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The world is becoming more interconnected between counties, organization and people through international trade, technology, and speedier forms of communication. The study of managing in a global environment is indeed an invaluable introductory way to understand the impact of globalization on management and managers nowadays. Hence, in this report, we will study on how managers manage in a global environment. In order to get a more realistic sense of managerial issues related to managing in today's workplace, we have interviewed 4 people from different organizations. The interviews below are structured firstly with the roles of managers in a global environment context, followed by the semblances that practice bears to the description in text. Then lastly will be the discussion of differences between theory and practice together with some challenges managers are facing now.
2. Interviewee 1
Our first interviewee is Mrs Sim, the Regional Head of Global Business Services (GBS) department of a multinational corporation (MNC) that is based in Singapore. She heads the GBS department of Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. GBS is a fast growing corporate shared service operation that provides services to GE businesses through several distinct product lines including employee services, travel, expenses, payroll, general accounting and other support services.
"I know it is going to be a very challenging journey." said Mrs Sim when she was told to take over the position of Head of GBS department in Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. She told us that the ultimate challenges that she needs to pay attention is the cultural difference. "It is not easy when you need to deal with people that different from your background," she added on. Upon the hand over, she took initiatives in learning the cultures and policies of Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei by talking informally to her subordinates. She emphasized the main difference of her current managerial role is that she no longer can apply the same style universally but adapts it into the local context for a better organizational performance. She is now more sensitive to other culture by openly listen to their feedback. She shared with us one of the examples is their respective festival dates. Different festivals have their own significance and meanings to the local people. Hence, she needs to handle the difference of local holidays more effectively and discretely to ensure shared services process will not be interrupted in one country and at the same time take care the feeling of employees.
Another challenge that she faced is her physical presence. Being the manager of GBS of four countries, she needs to schedule her timetable well to be present in each country's at appropriate timing. However, she smiled and said that the advanced technology nowadays has eased her job tremendously. Besides some significantly important events, she will video-conference at least twice a week with her line mangers in each country to get updated reports. In this international business function, both written and oral communications skills are critical also besides aid from technology. Due to the different context and the physical distance, Mrs. Sim needs to be able to deliver clear and timely instructions effectively to her subordinates from another country to avoid miscommunication. To her top managers who are also not based in the same country, she must also be able to convex complex topics in a clear and concise manner in operational pulsing meetings and regional leadership meetings.
Mrs Sim then explained to us that her job is also heavily on process management. To make sure the quality of management system, she has to review the workflow processes with respective head of each businesses monthly for evaluation purposes. They will get together to identify any hiccups in the business and to seek for improvement to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Jobs involve a lot of problem solving and decision making as global competition has increased the pressure on organization to increase the quality by minimizing the costs. Hence, delegating responsibility is also crucial for Mrs. Sim. However, she then shared with us one of her problem is the high turnover rate. Realizing the severity of it, Mrs Sim has come out a solution of job rotations in every two years. She will discuss with all her line managers to restructure her employees' task with a hope that it will increase job satisfaction and minimize the boredom of employee that due to repetitive routine jobs.
Being a leader, she believes that a good and conductive working environment can bring up the working spirit of employees thus improving performances. Mrs. Sim has initiated several activities to build up a positive organizational culture. For example, every month, there will be a get-together session in which an hour will be spent for employees to share their updates and stories and the next hour is a combined birthday celebration. Besides that, two team building activities also will be carried out annually. She told us that her objective is to increase the interactions between employees to minimize possible conflicts in a pleasant working environment. She said this is crucial in order to achieve efficiency and enhance the productivity especially in this process-based division.
From the interview, we see the consistency between practice and theory. Cross cultural management skills is vital in diverse workforce as Mrs Sim practised. She took initiatives in understanding her working environment that comprises diverse background at the deep level of diversity. Besides that, Mrs Sim as the middle manager mainly engages in resource management, coordination, supervision on the line managers as stated in textbook. Additionally, Mrs Sim is also a good example of managers in 21st century, who no longer practice command and control in managing. Instead of being directive, Mrs Sim moves to focus on collaborative and supportive approach, such as team building to ensure performance and encourage self-motivated behaviour. However, due to the time constraint and physical absence, Mrs Sim may appear to be a good manager and leader in Singapore but not other countries. Though she tried to value her subordinates, the long-term absence from office and lack of direct communication will somewhat generate a gap between her and her employees at other countries. When the understanding in deep level is absent, misunderstanding and misconception are easily emerged.
