Developing People Competencies In Fashion Cultural Studies Essay

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Trans Fashion ("Company") is a retail fashion company who is fully owned by Para Group. It was acquired in early 2007 from Indonesian socialite, as the branded fashion business looks promising in Indonesia due to improving economic growth. Under the old company, Trans Fashion was a family business which had already operating since 20 years ago and there was no effort to maximize the business and gain profit. Meanwhile, under the new corporation, Trans Fashion is changed into more goal oriented in expanding the market and maximizing profit as business is going better. The Company is focusing on retailing international fashion brands, mostly from European brands, such as Boss, Tod's, Mango, etc. To serve the business, the Company has 700 employees in its payroll. And, currently, Trans Fashion has 50 stores operating in all over Indonesia.

The Company is divided into several divisions starting by each brand divisions, such as Boss Division, Tod's Division, Mango Division, Finance & Accounting Division, Store Fit Out Division, HR & General Affairs Division and IT Division. Each brand division is starting from sales assistant, supervisor, store manager, merchandising manager, operation manager and brand manager. While for back office division, it consists of staff, supervisor, and manager.

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Before the acquisition by Para Group, the old Company itself ran as a family business, which almost members of the family had their owned position from the managers until board of directors. Since 1980, the family did not operate professionally to manage the old Company and also the employees. Also, the family did not fairly compensate the employees based on the performance and experience, so it resulted different salary among the same positions in every level. So, the employee's performance were not really in the best shape to grow the Company, since the salary discrimination was occurred in almost every level. By having this kind of situation, the old Company was suffering high turn over of employees.

After the acquisition, the Company was forced to changed its system into more corporate's way from family business. For the purpose of achieving goals, Para Group as a Head Office has appointed new CEO and some officers to realign the business. During the times, based on direction from the new management, the Company could change the business into more corporation, such as creating standard operating procedures in business process, more accountability and transparent financial system. However, related with the human resources, the Company faced the difficulty in changing the behavior on its daily operation. Until at this moment, the Company is still trying to reform its people.

II. THE PEOPLE

Since the acquisition of Trans Fashion by Para Group, there were many people that resigned due to different expectation and resistant to the way of new Company operates. The Company has taken several actions to restructure every division in the Company, starting from back office division. Before the acquisition, the prior Finance Controller had not maintained the financial statement in proper ways resulting the uncertainty of financial condition and also accused for fraud. He also dictated his subordinate to do the work since it was resulting his staff were not respect to him and did their work incorrectly. However, not long after the acquisition, he decided to retire from his position due to heavy pressure from the new CFO. The Company has appointed new Finance Controller from professional industry to restructure the division and other related division, such as HRD and IT. And, the result is quite satisfying since the division shows a better performance than before, such as delivery of financial report, realigning the operating procedures. Also, staff in these divisions start to be more integrated with the work and meet the Company's expectation. This back office restructure is the only easier transformation after the acquisition, since the prior Finance Controller was resigned from the Company due to his incompetency. Meanwhile, the Company is still facing resistance from the brand division, especially from the top manager, due to legacy and background of each people.

Since Trans Fashion is operating in fashion brand industry, especially international high end fashion, mostly Company's products are categorized as expensive products, since the Company is targeting to AB Class. It is resulting every level of employee must have competence to face this AB Class customers. Sales staff who is hired must meet the international standard whether the appearance and his/her selling skills to generate sales from this upper class. For the managerial level, starting from operation, merchandising and brand managers, mostly women who fill the position. These woman managers choose this careers related to their admires to the fashion, since they work their heart to this fashion brand. And, they tend to stay in the Company for long term, since they love the brand. For sure, it is an advantage for the Company to have them. Other characteristics on these woman managers, mostly they come from the rich family either from their husband or their parents. So, salary is not the problem for them to work and to fulfil their daily needs. By having this financial background, these woman manager can easily tap the richer class to sales their products. However, this advantage from the managers is also double sided sword to the Company, since they do not need money to earn their living. The consequences are they sometimes do not follow the Company policies and tends to work in their way. Furthermore, the combination with their behaviour and legacy system from prior Company make the transformation quite slow.

