Head (Organisational Excellence),
Corporate Development and Emergency Preparedness Division,
Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
Let me give you some background. Our organisation had developed a new innovation framework aimed at building up an innovation culture, and this required full participation and involvement from all levels of the company. However, it was met with resistance from many rank-and-file staff, as well as most of the middle and senior management.
For rank-and-file employees, poor previous experiences, such as having their suggestions rejected without reason, led to their resistance.
While middle and senior managers were generally supportive of the scheme, many saw it as additional work that might distract them from their primary goals. Others deemed the initiative as “non-critical” and were reluctant to get too involved in championing the innovation movement.
In order to help staff understand and accept the change, we turned the innovation movement into a “journey” with three distinct phases: the awareness phase, the contribution phase and the entrenchment phase.
We began by providing a list of reasons why the initiative was introduced and how it would align to the vision and mission of the organisation.
Next, we revised and enhanced existing employee schemes to incentivise staff and generate participation. For example, we decided to make participation in each of the various schemes voluntary.
To ensure sustained staff interest and participation, we developed new activities to keep the movement “fun” for employees. We also regularly reviewed and updated the existing schemes and processes so that they remained attractive and easy to use.
To get further buy-in and ensure sustainability of the initiative, organisations can also employ the following strategies:
- Create value for the various divisions by explaining how the new initiative will be able to help them achieve their own goals.
- Identify activists from each division to assist management in championing the movement.
- Develop a sustained publicity campaign to increase staff awareness.
- Simplify existing processes to make submission of suggestions hassle-free, and also ensure suggestions are evaluated within a reasonable period of time.
Head of HR Business Partners, Group HR,
Using social media for business communication, other than social engagements, is now the norm. When employees use their personal social media accounts to communicate their perspectives, lifestyle choices, personal stances on politics, company issues, and so on, it can potentially have a direct or indirect impact on the company’s branding and credibility in the industry.
If an employee’s negatively expressed opinions are further propagated through the general public, it can have a deep and long-lasting impact on the company’s reputation. All employees are ambassadors of the organisation they work for, whether during or outside of work.
Any organisation must keep their employees informed of the reasons and policies for the need to monitor their social media accounts, including how this is implemented. It is therefore best to keep these policies open and transparent in a continuous effort to maintain the trust between the company and staff.
Adopting and communicating a Code of Business Conduct can help provide a guide about acceptable behaviours that comply with the company’s guidelines.
It is important to establish the boundaries upfront so that employees can understand the reasons behind the monitoring of their internet usage, including social media platforms.
Alternatively, some companies may prefer to communicate the same through their employee handbook, which may include additional or specific rules of engagement for social media.
Not complying with the established policies may result in disciplinary actions.
Senior HR Manager
CÉ LA VI Singapore
Organisational change can produce ambiguity. In order to minimise this, leaders must be able to listen to employees’ concerns. HR should conduct frequent communication and discussions that provide a humane touch and focus on addressing the issues of employees. Recent studies have showed that communication has a positive correlation with many organisational outputs, including organisational commitment, performance, and job satisfaction.
Meaningful communication requires a degree of “cognitive organisational reorientation”, including comprehension and appreciation of the proposed change. Employees who feel more invested in the process of company change show higher levels of motivation and internalise new methods of operation more quickly. This allows for a smoother transition and helps the company increase overall productivity.
Aligning the business goals of the company with the personal goals of employees can help HR to increase motivation through an organisational change. Transparency goes a long way towards assuaging employee doubts about a change, and allows workers to feel more involved with the company's new initiatives.
Employees are the key sources to bring about change in any organisation. To encourage them, the business must address any apprehensions and issues related to the change. Job insecurity should be decreased and a sense of community should be created so that employees may feel their responsibilities. The need for change and the advantages will motivate the staff to participate in the plan and help execute it.
Head of Group HR
Commonwealth Capital Group
Employer branding is commonly defined as the process of promoting a company as an employer of choice to two groups of people – those already within whom the company wants to retain, and those outside which it needs to recruit. The activities that take place as a result, are linked for both groups. When line managers are able to create positive experiences that their team members appreciate and treasure, the employees start believing that they are working for the right company, teams and leaders. This translates to happy employees serving happy customers.
The effect then rubs off on customers who feel that they want to be part of this amazing culture, which eventually helps with recruitment.
So where does HR sit in this whole process? Like an architect, HR is able to provide the best-in-class and most sophisticated design blueprint to the builder. But what really matters is how the builder ensures that only the highest-quality finishing and materials are used to create the eventual living experience. HR can help with employer branding by designing the right programmes and leveraging on the right channels, but true employer branding is best delivered by the company’s brand ambassadors – its line managers and employees.
At Commonwealth Capital Group, our internal referrals are testament to how powerful employer branding can be. Many teams in our different business streams (retail, production and logistics) are filled through word-of-mouth and referrals. This not only helps us to hire the right people into the company, it ensures a great fit between team leaders and new hires. After all, current employees will only refer those they know who will be able to succeed in the company. And when this happens, it’s easy to see why. With the right employer branding, retention becomes the best source of recruitment.