Viewing the job extensions of Mrs Sim in four countries, we can conclude that the role as a Regional Head of the GBS is a definite challenging one. We believe that in her role as regional head, one has to have clear understanding of organisational behaviour. Having high Emotional Intelligence (EI) and being able to understand, motivate and inspire others will enable manager to perform more efficiently and effectively. Using the Big Five Personality Framework, it is certain that one must have high conscientiousness, high emotional stability, exhibit openness to experience, agreeable and extroverts in order to succeed in Mrs. Sim's role.
3. Interviewee 2
Our next interviewee is Mr Choy, a Human Resource Manager of a medium size of multinational corporation (MNC) that is based in Singapore.
He is mainly responsible for delivering all facets of recruiting success throughout the organization. He said planning skill is very much needed to ensure human resources in his department is well allocated. "The market is changing fast and increasingly competitive. We no longer in the position of choosing people but they choose us instead," Mr Choy shared with us the challenges he faces in this changing global environment now. Hence, besides employing traditional recruiting plan, he has to also constantly develop new, creative recruiting ideas to attract more and better talents. He also responsible for administering employee contracts and employment related documents. For example, for hiring transfer, he needs to ensure those employees that transfer from other country have their required employment visas, permits and accommodation well prepared ahead their arrivals. When someone exits, he also has to make sure the replacement is there before their term ends so that the operation of organization will not be compromised due to this vacancy of post.
He told us his job does not just stop after the recruitment. He still needs to take care of staff welfare. He will need to make sure every new employee go through induction and orientation, the compulsory training of company to new employees. He said this is essential step as new employee will be informed the organisational goals as well as the organizational culture which help the employee feels comfortable with the new working environment and able to socially integrate with other employees. From time to time, he will also discuss and coordinate with all level of management team for establishing staff training needs to keep the employees equipped with updated work related skills and knowledge. Besides the formal developmental programs, he will also responsible for bringing out informal outings like community based activities or sports activity to encourage employee engagement initiatives in society and also bonding purposes with organizational members. He shared with us that the recent 2 days 1 night Women camp, has successfully organized by an independent team of female employees with objective to equip all female employees with knowledge of surviving in this global environment.
Additionally, he also plays an informational role in his organizational. He provides legal and compliant Human Resource service to ensure that current employment matters are communicated to the organization via the HR policy. He also coaches line managers and supervisors on performance management and employee development plans. "I will also sometimes provide advice regarding staff disciplinary matters or counselling," he added on. As he is the one that involved in interview, he is said to be more aware about the ability and skills of the new hired employee. Hence he will use this information to decide about the salary of the employee and works closely with the account department regarding salary related issues.
He shared his experience with us that his job scope is not just limited with internal party. He needs to travel quite frequent and participates in global councils to be the representation of his organization. Besides that, sometimes he is also required to work with appropriate government bodies to manage government funded employment traineeships or employment related issues. He told us that he just collaborated with OKU department in bringing people with disabilities into his organization to practice fair employment. He added on good interpersonal skills are really important for the role of him. Besides the needs of coordinating with internal party and communicating with other parties for formal purposes, he also needs to maintain excellent professional relations with the educational institutions and recruitment agencies to make sure organization has the best talents.
