Ask Chris Anything!!

Thanh Tam always has questions. Sometimes too many!

Dear DreamMakers,

You asked, I answered!

Here are your questions and answers, below, from December 2011.  Click here to ask more questions.

“Dear anh

How to improve leadership skill? For example, my team has 3 members in the meantime 2 members are older than me?

I need your advice,Chris!

Thanks anh.”

The best way to improve your leadership skill is to focus on it and take action.  Read books and ask your manager for coaching and to help you improve.  Two of my favorite leadership books are “One Minute Manager” and “The Energy Bus.”  I have extra copies if you’d like to read one of these books.

If two of your team members are older than you, it is especially important to win their respect and trust.  You must show them that you are a servant leader — your job is to help them achieve in their jobs and to go higher.  If you can add value to your people then they will respect you and you will have a good relationship with them.

“Dear anh,

When will Ocean Project end?”

We’re not sure when Project Ocean will end.  However, I’m pretty confident that we will know the final outcome of Project Ocean by the end of February, 2012.  As always, I will keep you informed.

“Why you do not open training class for support team by Vietnamese?”

I think you are talking about the “Power Negotiation” class.  We required English for that class because I am teaching it in English.  I have asked DMC to find someone who has taken the class who can teach it in Vietnamese.

Anh Trong did teach his “Communication” class in Vietnamese.  We will teach other classes in Vietnamese too.  I hope all DreamMakers take advantage of NaviWorks University to improve their skills.

“Hi anh Chris,

I would like to ask you some questions:

1. I heard someone said that we had found our investors, some one said they were Japanese, others said Singaporean. Is that true or just a rumor?

2. When will Ocean happen?

Thanks and have a nice day anh!”

None of the companies involved in the Project Ocean know about the other companies in Project Ocean.  It’s better if we do not share who is involved and who is not involved.  I can say that we have had companies from Asia, Europe and the USA interested in us.

If Ocean happens, I think it will finish sometime after Tet in Q1.  We will continue “Ask Chris Anything” and I expect lots of questions on the new buyer and what will happen after Ocean.  I’ll be glad to use straight talk with you!

“Why do you never share the lolipops in the jar on your desk?”

I would love to share the lollipops on my desk.  But no one ever comes to visit me!  I promise to give every visitor a lollipop.

“If Ocean happened, there would be changes expected, depending on buyer strategy.  If Ocean doesn’t happen, what would we do differently for the next 2 years?”

Any buyers will want to help us be more successful.  I believe our challenges over the next two years are the same either with Ocean or without Ocean.

We must continue to change the way we do business in both VietnamWorks and Navigos Search.  VietnamWorks must move forward with Smart Project to encourage customers to buy Job Packs and post jobs by themselves.  VietnamWorks must also understand its customers better so we can help our VietnamWorks Girls sell to more customers in less time.

In Navigos Search, we must continue to improve the service we give customers as well as our selling skill to convince customers that our higher price is worth the higher value we provide.

“Hi Chris,

In the current situation of the market, how will you motivate your DM to help them get more energy in their job?

Thanks”

I know that the market has become more challenging.

Our leaders will continue to support DreamMakers the best they can.  Anh Trong has several ideas on how to improve our selling skills and hunting initiatives even in challenging times.  We will continue to celebrate DreamMakers and teams who make big achievements and continue doing our best to support a fun, challenging and friendly working environment.

I want every DreamMaker to know that all company leaders are here to support them and help them to become successful in ANY situation of the market.

“What is Ocean?”

Ocean is the project to sell the company.  The buyer probably will be international.

“Why our company do not have 13th month salary?”

We replaced the 13th month salary with the annual KPI bonus because we believe that the size of the annual bonus should depend on individual and company performance.

DreamMakers have a chance to earn up to 2x their monthly salary if they and the company perform well.  This is known as “pay for performance.”

“When are you going to get married?”

Troi oi, my mother keeps asking me this question too.  My answer is always “Thời gian sẽ trả lời.”

“Hi Chris,

I am very excited with your idea “”Ask Chris Anything”” cause I always have a ton of questions to CEO/MD where I’ve worked but I never did it before (I was afraid to ask them).

