Thank God it’s Friday! I’ve had a tough couple of weeks, with different senior managers visiting from our Head Office in the US. As a result, I’m now coming down with a cold. As I move up the corporate ladder, I find that I spend less time doing actual work and more time on upward management and communicating to senior management. When I was a junior member of the team, all I had to worry about was delivering on my job and getting on with my direct manager.
Now that I’m more than ten years into my career, I have the ‘privilege’ of dealing with senior management, which means that I not only have to worry about my direct manager but also his boss and his bosses’ boss who heads up the International business segment. On top of that, we have a matrix organisational structure and so I also have to worry about my bosses’ indirect managers in the US (there are two of them), plus the managers’ boss! If you add all this together, I have to think about six different bosses. Bearing in mind that my whole team here in Hong Kong is only made up of five people and across Asia, we have around fifteen people, doesn’t having six bosses seem pretty excessive?
Our senior managers try to visit Hong Kong once or twice a year and whenever that happens, we have to drop everything that we’re working on and focus on preparing for their trips instead. We spend the two weeks up to the visit coming up with topics of discussion, preparing presentation slides and pre-read materials and arranging for outside speakers. I spend the day before the visit preparing for my presentations, coming up with talking points and pre-empting the possible questions that could come up. My manager is also always telling us to take this opportunity to highlight our value add and what a great job we’re doing.
Then, there’s the social aspect of the trip. Obviously, we’re expected to wine and dine our visitors which means coming up with discussion topics over dinner but avoiding anything that’s too contentious. This time around, my manager suggested that I attend two dinners with the first set of visitors last week plus another night with the second visitor this week. I politely declined his offer and decided that one dinner per week was more than enough as I wanted to spend time with my parents who were in town.
All in all, I find that hosting senior management is much more tiring than my day-to-day job. I wonder, are all global companies structured the same way? There must be a way to make things more efficient and reduce the layers and complexity of our structure, but it seems that we’ve yet to find the magic formula.