Imagine. You are an ambitious, sophisticated 25-year-old post-graduate girl who have just left college and are looking for a job. You are hired by a very young but potential robotics firm, an industry sector that is considered as unfamiliar and challenging to most females. As an International PR manager, your job is to reach the company’s ultimate vision, which is to become the world’s leading manufacturer in robotics technology.
So, the question goes:
“What factor should be focused on in order to achieve this goal?”
To Miss Pham Huyen Trang, International PR Manager of TOSY Robotics JSC Vietnam, the answer here is Organizational Culture.
According to Martins and Terblanche, organizational culture is defined as “the deeply seated values and beliefs shared by personnel in an organization.” (2003, p. 65). Generally speaking, it is “an entity nurtures the mission and the set of objectives of the organization… influences the policy, work process, or the evaluation methodology of the organization.” (Kundu 2009, p. 55). Putting into the context of TOSY Vietnam, Miss Trang said:
“We are fully aware that we are a very young company as we were just founded in 2002. Therefore, we always try to maintain a “small company” feel towards our employees. We treat everyone with respect, fairness and affection and we make sure every effort is appreciated. We want to create a workplace where people love coming to work and do their job not only out of responsibility but also out of passion.”
Yes, passion is the keyword to TOSY as a whole! Most companies in every field would prefer experienced employees to work for them. However, as Trang claimed, TOSY prioritize ability and potential over experience.
“Most of our employees belong to the 1980s generation. Some of them graduated from overseas universities and most graduated from Hanoi University of Technology. This indicates that there are indeed many Vietnamese talents in the fields of electronic and robotics; they just need an environment where they are recognized and encouraged to explore.
Reproduced from: TOSY Homepage 2012
Robotics technology is an industry that requires a lot of creativity and innovation. Consequently, TOSY is now very well-known in the industry as a company that only creates what is new and not yet on the market. To explain the root of this reputation, Trang agreed that organizational culture is extremely influential to how creativity and innovation are stimulated (Martins & Terblance 2003):
“Being creative and innovative, whether inside or outside the workplace, is very important. I believe that the most effective way to maintain and reinforce the organizational values/culture among employees is to turn them into your own values and culture; so that it is reflected in your every action and decision. Once employees see that, they will have much more trust and appreciation for the company’s values and culture.
Another keyword for TOSY’s success is commitment. Good employees are those who are open-minded, willing to try new things and are not easily discouraged by temporary setbacks.
“Because robotics is not an easy industry and TOSY is still a very young company, we have a long way ahead until we can turn our mission into reality. With many challenges facing us, our employees must truly love what they do and be willing to commit long-term for the common goal.”
“We encourage our employees to speak their mind openly, to come to their managers with any difficulty they may have and we will do our best to support them, both in work and in their personal life.” said Miss Trang
Her point is consistent with Hofstede’s definition of “Collectivism”, as it is a dimension that “characterized by a tight social framework in which people distinguish between ingroups and outgroups, they expect their ingroup to look after them, and in exchange for that they feel they owe absolute loyalty to it.” (Taras, Steel & Kirkman 2010, p. 406). An organization works best when there is a two-way relationship between employees and managers. Additionally, as a PR manager, Trang attempts to shorten the gap, or “power distance”, between employees and managers, as she explained:
“TOSY is like a big family so we also care about each other’s life. We frequently gather for lunch for dinner; we have play date for the kids and summer trips for employees. We organize events for special occasions where we sing, dance and share a good laugh.”
What also makes TOSY different from other companies in the robotics technology industry is that, while most of others focus on how to as much profit as possible, TOSY’s ultimate goal is “neither about money nor fame” but “to make robots available everywhere, change lifestyles and help save lives during times of disaster”. Trang believes that TOSY’s service robots can one day become a valuable assistant and trusted friend to those in need. This dream has been in her mind in the very beginning of her career till now as she continues to turn it into reality.
Reproduced from: Baomoi 2011
In the harsh but deserving matter of dealing with clients, Miss Trang offered some honest “words of wisdom” that she has acquired from her work experiences. First, work hard to keep your service and products in line with your organizational culture and to make your clients appreciate your efforts. Second, provide clients with what you believe would satisfy them most so as your business will keep getting better. Third, respect your clients and you will gain their respect back as an organization. Last but not least, when working with an outside organization, an agency, a government office or a business partner, value understanding and trust. You want our partner to understand who you are and what you want to do and vice versa. Only from that common understanding that both sides can build long-lasting trust.
To sum up the interview, in answering the question of whether TOSY would adjust its current organizational culture in the future in order to fit in with the then social context, Miss Trang potently disagreed with this idea.
“As a company, we are very ambitious. TOSY aspires to become the world’s leading manufacturer in robotics technology and this dream has been with us since the very beginning. As a result, our values and culture are built on the foundation of that desire. As we grow, we may need to be flexible in our operation to keep in touch with the social context; but the core values and culture must remain the same or we will lose our true identity.”
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About Pham Huyen Trang:
Trang holds a master’s degree in Strategic Public Relations from University of Sydney in 2010. Before that, she also holds a Bachelor of Arts’ degree from Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam in 2008. She has a remarkable academic background and diverse working experience in different fields: journalism, TV production, etc. Currently, she is working as an International PR Manager at TOSY Robotics JSC from 2010 till now.
About TOSY Robotics JSC Vietnam:
TOSY Robotics is the first Vietnamese robotics company that focus on Research & Development and manufacturing of robots, consumer electronics and high-tech toys. TOSY aspires to become the world’s leading manufacturer in robotics technology. TOSY envisions a world where our original robots live side by side and assist human everywhere.
- Best Toy Awards 2011 by Good Housekeeping Magazine, US for TOSY AFO
- Top Tech Toy 2011 by The Street Magazine, US for TOSY AFO
- Guinness World Record for longest-running mechanical spinning top for TOSY TOOP
- Best of Toy Fair 2012 by Popular Science Magazine, US for DiscoRobo
- Space Age Award for Best High-tech Toy 2012 for SketRobo
- Top products at New York Toy Fair 2012 by Mashable for SketRobo
Kundu, K 2009, ‘Influence of Organizational Culture on the Institution Building Process of an Organization’, Curie, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 48-57.
Martins, E & Terblanche, F 2003, ‘Building Organizational Culture that Stimulates Creativity and Innovation’, European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 64-74.
Taras, V, Steel, P & Kirkman, B 2010, ‘Examining the Impact of Culture’s Consequences: a Three-decade, Multilevel, Meta-analytical Review of Hofstede’s Cultural Value Dimensions’, Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 95, no. 3, pp. 405-439.
‘TOPIO Ping Pong’ 2012, image, TOSY Homepage, viewed 10 May 2012, <http://www.tosy.com/en/r-d/topio-ping-pong/>
‘TOOP’ 2011, image, Baomoi, viewed 10 May 2012, <http://www.baomoi.com/Do-choi-Viet-Nam-dau-tien-dat-ky-luc-Guinness/53/6612567.epi>