Nov 022007

I realize that lots of my readers do not know what I do. You know…for like…making money. Well…I’m a consultant. I help companies with their culture and leadership problems. But basically I do sales.

I have decided to post some of my more interesting meeting notes on this blog once-in-a-while so that people can get an idea about what problems companies in China have, what I do for a living, and what BS I have to put up with. All names of people and companies have been changed in order to protect the guilty.

I had a two meetings with ABC USA (Suzhou) Ltd. Company this week (10/29/07)

To update you [my coworkers], I developed a proposal and program based around the goal of creating more proactive behavior among the Genius Expert Dorks (GEDs) – both towards their sub-project team and for in support of the whole Engineering Department. To do this, we will run The Lion Hunters full day simulation, but instead of emphasizing Change Management, we will emphasize proactive behavior traits as the main learning point. I suggested that either Adul (The Engineering Dept. Director) or Sara (the Managing Director) was to give a speech at the beginning of program to emphasize these behaviors/values or whatever we are to call it. Having a big-shot open it up will have more impact. Also, if Adul wants, I will coach him on his speach.

Meeting #1 on Monday with Marry Zhao (the new, current HR Manager) and Adul (EngDir). At that meeting, I basically reviewed the proposal. I also told them we could do a completely custom simulation, but it may not work and there is risk involved. Therefore we recommend the Lion Hunters proposal. Marry liked it. Adul said it’s OK but he wants to emphasize how special these people are. I said that will happen in the speech.

During the week…
Phone Call #1, Marry called to tell me that Adul’s ***dotted-line*** boss will be giving the speech. That man’s name is Hernandez and he is the ABC USA (Suzhou) Ltd. Company China Engineering Director…but Hernandez sits in the Suzhou plant. (Hernandez used to be the Suzhou Plant EngDir, but he was promoted to his new position because no one liked him as the Suzhou plant director but he could not be fired because he has a dotted-line relationship to powerful people in other parts of the company)

Phone Call #2. Marry called to complain about the price. After consulting with Gene [my boss], I reduced the price from 1200RMB per person to 1100RMB per person. She also said that Sara (the GM) wishes to meet with me on Friday. BUT, I’m not to tell Sara that I ever suggested that she give the speech at the beginning of the program. I said…OK…whatever.

Phone Call #3 Marry called to say that the price is still too high. She also heard that we did a bad program for ABC USA (Shanghai) Ltd. Company in Shanghai and so she is wondering about the training quality. So let’s settle this issue by dropping the price. I said that I like her but please don’t ever try to negotiate with me in this way again. I also said the price is already lower than the price-per-day of our more standard leadership programs. And if I drop the price, it would be saying that I do not respect the hard work that my coworkers put into making this product into what it is today. She then said I can discuss this with Sara on Friday.

Meeting #2 with Sara, Managing Director, and (later) with Marry (HRDir). I went in and started recapping the I learned from Meeting #1. Sara then pointed out that they have Change Management workshops and Influencing Skills workshops. I tried to emphasize that our point here is to not emphasize the change management learning point but to emphasize pro-active behavior. And because ABC USA Ltd. has so many internal training resources, I would not dream of providing a program that would duplicate their own programs…even if my service would most probably be better than what they could do themselves. Sara laughed at that.

She started off talking about culture and that this whole thing is about culture (she wrote culture, behavior, and some other words on the board to emphasize her point…I really don’t understand why some people feel they need to write these things on the board for me to understand it…she really needs to diagram everything). I mentioned that some of these things will be addressed in the speech. She asked who is giving the speech. I said Hernandez. She said “NO! I SHOULD BE GIVING THE SPEECH. AND ADUL SHOULD HAVE CAME TO ME ABOUT THE PROGRAM FIRST. I cannot have every manager going external for consulting like this”. I said, “um…sorry… I don’t really know about this issue. I did suggest and I still think that Adul should give the speach…in order to show his leadership.” Then she called Marry to the office.

So Marry came in and Sara said that she cannot have the different competencies (that means different departments in ABC USA (Suzhou) Ltd. Company-speak) each getting their own outside consulting and Adul should have come to Sara first. Sara then asked Marry to explain how I was contacted. Marry went on to explain that the chain of communication went like this:

Adul>Marry>Maggie (the former HR manager who is still maybe the HR manager and is maybe corrupt and now married to a fat white guy) > Summer Wang (my favorite person in the company… a nice woman in charge of training for ABC USA (China) Ltd. > Bertha Ma…a trainer>J esse. Sara said it should have been Adul>Sara>Summer …when she gets back from PregLeave…>Jesse.

Sara is also annoyed because this program addresses a general culture problem that needs to be faced at all levels, not just for Adul’s group. We talked about culture some more. Then she wrote on the board “树大招风” , which means that the biggest tree catches the most wind (the nail the sticks out the highest gets hit the hardest concept). “This is what we have to fight here at ABC USA (Suzhou) Ltd.” Sara said. Then the conversation shifted to what is the real reason for the course; she thinks Adul is having retention problems and that is the real reason why he wants this program. Sara said these retention problems are not Adul’s fault… but more because of the external environment of Suzhou and mostly because of the effects of Adul’s boss Hernandez, who used to be in Adul’s position until recently. So the retention issue is a left-over issue, but Adul is getting pressure because of this. The underlying problem here is that “Hernandez’s chair is in Suzhou and I [Sara] do not want his chair to be located here”. Oy.

So in the end… Sara says she has confidence in Proway and trusts that what I designed is really good. But she needs to talk to Adul about this program and correct proceedures on how to start something like this. She also said she is interested in custom simulations and wants to hear more from us on that in the future. I left with the feeling that there is a 50/50% chance this program will be scrapped. We will find out on Monday. Things will hopefully get better when Summer gets back from PregLeave.

 Posted by at 5:15 pm

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