My first question:

– What do you think about Yahoo in Vietnam? I think that it’s going to die soon.

Thanks so much for your willing to answer any question coming :)

Nice weekends,

DM”

I’m glad you like “Ask Chris Anything.”  I enjoy answering your questions.

I agree with you.  Yahoo is in trouble.

I think Yahoo’s problems happened because the business environment changed faster than Yahoo changed.  Google, Facebook, Twitter, Groupon — all came after Yahoo but Yahoo kept doing business in the old way.   Business history is full of examples of companies who where unable to change when the environment changed.

I think Yahoo is on the way out.  They won’t die soon, but will die very slowly.

Let’s work together to make sure WE are always changing and improving so we don’t become like Yahoo!

“Hi Chris,

Sometimes you asked me the same questions that you had asked me one or two days before. It could make me feel in some different ways:

– Your memory is bad, or

– It’s just a social talk, or

– I’m not important for you to remember our conversations.

This is just a small straight talk that I hope to help you to improve your communications with dream makers.

With love.”

Thank you for your straight talk.

The problem is my memory is terrible.  Ask Hue Chi for stories.  I ask her the same questions again and again too.  I did buy a book about “improving memory” but I keep forgetting to read it!

It’s the same with names.  With new DreamMakers I often forget new names as many as 10 times before I remember.  But I *do* remember eventually.  Please be patient with me.

P.S. – Have you tried the “Name Game” yet?

At your service, Thai Ha!

“Hi Anh Chris,

I wonder whether the environment in Vietnamworks will be changed when the company being sold?”

When each buyer comes we take them on a tour of our office.  All of them LOVE our unique and fun working environment.  They believe that our working environment is a big reason for our great people and our success.  I don’t see why they would change it.  I certainly don’t want to change what makes working at our company special and fun.

“Hi Chris,

What are your strategy to promote Navigos Search next year?”

This is a great question for chi Van Anh.  She is the leader of Navigos Search.  My job is to support her the best I can.

However, I’ll try to answer.

Navigos Search is a high-quality business-to-business brand.  I think the right strategy is to continue with our successful PR strategy to keep Navigos Search in the newspapers and position our team as a thought-leader for HR issues in Vietnam.  Tu Anh and her team have done a great job — did you know that Navigos Search was featured in 83% of newspaper stories about executive search in the first six months of 2011?

I also think Navigos Search could benefit from even more sales training so we can select the best customers.  At its core, sales training is about learning to communicate our value to customers and to overcome their objections.  We have a valuable product, we just sometimes have a challenging time communicating our value and explaining why our price is higher.

“Does Hai Quynh have a boyfriend?”

I don’t know.  My guess is she must have a boyfriend given how beautiful and talented she is.

“What does ” Vietnamworks girl” mean?”

The “VietnamWorks Girl” is what we call people on our VietnamWorks Customer Solutions Team.  They are all women.  (We tried men, but they didn’t work out well.  I don’t know why.)

We got the idea from the “Singapore Girl” of Singapore Airlines.  The Singapore Girl is one of the most famous and successful brand images in the world.

We want the “VietnamWorks Girl” to become one of the most famous and successful brand images in Vietnam.  She represents VietnamWorks and our unique value, professionalism and service.

“I want to know more about Ocean Project. Which company is going to buy Navigos?”

We don’t know which company will buy Navigos yet.  We don’t even know if Project Ocean will be successful.  We’ll know more in early January.

“Hi Chris,

We love you so much because you are funny,easy of approach, remember name of all DMs :-)

Some questions for U:

1/When do you dream about a house with any kids ?

2/When we sell our company, how about DMs’s benefit ?

Thanks a lot.

Best wishes 4U ^^”

Wow, two totally different questions!

1) Time will tell when I get married.  I do want kids, so that probably will in the next few years.
2) The DreamMakers who have purchased shares in the company will get to sell their shares.  All DreamMakers will benefit from the international knowledge and expertise of a new buyer.  There will be new opportunities for training and advancement with a large, experienced international parent.

