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Managers must improve skills when working with subordinates, HR expert tells Vietnamese leaders

Saturday, November 28, 2015, 09:00 GMT+7
Managers must improve skills when working with subordinates, HR expert tells Vietnamese leaders
William J. Rothwell, a professor of workforce education and development programs in the College of Education at the University Park Campus of The Pennsylvania State University

“Managers must improve their skills in how they work with their workers,” William J. Rothwell, author of over 80 best-selling and award-winning books on human resource management, shared with young Vietnamese business leaders.

He also sat with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper for an interview during his recent trip to Ho Chi Minh City.

Rothwell is a professor of workforce education and development programs in the College of Education at the University Park Campus of The Pennsylvania State University, according to the school’s website.

In that capacity, he oversees a graduate program in human resource development and employee training, teaches graduate courses on the full range of performance technology issues, directs research projects, and advises organizations in business, industry, government, and nonprofit sectors.

What should young leaders do to work well with older and more experienced staff?

The first thing to do is to act humbly by asking questions to save the face of older people and let them show off. Then start asking questions that can lead to answers, let them have the credit of the idea and they will feel respected by you.

Young workers who have high levels of education can still establish their credibility. But they can also use techniques that involve giving older workers more responsibility so that they are honored for their wisdom.

Having them chair task forces, for instance, is one way among many to do that.

Another way is doing your job well. When you introduce new concepts/ideas, older workers will tend to think that you are not experienced enough so your solutions will not be considered the best nor highly valued. They don’t trust your solutions because they think you are too young.

Therefore, before presenting your ideas, collect evidence to support and prove your points based on reality. This will be more convincing.

How to manage a group of talents with high self-confidence?

Some people are too confident to hear from others. In order to overcome this, we use “weight of evidence” via 360 degree assessment. This survey is conducted on the employee’s own opinion and the opinions about them of their boss, peers, subordinates, customers, spouse, and family. The total of the employee’s own opinion score and an average of others’ scores will be the result of the employee’s performance. This exercise reveals self-concepts and others’ concept of how they think about you. This helps to break down the confidence of one person so that they can see via a more thorough and overall view. This is such a powerful technique.

After this, coaching can be applied to close the gap of their perceived performance, or self-reflection can help to reduce their arrogance.

This is a little different for students who have abundant knowledge but little experience. They have low confidence and generally don’t trust themselves. To help these people build up confidence, they should accumulate more experiences and stretch themselves out of their comfort zone to explore and try new things to be more confident.

Another way is discovery learning (for senior executives): introduce a new concept or case study that they can’t solve to demonstrate a lack of knowledge about a particular field so that they can be more open to learning. This can be applied to military forces with senior soldiers, experienced students at multinational companies, etc.

Salaries in foreign companies are normally higher than those offered by domestic firms. In your opinion, what should Vietnamese organizations do to prevent their managers (mid- and high-level) from switching to international companies?

Managers always seem to assume that workers only want payment. Payment is important, but it is not the only thing workers want.

Much research indicates that workers quit their bosses, not their jobs. How they are treated by their immediate supervisor is an important consideration in stay-or-leave decisions.

Managers must improve their skills in how they work with their workers. This will help to reduce turnover. Of course, it also assumes that efforts are also made to improve wages and additional ways of compensating/rewarding productivity and talent.

How to pick the right people/talents?

There are many ways, but we need the concept of “weight of evidence,” which means they have to utilize all methods together, including job applications, resumés, interviews (who should interview, and how many to be objective), their education, previous working experience, and psychological testing.

The old thought is that strategy comes first and talent follows, while the new thinking is that talent comes first and strategy follows.

Also, your employment brand is also a thing to count on. It’s the company’s reputation about working environments and how workers love to be part of the company.

How to balance between work and life when it appears to be a problem for everyone these days?

There is a Japanese saying that killing yourself through working hard.

The background of this is that people are afraid that if they are away from their job for long, they will be fired, while they are reaching towards wealth and being successful, they will have less fear of employers. Alternatively, for some people, work is the meaning of their life, they can take their family for granted or substitute them for work.

How to balance? People with high “achievement motivation” (driven to success), for example, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, have to force themselves to be balanced. They have to find a way to make time (proper time management) and strategically set their work and family schedules simultaneously.

Thank you!



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