POSTED 10 Jun 2019 - 10:16

As a business leader, how do you get the organisation's culture right?

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How do you ensure the values preached are practised on the ground?

Top Response

John Bittleston, Founder and Chair, Terrific Mentors International Pte Ltd

Good cultures result from rewarding employees not just when they achieve their KPIs, but based on how they achieve their KPIs. A good culture is one where trust is a primary objective because no system is perfect, no audit comprehensive.

In poor cultures, the undesirables get away with...


Eric Hoh, President, Asia Pacific, FireEye
17 Jun 2019 - 10:57

In my line of work, all too often we first meet a new client on the worst day of their career. They have just been informed of a cybersecurity breach that puts their business at risk. They feel overwhelmed. In crises like these, we must have a strong foundation of values. We are mission-oriented. Our mission rests at the core of our culture: We protect our customers with technology and expertise learned on the front lines of cyberattacks. Protecting these organisations is what we do. And these values transcend functions and geographies.

Dileep Nair, Independent Director, Thakral Corporation Limited
10 Jun 2019 - 10:27

It does not take rocket science to know what values are needed to have a strong organisational culture. Old-fashioned virtues such as being honest, frugal and prepared, are perennial and applicable even today. The nub, however, is moving from defining the culture to instilling it throughout the organisation, in particular, promoting the values of honesty and integrity. ''Integrity breeds integrity'' and so has to start with the tone at the top. Board members should not be recruited just on affluence and influence but also on their wisdom and integrity. Top management must develop and display personal integrity to inspire integrity in others.

Likewise, middle managers have to turn principles into policies and practices for everyday behaviour. All staff must be educated about what's at risk if work is not done in an ethical and accountable manner. Instilling the right culture is not a once-off exercise. There will always be naysayers and the need to fight ''values fatigue''. But if we pursue it intelligently and with sincerity, the organisation is more than likely to thrive and succeed.

Jayaprakash Jagateesan, Chief Executive Officer, RHT Holdings Pte Ltd
10 Jun 2019 - 10:21

Building on the idea that you can't spell ''right'' without RHT, we embarked on a branding exercise that extends to cultivating a culture of doing things right. From major business decisions to our internal communications, I make it a point to reinforce the importance of doing things for the right reasons and encourage others to do so too.

Hiring the right talent is also critical to ensure the personal culture of new colleagues fit our organisation well.

We're also exploring innovative ways to establish a values-based culture.

The ethBe (be ethical) app developed by RHT People enables multimedia micro-learning and ethics-driven social-learning through an AI-supported virtual repository of user-generated knowledge capital to cultivate a cohesive culture and community.

Sumir Bhatia, President, Asia Pacific, Lenovo Data Centre Group
10 Jun 2019 - 10:21

Customer-centricity is an integral component of our culture at Lenovo Data Centre Group, but ''culture'' cannot just be a word - it has to be something an organisation lives and breathes.

The truth is building culture is one of the most important yet toughest things to achieve as a business. It needs to start from senior leadership, cascading down to line managers and ultimately, every employee. After all, true cultural change is accelerated when we can win over hearts and minds.

Hands-on involvement is vital and our leaders meet regularly with employees to gather real inputs. We also strongly believe in identifying influencers within the organisation who will champion the cause and encourage open communication - sharing differences in thoughts, and asking hard questions - to promote innovation and ensure the best results are achieved.

Stephen McNulty, President, Asia Pacific and Japan, Micro Focus
10 Jun 2019 - 10:20

A strong, unified culture starts from within, especially in today's dynamic environments of mergers and acquisitions. Leaders must walk the talk and showcase the values that employees live and breathe, be it through teamwork or a customer-first attitude. As a business leader, I believe that ensuring these values are brought to life through collaboration and feedback sharing among the employees will only reinforce the trust, empathy and transparency on the organisational level. Championing these values will further guarantee the success of the business and instil customer trust.

Ambica Saxena, Head, YSC Singapore
10 Jun 2019 - 10:20

An organisation's culture depends on three things.

The first is business leaders' behaviour as role models, which is dependent on their brand, identity, and their personal values, and which play out in the smallest of their actions.

The second is the narratives that are embraced, as well as the behaviours that are encouraged, as these form a big cornerstone of the culture.

The last but not the least are the symbols that prescribe organisational culture. These includes detail like whether the office employs an open layout, or how washrooms are delineated. These say a lot about an organisation's inherent culture.

It is the leader's responsibility to understand this interplay between their behaviour, those being embraced, and the symbols that propagate what an organisation stands for.

Ong Pang Thye, Managing Partner, KPMG in Singapore
10 Jun 2019 - 10:19

Getting the simple things right is important if values are to be experienced every day and made a part of our DNA. For example, something like being on time for meetings is basic; it shows respect for others.

So is staying off mobile devices during meetings - another example of how we distil values into practical, actionable items which don't even require extra effort. Articulating consistent behaviours for everyone to practise every day is the KPMG way of living our values. KPMG partners have chosen to lead the way as we believe setting the right tone at the top will have a positive trickle-down effect. Self-awareness and knowing the impact we have on others is crucial, so we encourage all manner of feedback, formal and informal. Coaching is provided where needed.

John Bittleston, Founder and Chair, Terrific Mentors International Pte Ltd
10 Jun 2019 - 10:19

Good cultures result from rewarding employees not just when they achieve their KPIs, but based on how they achieve their KPIs. A good culture is one where trust is a primary objective because no system is perfect, no audit comprehensive.

In poor cultures, the undesirables get away with murder because they deliver their KPIs. Undesirables are those who behave badly towards their colleagues, stakeholders and the public generally. It is easier to reward results regardless of how they are achieved, than to reward good behaviour. At the heart of a good culture is a CEO who cares, not in a soft way but as a strong leader who is himself well behaved. S/he is the model for the culture.

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