A Sneak Peek...
"This book is a must for those looking for real-world know-hows on leadership for building a high performance culture. Chok Sien offers practical tips that work!"
- K. C. See
CEO, Mastery Asia
Are you often flustered by uncommitted and indifferent employees? Is your team suffering from poor productivity because of this? Do you struggle to grow your business, hampered by an ineffectual team? How about high turnover rates - the employees you wish would stay, leave, and those you wish would leave, stay? Do you sense something amiss in your team or organisational culture, but are unsure how to start addressing it?
For any organisation, big or small, to achieve its purpose, it must have the right people, with the right mindset, bound by the right culture. A clever new business model may be a golden opportunity. A legal mandate may be a powerful driving force. Yet without the people doing execution and driving change, visions will remain just concepts. It is crucial for the leaders of an organisation to understand and shape its culture, and to mould its members into a coherent whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
This book posits that to create a high performance organisation in a fast-changing world, an entrepreneurial culture must be instilled in its people. It examines the key qualities of an entrepreneurial mindset, offers frameworks for understanding and transforming your organisation culture, and provides tools to put theory into practice.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Why would you want your employees to be entrepreneurs?... 1
How this book is organised... 5
Part 1: Success Factors... 7
Chapter 1: The Value Mindset... 9
Take Action... 14
Chapter 2: Think Like a Boss... 15
Building Leaders... 17
Take Action... 17
Chapter 3: The Learning Organisation - EMTC... 21
The Explorer... 22
The Matron... 22
The Teenager... 23
The Child... 23
Take Action... 25
Foundations of an Entrepreneurial Culture... 27
Part 2: Assessment Tools... 29
Chapter 4: Organisation Culture Type... 31
Freelance Agency... 36
Research University... 37
Young Start-up... 39
Identifying Your Culture Type... 41
What Will Work Best for You... 44
Take Action... 47
Chapter 5: Organisation Evolution... 49
The Ad Hoc Stage... 50
The Structured Stage... 52
The Superstars Stage... 54
The Win Together Stage... 55
The Culture Evolution Analogy... 57
Take Action... 58
Part 3: Implementation... 61
Chapter 6: Defining Your Purpose... 63
The "Right" Purpose... 63
Measure What's Important... 64
Relate to Your Purpose... 65
Praise Desired Behaviours... 66
Remember to Reflect... 67
Take Action... 68
Chapter 7: Building Trust... 69
Walk the Talk... 69
Respect Every Individual... 70
Practise Fairness... 73
Keep Your Word... 75
Trust Your Team... 76
Be an Authority Figure... 78
Take Action... 80
Chapter 8: Communication - As A Leader... 83
Psychological Safety... 84
Purposeful Repetition... 86
Say It 5 Times... 87
Explain Both Good and Bad... 89
Take Action... 91
Chapter 9: Communication - As an Organisation... 93
Transparent Targets and Results... 93
Regular Meetings... 94
Town Halls... 96
Performance Appraisals... 99
Team Building Activities... 100
Take Action... 103
Culture Implementation Framework... 104
Chapter 10: OTJM... 107
Target Audience... 108
Job to Be Done... 109
Case Study - Applying OTJM... 111
Take Action... 113
Chapter 11: Breaking Rules... 115
Further Reading... 119
About the Author... 121
Introduction: Why Would You Want Your Employees to be Entrepreneurs?
Picture this. You recruit this fresh graduate - hard worker, ambitious, street-smart, friendly, fits in well with your team. She is eager to learn and you are more than happy to mentor her. She delivers quality work. Very soon, you can let her operate independently. She makes the right decisions, and when in doubt, she seeks your guidance appropriately. In less than a year, she is already bringing in new clients for your company and growing your business. You reward her with a generous salary increment. You offer her equity. Then two years later, she tells you she is resigning. She partners with some friends and starts her own company. You lose some of your clients to her new company. All that you have taught her, and all the industry contacts you have introduced to her, have now equipped her to become a strong competitor. Your business takes a hit. Your protégé has now become a threat. You wonder why you trained this successful entrepreneur, who would eventually betray you, and ultimately bring harm to your business which you have spent years building.