Head of HR
We must understand our role as a HR Business Partner (HRBP) in order for the transformation to take place. Having a good understanding of the business model and priorities is important as it is critical to implement and deliver HR advice and solutions to meet the evolving needs of the organisation. In recent years, HRBPs are directly involved in major business decisions of the organisation, including the formation of strategies, the design of the organisation as well as the execution. This however, is only possible if HR leaders think like a business manager. And this is a fundamental mindset shift.
At the service delivery level, HR as an entity has to ensure that the HRBP foundation is well established and organised. In Citi, our efficient model is having few Centres of Excellence, comprising of Shared Services and Support and Functional Specialists to support the HRBP and the business. The HR Shared Services could be embedded within a broader HR group, or function as an independent HR operation. With this segregation of function, it removes the transactional operations from the HRBP, though not 100%, but at least majority of the administrative work sits with the processing specialists, thereby ensuring that each function gets the right attention it truly deserves.
As we inch towards a more strategic role, regular and open communication between line managers and HR becomes increasingly important in order to develop innovative solutions that address the demands of a changing competitive landscape. At the same time, we must not forget that HR’s role is not only to support the objectives of the business; it is also to be the voice of the employees. It is never easy to strike a balance between the two roles but we have to try our level best.
Vice President HR
Infineon Technologies Asia Pacific
Firstly, I would see management development as a process rather than a programme. Programmes have fancy names, are launched with a big bang – yet more often than not achieve little long term concrete outcomes. Processes on the other hand have a clear input and defined output. For this, a management development process framework should be in place that clearly defines for instance desired management competencies with a forward looking perspective.
In other words, which new knowledge, skills and values will you need from your management to be successful in business at a three to five year horizon? In this management development process framework, development approaches, avenues and contents should be closely linked to succession planning.
Secondly, I would suggest to look at executives (or I prefer to say specialists), managers and leaders not in a way as if they were three different persons, but rather, three different roles taken by the same person – just at different values over time and in different situations.
With this mind shift, you will treat a fresh graduate, who is mainly hired for her or his special knowledge, also as a leader, for example in the form of a thought leader who brings fresh ideas to the table. A leader on the other hand, would still have a duty as specialist, sharing her or his experience and expertise.
Several great CEOs in history have shown us impressively how top leaders can still be hands-on specialists. In the same way, specialists nowadays already have clear leadership qualities. Hence, there can be a lot of development nurtured from within the company, which is more genuine and sustainable than intended quick wins through external development programmes.
Last but not least, one should clearly define the role of the employee, the respective manager as well as HR in this development process. While the HR folks are mainly held responsible for the overall success, they should provide the infrastructure (tools and systems) in line with the company strategy, facilitate the process and give advice and recommendations.
We often read about leaders who have the uncanny ability of always making the 'right' calls. What is it about these visionaries, who more often than not beat the odds when others have failed? Business acumen, or what Warren Buffett calls 'business sense', lies in the ability to draw from effective intelligence and networks.
Leaders are able to make the right decisions only with the right information. That said, we tend to forget that relevant and timely intelligence draws from our networks: the ability to proactively identify, develop and manage relationships with key stakeholders.
“What gets measured, gets done.” In the flux that people and organisations operate in today, businesses keep ahead by building a cohesive culture that can connect people from various demographies and skillsets. Just like the diverse businesses that IMC operates in (shipping, lifestyle, real estate, investments and wellness), we recognise that business strategy is rooted in the values and vision of our organisation.
In many ways, HR plays a critical enabler role in supporting this business strategy. As much as enabler functions can draw lines in the sand about the roles we play, we exist in a symbiotic relationship with the line – that is, to support the business as a trusted advisor and to deliver quality, timely and insightful analysis. A part of this is the ability to develop and manage effective relationships, to build and maintain an effective intelligence management system, and to utilise this intelligence to create business opportunities for the organisation.
This goes back to my earlier reference about making the “right” decisions. With an effective intelligence management system, HR can support this in several ways: having the right governance structure, the right people processes, and most importantly, the right people in the right roles. This will help the organisation make effective and enlightened decisions that drive the business strategy in a unified direction.
I find merit in what Albert Einstein said: that "not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts". When all stakeholders come together to harness the power of our individual and collective networks, we will be best positioned to be on the cutting edge of change, rather than the bleeding-edge.
Senior Manger, Talent Management
Group People and Organisation IMC Pan Asia Alliance
Over the past two decades, unprecedented change has swept workplaces around the world. Companies have practically revamped every business process in their search for a competitive advantage, apart from the area of human capital.
Many organisations are still lacking the concepts, strategies, models and measures that matter most to effectively manage their most vital intangible asset – their people. They most likely have a marketing strategy and an IT strategy, but they do not necessarily have a people or HR workforce strategy to manage what is typically their highest cost item.
