Review Of “Talent Management for the Twenty-First Century” by Peter Cappelli

March 3, 2011

In 1997 McKinsey conducted it’s ’war for talent’ research and since that time little has changed – it has never ended (Gutheridge, Komm & Lawson, 2008, p.49). It has been very difficult for companies to gain and retain top quality people (Heron, 2009, p.1). This has not slowed during the economic crisis, the top 10% of talent are still mobile (Donaldson, 2009) and this will accelerate when the good times return. Cappelli’s article is therefore timely in giving HR and Line Managers a process that can assist in talent management.

The main premise of the article is that talent management is ‘anticipating the need for human capital and then setting out a plan to meet it’ (Cappelli, 2008, p.1). The options for companies are to either do nothing or use 1950’s programs of succession planning and forecasting. Cappelli suggests that there is another, more effective way using a just-in-time concept (2008, p. 3-4) that includes:
• Make and buy to manage risk – talent is expensive to have waiting in the business and they will leave without opportunities. Therefore some roles can be sourced externally more effectively, while others could be internally.
• Adapt to the uncertainty in talent demand – the concept is to break up development programs for staff into smaller units so that staff complete the course over a longer period ie 3 years and this keeps them interested longer.
• Improve the return on investment in developing employees – get staff to part pay towards a course, whether this is financial or in time.
• Preserve the investment by balancing employee-employer interests – allow staff to apply for any internal job and make it easy for them to apply.

Cappelli concludes that by using a just-in-time concept and getting more engagement with talent through extended training, financial or time commitment and allowing staff to apply and move across the organisation that you can retain talent more effectively than using traditional systems.

Musselwhite (2007) writing for Talent Magazine noted that it is cheaper to develop and retain staff than to buy in new staff. In Ready and Conger’s 2007 article for Harvard Business Review they state that some organisations and managers still believe that they can find talent by buying staff (p.1). They disagree. This is in contrast to Cappelli who says that this is an old philosophy and that talented staff won’t wait ‘on the bench’ (p.3) for an opportunity, but will leave. He counsels that a balance is required to hire outside when necessary and promote from within if there is a talent available (p.4).

Training is important to retain top talent. Research reviewed by Deerly (Victoria University, 2008) found that there is a link between retain and training quality and satisfaction. However in Cappelli (p.4) there is research that says that people tend to leave organisations after training. Therefore Cappelli has developed the concept of extending training over a prolonged period to continue with engagement.

The area of strategic talent management that Cappelli has not reviewed in his article is that of other staff outside the top 10-20 staff and how to ensure that the organisation continues to engage with this staff. Guthridge et al (2008 p. 54-55) say that managers also need to focus on the B-team players as well as the top talent. It is important that companies do not neglect these people (p.55) and look at ways to ensure that they are valued to create a vibrant environment for all staff across the organisation. Ready and Conger also recommend that in managing staff that haven’t made it into the top talent pool is very important. They recommend that you frame the conversation around that they require ‘development and support’ (2007, p.3). This could help to reduce potential turnover from this group outside of the top talent in the organisation.

Regardless of the various theories proposed the reality is that 59% of all businesses in Australia believe it is important to retain skilled employees and top talent in the business (Heron, 2009, p.4). It therefore highlights that talent management must be a part of any business HR strategy (Guthridge, Lawson & Komm, 2006, p.8) While Cappelli’s theories are a new look at a long term issue it would appear that most authors still support internal development managing talent but there is an opportunity to take into consideration the concepts of sharing the cost, extending development courses and allowing cross departmental appointments. The main ‘issue’ is to determine whether it is better (and cheaper) to develop from within or to appoint external new talent just-in-time.

Team Work

February 24, 2011

This week I started thinking about team work after watching my son play basketball for his district team.

When I was watching my son I reflected on how much they had travelled to become a team in a really short timeframe. My boy is just 10 years old and his team were getting beaten comprehensively. But the boys didn’t give up. They tried new routines and kept persevering, eventually getting a basket and scoring. While the end score was a thrashing 66-8 the boys grew as a team and all improved and helped each other out.

