Thursday, March 28, 2013

Company Culture

We understand the importance of having a positive company culture. The right culture translates to a situation where we can have the right people, doing the right thing, and heading towards the right direction collectively.

However, most often than not, most company culture are merely a motto, a statement, or even just something the management wants, but hardly anything that reflects the reality.

This creates a divergence of culture, where instead of a cohesive one, now you have two type of cultures, i.e., the perceived culture and the real culture.

People's behavior in an organization defines and forms its culture. This behavior is heavily influenced by the heritage of the firm, the management's direction and working style, the operating procedure, the interaction among co-workers and the working relationships between superiors and subordinates.

When the organization is small in size, most often than not, the congruence of culture can be maintained, as the boss' behaviors will largely influence the formation of company's culture.

However, the complexity increases when the organizational size got bigger. The understanding of what their culture actually is could be blurry.

Management would think that his or her company is "dynamic", " we never give up", "always go the extra miles", "focus on quality" etc...They can verbally communicate or put in writing of what they believe is the "right" culture, but most often than not, effort was not spent in convincing their staff entirely. 

Setting the right culture from the top is not enough. The job is not done yet if you do not make your people buy in to the ideas.

"We want to be the best" conveys a message that the company wants to be no. 1 in some areas. The "what" has been defined, the "how" has been planned out but the people might not buy in fully on the "why".

Just because the management has set the "what" and "how", management would think that things would fall into place automatically, and people should deliver. After all, they are being paid to do what was told.

Some would say that if the employee does what was told, then a culture can be formed. Yes, this is true, but it might not be the "right" culture. 

If the direction is to be "no. 1", how could you expect that the employees would have the belief that "I can be / I am no. 1" if they are just a follower of instructions?

Culture cannot be forced down from the top. Management's role is to provide the strategic direction and a platform to support that. With the right infrastructure, and the right people doing the right role, a positive culture can be formed from bottom up.

If the employees perceive that what they have or what being provided is not sufficient to achieve what was instructed, this is where the culture misalignment happens.

The employees might choose to say no to management, where I guess most employees would not do so for obvious reason (after all, it is not a pleasant nor advisable move to tell your boss that he or she is wrong - career suicidal moves), so they might opt for the easier route - "Do lor, what else can I do?"

The employees do not own the company so ultimately if the culture does not fit, they can always choose to leave and join others. Because of the "do lor" mentality, management might have the impression that their employees are incompetent as they cannot deliver what was expected. So people got reshuffled, disgruntlement and confusion might follow, people leave, people come and here goes the vicious cycle again.

In the end, the perceived culture is still a perceived one, where the real culture leads the employee to an impression that "management is clueless", "they don't know what we want", "this is not the place i want to stay" etc.

A right culture can only be formed if management do what they preach, walk the walk, talk the talk, and stick to the same mantra through thick and thin. People need to buy in the mantra and it should not be something too fictitious or ambitious. A small step at a time would be much more rewarding and believable for the employees, and it might help to drive them to do the right things all the time.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Management: Leadership

Read a good article on fastcompany today and would like to share it here:

here are some excerpt:

In practice, leaders who are detached from the messy process of managing fail. They don't know what's going on in their organizations.
Stanford University Professor Emeritus James G. March has said "Leadership involves plumbing as well as poetry." And I couldn’t agree more having experienced this throughout my career. The devil is in the details. Great leaders fail without good management.

What distinguishes today’s successful enterprise is knowledge--such as knowledge of the customer, the suppliers, and new business ideas that could emerge from anywhere.
The challenge for leaders is managing such extended enterprises which requires breaking many of the management rules we grew up with.
Rather than top-down hierarchical processes and approaches, they need to manage and govern cross-collaboratively.

As  a leader or future leader, you would need to get your hands dirty in order to do a great job. There’s a difference in those who “do the right thing” and “do the thing right”.

Monday, March 11, 2013

What it takes to excel as Sales

There are many books out there which touch on "what it takes to excel" "how to be a successful salesman" "101 ways to be a successful sales man" etc.

Based on my short stint leading the International Sales team, what i can gather is:

Rule 1: Passion
Good academic results or relationships or records can land you the job, but hey, you would need to have the passion to drive you forward, to pick you up when you're bashed down to the ground. You would need to believe in yourself, and use the passion as fuel to drive you to greater height.

A passionate sales man will be able to handle rejection with ease, because, they would understand that all the obstacles, especially rejection, is part of the daily job to "make a dent in the universe".

Rule 2: Brain
You can be as gungho or passionate as you can be, but if it doesn't come with any strategic thinking or brain power to back it up, then it is not a complete package. Whether it is to con or to convince, which is a huge part of a sales man's daily job, you would need to be able to think and react fast to changes. After all, change is the only constant here.

Rule 3: Balls of Steel
Ok, you're equipped with passion and brain, but hey, you must have the guts and balls of steel to get it executed. It is not easy to approach a total stranger and tell him or her how good you or your product is. It is easy to sell, but it is never easy to say No to customer. Most often than not, there will be times where you would need to place company's interests above those of customers, like further price discount. You must have the ball to say "sorry, this is the lowest i can go" and take the risk of the customer walking away. Nonetheless, the risks can be largely mitigated if you understand your customers' threshold well enough before hand. Always do your homework beforehand, as there's a thin fine line between being a cowboy or a brave sales man.

Rule 4: Charisma
This is not something which can be taught of. Some just born with better looks than the others, but that's not the key point here. Charisma does not mean that you would need to be the most good looking person on earth, but you must be pleasant enough for customers to like you. Play your game right, some time sex sells, but most of the time, charisma comes in different format. A trusted look is more important than a pretty face in sales.

This might not be an exhaustive list of what it takes to excel, but so far i think these 4 key elements are important to differentiate a good sales man from a darn blardy good one.

Good Morning!

Sometimes, it is the simplest thing in life that makes or breaks.

On my way to work today, and yes, it could have been a dreadful Monday as always, but everything changes when i was greeted by this beautiful sunrise. 

That totally change my day. Good Morning peeps!