Page 1

and what management is also about . . .


SoulaimaGourani

Four pieces of advice from four remarkable men

1. Rumor has it that one day when my former employer Mr. Møller, from A.P. Møller–Maersk, was being shown around a newly acquired factory, where everything was fixed up and looking bright and shiny in preparation for his visit, he demanded to enter through the back stairs so that he could see how things looked at the back of the building. This lesson has surely inspired many of Mr. Møller’s executive employees. When everything looks shiny on the surface, you have a good reason to take a look at the back side because it is where you will discover the truth about a company.

2. My old father, a seasoned restaurant keeper, always insisted on seeing the kitchen of a restaurant first before ordering food. This small practical task will tell you more than the fancy table settings and restaurant rating reports in the window. Think about it!

3. Another former employer of mine, Mr. Svein, from Norway, taught me that in recruiting, it makes more sense meeting a candidate’s wife and children than getting references from previous employments. Mr. Svein put it this way: if the wife (or the husband) looks at her husband with love in her eyes and seems happy, and if the children seem active and contented, then the husband (the candidate) could not be entirely wrong. We need to learn how to look at each other in a 360-degree perspective and not just focus on

2


SoulaimaGourani

the professional aspects. Mr. Svein taught me that you could learn more about an employee by visiting them in their home and becoming a part of their family for a day than by having him or her take a number of personality tests. Svein made a virtue of inviting his employees to his house in Nice, where we could cook together and have a good time, and we could even take our respective partners. These occasions brought us, the management team, together much more efficiently than any fancy courses I have attended could.

4. My clever mentor Flemming Ă˜stergaard (former chairman of Parken Sport & Entertainment A/S) once said that if you want to get the temperature of an organization, you need to start in the restrooms (the ones used by the employees). There you will see how the employees get along with each other. If they do not use the toilet brush, if there are empty toilet rolls on the floor, or if the toilet is dirty, etc., then you can make the conclusion that they do not have enough energy to think of others. So if you want to get to know an organization before becoming their employee or partner, I recommend that you visit their toilets and do the “toilet roll test.â€?

And remember, there are no perfect organizations. Out of a thousand companies I have worked with since 2007, I have yet to meet one where everything is under control. One could say that most of them exist in spite of . . .

3

The toilet roll test  

Do you know the feeling, you enter a new working environment and everything seems too good to be true? And quite right, it is too good, and...

The toilet roll test  

Do you know the feeling, you enter a new working environment and everything seems too good to be true? And quite right, it is too good, and...

Advertisement