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Interview with Joy Abdullah, Global Marketing Director, Benefit Point

Joy Abdullah, Global Marketing Director, Benefit Point, for our Global Talent Management Interview Series

Executive / Global Talent Management Interview Series Overview

Our executive and global talent management interviews focus on interviewing senior leaders and C-Level executives from all geographical area and different stages of company maturity.

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Bio

Joy Abdullah is a strategic marketing leader who makes marketing be the strategic differentiator for businesses by marketing inside-out.

Using data, collaborations and stories Joy creates employee advocacy that leads to customer engagement.

He is the co-founder of #3MinuteMarketing  which is a strategic marketing advisory company.

He brings a very human and simple approach to business. That comes from having over three decades of experience in strategy, marketing and business operations across Asia.

Interview

Board relations are one of the trickiest things to master. How do you get proper support from the right people for a specific initiative? How do you solve conflicts?

Creating relationships with board members starts with how one approaches all relationships. After all the board members are human. As much as we are. Approaching the relationship from an open conversational perspective helps in strengthening and growing it.

In my opinion there are two key elements that impact upon the relationship one has with a board member: 

  1. Purpose or the ‘Why’ fit: This is the keystone in the relationship. Board members have to be aligned with the purpose of the business. That alignment creates the big picture focus and impacts strategy. Which helps obtain support on recommended strategic initiatives and action steps. Thus, enabling one to execute through the empowerment given.
  2. Value fit: This is the glue. What value fit does is show the board members how the business creates perceived value for its community—employees, customers, business partners & vendors.

Depicting the functional, emotional and social value, which makes up perceived value, of the business enables the board members to see the long-term results and evaluate the short-term investments, return and resource requirement.

In short, depicting value clearly, helps the board understand what is being done, why is it being done and the targeted outcomes.

In getting support from board members for specific initiatives, acting on these two elements help tremendously. Coupled with that there is a need for high emotional intelligence. Individually this helps in having an open-minded attitude enabling one to take differing perspectives on board.

Doing this results in avoiding direct confrontations or conflict. Instead it creates an environment of collaborative cooperation where all feel they are contributing to a bigger cause or purpose.

Regarding global talent management, how do you retain and grow your top performers? Just financial incentives (or even equity), or other aspects like culture, respect, emotional incentives?

Hopes, aspirations and dreams.

Top performers, just like you and I, have these three. These are common across all people. It’s a human characteristic hardwired in us.

As an executive performs and gets flagged as a top or high performer, knowingly or unknowingly, the individual climbs the ‘hierarchy of need’ (ref: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid). There comes a point when the financial incentives, even equity, starts bringing the incremental emotional satisfaction. Most employee disengagements occur at this stage as the emotional satisfaction is missing. Leading to the business facing talent drain or employee attrition.

Speaking from my experience in growing teams, the financial incentive is one part of the pie. That too it’s not the major part! 

What really impacts in growing engagement and retaining top performers are personal growth through the job role, an empowering culture that respects individual views and peer respect. These intangibles directly impact emotional well-being and affect the inter-personal relationships and behaviour.

There are many different global talent management styles, some more involved and high-touch, and some more hands-off. How do you personally manage, evaluate, and coach your talent?

By being me.

Each of us is a unique individual. Our personalities shape who we are based on the life experiences we’ve had. Being something that one is not, from within, creates a huge mental strain and shows up down the line.

I’ve groomed teams through being me. That involves, listening, accepting a differing perspective, empowering in order to allow for experimentation and accepting responsibility.

Let me explain that:

  • Listening: Understand what resources and support the team member needs to be able to efficiently and innovatively add value to the role.
  • Perspective: The classic example of this is the figure 6 or 9. From one perspective it’s number 6 and from the opposite perspective it’s the number 9. The figure in question is the same. The view is different.
  • Accepting that there are more that one perspective on an issue allows for collaborative discussions to flow. Which results in innovative ideas and solutions.
  • Empowerment: Allowing the ideas and solutions to be implemented, without the fear or stigma attached to failure, provides confidence in a team member. Doing that crates a feeling of self-value and worth in the team member creating the responsibility towards achieving the goal.
  • Responsibility: Works both ways. The giver who empowers and the recipient who accepts. Doing this sends a clear signal of trust. And trust is the foundation of all relationships. As the giver taking the responsibility of failure provides a secure environment for the team member to perform. Knowing that even in the failure there will be learning and one would not lose one’s job. This knowledge creates an emotional security which directly translates into the motivation or drive to succeed. That emotional feeling comes from having the responsibility to succeed and not let the team down.

Be in terms of global talent management or actual performance, nowadays, mental health is more present than ever. What do you think of parties like therapists and coaches to help both with executives and talent? Do they bring results at the end of the day?

Firstly. I couldn’t agree more that mental health, in the workplace, is a big issue. It’s unfortunately an end result of treating human resource as a commoditized, de-sensitised resource. Over the decades of manufacturing-based business management practices we’ve disregarded a key element of human resource. Intelligence. People think and feel. Only after these two have kicked in, then we go and do. I.E. behave in a particular manner or take action.

The result is the mental health epidemic that we see globally. Stress has shot through the roof simply because the business processes and practices have not been able to keep pace with behavioural change occurring due to the technological evolution that’s in play.

Secondly, being a marketing professional, I’ve always reached out to psychiatrists, psychologists, stress-management therapists and various types of coaches.

Why?

  • To get a deeper understanding of how I can help my team be more effective and efficient.
  • To get a deeper understanding of the hopes and aspirations of my customers and prospects in order to connect with what they value.

And yes, these experts and specialists do bring results. They aid in helping a business create its value.
I’d like to point out here that results are not always in monetary terms. Reputation, employee engagement, employee & customer experience etc are part of effective performance for any business in my opinion. Metrics can, and I have done it in my career, be set depending on the exercise at hand to measure effectiveness and value created.

It’s no news that as an executive, your time is rarely your own. How do you optimize to make sure that you have the bandwidth for the most important initiatives?

This is a myth!

We all have the same 24 hours. Optimizing it comes down to prioritising and then showing up and doing what is needed to be done.

Time is the most precious item. Once gone it’s gone forever and nothing that mankind knows can ever bring back yesterday. To maximize time it’s very important to align one’s heart, mind and soul. That’s aligning emotional, spiritual and logical feeling and thinking into being one.

Aligning the heart, mind and soul brings in the recognition of purpose. Which brings heightened self-awareness coupled with understanding clearly the impact of one’s behaviour on the other.

When this realisation occurs then tasks and activities automatically get into a priority list. With the number one activity being that which has the strongest resonance with one’s purpose.

And this creates the bandwidth needed to get important and urgent initiatives actioned.


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