The power of being blunt

Michael Wu is the new EVP for Israel & Singapore Offshore R&D Division in a San Jose based software firm.

Avi is the Head of the Israel  R&D centre. Since Michael’s appointment, Avi has been in constant contact with Michael’s boss, with whom he studied at Stanford. Avi shows low responsiveness to Michael’s emails and when Michael gives marching orders, Avi argues.

Michael hired Naomi, a coach from Billings Oregon. Naomi flew to Israel 3 times, met with Avi and planned an intervention called “Mutual Adaptation in a Changing Environment” ;  Avi showed up for two meetings and then checked out.

Michael then hired a consultant who was brought up an educated in North America, but was also Israeli with a long military career. Michael had a one hour conversation, which was “ten times more expense than the hourly rate paid to Naomi” , yet proved very effective. One month later, Avi was fully aligned with and respected Michael; Mike said “we have come a long way”.

Here is an email Mike sent to the consultant,

Hi A—n,

It has been a month now since we spoke and you guided me how to deal with Avi.

I was very reticent about inviting him to fly in from Israel 17 hours on coach class  to San Jose for a half hour meeting with me. I was even more reticent about telling him that “if you mess with me one more time, you’re fucked; now my friend, let’s close this issue and move on-followed by lunch” during which I give him a major project! But it worked. We are well aligned. And as you mentioned with bluntness, he was neither offended nor intimidated. He no longer thought me to be weak.

Thank you so much.

Michael Wu

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