The Power of Effective Feedback

By: Victor Burrill

The best leaders are those who ask for feedback and initiate employee engagement.

The need to learn and grow should be put forward.

Giving and receiving feedback is a skill.

Effective Feedback within the workplace results in closer relationships, better collaboration and increased effectiveness in performance. Business performance trainer and executive coach, Victor Burill, shares some valuable insight.

The Importance of Feedback in High-Performing Teams

According to a recent Forbes article, one of the essential characteristics of a high-performing team is one where the team members cultivate and practice an open feedback culture. These teams should provide and receive feedback regularly, regardless of position and tenure, in a productive way that should also deepen their relationships. Leaders can set the example by asking for feedback from team members, and responding positively versus defensively, effectively integrating the feedback into work behaviors.

Building an Open Feedback Culture starts with the Leader

Stephen R. Covey, the world renowned author and keynote speaker says...

“Leaders beware! The higher you go in an organisation, the less likely people are to give you straight feedback. Feedback is your life-support system. Without it, you will eventually fail. Do everything you can to create a culture where it is safe to give you feedback.”​

This should be taken as a motivational warning for any leader into creating an open feedback culture in the workplace.

The best leaders ask for more feedback, according to a study done by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman. In their research of over 50,000 executives they found that "Leaders who ranked at the top 10% in asking for feedback were rated much higher, on average, in overall leadership effectiveness."

Feedback is also linked to employee engagement. In another recent study of over 22,000 leaders, Zenger and Folkman found that there was a correlation between low ratings from direct reports about the leader's ability to give honest feedback and low engagement scores. Conversely, if a leader was rated in the top 10% at giving honest feedback, their reports ranked their engagement in the top 23%.

Business PerformanceImage source: dianegottsman.com

Courtney Seiter, Director of People at Buffer says inviting feedback often, especially from those you trust will help any leader see challenges ahead of time, and you’ll gain experience in responding positively to feedback. She suggests beginning with open-ended questions for those who know you well and can speak with confidence about your work. Here are some great example questions:

- If you had to make two suggestions for improving my work, what would they be?

- How could I handle my projects more effectively?

- What could I do to make your job easier?

- How could I do a better job of following through on commitments?

- If you were in my position, what would you do to show people more appreciation?

- When do I need to involve other people in my decisions?

- How could I do a better job of prioritising my activities?

Overcoming the Fear of Giving and Receiving Feedback

One of the roadblocks of an open feedback culture is fear. When team members are fearful of what type of reaction they might receive if they say what they see, they are less likely to share openly – especially with their superiors.

Business PerformanceImage source: applicantstack.com

Imagine if you have just been asked if you would be open to some feedback. What would your reaction be? Does your stomach tighten? Do you feel fear or anger? Do you anticipate that this feedback will be critical? Are you already feeling defensive and believe that you need to explain, rationalise and justify your actions? These feelings are similar to those felt by many leaders.

Many managers I know think they are open to feedback. They often tell employees that I had an open-door policy for everyone. Then they get frustrated when they hear backdoor gossip. If they tell employees that they can speak with them, why weren’t they all coming to them directly? The answer is often because of how they are expected to react when others hold opposing views.

Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone in a 2014 issue of Harvard Business Review say... 

“The [feedback] process strikes at the tension between two core human needs — the need to learn and grow, and the need to be accepted just the way you are."

Providing Feedback isn’t Solely the Team Leader’s Responsibility

According to Mary Shapiro, who teaches organizational behavior at Simmons College and is the author of the HBR Guide to Leading Teams, leaders can’t be the only one holding everyone accountable because they can’t possibly observe everything that’s going on. If the boss is the only one praising or critiquing, group dynamics suffer. “You want to give everyone the opportunity to say their piece,” she says. “Your job as a manager is to ensure that team members are “providing regular constructive feedback,” says Roger Schwarz, an organizational psychologist and the author of Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams. “There needs to be an expectation within the team that this is a shared leadership responsibility,” he says.

