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Issue 24

October 2013

PP 14525/06/2013(032679)

leadership in asia


Small business

job hunting

It’s not who you know, it’s what you know


wendy cartwright

The buck stopped with me

Dive rsity

Tech nolog y

Rew ard

Strat egy

Lead ershi p

Perfo rman ce

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October 2013 Contents

Features Courage

12 Expectations – A Courage Buster

Accomplish more while expending less energy - execute without projecting expectations. By Sandra Ford Walston

Workforce Trends


14 Managing the New Professionalism

Acting professionally has to be the whole package. By Robert W. Wendover

An organisation’s culture often starts with its strategic challenges. – Professor David Ulrich

Special Feature

34 Small Business : Simple HR tips for hiring and retaining talent, driving engagement and organisational growth By Rowena Morais

Self Dev Organisational Change

16 The OD practitioner

Alison France argues that the development of self is part of the OD practitioner’s ethics

36 Clarity in Thinking

Much of our thinking is driven by decisions we made in the past, which makes us who we are. By Yoga Nesadurai



Most organisations struggle with making communications genuinely two way, so building in mechanisms for two way dialogue is essential. – Wendy Cartwright

Positive Psychology

18 Half a mind

There are two teams of little people who run the business of thinking inside your head. By Sulynn Choong

Findings from the Randstad Workmonitor Report for Q3 2013. By Jasmin Kaur

The Network


20 When it comes to job hunting – it’s not who you know, it’s what you know

Cliff Rosenberg believes that for businesses, the bar has risen in terms of the experience and skills set required of applicants HR Practitioner

26 Massive change and high performance

Wendy Cartwright talks to Rowena Morais about her journey in the highly complex environment of the Olympic Delivery Authority

Learning & Development

31 Building High Impact Learning Cultures

Today’s learning programmes are evolving from being ‘teacher-centred’ to high impact constructivist learning. By Nik Feizal Hanafi


37 Job requirements become more demanding for Malaysian employees

Global Study

33 The Asian Firm’s Balancing Act

Findings from Hay Group’s 2013 Best Companies for Leadership (BCL) study. By Dr Andreas Raharso and Senthil Sukumar

Show people the value in staying with your organisation. – Shazmi Ali

38 Insights and Lessons from Leadership in Asia

Asian countries differ on a number of dimensions - it is dangerous to group all of Asia together. By Professor Chris Rowley and Professor David Ulrich


41 Liar liar, should I hire?

Do you know who you are hiring? By Tham See See


46 Winning the war for talent 2.0 in Malaysia

Professor Sattar Bawany asks whether companies can win the ‘war for talent’ Governance

50 Managing human capital risk: Whose responsibility is it?

Human capital risks can easily derail the execution of the organisation’s strategy. By Vijayam Nadarajah


Many organisations are reducing their workforces, but let’s be careful not to cut so deep that talent is scarce when the economy rebounds. – Professor Sattar Bawany

In This Issue 09 13 23 26 30 44 49

News Featured Blog The Naïve Optimist Lit The Leadership Code :Five Rules to Lead By HR Practitioner Wendy Cartwright Diary Q&A Shazmi Ali Ladder HR Matters

October 2013




October 2013 Products and Services featured in this issue British Council CnetG


Editor Rowena Morais. Writer Isabella Chan Writer Peter Raj

TECHNICAL SERVICES Technical Advisor Graphic Design

Mark Victor Izham Rizal Ismail

First Staffers




People Potential

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October 2013

HR Matters


s a parent, the single biggest lesson I have learnt recently is that parenting is not about kids, it’s about parents. According



Runkel, in Screamfree Parenting : The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids Without Losing Your Cool, the greatest thing you can do for your kids is to learn to focus on yourself. And I believe that this a concept that can easily be carried forward into the organisational context. In our role leading our teams, our departments

Remember Diary this date!

Talent Management. Raising Your Game.

2013 HR Briefings 28 November

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and our organisations, it’s easy to very quickly jump into a managerial mindset, or to think that we ought to revert to the quick fix. We focus on others and what they do instead of focusing on ourselves. But perhaps, as we look for solutions to our everyday challenges at the workplace, we should consider looking inward and building on what is within. That may be just what we need, to make a real impact, with those around us who are paying attention.

