ASK YOUR CAREER COACH: Values And Stress Management

Q. Our company distributes and sells many products, many of which are market leaders in their respective categories. We badly need to staff our marketing department so that we can more systematically implement our brand management strategies. As HR head, I have placed ads in various media and received many applications. However, when the applicants go to our office, many of the qualified no longer want to come back. Perhaps the reason is the location and physical appearance of our offices. Both our warehousing and corporate offices are located in the same compound in a predominantly low income residential district. Public transportation is not easily accessible and our buildings are quite old and in disrepair. Our company though is making money but the owners simply do not want to spend money on beautifying our premises.

A. You are correct in your assessment. Your company might be well off financially and growing at a fast pace because of the quality of the products that you are selling. And now you need to make a quantum leap to take your place among the top corporations in your industry and in your country. You need to hire talented individuals to boost your organization’s competitiveness. However, highly competent people will not join your company because of how your office facilities look.

As HR Head, you must make a pitch to your owners to make your office more habitable and appealing. People will judge your company by the way it looks. The saying “Do not judge a book by its cover” does not apply when it comes to assessing companies. The way the company maintains its office and facilities is an indication of its values and the way it manages its organization. If it does not put value in caring for its “home” and assets, how can you expect that company to care for its resources and people? Some talented individuals may look for glamorous surroundings but when presented with a good career opportunity that provides good working conditions in an office that is clean, neat and orderly, I am sure those with common sense will grab the opportunity.

I know making the pitch might be similar to telling a friend that he or she has bad breath or body order but it must be done for the sake of your friend or company. Good luck!

Q. I am super stressed out! I am handling five companies and I scarcely have time for my family or myself. I am tempted to retire early.

A. You probably expect me to advise you to go ahead and retire early so you can “smell the flowers.” On the contrary, I am saying, “Don’t retire! Stress is good!” Author Richard J. Leidler writes, in his book, “The Power of Purpose” (2006), that “what we need is the right amount of the right kind of stress. Not only too-great demands, but also the opposite—the lack of challenges—may cause disease.” What people need is not a stress-filled life but the optimum amount of stress that would feed one’s creative tension. Creative tension is that which exists on the line between what one is to what one wants to be. Creative tension gives meaning to our life.

I know a number of active individuals who retired and after a few years, kicked the bucket or contracted a dread disease. I don’t know if it was because of the ravages of age or inactivity. However, I know many persons beyond 60 who are still very active at work and, like the Energizer bunny, just keep going on going.

On the other hand, just yesterday, I saw a shirtless man in his shorts and rubber shoes squatting on the grass along the road under the pouring rain. He was sniffing red roses in his hand. He was literally “smelling the flowers.” But instead of admiring him, I thought he seemed to be not in his right mind.

As for me, I intend to keep on working to realize my dreams, even though they may seem unreachable at the moment. At least, having a dream keeps me awake.

Author: Regina Galang Reyes. First published in Management Systems Asia, November 2009 issue.

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Founding Editor, People at Work, Business, Phiippine Daily Inquirer

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