How to Give and Receive Feedback

Giving and receiving feedback is a skill and most people are not naturally good at it, says Shapiro. “One of your goals is to develop your team’s capacity to give feedback and help people get used to articulating how they feel the team is doing.” Take baby steps. At the second or third check-in, ask the group general questions such as, “On a scale of one to five, how well is the team sharing the workload? What needs to change?”

Business PerformanceImage source: lutz.us

Courtney Seiter, Director of People at Buffer suggests the 7 Criteria for Effective Feedback are:

- The feedback provider is credible in the eyes of the feedback recipient

- The feedback provider is trusted by the feedback recipient

- The feedback is conveyed with good intentions

- The timing and the circumstances of giving the feedback are appropriate

- The feedback is given in an interactive manner

- The feedback message is clear

- The feedback is helpful to recipient

Final Tips of Giving & Receiving Feedback

Do:

- Make sure your team understands that feedback is a shared leadership responsibility

- Schedule routine check-in meetings where you encourage feedback

- Keep the tone positive by encouraging team members to say what they appreciate about others’ contributions

- Ask questions to get feedback on your feedback

Business PerformanceImage source: kuzabiashara.co.ke

Don’t:

- Start meetings with your own feedback for the team — allow everyone else to first express how they think they’re doing

- Shy away from performance issues — address them openly with the group

- Get in the middle of personality conflicts — help facilitate difficult conversations

- Don’t assume you’re always right

Good luck in your journey in building a safe, feedback rich environment with your teams! - Victor Burrill

Banner Image source: familysupportwales.co.uk


Guide to Living and Working in Paris as an Expat

By: City Pass Guide

Let’s admit it; Paris is one of the world’s most exciting places to live. You will never run out of things to do in this beautiful city, from exploring its fantastic culture and fashion to enjoying its many scenic places. It can be even better if you work here, given that it’s home to pretty much every big multinational company you can imagine.

Working in Paris

However, as a foreigner, your experience could be different if you do not know the ins and outs of living here. In this post, we highlight some of the critical areas you need to familiarize yourself with for a smoother transition when relocating to Paris for work.

Visa and work permit

Anyone who plans to stay for more than three months needs a French residence permit. It would help if you also got a job before you move, as this makes it easier to obtain a work permit. But that’s not all; you have to register with the government within three months of moving to Paris.

Working in Paris

The new micro-enterprise regime makes things a little easier for those who do not want to be employed. In that case, you can register a small business and be allowed to stay on that basis. A caveat though is that you will need to take a business administration course if you choose to use this route.

Housing

As an expat, you can live in any form of housing, although most people prefer furnished rentals upon arrival. Whichever option you choose, be sure to gather all the necessary details on renting houses and the requirements you must meet.

Nearly all Parisians landlords will ask for proof of income before they allow you to occupy their apartments. Usually, they want to be sure that your income is at least three times the rent amount. Apart from that, most of them will ask for guarantors who are supposed to pay your rent in case you default.

Healthcare

Although France has one of the best healthcare systems globally, expats need to acquire international healthcare insurance to access it. Most people get covered under the State Health Insurance Program, but you need to register with CPAM, the body entrusted with administering national health insurance in the country, to be eligible.

Working in Paris

If you’re like most expats, you will want to look for other alternatives, given that the state health insurance program is generally insufficient. However, should you opt for this route, try to familiarize yourself with the best hospitals in Paris before registering for these plans.

Banking

An expat in Paris can open a bank account as long as their visa and work permits are in order. You need this account in order to be paid by your employers or make business transactions if you are self-employed. You can use it for saving, too, because you need a good financial cushion to live comfortably in this city.

The few crucial documents required to set up a French bank account include your passport, residence permit, and proof of residency. Opening a bank account is a simple process, but you will have to wait for about ten days to get a card and a checkbook.

Language and culture

Since you are moving to a country that does not speak your native language, you must learn French to be able to interact with the locals here. Sure, there are millions of English-speaking people in Paris and other parts of France. But it certainly will prove difficult for you to work, because French is the dominant language in most workplaces, including multinational companies.