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In this issue :• Sandra Ford Walston talks about how expectations can saddle our actions with unnecessary emotional and mental baggage and that we can and should free ourselves of this; • David Ulrich and Chris Rowley discuss insights from leadership in Asia, arguing perceptively that “Asia is not Asia”; • Cliff Rosenberg iterates that to stand out, candidates should be confident about communicating their thoughts and opinions on the issues that matter in order to build

This Issue

their own brand; • Wendy Cartwright tells us her story, a story of massive change, high performance and of creating an organisation from the ground up - what if change was an everyday affair? ; • Shazmi Ali reveals what his years in Talent Management have taught him; • Sattar Bawany argues the true competitive advantage of the organisation of today is the ability to effectively hire, retain and engage talent; and much more. As always, hope this gets you inspired. Happy reading!

Rowena Morais, Editor

On the Cover : Leadership In Asia Innovation bulb image courtesy of Search for HR Matters Magazine in ‘Groups’ HR Matters

October 2013




Contributors | HR Matters

Professor Dave Ulrich is a Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and a partner at the RBL Group, a consulting firm focused on helping organisations and leaders deliver value. He has helped generate award winning data bases that assess alignment between strategies, organisation capabilities, HR

practices, HR competencies and customer and investor results. He edited Human Resource Management from 1990-1999, served on the editorial board of four Journals, on the Board of Directors for Herman Miller, and Board of Trustees at Southern Virginia University, and is a Fellow in the National Academy of Human Resources.

Robert Wendover has been researching and writing about workforce trends for over 20 years. Managing Director of the Center for Generational Studies, he is author of nine books and a regular contributor to electronic and print media. Bob has served as a special advisor to the American Productivity and Quality Council (APQC) and served on the management faculty of the University of Phoenix.

As a business psychologist and HR professional, Alison France has a passion for using positive methodologies to shape the attitudes of leaders and organisations, enabling them to achieve profitability. Alison has facilitated organisational change initiatives as well as designed and delivered award winning leadership development programmes. When not working, Alison enjoys riding her two motorbikes on UK roads and European tracks.

As Managing Director for LinkedIn in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Clifford Rosenberg’s focus is driving awareness and uptake of LinkedIn’s products, including recruitment and marketing solutions. Cliff has a distinguished 20 year career in the digital space, both as an entrepreneur and executive. He was formerly the managing director of Yahoo! Australia and New Zealand.

Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™. She is an internationally recognised speaker, learning consultant, author and entrepreneur. Sandra instructs at the University of Denver on several programmes and is the internationally published author of three books: COURAGE, STUCK and FACE IT! 12 Obstacles that Hold You Back on the Job (2011). Check out

Vijayam Nadarajah has worked in insurance companies and banks for more than 18 years. Her extensive experience in operations, internal audit, investigation and risk coupled with leadership, drive and passion for good governance, control and corporate behaviours has seen her through a series of commendable achievements in the appointments that she has held.

Dr Andreas Raharso is the Director of the Hay Group Global R&D Centre for Strategy Execution. Based in Singapore, he oversees Hay Group’s research efforts over 52 countries across the globe, and has conducted extensive research into the strategic issues of intangible capital, innovation and organisational excellence.



October 2013

HR Matters


HR Matters | Contributors

The Human Resource Director for Pfizer Malaysia, Shazmi Ali, graduated from Universiti Utara Malaysia with a Bachelor of Human Resources Management (Hons) in 1999 and also obtained an MBA from Victoria University. Armed with more than a decade of HR experience, Shazmi has led HR teams both locally and regionally. Prior to Pfizer, Shazmi led HR at CAE (world

leader in flight simulators) for the Asian region, expanding to 10 locations across eight countries. Prior to that, he took on business partner roles in ExxonMobil for various Upstream departments and the IT Group. Shazmi used to be a university debater, representing the country at both the World and Asian debating Championships.

Nik Feizal Hanafi is the Country Manager, Applications, Oracle Malaysia. Having joined Oracle in April 2013, he is responsible for the entire Applications line of business. He is also responsible for driving the adoption of Oracle’s various cloud computing solutions. Prior to this, Nik Feizal spent six years at Microsoft Malaysia as the Sales Director for the Public Sector Group.

Wendy Cartwright was formerly the HR Director for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) - the organisation responsible for developing and building the new venues and infrastructure for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. She as been listed amongst the top five most influential HR practitioners in the UK and is a frequent speaker on HR topics and a judge for HR industry awards.

Professor Chris Rowley, BA, MA (Warwick), DPhil (Nuffield College, Oxford) is the founding Director of the Centre for Research on Asian Management at Cass Business School, City University, London, UK. He has acted as an advisor to the HEAD Foundation, Singapore on research and publications and also on its establishment of a global Think Tank on human capital development in Asia. He has published widely, with over 400 articles, books and chapters and other contributions.