At the same time, most of the data HR provides is nowhere close to business in driving any decision. I am from the IT industry and I have constantly observed incidents of HR getting challenged by business on the inputs they provide as part of their HR analytics.
For example, simply highlighting the attrition for a particular country as “nine percent” doesn’t give any insight to business and what to conclude from it.
For most companies, HR is still living in the 20th Century where business is constantly chasing the competition of the 21st century. This is the time for HR to move up the value chain and transition from HR Support to Strategic HR Partnership.
An ideal starting point in addressing these challenges is the development of a comprehensive HR workforce strategy which is in sync with the business strategy. HR workforce strategy includes a detailed 360-degree strategic workforce plan that ideally incorporates location strategy, the labour pyramid, and a detailed assessment of functional capability with pivotal roles. This should all be tied with the business’s integrated strategy.
Connecting back with the above example for instance, instead of just providing a dated attrition snapshot, it would be much more beneficial for the business if they received a triangulation of information with: job levels compared to employee ratings compared to tenure.
Another perspective could be the segregation of manager vs individual contributor attrition, and a quick segregation of regrettable vs non-regrettable attrition. Before recommending any action, it’s important to assess external benchmarking with high, medium and low cost countries.
HR Business Partner, Workforce Planning
The Shilla Duty Free is owned and operated by Hotel Shilla, one of Samsung’s affiliate organisations. As a leader in the travel retail industry, it emphasizes its efforts to provide the best possible customer satisfaction.
We believe that well-trained employees are one of the most important factors to achieve our business goals. To provide high quality service and pleasant moments for our customers, The Shilla Duty Free hires the best staff and provides up-to-date training for them.
As a strategic partner of the business, the HR Team focuses on the following three factors: hiring the best employees; providing a seamless education; and offering competitive compensation and benefits.
To secure good talents in the retail industry, HR diversifies the root of hiring. We do not only hire locals; we go on overseas recruitment drives to find and secure the most suitable candidates for the business.
Continuing education and learning in the retail industry is another imperative for success.
To provide continuous training to all our staff, HR diversifies classes depending on job scopes, the level of hierarchy, and the length of work.
On top of it, The Shilla Duty Free continuously provides product knowledge training for front-liners to meet and exceed customer expectations.
In addition, The Shilla Duty Free provides employees who obtain a higher score of customers’ satisfaction with incentives to encourage motivation.
Last but not least, we focus on a competitive compensation and benefits package to boost the morale of our employees, by allowing them to provide superlative service to customers.
Additionally, to be the best place to work and to communicate with society, we have a referral programme for all employees.
The Shilla Duty Free will consistently try to develop competitive HR programmes.
Manager of HR department
The Shilla Duty Free
It is debatable that in a matured and full employment economy, there is no longer a war for talent. However, there exists a new paradigm of innovative utilisation of talents in the marketplace to maximise their economic contribution in a multi-faceted environment for business success. That thesis however, can merit a separate discussion on another day just on its own.
Let's try to focus on where culture fits in the equilibrium. I'm in the Food and Beverage industry and to draw an easy but relevant analogy, for a great chef to cook up an award-winning dish, the best and freshest of ingredients must be available to him to demonstrate the full potential of his recipe. The absence of any of those ingredients may be disastrous despite having the same chef holding fort. Similarly, culture is one critical ingredient in making sure organisations tick and return consistent performances and results on a sustained basis. Other ingredients with no less importance may include clear business vision, strategy, organisation and immaculate execution.
Nevertheless, having a fixated culture alone is no longer a guarantee of success in this day and age. Rapid change of the business landscape is the order of the day and has been unprecedented in the last decade or so. Many successful companies with long traditions of achievements in the past century have fallen by the wayside in recent years, some spectacularly so.
Culture is akin to civilisation and we must let it evolve with time and remain relevant to people. Top leaders have to lead by getting themselves fully appraised of the realities of the business and constantly communicating those realities with all levels of the organisation and genuinely valuing feedback from the same audience. This way, employees will feel they play an active role in shaping the evolving culture they can identify with themselves. When everyone gets involved in the process, they will naturally gain enough emotional attachment and alignment to continue to play their part in the resultant ecosystem; challenging themselves to sustain results with the awareness of prevailing business realities.
Everyone should begin to see initial small wins and be motivated to contribute to this ecosystem for greater goals. Small wins lead to bigger successes and recognising the people playing a role in delivering those successes will reinforce their emotional attachment to the organisation. The hunger for success will keep people encouraged and interested in a longer journey together into the yet unknown business realities of tomorrow and thereafter. How else to analyse this but to call it a "Culture for Success"? Businesses may differ but a simple analysis of most success stories will give us some form of metamorphosis of the above concept. I'm pretty certain none will come forth and accept they succeed without clearly knowing and articulating their success culture to people in and outside the organisation.
Phan Yoke Fei
Group Head, HR
Auric Pacific Group