Working in Paris

Luckily, French isn’t the most difficult language to learn. Once you are properly settled in Paris, consider looking for a language school and enroll to speed up the process. The best part is that most of these schools allow for flexible schedules, meaning you can learn at your own time and pace. There are plenty of online classes too.

Exploring Paris

Your life as an expat in Paris should not be limited to your workplace and apartment alone. Create time to explore your new environment and see what it has to offer. For example, you can use your weekends and other free time to visit suburbs on the city's outskirts to learn about what life is like there. Also, there are hundreds of attractions in this city, it would take you months to exhaust all of them!

Working in Paris

Conclusion

Living in Paris as an expat can be enjoyable if you know how to go about it. Treat this as an opportunity to enjoy a new culture and interact with different people. There is no limit to what you can do in the City of Love.


How Mobile Apps Have Forever Changed the World of Digital Marketing

By: Paul Espinas and Tom Hitz

“The Mobile app market is expected to grow 270 percentfrom USD70 billion in 2015 to USD189 billion by 2020,” according to App Annie, an app data and insights company in San Francisco, California.

Mobile apps are growing at an unbelievable rate in large part because of the ‘digitalisation phase’ we are currently witnessing. What is digitalisation? Digitalisation refers to the conversion of analogue systems and information into a digital format. Mobile phones are a tool used by more than 75 percent of the world’s population, they help us to communicate, store information and complete daily tasks that are crucial to most people’s lives. The mobile app industry is at the forefront of this digitalisation era.

mobile appsImage source: mobilemarketingmagazine.com

Here is an example to provide an understanding of the process of digitalisation and in particular a mobile application. 10 years ago if you wanted to hail a taxi or organise a ride, you would call the taxi company or stand on the side of the road or at taxi stands and physically wave a taxi down. Now we have companies like Uber and Grab who have a developed a mobile phone application that has digitalised and therefore simplified this process. And not only simplifying the process, ride-sharing apps now provide everyday people with a driver’s license and a car the ability to earn money as a driver. In this example, the digitalisation occurring has not only simplified the existing process but has become an added benefit as well.

mobile appsImage source: mitagency.com

Mobile Marketing Trends 2018 for Apps and Advertising

Whether we are at work, on holiday or at home, every element of our lives is beginning to involve our mobile phones. Mobile app stores allow businesses to utilise the existing hardware that mobile owners possess and implement their solution or software through a simple download.

Vietnam has a total population of 95.6 million people. Out of that number, 73 percent use a mobile phone and there are 50 million people currently active on social media. This makes Facebook ads the most effective digital advertising platform in terms of potential reach.

mobile appsImage source: medium.com

According to market research sources such as eMarketer and IAB, USD78 million was spent on mobile ads, accounting for 36.6 percent of Vietnam’s total spending on digital ads. The presence of mobile phones within society will continue to rise as phones continue to make the transition from a communication device to a personal assistant tool. As these numbers increase, so too will the number of potential applications and opportunities for advertising.

Mobile Apps Reinvent Digital Marketing

Traditional advertising methods rely strictly on strategies such as placement and timing. For example, a television commercial that is aimed at a mature market will be placed amidst a news program displayed between 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mobile phone applications are a new territory for advertising campaigns and they call for an updated approach. Mobile phones are available for use 24/7, which allows for consistent and efficient advertising designed to align with the specific wants and needs of the audience.

mobile appsImage source: bharatsoftwares.com

Machine learning plays a big role in this alignment. Mobile apps have the ability to collect data based on user behaviour. If I spend my time researching yoga and where to find yoga studios, the application itself will begin to notice these trends and you will likely begin to notice ads in your newsfeed relating to yoga.

As mobile phones continue to become more prominent and useful in all areas of life, the potential for effective and personalised advertisement is rising at an enormous rate.

Banner Image source: vinutnaa.com


The Golden Circle

By: Patrick Gaveau

Too few organisations effectively know WHY they do what they do. And by WHY I don't mean “to make money”, that's just a result. I mean... 

