SINGAPORE: A man took to social media to share his thoughts on how things are run in the Singapore workforce, airing his perception that employees are not promoted despite their meritorious efforts and dedication to the company.

“You don’t get promoted because of hard work,” the man wrote on Thursday (Feb 22). “I used to have a colleague who didn’t exhibit hard work, had no exceptional skills, but was very good at communication. He was promoted to assistant manager within a year.”

The man also mentioned that his boss preferred his initiatives and work quality over his colleague’s. However, he admitted that one thing he lacked was the ability to initiate small talks.

“But it seems he likes him for his soft skills in communication, which are more important in the field of business. Anyway, they both got into a quarrel, and my colleague left in the end as my boss was unhappy with the work progress from him. What do you think?” the man asked.

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“Hard work by itself is never a metric for promotion.”

The man’s post generated a lively discussion in the comments section, where the majority of Singaporean redditors agreed that ‘hard work’ alone is not enough to take a person’s career to the next level.

One redditor said, “Hard work by itself is never a metric for promotion. If you’re incompetent and hardworking, you’ll do more harm than someone who’s incompetent and lazy.

People always mistake being hardworking for being capable. Being exceptionally capable is what gets you promoted. Being hardworking just allows you to keep doing whatever you’re doing.”

Another redditor commented, pointing out that hard work was merely a basic prerequisite.  “What’s more important is the visibility and impact of the hard work,” the redditor emphasized.

To support his argument, the redditor provided an example: “e.g. Person A OTs every day but just completes their assigned tasks. Person B doesn’t OT at all but has made process improvements that saved 20 hours every month and presented it to management so they are aware of it. Person B is more likely to be promoted.”

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A few others gave the man explanations for why his colleague received a promotion, stating that the soft skill that his colleague had was crucial in earning his employer’s trust.  

One redditor further explained, “Me liking you because you know how to do small talk IS a skill and IS contributing to that trust. Think about it, let’s say I am the boss, if I want to promote a manager to manage my employees, would I promote someone who can’t even communicate well with me? It’ll be so painful giving instructions and discussing my company’s affair with someone who isn’t good at social skills, and how can I trust him to manage my employees well? Him being able to communicate well with me IS a skill and IS a sign of great competence.”

Another gave him a cold, harsh truth, saying, “A hard worker doesn’t really mean they are a good leader. To your perspective it might seem unfair. But the fact is sometimes the hard worker lacks the qualities of a leader.”

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The debate comes after an NUS alumni ranted on social media earlier this month about how his former coursemate-turned-colleague got promoted despite having lower grades than him in college.

“You can tell from his grades that he probably don’t know what he’s doing and is not a hardworker. I think the only reason he was promoted was because he is close with his teammates, especially his ex-boss who left the company,” the man wrote.

Read more: Man thinks his former coursemate-turned-colleague doesn’t deserve to be promoted because “he had lower grades than him”