Career

My speech to Chek Hup’s Staff

Chek Hup White Coffee is a coffee manufacturer with its factory in Ipoh. Its revenue is more than Rm 100 million a year and is gradually improving. The company’s core business is 3in1 white coffee supported by its’ subsidiary of rock sugar and flexible packaging manufacturing. Currently, Chek Hup group of companies are employing 400 employees and its’ products are marketed in 15 countries.

Chek Hup White Coffee, a unique blend of arabica and robusta bean and it is the only 3in1 white coffee brand to use in house produced rock sugar as its natural sweetener which comes with the benefit of lower glycemic index than ordinary sugar. The products also do not contain artificial coffee flavouring.

Chek Hup will continue to expand its’ product lines and its’ brand distribution in the following key markets, namely Malaysia, China, The Philippines and Indonesia. This is in line with the “4th wave” coffee market of increase consumption, premiumization and instant in the world’s top 5 growth markets headed by the premixed instant coffee category as reported by Euromonitor.

In addition, the company will invest in its rock sugar process automation and to add one more printing production line in its flexible packaging subsidiary to increase its output and capacity as well as improve its cost efficiency. The capital expenditure required is RM 15 million and is expected to be completed by 2019.

The group of companies target to reach RM 250 million annual turnover by 2025.

Last night I was invited to give a talk to about 30 of the company’s senior officers and directors. My talk has 2 parts.

The first part is how the staff is better able to get people to cooperate with them to improve productivity.

Dale Carnegie first published his book called “How to win friends and influence people” in 1936 and sold more than 30 million copies. It became the best seller. Statistics shows that besides the Christian Bible, this book has sold more copies than any other book.

Everyone should read it. Even a house wife can learn some tricks to manage her husband, children and family better.

The book is about 300 pages and it will take some time to read it. I googled and I found the summary of the book as follows:

How to win friends and influence people

  1. Avoid criticizing, condemning, or complaining.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain — and most fools do,” Carnegie writes. “But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

Anyone in a leadership position should acknowledge when a subordinate is not meeting expectations or when a competitor’s approach is inferior to their own, but do so in a way that acknowledges what is working, avoiding resentment and encouraging improvement.

  1. Praise others’ achievements.

“Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement,” Carnegie wrote. Be lavish with praise, but only in a genuine way, he advised.

“Remember, we all crave appreciation and recognition, and will do almost anything to get it,” he said. “But nobody wants insincerity. Nobody wants flattery.”

  1. Be empathetic.

Carnegie writes that “the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.”

He refers to a quote by Henry Ford: “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”

  1. Smile.

Steel magnate Charles Schwab claimed his smile was worth a million bucks.

“And he was probably understating the truth,” Carnegie writes. “For Schwab’s personality, his charm, his ability to make people like him, were almost wholly responsible for his extraordinary success; and one of the most delightful factors in his personality was his captivating smile.”

  1. Encourage people to talk about themselves.

Most people loosen up even in tense situations if they start talking about what they know. Namely, themselves.

Listening closely to someone “is one of the highest compliments we can pay anyone,” Carnegie writes.

  1. Know when to use suggestions instead of direct orders. Carnegie learned that the industrialist Owen D. Young, rather than barking commands to his subordinates, would lead them along with suggestions (“You might consider this…”) or questions (“Do you think this would work?”).

“He always gave people the opportunity to do things themselves; he never told his assistants to do things; he let them do them, let them learn from their mistakes,” Carnegie wrote.

  1. Acknowledge your own mistakes.

The best leaders, Carnegie said, do not lionize themselves, appearing as if they were flawless.

“Admitting one’s own mistakes — even when one hasn’t corrected them — can help convince somebody to change his behavior,” Carnegie wrote.

  1. Respect others’ dignity.

Whether leaders are giving employees a demotion or letting them go, they need to recognize that person’s dignity and not humiliate them, Carnegie said.

And even from a practical standpoint, it’s in a leader’s favor to remain on good terms with an employee who didn’t work out, since it’s possible they will cross paths again, and a single irate former employee can have motivation to ruin their former boss’ reputation.

  1. Don’t try ‘winning’ an argument.

Even if you manage to tear apart someone else’s argument, you don’t actually achieve anything. Carnegie cites the old saying, “A man convinced against his will/Is of the same opinion still.”

If you’re looking to actually persuade somebody, avoid an argument in the first place.

  1. Be friendly, no matter how angry the other person may be.

It’s human nature to meet aggression with aggression. But if you take the high road and try to persuade someone while maintaining a smile and showing appreciation for their situation, you’ll be surprised what you can achieve.

  1. Reach common ground as soon as possible.

“Begin by emphasizing — and keep on emphasizing — the things on which you agree,” Carnegie writes. “Keep emphasizing, if possible, that you are both striving for the same end and that your only difference is one of method and not of purpose.”

  1. Get others to think your conclusion is their own.

No one can be forced to truly believe something. That’s why the most persuasive people know the power of suggestions over demands.

Plant a seed and when that’s blossomed, avoid the urge to take credit for it.

The second part is how the company can reward the staff to encourage them to continue to perform better.

Employers must bear in mind that they cannot expect the staff to continue to work harder without further financial incentive.

Employers should consider some of the following:

1 The usual pay scheme is a 10% salary increment per year of service. After a few years, many workers will begin to ask themselves why should they work so hard. Even if they laze around, they can also get the 10% increment.

2 A better way is to introduce an efficiency test. After a few years of getting the 10% increment per year, they must pass some test to gauge their knowledge of their work before they can continue to get any more salary increment.

3 In the manufacturing process, the usual practice is to pay workers for working 8 hours a day. Employers should consider setting target for them to go home earlier if they can achieve it.

4 For clerical and administrative staff, employers should consider a flexi time scheme. Workers can come at a time convenient to them. Some workers who have to take children to schools can come late as long as they can complete working 8 hours.

5 Employers should offer some form of relaxation after office hours such as gym, yoga and dance classes.

6 After an employee has gain the maximum salary increase, his aim is to be promoted to higher position in the company, such as section leader, branch manager, regional manager and finally company director.

7 If the company is listed in the stock exchange, the company should offer ESOS. You can see the details of this scheme from Bursa Malaysia.

8 If the company is not listed, the company should offer some shares to the senior staff and directors so that they can have the incentive to work harder to expand the company.

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