What is your purpose?

The Golden Circle is an inspiring model and concept that challenges the status quo. Developed by Simon Sinek in 2009, it has been used as a guide for anyone to vastly improve their life, leadership, corporate culture, hiring process, product development, sales, and marketing. It defines loyalty and dictates how to create enough momentum to turn an idea into a social movement.

As we face turmoil, many realise how strong tides and winds can quickly affect your life or your business. Nothing fun about it. What stands between these individuals or enterprises who still strive regardless of the conditions, and those who may not, is often linked to their capacities to move forward. It is this intrinsic motivation for the cause or the belief they stand for, that can make or break them.

Understanding your own purpose is an essential question to be addressed, and the sooner you do, the better. Unfortunately, most will choose not to, simply because it’s easier to follow others and the current trends. This compliant reactive posture often leads to having disappointing lives and/or failed businesses. 

So let’s address what we stand for together, so that you can unleash your true powers. This practice is effective, and it can transcend your life or business with increased meaning and authenticity to propel you forward and prepare you for the long run.

The Golden CircleImage source: smartinsights.com

If you look at the golden circle in more detail, you can see three circles:

- Why? – Describes the mission and core belief of a business, organisation, or of an individual. It’s why the business exists or your actual reason for being. An essential start when strategizing.

- How? – Illustrates the way in which your ‘WHY’ is most often achieved. It’s how the business or person fulfills their core belief. 

- What? – Describes the activities of the entity. It’s what the company or person does to fulfill their core belief. It’s an action, a belief, a product or service that you offer to others or to the market.

When you have determined your WHY and clearly defined your HOWs you may have an accompanying sense that you carry an important mission that is going to leave a positive impact on this world. This is often the most powerful feeling of being alive. All masterpieces that were created in this world began with a WHY, and so should your life. 

“ The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you discover why. ” - Mark Twain

A strong life WHY helps you clarify your purpose out of life and helps you focus and push yourself. If you establish your life WHY correctly, it should serve you as a roadmap, helping you make your dreams and passions a reality. Your life’s WHY and HOWs are your best compass to help you live a full life.

However, having only a WHY isn’t enough. If your WHY isn’t powered with specific HOWs and WHATs, as well as a strong commitment to your strategy and tactics, then your WHY is merely an illusion. 

When you identify your big WHY, ask yourself, “Why would you fight for it? Why you? Why do you care? Why does it matter?” 

When these answers are clear, you have a powerful WHY and you become more passionate, more innovative, and more progressive in your marketing and communication. You have one more important reason for waking up in the morning.

The implications of defining The Golden Circle reach far beyond what one can imagine.

The Golden CircleImage source: stackpathdns.com

At a corporate level, think about the typical challenges that you often face ...

- Why can’t you sell more? Your product is good, your teams are motivated, and you know that people need what you propose.

- Why are your competitors, big and small, able to pull customers away from you?

- How can you inspire greater loyalty and engagement among your customers and employees?

- How can you achieve and sustain large amounts of success for years on end?

- How can you define an ideal and clear persona that can be used to reach your key target segments?

- Why is it so complex to formulate a clear consistent marketing strategy that sustainably addresses what you stand for, who you truly are and what you believe?

The Golden CircleImage source: zenogroup.com

Now let’s look at some of the benefits associated with having a clear Golden Circle ...

- When companies cannot articulate their WHY, the price, features, and quality of their product/service become the only forms of differentiation. Starting with your WHY can be a great way to justify a higher price point or overcome shortcomings.

- Your buyers know and believe in your mission. This helps create the framework for long-lasting and meaningful relationships that increase customer lifetime value.

- Purpose and values are easy to identify with and creates personal connections.

- Simplify your marketing copy and next time you're writing an email, a blog post, or a landing page, start your writing with WHY.

- A majority of B2B decisions are made before speaking with sales. As a result, it’s critical to position yourself to stand out in order to create sales opportunities.

