Howard is regional director at Michael Page Hong Kong and oversees a number of disciplines including sales, marketing, digital, procurement & supply chain, retail & sourcing, finance, and HR.
Voice concerns constructively
I relocated to Hong Kong a few years ago, but I’m still finding it difficult to fit into the working culture here. I recently voiced my concerns in a board meeting about the latest strategic plan, but I realised later on this could be seen as too aggressive. Should I just keep silent? I find it frustrating if I just watch the whole company going in the wrong direction. Please advise.
As a senior member of the group, it is important to have a voice in meetings to address issues you feel are potentially detrimental to the company. However, the key is to master how you deliver your message. This can be the difference between your thoughts being well-received or interpreted as aggressive.
My advice on the best way to deliver your feedback is to stick to the facts and give an objective or constructive approach by using the ‘SWOT’ (situation, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. It is important to provide all the relevant angles when you’re voicing your opinion, and support your comments with hard facts and data.
If it’s relevant, you can also use your expertise to give your opinion on the subject. Referencing relevant experience and background, can also build credibility with the board members.
In addition, it is important to be patient and listen to the board members to ensure you understand what they are thinking before you give your opinion. You might uncover some points on the matter you hadn’t considered previously and that may change your thoughts on the subject. It will also show the board members that you are being objective and considering their thoughts when forming your position.
Sometimes, a decision or direction that the company makes might have to do with upper-management directives, which lower-level staff might not be privy to.
Alternatively, you can discuss issues you have identified in a separate meeting with someone familiar with ongoing items and workflows. This could help you gain the support you might need in the boardroom and also prevent any unnecessary misunderstandings with board members who might think you are trying to undermine them.
The key is in the delivery and the approach in bringing up the issues. It is paramount the other members understand that the issues you brought up were for the greater good of the company and not for personal benefit.
At times, it is difficult to separate emotions and business judgment in meetings or in the workplace, but it is important to maintain a strong sense of professionalism and discretion.