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...


Tony Lombardo, Chief Executive Officer, Asia Lendlease
10 Jun 2019 - 10:19

To build a strong culture, it is important to ensure that the organisation's purpose is well understood by its people. It's imperative for the leadership to set the tone from the top and lead with their actions. This will lend authenticity to the purpose and only then will it truly connect with people. For example, at Lendlease, we have a strong safety culture and everyone knows it is non-negotiable. This helps us to get all on board and empowers the team to speak up when something is not done in a safe way.

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Yeoh Oon Jin, Executive Chairman, PwC Singapore
10 Jun 2019 - 10:18

Trust is really at the heart of PwC as our Purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. Furthermore, one of our five core values is to Act with Integrity. We recognise that embedding this into our culture involves the right tone at the top, clear and consistent communication as well as everyone's buy-in to practise it daily.

As a firm, we have placed great emphasis on educating our people on how to identify potential ethical issues and empowering them to speak up for what they believe is right. We have avenues for anonymous whistleblowing and have also equipped our leaders at all levels to help their team make the right ethical decisions. Most importantly, our firm stands in support of those who make the right ethical choice, even when it is difficult or challenging.

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Victor Mills, Chief Executive, Singapore International Chamber of Commerce
10 Jun 2019 - 10:18

Every company's culture is set and sustained by the example of its leaders and what they say and what they do. Everyone else will take their cue from what their leaders do and don't do.

The resulting culture will either be positive or negative. Achieving and sustaining a positive workplace culture is an imperative for every business because it makes commercial sense. A positive workplace culture in which customers and staff are respected makes a business attractive to engage with, work for and buy from.

It drives retention of customers and staff, facilitates innovation, encourages growth and achieves commercial sustainability.

Jayajyoti Sengupta, Head of Asia-Pacific and Japan, Cognizant
10 Jun 2019 - 10:18

The customer is our true north. This strong customer-centricity is informed by the timeless values of integrity and transparency, and manifest in our resourcefulness and desire to win. We continually ask ourselves if what we are doing is in the best interests of our customers, and challenge ourselves to go beyond set boundaries in doing what is right for them.

We have empowered employees to act and innovate like entrepreneurs with a customer focus, tied the company's performance to our passion for customer delight, and codified ethics into our processes. This has enabled us to create a unique organisational culture and make sure that every employee is always aligned with our guiding values.

Max Loh,EY Asean and Singapore Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP
10 Jun 2019 - 10:17

The question that leaders must honestly ask is: Is your organisation's purpose and values lectured or lived? When there is a disconnect between what is said and done, the trust of stakeholders including employees is eroded.

Closing the gap starts with authentic leadership that effectively communicates to employees the link between an organisation's purpose and commercial activities.

When employees embrace the reason why their organisation exists and how their roles contribute to that, they are motivated to do the right things - and do things right. Empowering employees to take action without fear or favour when values are undermined in everyday behaviours, including that of management, and rewarding their contributions by aligning purpose and performance metrics, are key to building the desired organisational culture.

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Alain Esseiva, CEO, Alpadis Group
10 Jun 2019 - 10:17

When you are advising wealthy private clients on how to spend and invest their wealth, or guiding entrepreneurs and businesses on their Asian expansion, trust becomes a major factor.

Legal contracts and terms and conditions can only go so far; ultimately we do business based on mutual trust and belief that the other party will live up to their side of the bargain and vice-versa. If one of the parties does not feel that the other can live up to this standard then things fall apart very quickly.

Trust is developed in many ways - through professionalism, integrity and sincerity, among others - and as usual, this stems from the top. A leader who is consistent in his/her values and inculcates this in the rest of the team will see these same values reflected in customer service. Giving employees the freedom to make decisions, even decisions that are not in the company's short-term interest, is important and leaders need to avoid micro-managing.

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