- Start clearly defining your ideal customer profiles and personas. Then, create messages that specifically target those companies and roles. Finally, engage their teams across all channels - both online and offline.

- Millennials are quickly coming into positions where they will influence B2B buying decisions. Doing business with companies that share their values and beliefs matter most.

- Starting with WHY helps vendors establish trust and clearly differentiate the value in their offering. 

- Creating trust and starting with WHY can be cornerstones for B2B businesses in 2020 and beyond.

The WHY is the soul of any business or person. This is your purpose, your belief, the reason WHY you exist, WHY you’re doing what you’re doing now. Businesses and people need to understand WHY it is we do what we do.

With that understanding, you can tell a compelling story to your audience of prospects and clients that will help them be driven emotionally by your message, converting them into life-long customers.

The goal is not to sell to people who need what you have, the goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe.

Let’s look at some examples from the business world to learn in detail why having a powerful WHY is so important.

For the past 6 years, everyday I drive my Ford Escape XL 1987. Why is it that I drive a Ford you might ask? Simple, Ford's slogan "Go further". They challenge their statement by building bad-ass vehicles. Vehicles that push the limits for your miles per gallon. They expertly produce the build of their product from years and years of testing. And are able to handle any on and off road experiences.

The Golden CircleImage source: ford.com.au

Ford’s Why, How and What are:

Why: We inspire people to “Go Further”

How: We use and develop cutting edge technologies

What: We build vehicles that suit your needs and driving desires

As a result, Ford has some of the most robust and best selling cars and trucks out there. The company inspired leadership demonstrates their WHY in everything they do. Employees, clients, and partners embrace it, it is exemplified within everything the company does both externally and internally.

WHY is a belief, HOW is the action you take to realize that belief and WHAT is the result of those actions. Of course for the golden circles to work, you have to be consistent in what you say and do.

Are you consistent in what you say and what you do?

Let’s also look at Airbnb as an example. By creating an online platform where travellers can rent a spare room from an Airbnb host, it allows people to interact in a way they previously couldn’t. People can rent anything from a couch to a castle in 8000 cities around the world, and while you’re staying in someone else’s home, you are essentially immersed in the local life.

The Golden CircleImage source: thinkdigital.travel

Airbnb’s Why, How and What are:

Why: Because travelling can and should be so much more than just staying at a hotel.

How: Create an environment where guests can immerse themselves within a culture and connect with local people of various backgrounds during their travels.

What: Provides a platform for individuals to rent out their lodging for travellers to stay. 

Do you see now why knowing your Golden Circle can make such a difference? 

On an individual level, let us consider the inspiring case of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for whom music was everything. His WHY could have been phrased as, “To compose outstanding classical music so that it can transcend the test of time”. He also knew HOW he wanted his own music to be composed and played: It had to be for an orchestra, preferably in an opera, a symphony or a concerto. Centuries later, his legacy remains. 

There are few Mozarts, but we all have an intrinsic purpose to serve, something we are born with, our mission is to find it.

People that inspire, leaders, and companies of all sizes think, act, and communicate from the inside out. Companies as large as Apple and Google apply these principles in every aspect of their business. Smaller companies like mine or yours should also be using these principles in everything that we do and this is where I can help you find it. We as individuals should all strive towards a life that is meaningful and full of purpose. 

Those interested can contact me at patrick@innovo.vn.
Together, we can clarify The Golden Circle that applies to you and/or your company.

Banner Image source: anandaindia.org


Building Workplace Performance Through Trust

By: Victor Burrill

What can you do to build trust in the workplace?

Trust increases speed and thus lowers costs in businesses.

Building Trust with The Emotional Bank Account

‘You cannot prevent a major catastrophe but you can build an organization that is battle-ready, that has high morale, that knows how to behave and that trusts itself. One where people trust one another. In military training, the first rule is to instill soldiers with trust in their officers because without trust, they won’t fight.’  - Peter Drucker

One way you may consider building performance in your team is through building trust.

