In 2011, I left Singapore for Sweden for an overseas exchange and internship programme. And in my short year there, I found Sweden to be a homogeneous and egalitarian society. I came back a proponent of socialism, and I loved the idea of safety nets.
As a young intern at Videoplaza, I was struck by the flatness of the company hierarchy. I mean, everyone knew each other, and it seemed like, besides the CEO, CTO, and COO, everyone else were equals. I loved it. Without a hierarchy, ideas could flow freely. And in Sweden's case, the booze helped plenty. Like socialism, I wanted to import the flat hierarchy from Sweden back in Singapore. And that is what I did.
The rude motherfucker
The problem with flat hierarchies is that it is a perfect environment for cancer to fester. Let me share a story about this ex-employee from China who was laid off. I gathered the team in the final days of NuMoney in the winter of the cryptocurrency crash in a forum to figure out the path ahead. Do we double down, or pivot? At that juncture in time, I was in the camp that was sick of building a better casino with a new currency prefixed with a "crypto." I wanted to do something more productive with my life, like being a societal rebel. But Mr. Chinamen wanted to double down and implement Options trading in NuMoney Exchange.
Disagreements are fine, but Mr. Chinamen resorted to verbal force. He would sneer when I was talking. He would interrupt when I had a pause. And finally, he would challenge me publicly that he will build a separate platform to prove me wrong.
Mr. Chinamen is a rude motherfucker. With a flat hierarchy at work, I allowed cancer to fester and grow. I was not assertive enough. The CEO that deserved no respect.
The name of the game
Respect is the name of the game. Gaining respect is more than just doing work. It is about a strict hierarchy at work. It is about meting consequences out when a discipline issue arises. It is like parenting a kid. Being firm when needed and being empathetic in appropriate situations.
I am writing this post today because I have to handle a discipline violation tomorrow. And this time, I know exactly what to do.
- To enact a stronger hierarchy structure
- To mete out consequences