From the interview, we can see some of Mr Choy's jobs are consistent with the description of textbooks. Realizing the importance of retention of talents in an organization, Mr Choy greatly emphasizes in activities that able to promote employees' job satisfaction, job involvement as well as organizational citizenship behaviours. As we know, high turnover rate in an organization can hurt an organization's efficiency and effectiveness due to the loss of experience and working knowledge. Besides that, he also puts in effort to make sure his organization able to attract more and right talents by providing creative and flexibility in his hiring process as well as keep himself with a good relationship with related employment bodies. Additionally, as like what text book described, manager who equipped with the three managerial skills able to let them perform their jobs effectively, that includes: conceptual skills, human skills and technical skills. Those are also the skills we able to see in Mr Choy in planning the allocation of human resources, communicate with internal and external party as well as using his technical skills in providing legal and HR services. Pg 89, one of the strategy to deal with globaity is invest in talent to sustain rapid growth
However, we realized that Mr Choy's job scopes are somewhat different in comparison with other managers. Instead of dealing with customers and organizational goals, Mr Choy works more like a supporting role to other managers. He manage neither with resources like capital, machinery nor deal with suppliers or vendors, but manage with organizational human resources to make sure organization always has the right and sufficient talents to support company's operation to work towards certain goals. The 4 pillars of management process that mentioned in textbook can be seen in this case too. However, planning in the case of Mr Choy is planning of human resources allocation with strategy how talents can be attracted and retained and always sufficient. His organizing role is instead a process for structuring training or developmental activities in such a way that employees are equipped with skills and work in a good relationship with others to achieve organizational goals. As for the controlling role, he evaluates the performance of employees and seeks for improvement in quality of employment process instead. As suggested in textbook, managers in small organizations tend to be more generalist while those in larger organization are more specialists. Spokesperson and organizer are said to be the managerial roles in small firms. However, Mr Choy who works in a large firm, besides role in allocating of resources, he also acts as the voice of his organization to outsider or the media as well as organizer in most of the company events.
4. Interviewee 3
Our next interviewee is a general manager of an Italian food restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Mr. Dinesh's jobscope is to mainly oversee the entire operations of the restaurant.
The restaurant is divided into three sections; kitchen, front and bar and he is assisted by an assistant manager and three supervisors who work in shifts in the restaurant. The owner of the restaurant believes in authentic Italian food therefore bringing in a chef from Italy to head the kitchen. Mr. Dinesh himself has various prior experiences in the F&B industry such as being a supervisor in a restaurant at Hyatt Singapore and gaining technical skills by spending around two years in a winery in France.
Having worked for several years in the restaurant, he has considerable influence over the business. Mr. Dinesh's managerial role involves all planning, organising, leading and controlling resources. Planning involves frequent business strategizing to grow restaurant sales by introducing lunch hour promotions and occasionally serving special dishes to draw public attentions. He is also in charge of manpower planning for restaurant functions including interviewing candidates for the restaurant and bringing in chef with experiences. According to him, talents are important for business development. However, retaining them has proved to be a challenge as the F&B industry has one of the highest employment turnover rate. Currently he is also assisting the business owner in setting up another restaurant's branch. Other operational activities include liaising with suppliers, attending to customer feedback and organizing the entire restaurant. Mr. Dinesh encourages direct interaction between himself and employee despite the formal reporting relationship of which supervisors play the first line manager role. He introduces the employee feedback system where employees are expected to send him a short report daily on challenges faced and possible improvements.
Mr. Dinesh believes in the power of a learning organization. He believes that employee should be knowledgeable of the food and drinks served in the restaurant to make wise recommendations to customers. Being a role model, he would personally conduct food and beverage trainings to his employees every 6 months to motivate and to educate them on food and beverage studies besides the usual proper serving food etiquette. He says that these will perhaps build interest in certain people and motivates them to be more committed in what they are doing.
Additionally, Mr. Dinesh engages in controlling measures to ensure restaurant's sustainability. He maintains the standard of the restaurant, food hygiene and customer service standards. From time to time he will inspect the quality of food by food tasting them. Customer feedbacks forms are also distributed to customers allowing them to rate the food quality, restaurant ambience and customer service. On off days, Mr. Dinesh will visit other restaurant to learn and to keep himself updated on the latest F&B market trend.
From the managerial roles of Mr Dinesh we mentioned just now, we observed the consistencies with textbook. The size of the Italian restaurant is small, hence, Mr Dinesh tend to be more generalist. He not only responsible for leading and coordination, he also engages in human resources issues like hiring and retaining activities. Besides that, we can also see that Mr Dinesh is trying to create an organizational plurality. Handling a multiracial workforce, the individuality of each member is respected by providing fair opportunity to everyone in terms of training opportunity and treatments. He recognized the learning opportunities and encouraged every employee to learn and equip themselves with related knowledge to contribute to the organization, customers, and themselves. Besides that, we also see the openness of Mr Dinesh's managerial style, he supports constructive feedback and high tolerance of debate in the organization.