Teams and organizations that operate with high trust significantly outperform those who do not cultivate trust at the core of their culture. A Watson Wyatt study showed that high-trust companies outperformed low-trust companies in total return to shareholders — by 286%!

Building Workplace PerformanceImage source: business2community.com

In his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni says that the first of the five dysfunctions is the absence of trust among team members. Essentially, he says, this stems from their unwillingness to be vulnerable within the group. Team members who are not genuinely open with one another about their mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build a foundation for trust.

What can you do to build trust in the workplace?

“Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different.’’ - Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO

It is firmly believed by many that trust isn’t a quality you either have or you don’t, it’s a learnable skill that is developed with practice.

Stephen M. R. Covey in his book The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything explains the first step towards building trust is self-trust (trusting yourself) or credibility. As the writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “Self trust is the essence of heroism.”

Credibility is about developing the integrity, intent, capabilities, and results that make you believable, both to yourself and to others. Essentially, it boils down to two simple questions... 

Question 1. “Do I trust myself?"
Question 2. “Am I someone others can trust?”

Building Workplace PerformanceImage source: miro.com

Research shows that many of us don’t follow through with the goals we set and don’t keep the promises and commitments we make to ourselves. For example, almost half of the western world set New Year’s resolutions, research shows that only 8 percent actually keep them. By doing this time after time the result will be repeated failure to make and keep commitments to ourselves which erodes our self-confidence and we lose trust in our ability to make and keep commitments. Thus, we fail to project the personal strength of character that inspires trust. We may try to borrow strength from position or association. But it’s not real. It’s not ours… and people know it. And whether we realize or not, that impacts the bottom line.

Although we all know it intuitively, research validates that a person’s self-confidence will affect his or her performance. This is one reason why Jack Welch of GE claimed that “building self-confidence in others is a huge part of leadership.”

The lack of Self Trust also undermines our ability to trust others. In the words of Cardinal de Retz, “A man who doesn’t trust himself can never really trust anyone else.”

The good news in all of this is that when we do make and keep a commitment to ourselves or set and achieve a meaningful goal, we build credibility and self-confidence within ourselves. The more we do it, the more confidence we have that we can achieve our goals, and are more likely to set new ones. The more we accomplish our goals, the more we trust ourselves.

Consider which ones of the following High Trust Behaviours would you like to change the most and why?

1. Straight Talking

8. Confront Reality

2. Demonstrate Respect

9. Clarify Expectations

3. Communicate with Transparency

10. Practice Accountability

4. Right Wrongs

11. Listen First

5. Show Loyalty

12. Keep Commitments

6. Deliver on Promises and Achieve Results

13. Extend Trust

7. Get Better

 

Trust increases speed and thus lowers costs in businesses

The result from the 41 Country Study of Paul Zak and Stephen Knack also shows “In all cases, the countries with the highest trust levels have the highest per capita incomes and GDPs. Because trust reduces the cost of transactions, high-trust societies exhibit better economic performance than low-trust societies.”

High trust also increases speed and thus lowers costs in businesses and organisations too. A lot of people around the world trust in FedEx to deliver them goods overnight. But have you considered that your trust in them is a major part of why they’re so fast at delivering in the first place? Since many people trust in FedEx to deliver the next day, they must move hundreds of thousands of packages and orders each day – as people buy, and they buy fast. The speed with which FedEx receives incoming orders at scale is what endows it with the flow of financial capital it needs to not only pay for overnight drivers or book special air freight services, but also create systems that will lower the average cost and time per delivery.

Building Workplace PerformanceImage source: news.com.au

Since 9/11 the average airport security checks take 90 minutes, as opposed to approximately 30 minutes before. The trust in airplane passengers has gone, making the whole process of checking each passenger slower, and leads to an increased cost for personnel and machinery.

Building Trust with The Emotional Bank Account

An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor describing the amount of trust that has been built up in any relationship. It represents how safe you feel with or around another person.