If Project Ocean is successful, I want you to ask me LOTS of questions about this.  I will ask the buyer to participate in a “Ask the Buyer Anything!” session.  It’s important for DreamMakers to understand what will happen after sale and have an opportunity to communicate with the buyer.

“Dear Anh Chris,

I would like to ask you 2 questions:

First, Any product alway has the limited life circle. How is about our Job posting service? Do you think when does it die?

Second, When are you going to get a family for yourself? have you ever felt nervous about the problem?

Thank you so much, Anh Chris .”

Products live as long as they deliver value to the customer.  They die when they stop delivering value to the customer.

Other, more developed markets like the Australia, the USA and Singapore still have successful companies offering  Job Postings.  I think our Job Posting product will live for a very long time because it is so effective at delivering candidates to the customer.

As for your second question, another DreamMaker also asked the same question.  Please see my answer above.  My heart is touched that so many DreamMakers are concerned about my marriage future!

“Hi Chris,

Thank you for giving us chance to ask you something.

I really want to know Why the company cut down telephone allowance of consultants. before, we received 200,000VND per month for our mobile phone allowance. But since September (or Oct) 2011, the company gives us 100,000VND/per month through bank account, thus, after PIT deduction, I think we just receive 80,000VND for that allowance. Actually, 200,000VND is not a big amount with us but we do not expect that the company cut such small thing.

Thank you for spending time to read my question and I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

Thanks for asking this question.

The NS North phone allowance was 200,000, whereas the NS South phone allowance was 100,000.  When we decided to eliminate the phone allowance completely, we also decided to make it consistent for NS North and South at 100,000.

I do understand that there is now tax taken out of the phone allowance so you get less than 100,000.  However, the ~80,000 VND after tax still can buy over 80 minutes of phone calls made from your mobile phone.  I believe this is more than enough to cover any phone calls to customers and candidates that you may make on your own mobile phone outside office hours.  That was the intent of the phone allowance in the first place.

We certainly do not want any DreamMakers to spend money out of their own pockets for business expenses.  If 80 minutes of calling is not enough to cover your calls to customers made outside office hours, please do let us know and we will re-evaluate the policy.

P.S. – Did you know that until now, NS is the only team in the company who received a phone allowance?  VietnamWorks Girls do not receive a phone allowance even though they make a lot of phone calls.  I do not receive a phone allowance.  The Chairman and Founder, Jonah, does not receive a phone allowance.

“When do you leave the company?  Why you still here?

Thanks you!”

Like each of you, I choose to continue working at Navigos Search and VietnamWorks because I find the work here interesting and challenging.  Not only do I love our unique environment, but I’m still learning and growing every day.  I’ll move on to a new opportunity when I think that’s the best way to continue learning,  growing and challenging myself.

“Hi Chris,

Thank you for give me a chance to ask you and get something from you (i still remember what you usually said “”Don’t ask, don’t get”” :D)

i want to ask you a question about Marketing. I see that we have many conference for the employers, employees – people are working. But why don’t we have some event toward to students, especially the final students. I think we should have more career event for the Student to let them know more clearly about their dream job. I know that Student is not our target customer. However, Events like that will have a good social effect. Moreover, when they get more value from us, they’ll have better skill, better level. Of course, they always choose the best recruitment website to up their CV, to find their dream job. Why? Because they’re good so they deserve the best job, the best company.

It’s just one of my question. Hope that it’s not mind you.

Thank you once again & Have a nice day :)”

We do not focus on students because most of our customers do not demand applications from students or new graduates.  Every $1 we spend on students means $1 we do NOT spend to attract the people that our customers want.  That’s why we focus on people who have >2 years experience after university.

Although it’s not our primary focus, we do help students a lot.  We provide tips on our website about how to interview, how to prepare a CV and how to decide between different careers.  I serve on the Board of Advisors for a student group in Ho Chi Minh City, AIESEC Vietnam.  I’ve spoken to different student groups as well.

Does that answer your question?  If not, please ask me a follow-up question here.

“What does improvement you think our PRM system shoud be?”

I think our PMR system has room to be more simple and less confusing.  I’ve asked the DMC team for ideas on how to make it simpler and more effective.  I’m sure they would love to hear your ideas too.

