Thursday, 19 August 2010

Always a bigger fish

During dinner last night with a few co-workers, the question was raised. Do you think our manager likes us? By that we meant our branch manager who has day to day contact with us and not the Western managers we have who manage contracts, vacations, teachers issues and 'fix' things.

One of brought it up because he thinks she (the manager) doesn't like him and went on to explain why. But as he's leaving in a matter of months he doesn't really care. Another said he didn't know. I said I think our manager does not like me because of a few things I do that I'm not supposed to do. But overall I think she knows I do more right things than wrong so I'm left alone.

Right now our manager must be under a lot of stress. Her assistant left a few weeks ago and hasn't been and won't be replaced, leaving her busy all throughout the day. And more significantly another big academy has opened up in the area. They have a good reputation with parents and more importantly (to Korean mothers) a new shiny building. And we've been losing some of our students to them. Ironically this is what happened when I worked at my previous workplace and students left for the one I work at now.

I don't know the percentage of those who have left but some of my best and brightest have upped and gone. Good luck to them, choice is very important and it's a free county etc, etc. This kind of thing is commonplace here in Korea. There are too many academies really to sustain themselves in the long run. It can be a risky business for new places. I feel a bit sorry for those who work in smaller companies who have to lay off staff and close, well I feel sorry for those laid off. Overall you have to be philosophical and pragmatic about the way things are here.

So our manager must be under strain right now. She is nice enough and leaves me alone to do my job. Koreans in general are under a lot of pressure from bosses to perform and I hope she doesn't get it too badly in the neck from our owner. Numbers are still high in some classes but noticeably lower in others. One positive thing is that as class numbers are lower the students get more attention and more chances to speak, which is obviously much better for them.

I don't feel like my job is at risk or my co-workers. I just signed a new contract and have under nine months to go. Famous last words? No way. The academy I work for has several branches in Daegu. Should they decide to 'shuffle the pack' somewhere down the line then people should at the very worst be able to move somewhere else. We haven't had the 'please try your best' directive yet.

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