Much like the idea of having a savings accounts flood with cash or real estate investments with large equity balances – which are all great things – there is another type of account that probably affects your life much more significantly. This account is measured by your trust. It is an emotional bank account and we are regularly making deposits into it and take withdrawals when we need to. A deposit represents someone doing a caring act for us or making us feel safe and accepted. A withdrawal will be somebody showing us malice, bad intent or aggression and represents us losing trust in that person.

We make similar kinds of deposits and withdrawals in our relationships at work into our Emotional Bank Accounts. When the balance is high, so is the resulting level of trust, and so is your ability to achieve the results that you are measured by. When the balance is low, trust is low, the quality of your work will decrease and suffer, and ultimately your work relationships can suffer also.

Building Workplace PerformanceImage source: i.ytimg.com

To build a strong, healthy balance with the people with whom you work, follow these important points:

1. Never deposit to withdraw - While there are similarities between a traditional bank account and an Emotional Bank Account, you should never accumulate a high emotional balance in order to make planned withdrawals later. I know a colleague who kept a box of thank you notes in his office because he had developed an unhealthy habit of using them to build a reservoir of goodwill before dumping a big project on someone. This approach is exactly how not to utilize the Emotional Bank Account as your attempts to show good intent will be seen through quickly and will not be well received.

2. Know the other person’s currency - Like trying to deposit British Pounds into a Chinese bank account, you are sure to raise eyebrows and cause confusion. Understand how to change your tones and words to communicate with certain people and make an effort to ‘speak their language’. If done correctly this will instantly gain you their trust. Take time to learn what the important people in your workplace (aka your boss, your cubicle mate, your best clients) consider a deposit.

3. Communicate your own currency - You cannot expect people to read your mind. In the fast-paced world of work, it can cost you plenty if you do. Clarify and communicate your expectations before, during, and after every project. Doing so sets everyone up for success as showing trust in them builds rapport and understanding.

4. Small and consistent deposits over time are more powerful than occasional, large deposits - Relationships grow in security and trust when they are built with frequent, meaningful contributions rather than an occasional grand gesture. This stockpile can be invaluable when the unintentional but inevitable “you-know-what” hits the fan, and you need to draw from the deep well of deposits to turn a sticky situation around.

5. Right wrongs - A piece of Eastern wisdom says, “if you’re going to bow, bow low”. In other words, when you mess up, make a sincere apology. There is nothing more meaningful than admitting a mistake without making excuses for it. This shows humility and vulnerability, and will build strong trust.

Good luck with your journey in building performance in your workplace!

Banner Image source: betterthansuccess.com


Setting up A Business in Vietnam

By: Victor Burrill

Vietnam’s unique entrepreneurial start-up culture.

The challenges that comes with doing business in Vietnam for foreigners.

Understanding the local processes and government regulations.

Are you thinking of joining the many companies who are moving, relocating or expanding their business operations to Vietnam? Perhaps you have a business idea and want to join the fast growing & fascinating start-up culture unravelling amongst both Vietnamese natives and expats in this great little country of ours...

A Country Ripe for Business

After years of conflict, hunger and economic sanctions, Vietnam reached a turning point in 1986 when the country implemented the policy of Đổi Mới, or ‘renovation’ with the aim of creating a socialist-orientated free market economy. In 1994, Bill Clinton lifted the 19-year post-war US trade embargo and Vietnam entered the global marketplace.

Today, Vietnam’s 94 million people have experienced huge economic change. The national GDP is now around $180bn – a massive leap from just $6bn in 1990. As of 2017, 24 of the 28 EU nations have invested in around 2,000 projects in the country, with a total registered FDI reaching above $21.5bn. Industry, construction, and services were the major sectors that attracted the majority of EU capital.

Business in VietnamImage source: shutterstock.com

According to Forbes, Vietnam has become Asia’s hottest investment destination with $17 billion in FDI commitments last year alone. Bloomberg recently reported that the current GDP growth of Vietnam is at about 6.8%. This makes Vietnam one of the best performers among the emerging markets in South Asia.

