Here in sunny Singapore, we’ve been experiencing a fast-growing café scene over the past several years. With new cafes popping out relentlessly every other week, coffee lovers are pretty much spoilt for choice, and even the tea-drinkers like me.
In a sea of cafés across this tiny island-state, it’s indeed tough to stand out in the crowd. You can’t just compete on good coffee and food, because bar none that’s minimal requirement these days. Customers desire more: discerning café enthusiasts have come to expect an experience; quirky distinctions that affirm that they’re not just at a regular café, but they’re at the café.
So I think the company’s culture plays a huge part in getting people to sip coffee at their cafe over all the others – time and time again. (More so than funny ads, an aggressive use of Instagram and Twitter, or new products and promotions.)
We have a culture of sharing. I believe we’ve all been taught to share since we were young… and some of us probably started first with sharing our toys, then maybe our clothes, a little gossip here and there, and perhaps even test answers (oops). And today, we can look no further than our social media feeds to behold this thriving culture of sharing, in some cases – TMI!
On the 24th-25th Sept, we took part in Edu Con Asia 2014 as exhibitors. We were delighted and thrilled to meet many professionals from the work force development sector, teachers, vice principals, principals, deans and many other friends from the education industry. It was a great platform for everyone to network and find out a little more about each other. We were exchanging learning and development ideas, discussing the needs and concerns they face at work as well as exploring how EDLE and Illuminate may provide a solution for them. Of course, being educators and learners at heart, we attended many inspiring sessions by the various speakers and and learnt a lot from them. Today, we have Joanne to share with us her reflection after attending Edu Con Asia 2014.
One of the most important undergraduate course that I took at SMU was ‘Entrepreneurial Management’. It left a significant impression on me and taught me what makes a company great, was really down to the fundamentals – the people in the organisation and how leaders align them to the organisation’s core values and principles. It’s been 2.5 years since I’ve graduated and to date, I still see a lot of the learning points taught in ‘Entrepreneurial Management’ playing out in the world around me. At the 2nd Edu Con Asia 2014 conference, I was reminded once again of the importance of managing a company’s culture.
1. Inculcate Organisational Values through Training Programmes
John K John, the Vice President of Learning & Development (L&D) at Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), shared with us how his team embarked on a journey to transform the organisation so as to better confront future challenges.
Their approach was to centre all their Learning and Development activities around identified core competencies of Reliance Industries Ltd (Passion to Excel, Managing Ambiguity, Lifelong Learning, Detail Orientation and Ownership Mindset) and the values they wished to inculcate in all employees (Customer Value, Ownership Mindset, Respect, Integrity, One Team and Excellence).
Training programmes were centred around such qualities and stories, analogies and metaphors were included to inspire employees. One example I distinctly remember was them using a eagle to represent qualities of leadership they encouraged employees to have. An eagle was used as they possessed certain leadership traits such as:
- Face their preys / enemies fearlessly: Often without concerns about how strong or how big their prey / enemy is
- Have keen vision: To attack as well as to ensure their nests and territories are kept safe
- Do not eat dead things: They do not settle for second best, and constantly look out for new opportunities
“Their approach was to centre all their Learning and Development activities around identified core competencies of Reliance Industries Ltd.”
2. Incorporate Organisational Values into Employee Performance Appraisal
Of course, training is but one aspect of building up a company culture. Three important framework needs to be in place in order to build up any company culture:
- Recruiting the right people to ensure that apart from just possessing the skills needed, prospective employees also have the right personality fit with the organisation’s values and principles
- Intensive socialisation and training processes that emphasise on core values and norms of the company
- Reward system that provides rapid feedback so that employees are encouraged to “do the right thing”
What impressed me was RIL’s commitment to their identified core competencies and values. They recognised the importance of tying in their Employee Performance Appraisal to ensure that the message sent out to employees is coherent. To ensure that learning is translated into action, RIL also rolled out a Performance Appraisal system where they focus their review on how their employees delivered results rather than only on the results.
Often, companies focus on the outcomes and neglect the intangible aspects of what employees did in order to obtain these results. This sends out a signal to employees that despite what was communicated about values and behaviours, what the management really cares about is just results.
“RIL also rolled out a Performance Appraisal system where they focus their review on how their employees delivered results rather than only on the results.”
3. Create a Vibrant Company that Continuously Recreates and Renew Itself
Company values and culture should not be just charades. They should be practical guidelines for employees to refer to when dealing with everyday situations. In this turbulent world where employees are often faced with unexpected situations, having a meaningful culture will implore employees to do the right thing for the benefit of the company and its stakeholders. It also creates a coherent identity amongst employees and contributes towards creating a vibrant company that continuously recreates and renews itself to adapt and stay ahead of the game.
We hope you have gained insight on managing company culture from what Joanne has shared with us. Do share with us your thoughts by leaving comments below and stay tuned for our final post on Edu Con Asia 2014 by Terence!