Similarly in my team at work we have helped each other out in achieving our sales targets this year, even though it has been within a very hard ecomonic environment.

Katzenbach and Smith in ‘The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization’ (1992) investigate the lifecycle of a team. In analysis of this model I have compared the model and Sam’s basketball team:

Kazenbach & Smith Example

The more a team moves towards high performance means that the team’s performance will increase as will their effectiveness. I have seen this in my son’s team over the summer and I can also see it in my work team since we formed. This is why it is so important that we reach high performance as it will impact on our sales result. The Team model follows (1992, p.17):

Team Performance Model

What resonated with me was that a real team works together to achieve the performance required. The high performance team takes this one step further, not only does a team of this calibre achieve the task, its output is better and that the team earns more success and growth as a result.

I am going to use my new knowledge on high performing teams to ensure that we all have personal growth and contribute to collective success of the budget achievement.

Sales Techniques That Really Work

February 17, 2011

In my current position I manage 22 Retail Shops, an 80 seat Contact Centre, a direct B2C sales force and a web sales team. My teams sell insurance, security, travel, automotive products and merchandise for the entire Group. To have such as diverse multi-skilled sales force you really need a system to drive the performance of the team and to hold managers accountable. To enable the teams to be effective in 2006 I introduced the Friedman Gold Stars sales system.

The system is very simple, it is a process to engage with the customer, in essence to become their friend, so that you can match your products and services to their needs to save them time and money. Then to measure the effectiveness a simple red dots for under budget achievement, green dots for getting budget and gold stars for over budget performance helps keep the staff motivated towards success. For managers it is about understanding that you need to keep your people free and clear to sell with little distractions and to coach this behaviour, similar to Greenleaf’s servant leadership.

For sales people the 8 steps to sales success are:

1. Precheck – making sure that you are ready to sell & that the store is presentable

2. Opening the Sale:
• Acknowledge every customer
• 180 degree Walk Pass – this is acknowledging the customer, but walking past them rather than approaching asking ‘can I help you’ which always gets a ‘no,
just browsing’
• Non-business related opening – breaking the ice to build rapport, as simple as saying ‘that’s a nice watch you have, where did you buy it?’
• Moving into business – saying ‘so, what brings you into the store today?’

3. Probing – finding out about the customer & their needs to match a product

4. Demonstration – selling the value that the customer wants

5. Trial Close – getting the sale by adding on another product

6. Handling Objections – investigating what is the issue, working through any price objection and using the objection to close the sale

7. Closing – identifying buying signals, asking for the sale and closing techniques

8. Confirmations & Invitations – confirms the sales and helps the customer get over buyers remorse and inviting back for another visit

I was introduced to the Friedman system in 2001 and have used it ever since as an effective tool to drive sales behaviour and success. What has been your experience with sales systems in your career?

Review of Harvard Business Review Article on Fiat

February 11, 2011

“Fiat’s Extreme Makeover” by Sergio Marchionne (Marchionne, S 2009, ‘Fiat’s Extreme Makeover’, The Australian Financial Review Boss, February, pp. 47-49)

In this broad ranging article Sergio Marchionne reviews the turnaround at Fiat from a company that was near bankrupt to one considering the purchase of Chrysler in just 4 years. While there are a number of factors that have contributed to this success there are two strategic human resources management (SHRM) initiatives that have assisted. These are:
• Terminating the old management and replacing them with new, younger managers with a background in marketing, not engineering (Boss, 2009, p.48)
• Replacing the old managers and the ‘management by committee’ leadership style (Australian Financial Review, 2009, p.60) has changed the culture of Fiat to leadership characterised by autonomy and initiative (Boss, 2009, p.48).

Holmes, Schnurr and Marra (2008, p. 434) say that a change in top level management will also change workplace culture. This clearly occurred at Fiat when Marchionne changed the top managers. Gone is the CEO making all of the decisions to an organisation where everyone is expected to lead and to achieve their stretch targets (Boss, 2009, p. 48). This is supported by Yukl (2008, p. 716) who says that the CEO can’t be the only hero; a distributed leadership is required to achieve a high level of financial performance.

