Q: What’s your assessment of the field of management here in Sri Lanka?
A: In my opinion – when applied in the best possible manner – management enables people to flourish on their own and offer their best to the workplace, while enhancing their learning and knowledge. However, it’s not sufficient to have good practices at one level only – the ripple effect of good management has to trickle down the organisation and must be implemented at all levels whether they be managerial or not.
Also, people orientation is essential in management to achieve results. Tasks are only possible if there are employees to achieve them. So while being task oriented is important for managers, you need to keep your people in mind too.
Initiatives such as the CMI Management Excellence Awards help bring much needed attention to the importance of inculcating sound management practices in Sri Lanka and reiterate conformity with best practices.
Q: Which management practices of LAUGFS contributed to this recognition at the CMI Management Excellence Awards ceremony?
A: At LAUGFS, we have an ‘intrapreneurial’ culture that encourages innovation, creativity and leadership to continuously push boundaries. This unique intrapreneurial culture has been the backbone of our journey to becoming one of Sri Lanka’s top conglomerates in a relatively short period of 20 years.
Q: Could you describe some of the initiatives that exemplify management excellence at LAUGFS?
A: Lfinity was actually an innovation project revolving around e-commerce that was kick-started about two years ago as part of an initiative to drive innovation and entrepreneurship within the organisation.
Today, Lfinity has become a successful company with the launch of a number of online retail platforms including clicknshop.lk and grocerypal.lk. With around 35 employees, we are among the top four leaders in the market today, which includes fully fledged tech firms and even international players. This journey would not have been possible if the management of LAUGFS hadn’t been open to facilitate a project of this nature.
This journey of success and excellence wouldn’t have transpired if it wasn’t for the trust placed in us by the leadership, and the dynamic and intrapreneurial culture at LAUGFS.
Q: Is communication an integral aspect of ensuring management excellence in organisations?
A: Yes. In my opinion, communication is the single most powerful tool that managers can use to motivate and empower their teams.
In my work, I find the time to talk to my team about their goals, career aspirations, lives, challenges, doubts and achievements. As a manager, I also believe in recognising the good in people and telling them when they do well. The millennials with whom I work value this feedback immensely. I offer positive feedback as well as constructive criticism to my team.
Transparency is also an important aspect of communication especially in an organisational context. Employees should be told how they contribute to the achievement of company objectives.
Breaking down major goals into bite-size small goals and communicating these effectively with suggestions on how to achieve action plans has been one of the most useful communication tactics of our team. We stay connected as a team both in and out of office, and this has led to a high sense of team spirit.
Chief Operating Officer
Q: What does it mean for you to receive a CMI Management Excellence Award?
A: Throughout my career, I have focussed on marketing and brand management. However, at the CMI Management Excellence Awards, I won the ‘Best Emerging Manager in the Industrial Sector – Large Category’ award for my current role as Deputy General Manager – Marketing, which entails a larger scope. Indeed, the award means a lot to me.
I hope to use this award as an opportunity to inspire young and emerging managers – because I believe that a career represents a journey of experiences where you’re crafted and moulded along the way.
In the context of management, there are certain skills that one should possess and others that can be developed. I believe that today’s managers require a different skill set to manage their teams, which comprise millennials who are different from their predecessors.
Millennials are a unique breed of individuals, and their expectations and work methods are completely different to those of previous generations. You need to practise empathy, and possess interpersonal and communication skills, to understand them and ensure their needs are met.
Q: In your assessment, which management practices of LAUGFS contributed to this recognition at the CMI Management Excellence Awards?
A: A family culture prevails at LAUGFS Holdings – and this family bond has cascaded down to all levels amid a strong value system that is based on trust.
In addition to our inherent culture and values, the Sri Lankan roots of LAUGFS have inculcated a strong sense of nationalistic pride in us through the unique LAUGFS culture. The result is a strong sense of unity and oneness based on trust among the entire team at LAUGFS, which translates into organisational success.
Q: Is communication an integral part of ensuring management excellence in organisations – and if so, how is this achieved?
A: Yes it is. You have to communicate smartly. Communication has to be very clear and always indicate the bigger picture to employees. For instance, if you’re assigning a task to an employee, he or she should also be told how that particular task contributes to the company and what their role is in the equation as a whole.
People need to feel that they’re important to the organisation because otherwise, they may stop contributing. Being a team player – especially when dealing with people from different cultures – is also a key aspect in this regard.
It should also be noted that social and digital communication tools are essential in today’s workplace. Being a firm believer of personal branding, it is my opinion that what you project on social media impacts your working life. On the other hand, being social media savvy is also important to ensure that communication is seamless.
At LAUGFS, there’s a lot of knowledge sharing among the team through digital platforms.
Q: And last but not least, how has strong leadership enabled LAUGFS to achieve its goals – and how does corporate culture play a part in this?
A: Leaders provide support, guidance and direction to ensure that the team is on the right path.
LAUGFS has an open culture whereby all team members are empowered to act, communicate and work towards the growth of the company. The leadership team instils values such as sincerity, transparency and integrity, which has led a successful journey for the group over the years.
Deputy General Manager – Marketing