III. WOMAN MANAGERS AND I

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Having described above about the situation, I have a role as an assistant to the CEO by helping him to expand the market and creating profit. So, in daily works I need to interact with the brand managers to create, monitor the budget, advice them to reach the goals and other things that need to be done. I have realized there are 2 significant characteristics that need to be handle during my work, which is the rich managers and the bad legacy managers.

Regarding the rich managers, I frequently interact with Daisy, a pretty woman with aged around 35, married with 2 children. She is a Brand Manager for Prada, a famous brand from Italy that is well known for its perfection in beauty. She comes from a rich local family and married with a rich man also. However,she was the only daughter from her family, since it makes her to be more demanding with her surroundings. And, she likes to do her own way as the world only evolves around her. For example, when I'm looking for her to have a meeting in the early morning, she always to come late without any news from her. Also, she rarely has her absence in full. Due to her responsibility to visit the store, she can make reason to come late and go home earlier. When I discuss with Daisy regarding work issues, she frequently immature in giving response, such as refuse the work by shouting and in anger, leave the room during the discussion, etc. However. she always can give a good deliverables related to the work. After almost 3 years, I am working with her as a team to develop the strategy, I realized that these fashion business is really an emotion business since it is also reflected to the people in its surrounding. I can say that almost these woman managers are snob people and very high demanding with everything. In her structure of command, Daisy has her subordinate managers and sales people to operate the business. She is a strong person that instruct her subordinate to perform well. For example, she is not an easy person for her sales people, since she knows that sales staff always give any excuses related to the sales performance. I also noticed that she is also hard to her managers during discussion on weekly meeting. However, I realized something from her, that every work that it is assigned to her, she can complete the work well and fast, although at first she shows her resistance to accept the assignment. Sometimes I feel that with her resistance to do the work, she silently will start to work and finish it well. I conclude her that she is a good working woman but with full of emotion involved.

Other woman managers that I realized that is also unique is Nadya, a brand manager for Tod's. She has already worked with the Company since 7 years ago before the Company was acquired by Paragroup. She is married woman with 2 children that comes from middle income family. She and her husband are working to fulfil the family needs. I realized that she is kind different from her peers since she is one of the longest employee in the Company. As stated before, most employee from the legacy Company inherits the bad attitudes due to family business orientation in the early stage. And, the behavior keeps unchanged after the transition period. For example, when I have project with her to create a budget, it seems that she can not follow our procedures, while she still keeps the traditional ways. The management has decided that the traditional procedures is not effective for the business since it has many conflict for the business. For several times of projects, she still keep maintain this ways although I have emphasized that we should do the best practice. Sometimes, she is also so stubborn in defending her old principles and refuse to do the tasks. Furthermore, she always do things in slow pace. Hence, the result is she always have problem when she has to discuss with the Management, since she can not cope with the best practice. After several analysis from the Management about her, we have noticed and concluded that she has problem on receiving new things and limited technical knowledge. For sure, she enjoys her comfort zone at this moment. So, mostly in every project that involving numbers or new vision, she can not give a full load and sometimes she needs me to accomplish this task. Other perspective that I have taken about her, that she is really working in this business with her heart and passion around this years. And, she is working hard to accomplish her work, although she has many limitations. I have notice also that she is very good in selecting merchandising to be sold, selling it to the customers. And, she is very strong in handling her team work, since all of her team treat her as a mother.