This change to top management occurred after just 60 days of Marchionne’s arrival (AFR, 2009, p. 60). These managers were replaced with a new generation of leaders mainly sourced from within the company, including consumer marketers and HR specialists. This is an example of SHRM and strategic planning in order to reshape Fiat and to change the culture for success. While on the surface it may appear harsh of Marchionne to terminate a large number of leaders within Fiat, this is becoming a common occurrence in other organisations throughout the world (Manderscheid & Ardichvili, 2008, p.113). One of the key strategies is placing the right leaders in the right positions (Manderscheid & Ardichvili, 2008, p.115) and the need for organisations to position and reposition leaders as required to stay competitive. Fiat needed to change the culture and achieved this through terminating old style managers in order to promote talent that could move Fiat towards profitability and survival.

Workplace culture has been defined as ‘the way we do things around here’ (Bower cited in Holmes et al, 2008, p. 435) and this definitely was the case at Fiat where leadership was management by committee. Marchionne has changed this by:
• Unlocking talent within the business and appointing new energetic leaders to top management roles
• Giving staff responsibility and holding them accountable (Boss, 2009, p. 48)
• Moving away from engineers in top roles and replacing them with marketers or external specialists (Boss, 2009, p. 48-49)
By making these changes Fiat’s new way of ‘doing things around here’ is now based on accountability, openness, communication, flexibility and sharing ideas (AFR, 2009, p. 60). This has allowed Fiat to reduce their time to market on a new vehicle from 4 years to just 18 months (Boss, 2009, p.48). This could only be achieved by changing the workplace culture.

Despite this success, not all is ‘rosy’ at Fiat. Marchionne says in Boss (2009, p.49) that being a leader at Fiat is ‘a lifestyle decision’. Leaders need to give up their time including weekends to attend meetings and therefore there is a lack of work-life balance for them. Fiat clearly requires their top talent to dedicate extraordinary amounts of time and resources to help drive the company. This could lead to reduced staff satisfaction and over time could increase staff turnover (Deery, 2008, p. 795). It also could be seen as discrimination against women or people with families (Stone, 2008, p.747). In contrast kindergartens and shops have been built near plants to assist front line staff to balance their lifestyle (BOSS, 2008, p.49). Marchionne could have also changed the culture by creating for Fiat a new set of values and goals that all employees and managers must religiously adhere (Freeman, 2009, p.47). Through a top down approach this would have resulted in a radical shift in employee and top management behaviour (Freeman, 2009, p.47) and may have caused less short term pain at Fiat than terminating top managers.

It is clear that Marchionne is driven to change Fiat and so far these strategies appear to be working. Fiat has a definite SHRM philosophy and has been able to change its culture. However, other aspects of employee relations such as leaders work-life balance are still very underdeveloped. This should be a focus of the HR Executive and CEO to prevent turnover of top talent and to encourage a more diverse range of people to apply for these positions at Fiat.

What are the capabilities that a Key Account Manager must possess?

February 4, 2011

The main attribute of a Key Account Manager is to be the intermediary between the organisation and the customer, focussing on finding solutions for the customer and building long term relationships. Other capabilities are:

• The ability to find solutions and match needs with outcomes, whether the outcomes be a product (sale), advice, support or connecting the customer with experts.
• Investigating ways of ensuring that the customer gets the best deal and identifying ways of reducing their costs while increasing their profit.
• Multi-tasking to manage several large customers simultaneously.
• A deep understanding of the products, services and solutions sold by the company.
• A deep understanding of the each of the customer’s businesses, needs, attitudes and response times required.
• The ability to build long term relationships through exceptional customer service while demonstrating a genuine concern for the customers wants and needs.
• The willingness to go beyond the call of duty to service, manage and offer solutions to their valued customers.
• The ability to make immediate decisions on their own to overcome customers’ problems.
• Challenging the company’s procedures and policies to ensure that the customer is at the centre of all activity.