Sulynn Choong is a positive change consultant and coach working with organisations to energise their workforce for outstanding performance. Combining practical corporate experience with evidence-based research in positive psychology, she assists CEOs in evaluating their organisations’ existing and proposed change initiatives for coherence, congruence, relevance and positive impact .

Professor Sattar Bawany is Chief Executive Officer of The Centre for Executive Education (CEE). CEE is the Executive Development Division of IPMA Asia Pacific. Professor Bawany is also concurrently the Strategic Advisor & Member of IPMA (International Professional Managers Association) Board of Trustees and Governing Council. He has over 25 years’ international business management experience, including 15 years in executive coaching, group facilitation and leadership development. HR Matters

October 2013




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HR Matters | News

News Google, Apple and Unilever are most attractive employer brands in LinkedIn’s InDemand list Employer Rankings rank world’s most sought-after employers, based on brand reach and engagement

KUALA LUMPUR | LinkedIn revealed that Google is the world’s most InDemand talent brand, with Apple, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and Microsoft rounding out the top five. Reach is a measure of the number of prospective employees who are familiar with a company: for example, the number of prospective candidates who viewed or connected with a company’s employees on LinkedIn. Engagement measures the number of prospective candidates who are interested in working for a company: for example, the number of prospective candidates who researched or followed a company. The rankings were determined by analysing more than 25 billion member and company interactions from LinkedIn’s 240M+ members, including 1 million members in Malaysia. This year, 42% of the 2013 Most InDemand employers are located outside the U.S., compared to 32% last year. Other interesting insights included: • Technology and Packaged Consumer Goods companies – like Google and Unilever – dominate the top 10;

• 16 Oil & Energy companies made this year’s list, compared to 10 companies last year, and Shell entered the top 10; • At #99, Stockholm-based Spotify is the smallest company to make this year’s list; and • Amazon broke into the top 10 thanks in part to tripling its followers on LinkedIn over the past 12 months. With a strong talent brand able to halve a company’s costper-hire and reduce employee turnover by up to 28%, the value of taking steps to enhance your employer brand is obvious. Companies can determine how well they are reaching and engaging talent via LinkedIn’s Talent Brand Index — a tool that helps employers gauge how attractive they are to external candidates on LinkedIn. For the full rankings and tips on talent brand success, check out the LinkedIn Blog post at .

Resource Solutions Presents 2013 Asia Trends and Insights to the APAC Recruitment Market SINGAPORE | Following on from the success of the first Resource Solutions Asia 20 Questions Survey in 2012, Resource Solutions (the global RPO specialist and part of the Robert Walters Group), has completed the second in the series. The research findings from this online survey of over 200 respondents, presented some interesting recruitment insights, including : • Both permanent and temp/contract recruitment activity is increasing compared to 2012 ( 23% net positive response) - significant regional ’hotspots’ include Malaysia and Hong Kong; • Permanent recruitment trends in Hong Kong showed a dramatic difference. The 2012 results showed a net negative 15% and in 2013 we have seen it increase to 38% net positive;

• The importance of cost savings has risen significantly. It is now ranked second in terms of priority across the board; • Quality is still the most important element of recruitment, but there is little improvement in taking up some missed opportunities such as feedback from managers and candidates; • Technology adoption is becoming more widespread but, alarmingly, the user experience feedback has deteriorated compared to 2012. 43% of respondents now have an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) in place for permanent recruitment compared to 33% in 2012; and • Social media accounts for a relatively small percentage of external recruitment currently. 65% of respondents have recruited less than 5% of candidates via social media.

HR Matters

October 2013



News | HR Matters

News TalentCorp connects graduates with employers at the SFCF Universiti Sains Malaysia Focus on sciences, healthcare and social sciences sectors KUALA LUMPUR | After the success of Sector Focused Career Fairs (SFCF) this year, Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad (TalentCorp) continued its efforts of increasing career awareness among the public by hosting another SFCF at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) on 5 October 2013. This joint effort between TalentCorp and USM focused on sciences, healthcare and social sciences sectors. The event officiated by YB Datuk Richard Riot anak Jaem, Minister of Human Resources, was held on 5 and

in brief United Energy and Multinet Gas Power Career Development with PageUp People SINGAPORE | PageUp People, a leading multinational talent management solutions provider, announced on 23 October how through a partnership between United Energy and Multinet Gas and Aon Hewitt, United Energy and Multinet Gas employees have been empowered to take control of their careers and professional development using PageUp People’s Career Path solution. After developing their organisational career development framework in conjunction with Aon Hewitt over the course of 12 months, maximising employee adoption was critical. By engaging PageUp People’s Career Path offering, United Energy and Multinet Gas has simplified the interaction between employees, their managers and the framework, resulting in more defined and directed career development discussions.



