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Follow the rules

Jack Loo | Jan. 30, 2009
In light of the current bad times, it makes even more sense to give local customs their due reverence.

With the first week of the Lunar New Year coming to an end, employees are gradually coming back to their offices. For staff members resuming work, there are a few traditional customs unique to the current festive season that should be observed.

The aim of carrying out these activities is to wish for good fortune to both workers and companies alike. Basically these are a more sophisticated form of festival greetings. And bearing the current poor economic conditions in mind, everyone needs some good tidings.

One of these activities is the lo hei, or rather consumption, of the yu sheng dish. The plate consists of a variety of vegetables as well as a serving of raw fish, garnished with flour crackers. Each ingredient has an auspicious symbol, for instance, the fish represents fortune in abundance while the crackers imply prosperity. Diners gather around to toss the ingredients; the entire concept of tossing and yu sheng is to ensure that everyone in the organisation starts work feeling blessed and positive.

The other should be the giving out of ang pows, or red packets, by the manager to his subordinates. It does not need to be an extravagant affair as the amount can be no more than a few dollars. The idea is two-fold; the recipient gets blessed, while the act of distributing means the giver can gain prosperity.

Of course these acts require expenditure on the part of bosses. But hey, take it as a chance to show that you are actually a human at heart and a caring leader. After all, you are paid more than your subordinates.

Then again, there is always the stingy manager who will argue that operating in a multinational company and therefore absolves them from adhering to certain traditions.

My take iswhen in Rome, do as the Romans do. If the organisation has no intention of respecting the local rules, it will ultimately become another statistic among the list of fallen organisations in todays global recession.

A staff writer with Fairfax Business Media, Jack Loo is a full-time web and magazine reading addict, from to webmonkey and monocle.


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