The outcome of doing all of the above will be to generate more sales for the business.

Doing Business in China (Final)

January 28, 2011

In this final section of my blog on doing business in China I review:

*Entrepreneurial behaviours
*Innovation & Value-adding Preferences
* Technology Utilisation & Management Practices

Entrepreneurial Behaviours
Some Chinese businesses lack entrepreneurial ability due to cultural and recent political history (Zhang, 2010, pp.44-45), such as the Cultural Revolution. But a number of business do show attributes of entrepreneurial behavior in the diverse range of products that they produce and the way that they market their products on sites such as

There is a risk with dealing with a private company as entrepreneurs are not viewed highly in China (Liao & Sohmen, 2001, p.29). This is reflective of Confucianism philosophy where bureaucracy is viewed as the highest position in society whereas being a shop owner is the lowest role.

Innovation & Value-adding Preferences
Chinese companies are great imitators but have limited innovation skills in the past (Linden, 2004, p.6). Some of this is due to limited investment in innovation and R&D within organizations, low technological infrastructure and difficulties in knowledge transfer (Zhang, 2010, p.43). However this is starting to change, especially with returnees from overseas who are bringing new skills and innovation back to China (Linden, 2004, p.7).

Another reason, according to Li et al (2007, p. 81) is that most Chinese CEOs are only paid and rewarded for short rather than long term targets, which can thwart innovation in companies.

Foreign buyers can choose to assist Chinese suppliers in innovation by asking for product enhancements sourced by reviewing competitor models or from customer feedback. You can also encourage your supplier to move towards first generation complete participation (Li, 2010) in the relevant market. This means that the Chinese supplier commits to conduct R&D on the product, is able to imitate other brand developments and has the ability to create value adding features to the product that other companies will find hard to imitate, at the same time containing costs.

Technology Utilisation & Management Practices
Technology usage is starting to grow in China according to Zhang (2010, pp. 1-11) driven mainly through mobile phones and internet usage. There is a growing population that is technology savvy with 300 million internet users who are developing applications and building communities online. These people will drive technology usage and innovation in the future.

Another factor is SHRM. The ‘iron rice-bowl’ policy of a job for life has been abolished and this for the first time has allowed staff to be dismissed (Hassard et al, 2004, pp. 315-316), within the constraints of the Labour Contract Law. This has also lead to the introduction of western style SHRM into Chinese business. At some Chinese suppliers this signifies that they can hire people on contract for a set period of time and then terminate their services. It also allows for performance management to ensure quicker turnaround times and better quality output. While this benefits them in being able to respond to market conditions it can also lead to the inability to source new staff quickly.

Purchase and Fulfilment Process
Curt Shi, Venture Capitalist for IIP Capital, has advised that with any purchase transaction from China that someone who is trusted by the exporting organization reviews the products prior to shipping the stock. The process recommended is:

1. Agree on product specifications, trading terms, payment and price inclusive of delivery to the foreign nation
2. Production commences with QA completed across the order and documentation provided
3. Once the shipment has been produced, representatives from your company check the products including start up, test drive and QA
4. If entire shipment is at an acceptable standard then authorize to ship and seal the container, if not replace poor product and repeat the process
5. Double check in the final port and if all is in order release the letter of credit of bill of lading
6. For the next shipment employ a local person who you trust to complete step 3. Alternatively employ a trusted buying agent located in the region
7. It is recommended to regularly visit China, not only to check quality but to continue to develop guanxi (Duo, 2005, p.82) at least every 12-18 months.

I hope this blog has assisted you in buying and doing business with a Chinese supplier. Any feedback would be great and I am happy to provide any other research notes or comments.

