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Lucas Yap on Decision-Making through Ambiguity

July 26, 2023

We chat with Lucas Yap, Country Operations Manager (Thailand) at Beam Mobility, about his experiences in navigating ambiguity and crafting a decision-making model

From marketing to operations

Hi Lucas! To kick off, can you tell us a bit more about how you ended up in your current role?

Early in my career, I started with a background in marketing, and my first job was in a creative ad agency. Here, I quickly learned the delicate art of balancing client desires with business needs and developing creative solutions. However, I noticed that such niche roles sometimes neglect external factors that influence business outcomes. So, I began to adopt a more holistic approach, starting with a bird's-eye view before delving into details, which is essential to accurately address problems.

This broader perspective made me recognize my desire to delve into digital marketing and data. When faced with a choice between managing a heavily digital client account or a less digitally-oriented one, I chose the former, despite its difficulty. This decision was a significant turning point in my career, pushing me into a steep learning curve in digital savviness and analytics.

My decision to embrace challenges rather than taking the path of least resistance resulted in significant personal growth and opened up future opportunities. Later, I joined Grab, where I led regional marketing for one of their products. The experience from the client's perspective was invaluable.

That's when a friend introduced me to Beam. Knowing that I wanted to learn how to run a business, I accepted the opportunity to join this startup as an operations associate. I was eager to learn and make an impact across as many areas as possible. This year, my hard work paid off, and I was promoted to Country Operations Manager for Thailand. That's the journey that has brought me here.

Prioritising the team’s growth

Congratulations on your promotion! It sounds like Beam has been growing fast, what are the things that keep you awake at night?

I would say the major things that keep me up at night are those that have to do with the team itself.

Given the current economic environment, my priority and interest for the team are opportunities for them to further develop themselves while we continue striving to achieve our business targets, thus ensuring stability for the team.

Embracing open-mindedness

How did the Management Essential help with those challenges?

I found it very helpful, even though I had a certain baseline level of knowledge when it came to giving feedback, coaching, and one-on-one delegation. I think there was a lot of room for further fine-tuning and finesse at those levels. What really stood out for me throughout the 4-week course was the discourse that took place among the participants, with each other, and also with the instructors. It led to a lot of further learning.

It is important to approach things with an open mind. I have a certain management style, but during the Management Essentials course, I learned some things that were different from my usual approach. I am happy to provide more details if you would like to learn more about that. Overall, that is how I found the Management Essentials course.

Crafting the decision-making model

Glad you found it helpful! It’s also interesting that Meghna shared with me about your ‘feedback and decision-making model’ during the feedback module. Can you share how this works?

I think feedback is very important, not just in the traditional sense of the word, but also in terms of certain input that has been shared with the team. Is it feasible or not?

This relatively simple decision-making model aims to navigate the often ambiguous and time-constrained business environment.

Everything's urgent, and that's a common thing that you tend to hear. We have problems we need to solve, but the question is, how do we make confident and quick decisions while ensuring that it's the best decision we can make at that point in time?

We achieve this by being agile and logical in our decision-making process. The first step is to maintain an open communication style between myself and the team. If something can be done, or if there are any concerns, they should be raised. The key principle here is accountability, and avoiding any attempts to evade the truth.

To facilitate open communication, I believe a great leader and manager should ask great questions. Often, your line of questioning can help your team reach certain insights or conclusions themselves.

Secondly, I think it is important for teams to communicate quickly and be comfortable with close communication with one another. This is especially true in a fast-changing environment like a startup.

I have observed instances where the communication between managers and their team can be slow for various reasons. This leads to the team's inability to make quick decisions and execute them quickly, as the flow of information is bottlenecked.

So these are some of the principles I've tried to instill in my team early on. It's not perfect, but I believe that it has led us to be able to tackle issues quickly and achieve our goals.

Strengthening relationships through feedback

How would your relationship with your team change as a result?

There were certain things that I picked out from the course and started implementing in how I work with the team. One of them was quite interesting, which was on the topic of feedback.

Sometimes when people give feedback, it can become convoluted because they might feel pressured or anxious to provide critical, objective feedback to a particular DR.

That being said, I have caught myself ending a feedback session on an unrelated positive note, which - especially after the course - highlighted how this could confuse the recipient as to what the overall critique may have been about.

A reminder for continuous learning

Is there anything you’d like to share before we go?

I just want to say that I think it's very important to remain open-minded and that things are never really black and white. Question your own beliefs and build upon them based on new things that you have learned through the course.

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