Variety the spice of life for leaders

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 February, 2008, 12:00am

With more than 165 years of experience in providing clients with a wealth of expertise in property services, Vigers, an 'integrated global property solution', prides itself on the three foundations it was built on: Being experts, being well run and being excellent.

At the core of the organisation is the company's management, whose role it is to constantly strive to attain these foundations, a job that according to Benny Lee But-tong, senior project manager at Vigers, requires 'understanding, creativity, focus and emotional intelligence'.

Mr Lee began working at Vigers as an assistant building surveyor in 1999, and his dedication has seen him consistently promoted every two years since then. He tackles various problems in his day-to-day work life and believes that communication and quick action are the way to overcome tough challenges.

'My experience has taught me that problems are far more difficult to resolve if you leave them to a later stage,' he said. 'Top management like to listen to middle management about any [problematic] scenarios. They are the people who we should work with and who should also know the problem inside out.'

Mr Lee manages eight subordinates and reports to the associate director of Vigers Building Consultancy on project matters and to other senior managers on the company's business development strategy. He understands the need of middle management to be able to multitask while also looking after the needs of subordinates. 'It's really difficult to move yourself away from day-to-day operations and focus on subordinates,' he said. 'In the past, I sometimes moved back from [the day-to-day operations] and acted as one of my subordinates, but I soon realised that this was wrong. You have to be a leader, keep an eye on what they are doing and create plans for achieving group goals.'

Being able to achieve these goals requires a thorough understanding of the team: 'Every middle manager should participate at all levels and be able to exploit the technical and organisational expertise [of everyone in the group],' he said. 'Managers should accentuate the positive attributes of team members rather than their weaknesses.'

The variety of projects and people that Mr Lee deals with are the best part of his job. 'I meet new people and have new projects every day - this is both challenging and demanding. I get to talk to people and explore subject matters that are new and different to me.'

Mr Lee's advice for people moving into middle management and for those who may be looking to start a career is twofold: know yourself, and know the kind of company you want to work for. 'Ask yourself what kind of company you wish to work for. It's very important for all young people to understand themselves and make the right career moves. People going for interviews should prepare information about the company background, general company structure and other basic information before attending an interview.'

Five keys to being

a successful middle manager

Be creative and state your beliefs

Understand your company's business strategy

Focus on your team's strengths

Work on your emotional intelligence

Be a role model