Doing Business in China (Part 2)

January 19, 2011

Doing Business in China Part 2
In this second posting of doing business in China I review:
• Cultural Factors
• Legal Factors
• Financial Factors

Cultural Factors
Another aspect of doing business in China is how to develop a relationship or guanxi with the supplier. Initially the relationship that will form between the foreign firm and the Chinese supplier will be that of strangers working together (Luo, 2010). There will be no strong ties at commencement. The foreign firm needs to understand this and start developing some guanxi at the initial contact. The process could include:
• Site visit to the factory and tendering gifts to the senior Executives and staff dealt with on an ongoing basis (Duo, 2005, p.82). This is known as renqing (Luo, 1997, p.47)
• The next level will come after a longer term relationship which has been mutually beneficial to both companies (Duo, 2005, p.82). This trust is formed out of the ongoing relationship and regular visits to the factory.

Via frequent trips management will develop guanxi with the Chinese management and this can develop into one of the five relationships in guanxi; friend – friend (Luo, 2010). This can then develop from strangers into weak ties and finally familiar ties where trust and favour giving are commonplace (Luo, 2010). It also assists in the ‘gray’ areas of doing business in China, such as legal and governmental hurdles, to get the optimal position of maximising any return (Zhang, 2010, p.29)

The key outcome for the foreign firm is that over time trust and guanxi must be developed to ensure that it gains priority in production and a high quality product for each shipment.

Legal Factors
The Chinese commercial legal system is generally underdeveloped but is improving since WTO entry (Lapres & Zhang, 2008, p.10). This is a good result considering that there was no commercial law in China until 1978 (Zhengping, 2010).

According to Clarke (2003, pp. 108-109) there are three issues preventing China from attaining WTO compliance. They are:
• China has a poor legal system
• The authority levels of judges are limited and can be overridden by the Government
• A distinct lack of legal-trained judges
This means that there is a risk that if the agreement fails with the Chinese supplier, that the foreign firm may find it very difficult to pursue the supplier legally.

However since 2003 there has been some progress. In 2008 Lapres & Zhang (p.11) noted that there have been some major accomplishments in legal reform and that the Government is supportive of improved governance, an independent judiciary and effort to reduce corruption. Further, as civil law becomes more prominent in China the Government has plans to introduce laws on commercial secrets and Intellectual Property (IP) in the future (Zhengping, 2010), further mitigating risk for foreign firms.

In 2008 the National People’s Congress passed the Environmental Protection law and upgraded the National Bureau of Environmental Protection to a Ministry of Environmental Protection (Zhang, 2010, p.200-1). This indicates that the government is now focused on sustainable economic development and environmental protection. The relevance for foreign firms is that exporters can be barred for 3 years if they do not adopt the new standards (Zhang, 2010, p.200). There is a need to ensure that Chinese suppliers are compliant in any site visit.

A final factor is the recently introduced Labour Contract Law which protects staff from unfair dismissal and delivers a minimum wage (Jiang, 2010; Zhang, 2010, pp. 36-37). This is another risk that could affect suppliers in the future if they don’t manage their workforce legally. However the upside for foreign firms is if local suppliers do support the new laws the result should be a more motivated workforce and therefore less problems in quality or non-production.

While the legal landscape is changing for the better and reducing risks for exporters Professor Lu Zhengping advises that anyone doing business in China should seek a good lawyer. All foreign firms should heed this advice.

Financial Factors
At the commencement of the relationship it is imperative that the foreign firm protects their investment by not parting with any money until the goods are delivered and checked. The best way to handle this transaction is through a letter of credit or bill of lading (Hill, 2009, pp. 548-550). Credible International Banks such HSBC, NAB or the People’s Bank of China could be used as they are trusted by both parties. This could form a part of the contract.

Over time, even if guanxi is developed, it is important to ensure that a contract remains in place and that the finances are protected and released only at satisfactory delivery of the goods to the foreign host country port.

Another financial factor to consider for exports is the fluctuating exchange rate. At present $A1 buys RMB6.34 (, 22/4/10). Since 2005 the RMB has been pegged to a basket of currencies and is able to fluctuate daily in a range on 0.3% (USST, 2010). However in 3 years since the float the RMB has only appreciated 18% (, 2010; USST, 2010). Therefore the Government does not believe that the RMB is undervalued and is resisting US pressure to float the RMB. However, it is believed that either the Government will be required to increase interest rates or let the RMB appreciate (USST, 2010). This could have an adverse effect on any export as it would increase the cost of the landed good.

