Uncommon Sense

My assistant is an idiot.

I can’t say it aloud at work because me actually deciding to hire him and finding out later that he’s an idiot makes me an even… ahem, bigger idiot.

I am not that much of an idiot to admit that.

The guy has no common sense. Since when did common sense become so uncommon?!

It’s enough to drive me up the wall. He’s so absent-minded sometimes, it makes me want to bang my head on the wall till I pass out! And given that I do pride myself to being level-headed, the fact that he makes me want to tear my hair out just shows how bad he is.

You can’t really tell it just by looking at him.

Basically, he looks good on paper.

National Taiwan University graduate.

Great credentials.

High GPA and GMAT scores.

Totally stupid at times.

But then again, how do you judge if that person has common sense? Is there any test to check out one’s ability to think?

Next time, I’ll hire someone with more leadership and extra-curricular experience. Usually, they think quickly at their feet and can react fast to unpredictable outcomes. They also have pretty good EQ skills as well.

Unlike those whose noses remain buried in books all their semesters wrong. Sure, they can balance their financial spreadsheets, but probably don’t know how to differentiate their left hand to their right hand.

*Apologies for the rant but I am really frustrated!*

What’s the damage?

Well, first, my assistant did the wrong thing multiple times. I asked him to do a simple task. I won’t go to details, but imagine you’re a travel agent and your client wants you to book her airplane tickets.

I’d like to go to Thailand” you tell her.

Okay, will book you a ticket to Thailand.”

Then you call again to double confirm, emailing her as well just so she gets the instructions right.Hey Mindy, just want to be sure you book me an airline ticket to Thailand.”

“Sure, no problem Raven,” she consoles you. “Already called the airline and double confirmed your reservation to Thailand.”

Then you gave her your credit card details and she issues you the ticket.

You double check and see that she’s given you a ticket to Myanmar. “Ummm… Mindy, you gave me a ticket to Myanmar. Myanmar is not Thailand.”

“Airline says Myanmar ticket goes to Thailand,” she explains. “Myanmar is actually just Thailand spelled incorrectly.”


“Mindy, Myanmar and Thailand are two different countries,” you say.

No, Myanmar and Thailand are the same,” she insisted. “Let me check again.”

Of course, my work case isn’t about Myanmar or Thailand, okay? But just to give you an analogy on what happened the last few days. Simply said, asked my assistant to do a task, and he does the wrong thing and despite me double checking, does the wrong thing 3X!

There’s a difference between efficiency and effectivity, my dears.

Efficiency is climbing the wall fast.

Effectiveness is climbing the right wall.

For some reason, my assistant not only climbs the wrong wall, but also does it with careless errors that get bigger and bigger. For example, he misspelled a client’s name in a legally binding document, which I caught because I double checked!

DO I HAVE TO DOUBLE CHECK EVERYTHING YOU DO?” my voice started raising at work. It’s so frustrating that you want to have an assistant to help you work and lessen your load, and instead he’s creating more fires for you to put out. “If I can’t trust your work, then how can you assist me with this project?”

It’s a complete waste of time to check and doublecheck over and over. Okay, the guy’s nice, but he’s gotta stop making all these seemingly innocent mistakes.

Be careful! Use spell check. Double check,” I repeat over and over. He’s been working with me for almost 3 weeks, and so far, there hasn’t been a day where he hasn’t shown his incompetencies. Yes, I know it’s my fault for not gauging his common sense levelo earlier on, but heck, I’ve been punished enough.

Today, I assigned him to write down our meeting minutes.

He did do so — and left one some very important parts of the meeting! Aaargh, how can it be minutes if you merely write the draft that don’t do anybody good because it’s incomplete?

HR, can I really really change him? He is more a liability than an asset to the team?!

Aaargh, this will be the last time I’ll hire someone from NTU!

As my friend chided me, “Serves you right for hiring someone from Taida once again. Those guys are trained to be bosses, but they’re sometimes incompetent on the nitty gritty things of doing business. If you have to train him to think, then maybe it’s better to find someone who’s not from a good school but can actually get things done and deliver results.”

