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BLOG: Mind the ambition gap

Zafar Anjum | May 11, 2011
Would you like to go home by 5.30 pm every day and yet be a productive employee? Here is the secret.

Lim thinks that if the communication element could be tweaked, this can really change people's attitudes in Singapore and also companies and the government could achieve their objectives (of raising employee productivity).

Don't forget your dream

Lim shared with me a poll that his company conducted last year. In the poll, it was asked if employees would like to go home by 5.30 pm after finishing their work. More than 90 per cent of those who responded said yes. It is a no brainer, you'd say.

So, there is this gap between the desire to go home by 5.30 pm and the necessity (a cultural thing or just to make the boss happy?) to stay late in the office. Lim calls it the 'Ambition Gap'.

We all have our personal dreams and then there is this reality of doing our jobs. If we are working late every day, where is the time for us to devote to our hobbies? Some don't even have the time to spend time with their spouses and children (and to reduce their guilt, they say they spend only 'quality time' with them). Life has become so hectic for most of us.

Take screenplay writer Aaron Sorkin for example (the writer of Social Network and the mind behind The West Wing). He came to New York to become a theatre actor. He wasn't getting anywhere near Broadway's limelight when he started writing A Few Good Men. He was working as a bartender and he would write the scenes of the play (which later was made into a hit movie) on paper napkins. Every night when he would go home, his pockets would be bulging with napkins.

Lim's desire is to help people adapt technology to their advantage, finish work on time and hit the road home to spend time on their dreams and to be with their near and dear ones.

"It is good for both employers and the employees," Lim says. "An accomplished person at home is an accomplished worker in the office. A happier, rejuvenated employee will perform better than a tired one."

Technology will play the role of an enabler in this equation. "Technology will make you more efficient, better at your job," Lim says.

According to him, the concept of Ambition Gap can be applied to employees as well as companies. Currently, the Ambition Gap among companies in Singapore is 27 (Canon-AMI survey, 2010). As companies become more efficient and adopt solutions that will help in driving efficiency and productivity, the Ambition Gap will decrease.

"Productivity, although simple in theory, is hard to achieve in practice, and the Ambition Gap is meant to challenge Singapore companies to think differently about what productivity really means," Lim says. "At Canon, we believe that when companies map their business objectives and goals with individual employee's ambitions, magic occurs. The Ambition Gap showcases the success that can be achieved by aligning corporate ambitions and employee ambitions."

 

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