However, towards the end of interview, he shared with us some of the challenges he is facing. Almost half of his workers are part timer such as students on vacations. He has to constantly deal with issues like lack of manpower during peak hours on Saturday or Sunday evening because part timers do not act responsibly by calling in sick frequently. Though he has all the good plans in managing people, but it is still have to be adapted into the nature of workers. It is common to know that part timers generally do not have high organizational commitment and sense of responsibility and consequently affect the quality of services. As a servicing line business, Mr Dinesh may want to control the quality of services as well besides putting emphasis on the quality of food and cost minimization.
5.0 Interviewee 4
The interviewee, Mrs Tan, is the founder and director of a leading online shopping business based in Malaysia. She is a computer science graduate who decided to start this entrepreneurial activity after joining the corporate sector for 3 years. Her business mission is to be the leading innovated one stop online shop centre targeting mainly women working adults who have limited free time, assisting them to shop for clothing, beauty products, creative living and gifts.
The main job scope of Mrs Tan is planning. She needs to have the strong conceptual skills to plan and organize her business efficiently and effectively. Every month, she has to decide on the types and amount of products to order from suppliers. She told us that it is an important stage as inappropriate amount of orders will lead to excessive inventory and subsequently tie up the capital. Inappropriate types of products might also bring down the demand and business sales. Besides that, she also plans on promotions to have especially during festive seasons like Christmas and Chinese New Year. Occasionally, she brings in new elements or new variety of products such as free shipping and mystery free gift to differentiate her business.
Mrs Tan then said her business is a low cost business; hence, she has only 2 employees and herself. In order to have an efficient working flow, she needs to organize work and distribute task discretely. One of her employee in charge of dealing with customer order and delivery of goods; another employee on the other hand is responsible for the product suppliers side, for instance, the import process and quality checking. Mrs Tan besides monitoring the financial flow of business and legal issue, she will also oversees and evaluate employees' performances as well as her business performance. She shared her experience to us that this is important in order to maintain the low waiting time and high responsive speed. A slight delay or mistake in the working flow may turn away a customer.
She told us that in such a competitive online shopping business, she has to be very sensitive to the global environment forces and be able respond to it appropriately. For example, she identified the pace of technological change has accelerated so rapidly these day. Hence, in order to keep up with it and satisfy her customer pool, she decided to improve her online business by increasing her website loading speed, introducing online payments, shopping cart application and also make online advertisement on social networking sites. Besides that, she also realized that economic downturn in Malaysia has brought up the cost of her products as many clothing factories has shut down. In order to maintain her competitive advantage, she decided to switch her supplier to China, where the products are in a lower cost and higher quality. She has also recently set up a DBS account as a move to provide more convenience to her customer as she observed a growing trend of Singapore customer.
Most of Mrs Tan's jobs are unconventional in comparison to the traditional managers we learnt in textbook. She has a lot of similarities with e-managers that we discussed in textbook, manager who widely use information-communication technologies in managing her business. According to Harris, Delong & Donnellon (2001), the 6 key competencies as an e-manager include developing competency in fast decision making, partnering others with whom they may not even have close contact initially, knowing technology, staying focused in spite of information overload, making sense of the future and attracting and retaining talent. We can see the first four competencies in Mrs Tan especially in selecting and managing her suppliers. However, the last two competencies are not for the case of Mrs. Tan's e-business. During the interview, Mrs. Tan expressed some of her uncertainties of her business. Despite all efforts taken to grow the business, she does not have a clear vision of the future of this business. "10 years down the road, I am not sure if this business can expand even regionally to places like Thailand and Philippines" she said. Marginal growth of the business is decreasing and sustainability power is uncertain. Even more, the trends of online clothing sellers branding their clothing range, has also putting pressure on Mrs Tan's business. Not being able to design her own clothing and products has definitely put her into a disadvantaged. In conclusion, besides putting efforts in management skills, she may need to consider strategizing her business and equipping herself with certain technical skills that can aid her to further develop and position the business.
From the four interviews above, we can see that managers do play important roles in an organization who can significantly affect the organizational performance. However, there are no absolute standard and right framework in management for managers to follow. As we know the global world is moving fast with uncertainties and diversity, hence, theory should always adapts to the nature of organization as well as integrates with flexibility in order to excel in management.