Building Emotional Capital in Your BusinessChia-Li Chien
Chia-Li Chien | June 19, 2012
Why you should and how it can lead to business success
“I can do better!” thought Victor Zhang (張海), while an engineer at FoxConn (global computer, communication and consumer-electronics leaders) at age 24. He saw the massive market opportunities in electronic connectors, especially in the molding business, and launched his business TSP Industrial Co., Ltd. (aka TSP) in 1999. Today, Mr. Zhang employs well over 600 employees globally and has three manufacturing plants in China.
Their products sustain the precision to tolerance of 0.001mm and very likely no end-users such as ourselves will ever see them. Yet what they build plays a crucial part of the success of final products in consumer electronics, automobile electronics, aerospace, computer manufacturing, medical electronics and even home appliances.
“We are in the people business,” says Mr. Zhang. “Building and maintaining the TRUST relationship is in everything we do. My employees are my family,” he emphasizes, passionate about motivating his team to self-actualization or to realizing their full potential. “Work or business is just a platform that allows my family/team to reach their full potential in life,” says Mr. Zhang, speaking enthusiastically.
Although Mr. Zhang started to gain financial freedom initially, over time his vision and passion solidly guided him and his team toward the successful business it is today.
Such a successful business in the vibrant Chinese market also comes with challenges. Mr. Zhang and his team proactively provide solutions to their market and industry. But there are three particular challenges Mr. Zhang faces today:
- Talent Shortages
I naively always want to think China has abundant resources—especially people! It’s interesting to hear Mr. Zhang contradict this belief. The U.S. faces the same talent shortages in technology areas, too. Skilled talent is hard to come by, and these are the employees who make up 60% of Mr. Zhang’s workforce. Although there is no shortcut in addressing the need for talent as a resource, Mr. Zhang deploys intensive internal training as well as external talent scouting such as name your class (訂單培養).
Mr. Zhang strategically partnered with two local community colleges in 2011 with a class of average 45 students majoring in mechanical or molding engineering. It’s not just an internship; these groups of students get to go through his company’s culture training too.
At an early age, these students who are also potential employees, receive first-hand knowledge and how to apply it in the company’s culture as part of their internship experience. When they receive their degree, they are ready to enter the TSP workforce with raw learned technical skills as well as carefully designed soft skills from TSP. What a brilliant program Mr. Zhang has implemented! (We all understand that soft skills are not something you can go to school for. Real life environments—especially at a younger age to give you a head start—makes a whole world of difference.) This future talent base can leverage Mr. Zhang’s platform and receive better career choices and lifestyles.
- Global Expansion
Through carefully planned global expansion, today Mr. Zhang has sales offices in Japan, the USA and Europe. Global opportunities obviously mean gaps in the way his team can communicate with prospects or new customers. The communication gaps include language, culture (Western vs. Chinese culture) and in personal interactions. The localization of their sales force in Japan, the USA and Europe paves the way for Mr. Zhang’s team to greatly reduce the gaps over time.
- Timeless Sustainability Legacy
Through a self-discovery process, Mr. Zhang converted to Buddhism in 2004. Buddhism in China and the rest of Asia essentially encompasses religion, Tao philosophy, Chinese traditions, beliefs, and practices. Also known as Zen, Mr. Zhang systematically duplicates himself in his management teams and sees himself as a business architect in order to create his business platform. A platform enables his workforce to realize their potential in life and subsequently create a better community.
Numbers don’t drive business performance alone—it’s the people! People are the emotional capital that you want to invest in. Your team ultimately will take your business to your vision. Your investment in your team starts with you the owner. As I’ve interviewed many successful business owners around the world, I find that many are just like Mr. Zhang. Their motive is no longer to achieve financial freedom for themselves. Their motive is how much impact they can make in many communities in which the business operates.
Whether you’re Protestant Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist—or whatever your religious beliefs—as a business owner, you are not just a business leader but also a spiritual guide. How you motivate your people beyond projects, money and incentives will be evident in your emotional capital performance. And only your workforce can measure that performance—not you. That performance yields how successfully your business will continue on the path of your desired vision.