IV. THE ANALYSIS AND PROPOSED ACTIONS

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My analysis for this business is majorly involving emotion and passion, since the business is related to passion for fashion. It is mostly reflected by the managers who are working in the Company at this moment, which they work as their passion for the brand. In a big picture, most managers who are working here, for example of Daisy, have value-ranking of (1) working with heart for the brand, (2) to make friends in the same fashion background networking. While, it differs with Nadya as different side from Daisy, who has value-ranking of (1) to earn money for her living, (2) to have career path in the Company. Having describe these both characters, I have realized also there are 2 main group in the Company who run the business. And I also noted that result will be different either in the process and timing. In example of Daisy, because she is working with heart and do not need money to earn her living, any benefit compensation to increase the sales performance will not affect her so much. It differs with Nadya who will be more aggressive with the compensation of increasing salary. Following the value ranking of Daisy, she likes to make friends with her fashion background networking, so she will be more eager to work more by knowing more socialite customers or meeting with other fashion professional in the industry. In contrast of Nadya, when she has to meet with other fashion professional or customers, she has only to meet her responsibility to achieve the sales objectives. So, in each case, altough these woman managers have different value, but they are contributing well to the Company.

In understanding the motivation of these 2 woman managers type, based on theory of Needs Hyrarchy by Abraham Models, I can analyze that Daisy and Nadya has different motivation. Daisy, with rich family background have already reached "Social" since she has already have material needs and at this moment she is looking for social network among the fashion lovers and professionals, since she likes to wear latest fashion and meet her friends or customers in special event. One of the need that can motivate Daisy is from need of affiliation since it could improve her performance. In contrast of Nadya, she is working to earn her living, she can be categorized as "Safety and Security", while she is just working to have salary. According to Nadya, meeting with the fashion people is only a task for her to meet the responsibility of professional work, since she does not really enjoy to meet this fashion people. Also, having good teamwork with her team is also considered as profesional integrity by her. And, she can be motivated by the need of order as she is more straight forward to the work assignment and hard to be flexible when she is assiged for new different works.

Having said the attitute problem of Daisy as she is an emotional employee and tend to more self centered in her work, I should manage my relation and position with her since she is a complicated person. Based on Situational Leadership Model From the situation I've describe before, my working relationship will be in position "Participating" since she is capable of doing her work, although she has an attitude problem. After several years in this industry, I realized that fashion people is different with other industry, since it is so related with the emotional and mood. While it differs treatment for Nadya, that she still needs full assistance as she still keep maintaining her traditional ways and her limitation on technical issues, so I would categorize her in "Selling". So I can monitor her work well and can change her to a better way and can reach the Company's goal.

Between Daisy and Nadya, I should differ the way I coach them as I need to ensure the Company's goal can be reached. I would rather to treat Daisy to be who she is, as she can be more develop and accomplish her work well. Regarding her attitude problem, I will try to talk person to person as I believe that she will understand that we are mature people in doing work. So, I will emphasize to her that there is no need to react childish since what we do is for the best of the Company. Meanwhile for Nadya as she more mature than Daisy, I believe that she still needs more time to develop her and to release the legacy traditional ways, in coaching her I will be more demanding and more direct to her for certain period until she can show change with her work.

During my professional work in this Para Group, I have experienced several merger and acquisitions of subsidiaries. I can conclude that between Head Office and each subsidiary has different cultural. For example, our Group has the biggest assets on banking which employees can be considered as a rational and staff people. However, when Trans Fashion joined with the Group, I realized that Group people is forcing cultural universalism to Trans Fashion people. For several months, it was resulting a mismatched expectation between the employees and the management. After the new CEO has appointed to manage the Company which he comes from the industry, I realized that he could balance the culture of fashion industry and corporate. I believe it can be categorized as cultural relativism, since I observe that in the Company between fashion and business thinking can be collaborated together.

In conclusion, during my life either in the working or social environment, I must be able to analyze and differentiate the people in my surrounding. I can not put the same treatment to all people since every people has their own uniqueness and characteristics. And, one of the most important aspects in this learning of people is how to manage people expectations and balance them, which I must be able to face.