Do what you must

Business Sense – October, 2001
By Nicole Côté

Times like world markets can be auspicious or not, but I am convinced that in the end, having a successful or flailing career depends more on individuals than their environment.
A Chinese businessman complained about the emphasis on the individual at a world conference. “In the Western world, you only care about personal success. In the Orient, we value collectivity more. That’s why if I am successful, I want to share my success with my employees, I want them to become rich.” I inquired: “Every single employee?”. And he answered with a smile: “Not exactly. You see, I have four employee groups:

1.    “First, some employees follow rules, which entitles them to work for our company, but we monitor them and if they make a mistake, we let them go because in the end, they are not that valuable to our company.
2.    “Analytical employees are more interesting because they reflect. However, we don’t attempt to keep them because there is nothing easier than to replace brains.
3.    “Creative employees are innovative and I work hard at attracting them and at preventing my competitors from hiring them.
4.    “Finally, the employees who become rich like me are those who really care about my company and are willing to commit fully.”

Without realizing it, my Chinese colleague had just brilliantly shown the importance of personal responsibility when it comes to luck. And he described important company requirements.

To succeed in life, if we must be self-aware, we must think about our needs and honour them, we must understand the environment in which we want to succeed and meet its demands.

In fact, even when we know what we want, we must be accepted, appreciated, desired and be more or less indispensable. That’s why when assessing younger and older workers’ job expectations, we must first outline their duties to the company and the qualities they need to demonstrate if they want to fully participate in the company’s growth and projects.

Empowering Behaviours
Based upon this Chinese businessman’s values, we can describe four practices that are necessary to integrate successfully into an organization, save, of course, the necessary talents and competencies.

1.    Discipline – The basis of socialization is the ability to live in a particular environment and to respect its rules and guidelines: to be on time, to meet our objectives, to be courteous and to write in a business manner. Discipline is a prerequisite in a large corporation, otherwise it’s chaos. Entrepreneurs who start their own business must also be disciplined. Otherwise they may have to reinvent the wheel daily.
2.    Intelligence – If we only rely on discipline, we will become submissive and/or ordinary. We only begin to live and to use our personal power when we start to reflect and analyze situations, when we put them into perspective and develop our critical and creative mind.
3.    Personality – To be valued by a company, we must meet its standards. To deserve respect, we must use our intelligence. However, our personality, selectivity and originality make us more competitive. Thus, we must learn to be self-aware, to be recognized and to be known both personally and typically.
4.    Compassion – To have a successful career and business, we must give of ourselves and commit fully. We need courage, openness and generosity to work with others. And that’s why our colleagues feel that we are valuable and likeable, perhaps even irreplaceable.

We Can Learn
If we consider the lack of potential of younger and older workers, we can lament and complain about our educational system’s flaws. We can also rejoice in the fact that winning practices are not instinctual, but rather that they are developed in an enriching and rigorous environment.

We only need to manage our employees’ learning by supervising them firmly and compassionately.