Let’s substitute payroll with a home mattress for a few seconds. The mattress is the only thing at home that we use for 6-8 hours every day at any one time. You can easily save money by purchasing a mattress of a low quality. At the end of the day it’s only something you will be lying on for about 25%+ of your day, right? The effects of having a poor quality mattress excruciatingly painful, to say the least; not to mention the potential cost of medicine and the probability of upgrading your mattress a few years down the line?

What would your business look like if  you had to consider your employees as enablers: the ones who make it happen, rather than a cost? As the ones who engage (with) your customers? The most valuable cog in the machine?

Countless studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between employee and customer engagement. Yet, we still talk about the “payroll cost” or worse still “cost of EFTEs” – as though there is a compelling need to dehumanise people as much as possible.

The moment we start looking at people within organisations as an investment; a crucial part of the success (or failure) of the business – therefore key role players, we will be happy to put the “payroll investment” within its rightful context. It’s practically the same context as the one applied for the marketing and advertising investment. In both cases of payroll and marketing, these numbers have a direct impact on the bottom line.

What would you say about that restaurant owner who fires his great chef for a cheaper but less skilled substitute? And more pertinently, what would the customers say? And what about the collateral damage of this decision? At the end of the day, the owner took a decision to lower the payroll cost. So the saving should go straight to profit, right?

Evidently, this short-sighted decision omits to take food cost, and customer satisfaction into account. The “saving” will probably end up with yielding lower profits to the owner. And this, my friends, is the obvious effect of management by spreadsheets.