As previously discussed the GFC has adversely affected the manufacturers of this region and this is putting pressure on competitive advantage, profits and downward pressure on wages (Zhang, 2010, p.35). This is leading to social unrest and could adversely affect any suppliers operation in Shenzhen in the future.

In the final blog on doing business in China I will cover the factors of:

*Entrepreneurial behaviours
*Innovation & Value-adding Preferences
* Technology Utilisation & Management Practices
And some recommendations for firms considering doing business in China

I look forward to your comments.

Doing Business in China (Part 1)

January 14, 2011

Over the next few weeks I will blog about some of the considerations that firms need to think about when doing business in China. The example is based upon a mobility scooter factory located in Shenzhen. This framework was developed by Laubie Li from UniSA and is based upon his diagram.
Doing Business in China Diagram

#1 Industry Factors
Chinese industry is usually lo-tech importing high end component to install into machinery made in China. However, companies are starting to move into more high-tech a part of a planned Government strategy to develop more high technology products (Liu, 2007, p. 35) in China.

Similar to other Chinese enterprises the high technology components are not produced in China, but rather imported (Sull & Wang, 2005, p.5).

An example is mobility scooters. There are over 650 suppliers of mobility scooters in China with 500 in Shanghai alone. Most of the Shanghai locations are sales offices with factories in Guangdong. Guangdong also has another 113 Scooter companies based in the province (, 28/4/10). This means that there is competition for staff with so many companies competing in the area. The opportunity for foreign businesses is that with so many producers it should be easy to switch supplier providing that the mobility scooter build and the battery is identical to that being used by Crescive. Therefore switching costs will be low.

#2 Market Factors

A major factor of doing business in China is the market. By using our mobility scooter example we can unpack this more. Many factories are located in Shenzhen in the South East corner of China. In 1980 Shenzhen was one of the four original special economic zones (Qian, 2000, p.155) developed by Deng during the reform period.

As Shenzhen was one of the first areas in China to open up it has considerable numbers of migrant workers from rural areas (Magni & Atsmon, 2010, p. 31). 93% of the 16 million population are migrant. There is a risk that if conditions and wages increase in their home cities, these staff may be flight risks leading to reduced staff production capacity for local factories.

In addition the future population of Shenzhen is predicted to fall by 7.5% in 2015 (Magni & Atsmon, 2010, p. 31). However GDP is predicted to remain buoyant with a growth of 4.3%.

The GFC has hit hard in areas such as Shenzhen due to the reduced demand for exports destined to developed nations. This has lead to reduced wages for workers and social unrest including mass protests in this region (Zhang, 2010, p.35).

Chou (2010) says that the best opportunities in China are west. Migrant workers are from these regions and if they can find suitable work in their homelands then there is a tendency for them to remain. The key opportunity for foreign companies is to plan for relocation into a western city such as Central or the Yangtze Mid/Lower areas that have both population growth and good consumer confidence (Magni & Atsmon, 2010, p. 30-31).

#3 Political Factors

China and Australia have been in negotiation for a free trade agreement (FTA) since 2005. It has stalled mainly due to agricultural issues. Australia is generally in the top 10 trading partners with China (, 2010) and even with disagreements in some areas (such as Rio Tinto) the relationship is generally friendly.

However there are three risk factors for foreign firms – potential social unrest, Governmental policy change and the interpretation of policies and laws.

