07 July 2014

Five reasons why my boss is awesome

07 July 2014

Name: Ramla
Workplace: MOM, Legal Services Division

I am a mother of four children -- the eldest is 17 years old and the youngest will be turning five this November. I had previously worked for over a decade in the private sector before joining the public service in 2007. When MOM HR called me more than two years ago offering me a transfer from the Public Service Division to MOM Legal Services Division, my foremost worry was: “My youngest is only 3; will my prospective employer understand the needs of a mother with a young child?” Nonetheless, in spite of family and friends’ reservations, I decided to accept the job offer. Thank goodness, my concern turned out to be unfounded, especially after meeting my current supervisor, Vincent Kim Chee Meng.

Work Life Balance
A day at work for Vincent and me.

Throughout my two years in MOM, I had worked with a few supervisors. For me, Vincent stood out among them in providing me with good work guidance and showing understanding towards my family commitments. Apart from embracing the flexi-work scheme, Vincent also adopted these practices which I felt made him an awesome boss:

1) He listens to what you have to say, without interrupting.
2) He is always open to suggestions and looks at them with an open mind.
3) He gives constructive criticism and explains his decisions clearly.
4) He keeps to his promises. If he says he will look into it, he means it and he is not just saying that to chase you away from his cubicle!
5) He trusts his supervisees.

Let me share a couple of instances.

Support in every little way

During this year’s March school holidays, I badly wanted to spend more time with my children. I was rather hesitant to seek Vincent’s approval to go on a flexi-work arrangement which would allow me to knock off half an hour before the usual time.  I summoned the courage to ask him and to my surprise, Vincent was supportive of my request. I am thankful that he believed that I would not compromise my work and would continue to put in the same number of work hours. Most importantly, I appreciate that he understood how precious this half hour was to me. 

On another occasion, Vincent allowed me to go home early on one Friday evening so that I could bring my daughter to the doctor, as our family doctor does not have a night clinic on Fridays. These instances may appear trivial, but it was Vincent’s constant support in every little way that made my role as a working mother so much easier and manageable.

“Your feedback is noted. I will go back and study it.”

At work, Vincent helps me prioritise my tasks and keep my KPIs in check so that I can complete my work and go home on time to play my role as a mother and wife. He never fails to listen whenever I bring up an issue or query to him about work. His favourite phrase will always be, “Your feedback is noted. I will go back and study it.” There was not a single occasion where his words were empty promises. When he could not accede to a request, he would always make the effort to explain why and help me understand the reason behind his decision. One of the best pieces of advice I received from him was that it is always more important to do my best in any assigned task and submit work which I am proud to own, rather than to rush through a task without doing the necessary checks and ground work. This is something which will guide me in my career.

Trust is the foundation of a good working relationship

In my view, Vincent understands the needs of a working mother. The best part of it all, he trusts his supervisees. This is the most important aspect in any flexible work arrangement, and the foundation of a good working relationship between a supervisor and his officers.

Hence, when I heard over the radio that the National Trade Union Congress Women’s Development Secretariat (NTUC WDS) was on the hunt for the best companies for mums, I wasted no time in nominating Vincent for the “Most Supportive Supervisor” award. I was so happy to know that my entry was selected!

Work Life Balance

To Vincent, no amount of words can describe how appreciative I am for all that you have done for me. Your guidance and understanding has kept me going and motivated me to give my best in MOM. Your jovial and positive attitude has also made my working experience in MOM a very memorable one. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with and learn from you.

Work Life Balance
Thank you Boss!

Ramla’s supervisor – Vincent – received the “Best Companies for Mums” award under the Most Supportive Supervisor category on 4 July. Jointly organised by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Women’s Development Secretariat (WDS) and Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP), the contest spotlights outstanding examples of pro-family companies that others can look up to and showcases best flexible work arrangement practices which employers and employees may find useful. The contest calls on working mothers to nominate their employers by sharing a personal story on how their employers or supervisors have helped them achieve better work-life harmony. You can find out more about the annual contest here.
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