Got business problems or challenges at work? With his Two Cents page, Loaay Ahmed shares his expertise in strategic management consulting to help managers, employees and entrepreneurs thrive.
Q: Cultural fit is important when hiring. We ask candidates questions about their lifestyle to get to know them better. Where do you draw the line between cultural diversity and cultural conflict?
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, an online retailer that’s famous for their strong cultural fit, once said that he asks himself after an interview with a candidate whether or not he would like to have drink with that person after work, in principle. If his gut feeling was no, then he wouldn’t hire him/her. In this case, the small differences won’t matter. Will this system work for other companies? Maybe. Is this an objectively sustainable and measurable method? No. Gut feelings could be clouded by how strong the candidates are in selling themselves. Many companies have praised diversification for enhancing the quality of thinking within the business in meetings, problem-solving situations, and in product or service development. While this may very well be true, it doesn’t have to be the main criteria for assessing the cultural fit.
Quality of the employees and customer’s experience won’t be negatively affected if your contact centre agents listen to different kinds of music individually and have various hobbies. What matters the most is that they all have a natural desire to serve people and to solve problems. However, if you’re putting together a team for new product development or strategic planning, diversity in lifestyles, backgrounds and interests, could enrich the results dramatically. So, the next time you interview a candidate, keep in mind the nature of the job when reviewing the personality, behavior and lifestyle of the candidate. Happy Hiring!…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: We run a factory and we have one product line. Customers are showing less interest as time goes by. Other than price deductions, what can we do?
When you have one product it may seem limiting and could be threatening if the market is disengaged with what you have to offer, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need is a dose of creative and critical thinking. You could diversify into similar or supportive product lines within the same industry. You could integrate recycling into your product to make it more environmentally responsible. Alternatively, you could take your product to less advanced markets. Used cars, for example, are often sold and exported to less developing markets. Shifting to another direction, you could find unconventional uses for your product. Viagra, for example, was developed as a heart disease medication, but the studies showed a totally new potential and the rest is history.
If you decide to wiggle and wriggle with the market you’re currently in, then you must find ways to stand out from the competition. In brand management there’s a simple golden rule: [dramatic sound effects] Differentiate or die [dramatic sound effects again]. Give your old and new customers one strong reason to buy from you and not your competitors. A more tactical but intricate approach is to team up with other key manufacturers and to change how the industry operates, which will force other operators to follow or shutdown, either way will give you the lead and a bigger market share and, more importantly, a bigger profit share…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: What do you do when you loose faith in the director who hired you and you don’t have other employment opportunities?
Some employers expect and, dare I say, sometimes demand employees to show unconditional loyalty to the company or to them personally. Some employees also have this belief that their direct managers and the company in general should be loyal to them all the way considering their good or exceptional performance. Neither side is right in their expectations. What makes a company stick with a certain employee is because that person’s performance generates certain value to the business, which they need and don’t want the competition to enjoy. It’s not because they like the person or believe in him/her. On the other hand, companies shouldn’t expect any loyalty from employees because it’s a matter of a fit between the employees’ own needs and what the company offers in general – and not just the salary. If there is no fit, it’s time to go.
The human relations that develop during the working hours, days, weeks and months are nothing but a byproduct. What matters is the deliverables at the end of the day from both sides, the employer and the employee. If leaving to an inspiring environment with people you can respect and learn from is not an option for now, focus on projects that require less interaction with your director whenever possible so you can spend your time doing work that you will be proud of regardless. Employees should be loyal only to the position they’re in so they can improve their own reputation. Do what’s right for the place you’re in, speak your mind on what’s best for the business and go home knowing that you’ve done your best that day…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected]. Regrettably, only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management adviser and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit www.knightscapital.com