There is a growing divide in the nation’s wealth between rich and poor and this can lead to social unrest (Zhang, 2010, pp.30-31 & 34). This divide is also between cities and the poorer countryside. Saich and Shahid (2008, p.195) believe that this growing divide in addition to the social and economic problems faced by people could lead to social unrest in the future. According to Zhang (2010, pp. 84-87) technology, such as the internet is allowing people to become organized as well in regards to social problems and the gaps between groups of people. The Government has recognized this issue and has introduced reforms to counteract the GFC (Political Risk Services, p.19; Zhang, 2010, p.34) and social pressures. These reforms include upgrading the health system, health insurance and other social services. There have also been reforms in the countryside with increases in payments to farmers and incentives for people to stay in their homelands (Chou, 2010). As a result people in the west of China have more income and are becoming a target market for MNCs to sell into.

The other risk is that at times the Chinese Government may change policy and this can either affect the industry you are purchasing from or increase tariffs on components purchased off shore, such as motors. In China the Government is the pace-setter and guide for all enterprises and usually policy change occurs with little notice (Haggard et al, 1991).

The final issue is that central government policies and laws are subject to local interpretation and enforcement (Sull & Wang, 2004, p.4; Zhang, 2010, p.33) meaning that companies in Shenzhen could be operating under different rules than another manufacturer in the nearby city Guangzhou or another province.

Next time we will cover:
*Cultural Factors
* Legal Factors
* and Financial Factors

Welcome to SA – Michael Kromwyk Profile

December 19, 2010

Michael Kromwyk was a recent attendee at the UniSA Business in China MBA course. Welcome to South Australia met Michael in Shanghai as a part of his study tour. “This was my second trip to China after attending a trade show in Guangzhou. I feel that this experience from an academic and personal perspective has given me an insight into doing business in China and that I can help the RAA to buy better out of China.”

Michael’s day job is as RAA’s Senior Manager, Retail Distribution responsible for sales, member experience and merchandise buys for this highly respected Motoring organisation. “I’ve been at RAA for 5 years and see my transition to this role as a bit of a journey of self-experience”. With over 200 staff, a call centre, 22 shops and a web site, he has a lot of responsibility in generating income for the RAA Group. His prior experience as a sales executive at a number of SA iconic organisations has helped him throughout his career journey.

“I really believe in delighting the customer. I teach my staff to put themselves into the customer’s shoes and to give them an experience that makes them want to come back again and again.” Michael has introduced the Friedman system of sales to RAA – this is a values based selling system that helps the customer to save money while covering all of their needs. At RAA Michael’s team can sell emergency roadside assistance, home and motor insurance, holidays, security and merchandise that complement these services. A true one-stop shop.

Michael has the aspiration to be a General Manager and to this end has almost completed a MBA at UniSA. “This experience has changed my outlook on my career and while I love working for RAA I can see myself in Asia in the near future in a key sales executive role, in fact a highlight of my study was the Business in China Intensive School that I attended with UniSA in March 2010.”

“My MBA at UniSA and my experiences of studying in China have made me a better manager and a better negotiator in bringing merchandise into my stores. My journey is continuing and I see my next career transition working with a Chinese multinational or working in the Asian region, hopefully in Shanghai!” The cultural experience has also given Michael a desire to work in Asia “I have a desire to work in China; unfortunately this can’t be with RAA as we are a state based organisation.”

Michael welcomes readers to contact him direct at if you are moving or setting up a business in South Australia to talk about your insurance, road service, security and holiday needs. If you are a supplier or just want to share your experiences with Michael you can also email or follow Michael on twitter @charmike4, LinkedIn or his blog at

Usability That Increases Goodwill

August 19, 2009

In my last post I reviewed the things that make diminishes goodwill. In this blog I now review the areas that increase goodwill.

***Know the main things that people want to do on your site and make them obvious and easy

***Tell people what they want to know. Don’t hide shipping costs etc. A good example is that advertises a flat $6.95 anywhere in Australia as a banner ad. A poor example is where you don’t know the postage until the end of the transaction.

***Save me steps whenever you can. Examples are a tracking number for the shipment order

***Make it easy to recover from errors. Assist customers so that they don’t make errors, but if they do then make it easy to fix them rather than having to restart.

***When in doubt apologise. You may have a clunky system and you can’t change it, let customers know that your system is far from perfect and apologise for it.