Thanks DreamMakers!  I’ve enjoyed answering your questions.  Please ask more questions anytime.  Just click here.

________________________________

Questions and answers, January and February 2012.

 

12/8/2011 15:13:50           “Dear Anh Chris,

I have an expected and I hope you can help it comes true.

We expect that we receive the PMR bonus before Tet Festival. As usual, It come after Tet 4 or 6 weeks laters. That makes my Tet were not fun because all my friends in others company got it before Tet.

Will it happen in this year in Navigos?

Thank much!”

Annual PMR bonuses depend on the PMR process.  PMRs are not complete yet, plus Tet comes early this year.  So we were not ready to pay Tet bonuses before Tet.  Dream-Makers will receive their Tet bonuses in February.

In order to give Dream-Makers a little more money we did pay January salaries before Tet this year.  We will do our best to simplify our system and pay annual bonuses before Tet for 2013.

 

12/23/2012/23/2011 15:52:42  If Navigos or Vietnamworks is sold, working location will be changed also? Where is it?

We are renewing our SNA lease for 5 years.  We will sign a new lease in Hanoi for 5 years.  If the company is sold I do not think the new owner will break the lease and move the office.  Breaking leases is very costly.

Besides, the Ocean process is complete and did not result in a sale.

 

12/23/2011 15:54:48        If you have one chance to work Navigos or Vietnamworks, which one you choose to work for? You just have right to choose one. Why?

My experience in my career has been all in online businesses and finance.  I have zero experience with executive search.  While I am very hands-on in the VietnamWorks business, I depend on chi Van Anh to run to Search business.  My responsibility is to support Van Anh as best I can, but she is the real expert in Search.

If I could only work on one business I would work in VietnamWorks because that is where I can add the most value.

 

12/23/2011 16:02:25        “If you get two offers:

1. Offering you 1000 USD, and they say that if you achieve your target 100.000 USD per month, you will get 20% of 100.000 USD.

2. Offering you 10.000 USD, and they say if you achieve your target 100.000 USD per month, you will get 10% of 100.000 USD.

For both offers, you have 6 months to deal with that target, if you cannot achieve your target, you will be fired.

Which offer you will choose, and why? “

I would do an analysis to compare the two options.

Let’s look at how much I earn if I achieve $100,000 target:

Option 1: (6 months * $1,000) + (20% of $100,000) = ($6,000) + ($20,000) = $26,000
Option 2: (6 months * $10,000) + (10% of $100,000) = ($60,000) + ($10,000) = $70,000

Option 2 is better.

Let’s look at how much I earn if don’t achieve target (I earn salary only):

Option 1: (6 months * $1,000) = $6,000
Option 2: (6 months * $10,000) = $60,000

Option 2 is better.

The choice is clear.  I would choose Option 2 because if I make more money if I achieve target or don’t achieve target.

The answer seems too easy.  Is this a trick question?

 

12/23/2011 16:07:59        “If Japanese/Korea company buy our company, our working enviroment will be changed or not? All current staffs will be hired by new investor or what happens with them after selling? “

The Ocean process is over and did not result in a sale.  The Board is no longer actively trying to sell the company.

If a Japanese or Korean company bought our company, there might be changes over time.  Japanese and Korean management styles are different from our American and Vietnamese management style.  However, Japanese and Korean companies are some of the most successful in the world, so they must be doing something right.

 

12/23/2011 21:31:49        I am wondering that what are key motivations for you to work hard for Navigos Group? I guess you will say because of challenges/ and good enviroment, how do you think if we offer you 2000 USD to work as CEO?

I work at Navigos Group because I enjoy the job, enjoy the challenges and enjoy the people.  I’m also learning, which is important to me.

A salary of $2,000 for CEO of our company would be far below the market salary for this position, level of responsibility and my ability to create value.  If that were the salary limit I would look for a position outside the company.

 

12/23/2011 21:44:25        Your sfaff work hard, brings a lot of money for company,they ask line manager to pay them more, but line manager doesnot want to pay more, and then they decide to leave company. In that case,as a CEO, what do you do? Why?