The Vietnamese are incredibly enthusiastic about foreign investment and the opportunities it brings and increased integration into international markets. They are also keen to share their proud culture, traditions and history with foreigners in order to protect their local heritage in a rapidly developing and forward-thinking economy. For this reason, acknowledgement of Vietnamese culture can earn foreigners a lot of esteem.

Why Vietnam?

According to Tomas Svoboda, Head of Cekindo Vietnam - an organisation that provides market entry support to companies and investors entering Vietnam - many businesses are moving here due to competitive wages and a strong working culture. Common types of businesses favouring to operate in Vietnam range from IT to e-commerce, consulting firms, food and health supplements companies, and manufacturers.

Business in VietnamImage source: povertyactionlab.org

Tomas also says that many companies are moving or expanding operations from China to Vietnam to avoid US tariffs in the US-China trade war and Vietnam’s preferential trade agreements. Another big reason is the rapidly growing domestic market. Vietnam’s GDP is also one of the fastest growing in the world and is expected to double by 2030, creating an increased consumer demand.

Many factories are also finding success here, as producers look to lower the cost of labor and operations. Vietnam is a perfect fit for this as a large number of the population have the skills to work manual labour jobs. It’s not only big businesses making the move to Vietnam however…

This country has a unique start-up culture, great value per dollar, a good climate, and a strong entrepreneurial community. Vietnam is now very much ready for the startup scene and smaller companies are finding a lot of success here for a number of reasons. One is that it’s easier to find investors, as there are many investor-2-business matching meetings and pitch competitions that bring the investor closer to smaller organisations.

Things to Consider

Cultural differences can also be a huge challenge for foreigners doing business in Vietnam, not to mention the difficulty of dealing with the language barrier. Tomas advises finding a reliable local partner and being open-minded to marketing strategy, so you can adapt quickly to the local market. He also says that Vietnam is a strong and popular choice for technology startups and that many international companies know about it.

Business in VietnamImage source: investmentinvietnam.com

Some companies who have struggled in developed countries have very successfully grown their scalable start-ups in Vietnam. With 70% of the Vietnamese population being under the age of 35, Vietnam is young, fast and fun.

One American businessman recently said... 

‘I really love the people of Saigon. They remind me of New Yorkers. They are friendly with a healthy dose of scepticism coupled with a fierce work ethic.’

Another entrepreneur said...

‘Saigon is for bootstrappers who want to go somewhere to put their head down, enter into building mode and crank out their product or business. One could easily live on $1,500 a month here and live quite a privileged existence in a city where modern meets old. Local salaries for admins to coders range from $500 - $1500USD/month. Thus, there are a lot of bootstrappers here in Saigon - and in general, the crowd here tends to be more serious and focused on execution.’

Legal Issues

One of the major challenges businesses face when moving to Vietnam is understanding local processes and government regulations, which can be confusing. Ngo Nhat Minh, Founder & Attorney-at-law at BLawyers Vietnam, advises foreigners to consider finding good legal council before setting up a new business in Vietnam, especially those in conditional business fields.

Business in VietnamImage source: blogspot.com

Minh mentions that one area of help business leaders often need is understanding the many overlapping regulations from different state authorities. Understanding the whole picture can be difficult for foreign investors which can impact the strategy and implementation of launching operations here in Vietnam. He also suggests keeping up to date with the legal status as laws tend to change rapidly.

Minh also suggests foreigners be careful before entering deals. Many go well but if they go wrong it can take a long time to gain support for enforcement from local authorities in situations where parties cannot amicably settle disputes.

Minh also suggests budgeting up to 3 months for setting up a foreign invested company in Vietnam. He says that limited liability companies or joint stock companies are the most common choice of foreign investors because they are easier to manage and have more limited liability for debt and other financial obligations.

Another legal area to consider is understanding the labor law and the rights of employees, especially on termination of employment agreements.

All things considered, if you are looking for a place to expand or start your business, Vietnam could be the right destination for you.

Banner Image source: shutterstock.com


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