I had two assistants before — one from NTU, the other from a local school. The latter was the best hire I’ve ever made, while the guy from NTU, gosh, had an ego as big as Daan park.

Ironically, he’s probably going to make more money than two of me together in 5 years. Argh, such is the imbalance of life…

Anyway, it doesn’t solve my problem.

However, it does prove that no, I should no longer be swayed by good academic credentials because they don’t do anything in ensuring the job gets done. Doesn’t mean you can do good grades, you can actually deliver.

Secondly, no matter how nice you are, sorry, if you can’t deliver, I’d have to let you go. My assistant is currently on probation and if he doesn’t step up, then he’ll just drag the project down and I can’t have that.

I think it’s great that he is able to tolerate me being firm with him day in and day out at work. It’s indeed refreshing to see that a person can take the sermon and say, “Sorry” a couple of times.

But come on! Enough is enough.

Everyday, I hear the same “Sorry, will not do it next time.” But the next day, it happens all over again, now with a different problem!

How can someone be so careless, slow and incompetent?

Argh, I’m sure others would disagree with me and blame me for making such a hiring decision. And for that, I take responsibility. But the more I work with him, the more I think how great I am at work! And the thing is, I’m not!

Any regular person would look smart next to a fool!

Anyway, really frustrated and pissed off now.

What good is an assistant if he cannot assist? If your assistant can’t do anything wrong, then why give him anything in the first place?

Sigh, pray that I make the right decision and fast before I drive myself insane.

Wish me luck and gotta sleep now for another battle at work ahead.

Aaaaaaaargh, since when did common sense become so uncommon?!

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6 thoughts on “Uncommon Sense

  1. Indeed, common sense lost its “common” half a long time ago. Or maybe it never existed at all. I know your example is completely paraphrased but still: a major LOL. 🙁

    I gotta admit that I have my own moments of both blazing insight and total dimwittedness like described (which results in a lot of double-triple checking on my side and wasting time), so I am kind of afraid of high stress/accuracy situations, but they are just a part of life and nothing can be done about that except adjusting. I would expect him to train and adapt quickly if he has any sense of survival…

    If he is currently on probation all might not be lost of course; if it lasts long enough, maybe you can finish your project and if he hasn’t improved by then, fire him? I’d imagine that making a decision right now would mean you have to waste time on new recruitment…

    Thanks for the answer btw! 🙂

  2. Can I ask you, what are the numbers of NTU graduates actually making it in the top business positions? Are the results actually still as promising as they were years ago? (meaning the ones at the currently–graduated years ago…)

    Lucky guess is that this guy might be better of continuing for his doctorate … 🙂 !!!

  3. You use your university and grades to look for a job, everything else is hardwork.

    It’s just your luck that you got a bad assistant, even though he looks good on paper. Anyway, the guy is still in probation, so if he does not improve, go look for others.


  4. Hire me, I’ll go to Taipan. Hehehe

    Haven’t visited your blog in a long time.

    I can totally relate with you here. I’ve had some “slow” co-workers before. And I was at fault for promoting those people.

  5. Anonymous, our HR people usually only forwards those resumes of NTU and Cheng-Da graduates. They help filter the less ideal candidates for us. Hence, all the people I’ve interviewed had super high GPAs and usually from Tai-Da.

    Unfortunately, my experiences with NTU graduates have been less than ideal, so much that I’ve instructed our HR team not to forward me any more Tai-Da CVs. Sure they look good on paper, but can they work? A lot of them are better as bosses, but the position they’re vying for are entry level positions. They could not and should not act as bosses!

    So yes, the bias is still there to be pro-NTU, but at the end of the day, the question is whether they can do the job. And from what I have seen, they offer nothing better than the next Taiwan graduate, and it’s all bark and no bite. Am I just unlucky? God, I really hope so, otherwise, most businesses in Taiwan are totally screwed… 🙁

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