NaviWorks must compete for talent just like we compete for customers.  Talented people create value and in return should receive value from the company.  The company gives Dream-Makers value in many ways — a fun, friendly and comfortable working environment, training, opportunity for advancement…and, yes, salary.

If a Dream-Maker can get more value outside the company than inside the company, the Dream-Maker should talk to his or her manager.  If the manager is not in a position to increase the Dream-Maker’s salary to the level the DM believes he or she can get outside the company, then the DM might consider taking another opportunity that delivers more value to him or her.  This will happen sometimes.  It is normal and natural in business.

 

12/23/2011 22:03:44        “Hi Chris,

Our company does not have 13th monthly salary, becasue company pay for performance, however as far as we know in almost companies pay fixed13th salary, plus performance bonus ( from 0- 5 months), depends on company performance. So how do you think? It seems that benefit for our staffs are very poor.  You give staffs fun and comfortable working envioroment, but your staffs still need money to live. After happy moment at company, they must come back their real life.

Really speaking, without 13th salary, really poor for back office staffs. Everyone works hard for one year, and then they only can get less than 1 month salary as far as we know. It is really hard to get full one month salary, even though to a salesman who bring a lot of money for company.

Thanks!”

Thanks for your question.

However, I couldn’t disagree more that the “benefit for our staffs are very poor.”  This is simply not true.

Look at our benefits list:

  • 15 days annual leave
  • Paternity, bereavement and sick leave
  • Free annual health checkup
  • Free Achievement Trip each year
  • 10-14 NaviWorks University courses each year, free
  • 10-15 holiday events and celebrations each year (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Women’s Day, etc…)
  • Spirit Award, Rocket Award, $2 Award for DMs
  • Gifts for life events such as birth, wedding, bereavement

I’m very proud of the time, care and attention we give to our Dream-Makers.  How many other companies do you know that offer benefits and activities for their people like we do?

I think you are mostly concerned about our PMR bonus.

The PMR bonus is a function of both company performance and of individual performance.  Nearly all Dream-Makers will receive a PMR bonus this year of over 1 month salary.  Some very high performing people will receive a bonus over 2 months salary.

I think you want to earn more money.  We all do.  You might consider asking yourself “How can I deliver more value to my team so I can ask my manager for more salary and a higher bonus?”

 

1/31/2012 11:16:36           “Chào năm mới,

Chúc luôn mạnh khỏe và hạnh phúc trong năm mới.

I have a question for you at the beginning of this year:

“”where I can read your answers and how I know that my question has been answer?””

Thank you and happy new year!!!”

Chuc mung nam moi!

Your question is answered when I post it on this web page.  Sorry it has taken so long.

 

2/2/2012 13:12:15 How much is your salary?

I announced my salary at the February All Hands meetings in Hanoi and SNA.

 

2/2/2012 13:55:30 “Hi Chirs,

Why do we have All Hand every month? Why not every quarter?

Thanks,

DM”

The All Hands meeting is a time to introduce new Dream-Makers, share important news in the company and celebrate our successes.  It’s about 1-1.5 hours a month.  I think it’s a very good use of time to help us understand and get to know each other better.  Once per quarter would not be enough time.

 

2/6/2012 11:21:40 “Hi Chris,

Could you give me the reason why our staffs (most of them keep the important position) have been leaving the company?

I am really confused about our company’s future. Do you have any plan to stop this bad situation? it really influences to our present staff.

Thanks Chris!”

Great question.

I always say that people will stay in a position or company until they decide they can get more value outside the company than inside the company.  My job is to make sure I know what that person wants so I can give it to them.  But sometimes even though I know what the person wants I am unable to give it to them — for example, if a person wants to be promoted to the next level but there is no room above them.

There are times when a person has spent many years in the company, then decides they are ready for a change and new challenges.  This happens with senior people too.  It is normal and natural.

With change comes opportunity.  I love to promote people internally, so every senior departure means an opportunity for someone else to go higher and learn and grow.  A company where no one ever leaves would be a company that has few growth opportunities for younger people.  A good example is how Ngoc Hanh took over leadership for the FA team after Daniel left last year.  Another good example is how anh Trong always promotes a VietnamWorks Girl into Team Leader positions.

