Obviously, he was not progressing much in his career. Soon, I noticed that he avoided talking with me directly and was not paying attention when I conducted team meetings. I also learned that he was trying to communicate the project matters to my manager, bypassing my authority.
Knowing it was my responsibility to resolve the matter, I took the initiative to have a dialog with him away from the formalities of the office. So I invited him for lunch and simply tried to establish a personal connection between us. He gradually opened up to talk about his family and his hobbies, which were real estate and stock investment, two subjects that I was also interested in. That set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Once I felt he had settled down and relaxed, I asked him why he was avoiding me and not reporting to me. To my surprise, he was straightforward and told me that he felt uncomfortable to work under me as I was much younger than him and that other colleagues told him that he was passed up for promotion. Knowing his military background, I said that the purpose of a business reporting structure was to improve efficiency and to ensure group direction rather than enforce a hierarchy of status. I told him, "Patrick, we came from different backgrounds and I do not necessarily know more than you do. The management wanted us to work together on this project as our skill sets are complementary. It does not mean I am superior in any way to you. Let's be friends and enjoy working together on this project"
The following weeks, he let me help him with many development assignments. I took special care by choosing my words cautiously to ensure that he was comfortable in taking my guidance. Slowly, we drew closer and he was no longer nervous in my presence. He was a fast learner and I credited him for his progress in front of the executive team. He was so overjoyed that he was beaming all through that week. I realize now, that it must have been a rare compliment for him.
My interaction with Patrick taught me valuable lessons about being sensitive to others feelings, especially my subordinates. I also learned that each individual is different and deserves to be treated without prejudice and pre-conceived notions.
Essay 2: Please tell us about a time when you defended your idea. (500 words or less, limited to one page)
In 2007, I co-founded Hui Zhi Cheng Technology in Shenzhen along with 11 elite entrepreneurs. Most of us had work experience in the US and our plan was to create a global consumer brand with the latest in digital electronics. I was given the responsibility to define a strategy and to create an impressive and persuasive business plan to obtain the municipal government's high-tech funding for capital.
Plenty of research and several SWOT analyses later, we identified the product -portable digital TV middleware. The product was not available in China and the marketing surveys told us that market potential was huge. We had a committed and efficient team, the most advanced technology, a promising product and an angel investor (a strategy consultant). Now all we needed was capital funding from the municipal government. And that is exactly where we failed. We could not convince them about the viability of our project. The agency preferred companies that targeted highly populated markets with mainstream technology.