October 2013

HR Matters

6 October at Dewan Utama Pelajar, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. This initiative is in line with TalentCorp’s objective to optimise Malaysian talent. The two-day event included Career Talks and Couch Corner Slot. For further information on TalentCorp and SFCF, please visit or www.facebook. com/SectorFocusedCareerFairSFCF.

Monster Malaysia Redefines the Way Employers Search for Talent KUALA LUMPUR | Monster Malaysia, one of the leading online career and recruitment solutions provider and flagship brand of Monster Worldwide in Malaysia, announced on 23 October, the launch of ‘Monster mPower Search’, a next generation people search technology that redefines the way employers search for talent. ‘Monster mPower Search’ delivers on Monster’s goal to help job seekers and employers ‘Find Better’.

Robert Walters Singapore office celebrates 15 year anniversary SINGAPORE | Robert Walters, one of the world’s leading specialist professional recruitment consultancies, marked its 15 year anniversary in Singapore with a cocktail dinner reception at Ocean Financial Centre to thank valued business partners for their continued support over the years.

Datin Alexandra Chin JP set to become fourth female President of global accountancy body KUALA LUMPUR | ACCA announced in late September that Datin Alexandra Chin JP from Sabah, Malaysia was elected Vice Datin A chin President of ACCA for the 2013/14 term, at the recent Annual Council meeting held on 19 September, making her the first woman from Asia to serve as an Officer with the Council. Datin Alex is set to represent more than 550,000 ACCA members and students in over 170 countries around the world when she becomes ACCA’s fourth female President in 2015/16.

Read each of the articles above in full and download the associated survey reports mentioned at .

connecting the brightest talent with the best companies across Asia Pacific

You’re in business to succeed — to set ambitious goals, drive growth and achieve results. Getting there requires vision, resources and above all, the brightest talent. As a world-leading specialist recruitment & HR services firm, Randstad is a company built on a deep network of sourcing expertise that crosses industries and geographies. Our vision is to help our clients achieve a constant state of ‘talent readiness’ with the best recruitment and talent management solutions in place, ensuring you have the right people, in the right jobs, at the right time — for today and for the future. With over 17 years experience in Malaysia, our consulting team are specialists across: You’re in business to succeed — to set ambitious goals, drive growth and achieve results. • Human Resources • Accounting Getting there requires vision, resources and above all, the brightest talent.

• Industrial Blue Collar • Banking & Financial Services • firm, Information Business Support As a• world-leading specialist recruitment & HR services RandstadTechnology is a company built on a• deep network of sourcing expertise that crosses• industries and geographies. Our Life Sciences Contact Centre vision help our clients achieve a constant state of• ‘talent readiness’ the best Supply Chain &with Procurement • is to Construction, Property & Engineering recruitment and talent management solutions in place, ensuring you have the right people, in the right jobs, at the right time — for today and for the future.

To get connected to the brightest talent in Asia Pacific today, visit: or contact us in Kuala Lumpur on +603 2036 6666 or Penang on +604 638 1050

To get connected to the brightest talent in Asia Pacific today, visit:

Courage | HR Matters

Expectations A Courage Buster



In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy stumbled along the Yellow Brick Road with her three friends and Toto only to learn at the end of her journey that she had the power to fulfill her dream all along. Are you stumbling along a career path because of pre-defined expectations? Have you fallen asleep in the poppy field? Will you take time for selfreflection—to dwell deeply upon what you might stand for and love? Is conscious courage development your endgame? The word ‘courage’ comes from the French word corage, meaning ‘heart and spirit’. So courage is really about acting from your heart and spirit — from the center of your being — the true identity hidden beneath the false self of the ego. By delving into the heart and spirit of our true identities, we begin to recognise our innate courage as well as the ego’s insidious control mechanisms in the form of expectations, which capitalise on fear and insecurity. As we recognise the fears that the ego uses to justify its self-importance, we undermine the ego’s power to dominate our lives and begin to manifest our true identities.