Our company is full of talented people who are ready to take on bigger challenges.  We can manage the normal departure of junior and senior people by promoting junior people into those positions because their strength areas often are suitable.

 

2/8/2012 15:07:29 “Hi anh Chris,

Can you share your thoughts about the importance and value of the simplification?

Why should we apply it to our Products? And how is your passion about making our Products simple?

Thanks anh,

Can-Do”

Simple is beautiful.

Simple means easy to understand and use.  We want all of our products to be easy to use and understand.  Simple.  The Google home page is one of my favorite examples of simple.

But simple is hard to do.  It takes a lot of effort.  Most websites give up trying to be simple and settle for complex and confusing instead.

We aren’t like that.  We’re better.

Our home page doesn’t have 20 ads on it and flashing, blinking things competing for attention.  Those things distract users from what we really want them to do: 1) Search for jobs.  2) Apply for jobs.  That’s it.

To quote Steve Jobs: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

 

2/10/2012 9:27:59 “Hi Chris,

Do we have PMR bonus? And if yes, when does Dream Maker receive, Feb or March?”

Yes, we have a PMR bonus.  It will be paid in February.

 

2/13/2012 13:24:30           Seems like most of our marketing campaigns are designed to get attention of job seekers; and PR events are to sweeten current employers (I could be wrong since I’m not in that department; just my perception sitting on the same floor). How about the reverse actions – campaign designed to secure current employers’ loyalty, And get attention of potential ones. And PR events to educate job seekers.

I asked Hue Chi about this.  Here’s her answer:

Hue Chi: About marketing to customer activities, we designed campaigns to engage customers and increase their loyalty such as the training events by Gilbert, Dale Carnegie and anh Trong (this wk and next wk). Some events from gurus like Jack Canfield and Brian Tracy, we also invited biggest customers to attend to appreciate their contribution to our business. We are going to have another promotion program (launch by end of Feb) for new and win-back customers. Anh Trong will be our trainer too. In the near future, you can see more activities from Marketing to attract new customers.

About the PR, this year we have an initiative to partnership with Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper to build a career advice corner on Tuesday issues. And today (Feb 14) is the first issue. This is our effort to educate our jobseekers about finding jobs in a scalable way).

Marketing will communicate about our activities more often to all Dream-Makers so that you can get updates.”

Thanks for the questions.

Hue Chi

 

2/13/2012 15:40:23           “Hi Chris,

A team has most members leave and the new staffs continue leaving. How do you think about this problem and leader of that team?

Thanks for your answer,”

As I answered above, people leaving a company after several years of service is normal and natural.  Ambitious people love to learn and grow, and sometime a new environment and a new job is the best thing to help them do that.

If a team has a LOT of new and old members leaving that is not good.  It always means a leadership problem — either the leader is choosing the wrong people or people do not like the leader, or both.

People who are not leaving because they want a new challenge generally leave because of the leader.

If there is a team with very high turnover I will question the leader and see what we need to change.

If there is a team with this problem inside our company I want to know about it.  Please tell me using the anonymous question form.  I do not know who asks questions.

 

2/15/2012 13:58:11 “Hi Chris,

Have you finalized the new office? Working in temporary office will be so inconvenient for us. “

Tiff and I are working hard to finalize the new office.  Negotiating with Hanoi landlords and finding suitable space at a good price in the center of Hanoi is not easy.  We are doing our best and expect to communicate details of the new office soon.  I’m 100% confident Dream-Makers will like our new office better than Vincom.  We will make the space really cool and interesting, a little like SNA.

While it would be better to move into a new office directly from Vincom, we had no choice.  Vincom notified us to leave Vincom in the middle of November.  Only 3 months to find new space, negotiate a lease, get a designer, build out new space and move.  What made the problem more difficult was that ALL companies in Vincom were looking for new space at the same time.

The temporary space is clean, convenient and efficient for our Dream-Makers.  Thanks for understanding and helping us make the change while continuing to give our customers great service.