Let's imagine another scenario. You have started a successful business from scratch. You have unique skills and knowledge which give you an edge over your competitors. To grow your business, you need to recruit and build a team around you. You don't want superstars. You want people who can follow instructions meticulously, who are not calculative and don't mind working long hours, who understand you and don't complain, who get the job done on time and with quality and who don't play politics or cause trouble. You train your employees just enough to enable them to do their respective jobs efficiently. You protect your trade secrets. You fire people who don't fit in, those who overestimate themselves and make unreasonable demands, and those who don't believe in your vision. You don't spoon-feed them. You want them to buck up or get out. You are wary of overly ambitious employees who do not have the best interests of the company in mind. As you grow your staff, you maintain strong control of your people, your knowledge, your trade secrets and your competitive edge. You are not going to have a situation of the disciple killing the master. You are not going to train someone who will eventually stab you in the back.
That's how the stereotypical Chinese kung-fu master thinks.
Let's look at some specific situations.
An urgent issue comes up. A long-time VIP customer threatens to go public on an incident in which your sales rep has allegedly deceived him. Despite having established a comprehensive set of standard operating procedures (SOP's) for your staff, no rule explicitly addresses this situation. No one on your team is sure what to do. They can do their individual jobs competently, but they don't have the full picture and they can't make strategic decisions which affect multiple departments. You are overseas and they are not even sure whether they should call you. They eventually do, after some delay. By then, the damage is already done. You wish you had someone who could think like you and act quickly like you, and make the right decisions.
Let's do another.
It has been a long day. You have had meeting after meeting with your teams. They bring you problems but no solutions, not even options. They ask you for approval for small things, which make you question their competence. You cannot understand why they do not have the right mindset and do not know how to prioritise. It's common sense! You feel surrounded by idiots. You are doing all the work. You become the bottleneck. Things don't move unless you push. Your staff doesn’t seem to care if the company is doing well. They just sit and wait for your directions. They don't understand how you worry about having enough money in the bank account to pay their salaries every month.
If you want a high-performance team, if you want to have a company which works effectively, you must make every employee think like an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are a special breed. Most people go through life following a prescribed path. We go through school, we find a job, we climb to higher and higher positions, then we retire and comfortably enjoy our final years. Entrepreneurs are mad people who go off the beaten path into the unknown. These people are curious and courageous. They are driven and determined. They are pragmatic and open-minded. They are “abnormal”, but they are probably what the world needs; people who solve problems and create value. In a fast-changing world, organisations need to adapt and change with the times.
To have a high-performance team, you must nurture your employees, and you must not hold back. If you want them to be able to stand in for you, you need to train them well enough to run the business as competently as you can, or even better. If you want them to be able to think like you, you must have clear and consistent communication. You must inspire them to share the same vision as you, so that they will become more creative in solving problems and helping the organisation achieve its goal. Give them clear principles to guide their decision-making.
And what about the backstabbers? If your protégé is able to steal your customers, you probably deserve it. It means she is serving them better than you are. Business is business. Humankind makes progress. If you do not continuously improve, you will be left behind, and that is right. No one owes any company any loyalty. It is unreasonable to expect such. We owe loyalty to our principles and ideals, and to our friends and family, but never to the concept of a company. It is just a paper entity born out of the desire of investors to make more money, and it employs people. An employment is a mutually beneficial business relationship. An employee gives your company his time, his skills and his experience, helping your company make more money than what you pay him. Your company pays him a stable salary, and he gains knowledge, maybe reputation, and hopefully, friendship and community too. An employment arrangement thrives only when both parties continue to receive what they want, which can change over time. If the expectations of an employee diverge from that of the company, why expect him to stay? It is neither reasonable nor beneficial to either party.
We want our employees and ex-employees to do well. We want a society with kind and capable people, who create value for everyone and make the world a better place. Ultimately, we pursue the greater good. Life is not a narrow, zero-sum game. If your employee leaves you and becomes more successful, it should be celebrated. Worrying about employees leaving because you have trained them well is a silly thing to do if you haven't even trained and coached them well enough for your day-to-day operations. If your business is running smoothly and you have a team of strong and ambitious employees, you must continue to challenge them and challenge yourself to create even more value for yourself, for them, and for society.