Running to the Future Vickie shared how expectations had her constantly running. If you are unemployed, you may operate like Vickie. She always started her day with: “What do I have to do today to get the results I want?” The mere action of ‘doing something’ fosters the belief that what you do generates results. Vickie was running to the future (and away from the present). Does this sound familiar? Eventually, Vickie realised that trying to ‘get somewhere’ left her drained emotionally, spiritually and energetically. She finally admitted, “Absolutely nothing resulted! 12


October 2013

HR Matters

Sometimes the more you chase things, the farther away from you they go”.

outcome: inner peace. People have different projections and

Take a moment to reflect on your thought process, the expectations you hold for your actions, and about why you do what you do. Here are two examples: You send out a marketing letter with the hope you will receive a response that leads to a nice contract. Expected result: the contract (or visibility) you have been waiting for. You mail your resume with a great cover letter, knowing that you are the perfect fit for this opportunity. Expected result: a phone call requesting the interview that lands you the job and change you wish for. Observe your thoughts in relation to your actions, then identify the expectations that you bring to those actions. Realising that expectations saddle our actions with unnecessary emotional and mental baggage, we can begin to free ourselves from all that extra weight. We can still execute what needs to be done, but without projecting our expectations onto those actions—how the outcome will comfort, change or advance our lives—we free ourselves to accomplish much more while expending less energy.

aversions to the concept of silence through meditation, and many people find it difficult. Jon Kabat-Zinn writes in Wherever You Go There You Are, “People say they can’t meditate, what they really mean is that they won’t make the time for it, or that when they try, they don’t like what happens. It isn’t what they are looking for or hoping for. It doesn’t fulfill their expectations. So maybe they should try again, this time letting go of their expectations and just watching.” How do you deal with disappointments at work when your expectations have not been filled? Wouldn’t you prefer to avoid disappointment altogether? Most people say, “I don’t want to work that hard. I don’t want to be self-disciplined, I don’t want to sacrifice. Complaining (one of eight courage busters) is easier. I want a courage pill!” The fact is you cannot learn courage by doing something you already know.


Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™. She is an internationally recognised speaker, learning consultant, author and entrepreneur. Reach Sandra at

Eckhart Tolle clarifies this human condition in A New Earth, “When you no longer have such expectations, all self-created suffering comes to an end.” With courage, meditation and a big dose of Spiritual Intelligence (SQ)*, I learned how my expectations created my distress and prolonged my suffering. I was able to move beyond my expectations only through the sheer commitment of cultivating contemplation in the form of silence. The

* Spiritual Intelligence (SQ): SQ is secular spirituality; is an innate capability that we can learn to use based on experience not beliefs. Physicist Danah Zohar’s research defines courage as one of the levels of Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) or wisdom. She writes in SQ, Spiritual Intelligence, the Ultimate Intelligence, “To have high SQ is to be able to use the spiritual to bring greater context and meaning to living a richer and more meaningful life, to achieve a sense of personal wholeness, purpose and direction.”

HR Matters | Blog FEATURED


No Managers:

Why We Removed Bosses at Treehouse Blog: The Naïve Optimist


Blog belonging to Ryan Carson, founder and Chief Executive of Treehouse. Previously, Ryan founded Carsonified (acquired 2011) and DropSend (acquired 2008).

ryan carson


Treehouse is an online technology school that teaches you how to code, how to start a business, how to make websites, iPhone/iPad apps and Android apps. Treehouse employees work a four day week and Ryan recently shared how they have upped the ante by removing all managers. It was a move they embarked on four months ago to “change the way the company operated and give all employees 100% control of their time and let them decide what they work on each day”. Ryan explains how, what and why in a series of articles. Read on at

Connect with us!

Compliments on a featured article Hope you are well. I read a very good article in HR Matters recently on Crafting Employee Development Experiences by Uthaya Prakash. I have learnt by experience how important it is to ensure that learning is geared to support and sustain a fast-paced business, especially when you are in charge of learning in a key manufacturing outfit such as Dutch Lady. Kudos to HR Matters for being a value-add to me as a reader and keep up the good work! Ashvine Hari Krishnan Learning & Development, Human Resources at Dutch Lady Malaysia

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October 2013



Workforce Trends | HR Matters

Managing the New Professionalism Instilling standards in today’s informal workplace By Robert W. Wendover


