Graeme Kirkup: “If I tell you something, it is true to me. But if you discover it, it becomes true to you”

Graeme Kirkup, Director of Sales and Marketing, Business Today Simulations, Johannesburg Area, South Africa, is a trainer and a consultant for Interact. He has 22 years experience in building and managing teams in an international sales and marketing environment across various industry sectors. Possess solid qualifications and the required experience to grow and profile business development and entrepreneurial roles across several industries. Recently, he paid a visit in Romania, chance for us to ask him some questions.

What are the difficulties in building International Teams?

Today, more than ever, organizations are expanding their coverage into new regions and countries. In order for these organizations to be competitive and to exceed, they have to get their people to work together in multi-cultural teams, across borders and business functions. Apart from the language, the culture and the way of doing business across borders, which may be obvious difficulties, I see one of the major difficulties being that of alignment. Teams and the members of the team are not aligned to common organizational goals and objectives.

How do you manage the cultural diversity in international teams?

I realized, after reading some articles and experiencing a lot of International assignments, that there is a lot more to managing International Teams than understanding that cultural diversity exists. Teams are by their very nature exceptionally diverse. Cultural Diversity adds to this complexity. I strongly believe in getting the team to understand their purpose; what has brought them together; why they are together and what they need to achieve.

In your opinion, what is common in today’s business for all the businessmen? Or what must they have in common?

What I have noticed though, is that the challenges of Businessmen are common: increase sales, increase market share and increase profitability, increase efficiencies, manage cash flows. These are universal principles. Successful execution of these goals is where businessmen can differentiate their companies from others. Communicating these goals to create a greater understanding, developing the required skills and providing the necessary resources to do the work are critical elements to successfully execute their strategies.

What does “business acumen” mean in day to day business?

I truly like to simplify things. The reality though is that Business Acumen is not something simple.

For me, business acumen is an understanding of the business, what are all the factors that impact the business. Ranging from the knowledge and understanding of the financial, accounting, marketing and operational functions of an organization to the external environment.

An understanding by itself is insufficient. Business Acumen is the ability to make (appropriate and intuitive) business decisions within time constraints given the changing factors.

To what extent do you believe that “Business Simulations” can change the ways managers usually act?

Business Simulations are an unthreatening platform to experience a “Helicopter view” of an organization and to experience scenarios that may play out if certain factors are deliberately manipulated. Managers develop “Business Acumen”, their intuitive responses to situations are challenged and incorrect paradigms are altered. This all takes place in an environment of discovery.

Our philosophy around Business simulations is: “If I tell you something, it is true to me. But if you discover it, it becomes true to you”. Application of Business Simulations is vast; it develops skills around Executive thinking, Financial Literacy, Employee Engagement, Business Savvy, and Business Leadership.

What do you know about the Romanian business?

I know very little about Romanian business. My personal observations though are that a lot is happening in terms of infrastructure development. This leads me to believe that there is either growth or that there is the potential for economic growth. Having met some industry leaders, and understanding their challenges, it certainly does appear that Romania is in a growth phase. In terms of Romania being an International Economy, I am certainly not unfamiliar with many of the brands that I see marketed in Romania.

Which will be your most relevant message for Romanian Managers?

I have a standardized approach in this regard which I learnt from previous employment.

Firstly, tell employees what you expect from them. You may wish to add why you have these expectations.

Secondly, give feedback to the employees in terms of their performance.

And thirdly, provide employees with the necessary resources required to do the job successfully.

The sequence of the above is important.