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There's a Glen Jai in all of us
I was involved in a discussion this morning in the ‘Change in Asia’ group on LinkedIn and it reminded me of a major learn I had several years ago. Well several!
In good old IT marketing fashion, a seminar for all the IT Directors/Managers and their respective Sales Directors was the answer. Oracle was happy to oblige and host the event. I checked with the Operations Director if we could use the CRM consultant and she was OK if he was. I then had a meeting with the consultant asking if he was OK to present. He was a little apprehensive so I offered to help him by assisting him with his PowerPoint and doing some dry runs. He agreed. The date was set; invites went out and bums were booked on seats. Over one hundred attendees, his presentation was great along with several others and things were looking real good. Business as usual!
We had six presenters who were asked to arrive at the venue before 9am for a 10am start. On the morning of the event at about 9.30 all were present except the CRM presenter – the module most people in the audience were there to hear about. The Operations Director was also presenting so I asked her to call the CRM consultant and find out where he was. ‘On the way – traffic very bad’ she told me just before I took the stage to MC the event. Fortunately the CRM session was not scheduled until 11.30 so there was no need to panic. Once I was off the stage I went out of the auditorium to see if I could welcome the consultant and reassure him thinks were all OK, but no sign of his arrival. 10.30 passed; then 10.45. Just before 11am I pulled the Operations Director out the room and asked her to call him again. After a short call she said, ‘Flat tyre. He won’t be here in time’. No panic; I rearranged the agenda and put him on after lunch. So, they broke for coffee and after resuming I announced to the audience that the consultant had a car problem and we would be covering CRM after lunch once he had arrived. Reporting was brought forward and the show was back on. We had about two hours of breathing space!
Lunch time came and I asked the Operations Director to call again to let him know we had rearranged things so no problem and just to check what time he was expecting to arrive. I told her to keep him calm, that everything was alright because he needed to present and being in a total panic prior to taking the stage would not help him with his presentation. The answer I got was ‘He isn’t coming’ which was totally unexpected. When I asked why she just said ‘Glen Jai’ and went very, very quiet (which now after many, more years in Thailand I know is actually Kreng Jai).
So, first thing after lunch I stood up in front of over a hundred of our customers and made some lame excuse why the consultant who they had all come to see was not presenting. I could not believe the response ‘OK, we’ll see it another day then’ was basically the consensus. I was not sure which was more surprising, the guy not showing up or the fact that there was totally the opposite reaction from the audience than anticipated. In fact I had expected a riot. Instead I got people trying to reassure me it was no problem; that I should not be too stressed about it; and that these things happen. In hindsight, I think the Oracle staff plus our Operations and Sales team had been talking to all the customers over lunch letting them know it was Glen Jai at work. So, the audience were already primed and were trying to reassure my feelings that things were not that bad because they all knew that as a Westerner, I would be very conscious of how unprofessional this looked. I was in shock when I walked off the stage!
The event ended. The customers all said it was good, that they enjoyed it and thanks for inviting them. The feedback sheets were all positive. Some wanted more information so it kind of went okay. But boy was I angry. As soon as the last customer left, I demanded that the Operations Director dismissed the consultant for gross misconduct! I wanted his head, and now! She looked me straight in the eyes and whispered ‘Glen Jai – he did it for me’. Now I was in total melt down! After about 10 minutes of ranting and raving I calmed down and asked, OK – wants just happened?’ Then she explained Kreng Jai to me. In a nut shell she enlightened me that out of respect and a willingness to help her that the consultant agreed to whatever demands I made - even though he knew he was not going to fulfil the promise. He was just hoping that his agreement would make her look good and that the seminar would get cancelled and that the ‘problem’ of not showing up would never arise. He did it for her! Now, this took some real deep thinking and he was a young, bright guy so he had the ‘live and learn plus he is only young’ chips in his corner as far as I was concerned. So, I calmed down and went away to sleep on it. Next day in the office I met with the Operations Director and we agreed not to take any action whatsoever. This was a totally unexpected turn of events if I look back to my time working in the West.
On reflection, I learned a really big lesson; well several actually. The customers were surprisingly OK with what had happened as they all had a Glen Jai working in their department as well so they were used to this type of approach. Next learn point was that it was amazing what this guy would do to make his boss look good – agree to do something that he really didn’t want to do and not say so; spending hours preparing his PowerPoints and practicing his pitch in front of me; putting together a full set of hand-outs on a completely new module; and finally, risking the possibility of getting in serious trouble rather than making his boss look like she can’t manage her team. Many years later in my research and development of Natural Excellence, this concept is part of Advanced Integrated Thinking which demonstrated a clear case of short-term and long-term decision dynamics in direct conflict. TOC guys will recognise this dichotomy as a cloud.
So, after many more years of experience and lots of research into how we can use Nature to improve performance within the workplace, the thing I learned is if you are managing people of any culture, industry or background – watch out for Glen Jai ... the short guy who doesn’t worry about tomorrow and will do anything to make the boss look good. The follower that will do anything for the top dog even if it is totally stupid, because he is the top dog – a kind of ultra respect. And, there is actually a Glen Jai in us all too some degree – it’s the way we are wired. And if anyone is interested in a great CRM module, I know a great consultant who you can talk with, but I suggest you go to him and don’t ask him to present to your team but do it one on one. Respectfully yours!
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The Theory of Human Excellence (THE) is a revolutionary new way of looking at behaviour. It is founded upon the very latest neuro research covering how the brain learns, grows and formulates decisions. For more info go to http://www.theoryofexcellence.org