The eco-chic furniture store Tree has become famous for using sustainable materials from old furniture, railroad sleepers, boats and bridges. In the face of the fierce competition in Hong Kong, Tree managed to expand into 4 stores in the city. The managing director Kate Babington explained that they have to invest a lot of time to make sure all the operational procedures are doing right and that the frontline managers know what their responsibilities are. Also, they learn in the process of working and therefore they are able to benefit from hindsight.
Tree’s designs and aim of being environmentally friendly are always plagiarised by other companies with products that are cheaper, and this is the problem that decreases the incentives of the staffs the most.
The biggest management challenge Tree faced was the incomplete management infrastructure, therefore a lot of effort was put into the system of the company for it to grow further. And the question for Tree now is how to maintain the passion for design and at the same time earning profit. The objectives of Tree are not just about money, but also their staff and products. Tree does not have many suppliers, they have strong partnerships with only a few groups of people, and what they are interested in is the contents of the products.
Money is not a long-term motivator for the staff, a comfortable and happy work environment and fulfilling corporate social responsibility exercises are what motivate the staff to work. Also, Tree encourages the staff by providing them with English classes so as to keep them energetic and feel like there is potential for them to move on. But at the same time, the company gives the staff opportunities in developing in other areas that they prefer and will not hold them back. This is why some resigned staff still work for Tree on a freelance basis. When staff performs badly and it is because of the lack of knowledge, Tree will provide staff with more training...