Okay, I’ll come right out and ask it. What has happened to manners in today’s workplace? I may sound like an old crank, but it seems like the level of professionalism in the wide range of organisations with which I work is unraveling. It’s the coworker who texts a friend while talking with her boss. It’s the new hire who treats everyone as a buddy, from the receptionist to the CEO. It’s the colleague who is constantly late and unprepared while assuming the words “I’m sorry” will absolve him of all responsibility. I’m not the only one who thinks all this is an issue. In its annual survey of 400 human resources professionals, The Center for Professional Excellence at York College found that more than a third say that the level of professionalism among new hires has decreased over the past five years. The behaviours identified by those surveyed include

positively on oneself, colleagues and the overall organisation. Where in the past these behaviours were taught, modeled and enforced at home, today’s disparate society has left many of those coming of age to assimilate based on the behaviours they see around them. If Mark Zuckerberg can wear a hoodie to meetings on Wall Street, why can’t everyone else wear flip-flops and tank tops to work? Some people may reject these concerns as outdated or irrelevant. After all, they will argue, if the work gets done who cares where, when or in what manner? The answer? Lots of people. To begin with, our customers, clients and constituents. First impressions are lasting. As much as this sentiment may be of ancient origins, it is still a universal truth. When it comes to selling products, serving customers, getting promoted or even getting hired, nothing is more important that the first impression. Yes, informality has its place. The occasional tardiness happens and casual Fridays have become acceptable. But showing up in sweats 20 minutes late to the meeting because your dog got loose and then yelling “Hey Jack! Whasup?” across the room to the division manager will not win friends and positively influence people.

If Mark Zuckerberg can wear a hoodie to meetings on Wall Street, why can’t everyone else wear flip-flops and tank tops to work?

lack of work ethic, arrogance, sense of entitlement, inappropriate appearance, lack of follow-through on projects, and inattentiveness to work. Deborah Ricker, one of the study’s authors, observed “Acceptable behaviour among peers is not necessarily acceptable among coworkers and superiors.” Is this confined to the “kids?” No, we are just as likely to observe these behaviours among some older colleagues, especially with regard to the use of personal technology. So what is professionalism? calls it the standing, practice or methods of a professional. But what most people think of as professionalism also includes courtesy, punctuality and the other behaviours that seem to comprise manners. In essence, acting professionally has to be the whole package. Completing the assigned work is not enough. It has to be performed in a manner that reflects 14


October 2013

HR Matters

In spite of many in the media declaring that “things are different now,” those making most of today’s weighty decisions still remember a time when courtesy, punctuality, patience, and follow-through, counted for as much as price, features, benefits and delivery times. How many times a day do firms across the marketplace lose deals because of sloppy work, sloppy clothes, inappropriate communication or a lack of shared values? So how do you reinvigorate the sense of professionalism within the workplace? Here’s a three part strategy:

Begin by establishing realistic standards. As

HR Matters | Workforce Trends

much as some may wish, the formalities of times past will not return. In fact, some of those standards were relics of a bygone era even then. Professionalism comes down to respect – respect for colleagues, respect for customers or constituents, and respect for the institution itself. After all, if the organisation’s reputation is found lacking because of lax standards of appearance, communication and quality, it will soon be out of business.

someone says, “I talked with my friends and they think this is just a bunch of BS?” The truth is, you will win this argument more with context and reasoning than you will with decree. In response to the situation above, you might say something like, “Well, this change was in direct response to comments we heard from constituents about the endless texts and emails they receive from us when a two minute conversation would resolve the issue.”

Compile a list of behaviours that customers and co-workers find lacking. Be specific in your descriptions. “Too casual an appearance” is not good enough. Instead describe what is appropriate. “Customer complaints about communication” is not as specific as “Customers expressing concerns about texting abbreviations in formal proposals.” Then prioritise the items you have compiled. Choose your battles. Attempting to implement too many of these standards all at once will result in a rebellion or a battle of wills with those who don’t feel a need to comply. In more than one organisation with which I have worked, the informality of written and electronic communication became so pervasive that leaders developed a protocol for connecting with clients. (ie. “This is when you e-mail. This is when you call. This is when you set an appointment. This is how you address customers. This is what you never say to customers.” Etc.)

Remind, encourage and praise the changes in behaviour. You are not attempting to correct manners, etiquette,

Next, sell the concept. Let’s face it. Changing any aspect of a culture can be tough. This is especially true with ingrained habits. Those who have brought these habits with them have to be convinced that a change in behaviour will improve their opportunities, income, personal position and other possibilities connected to “What’s in it for me.” That’s not to say that you can’t introduce certain rules that simply improve day-to-day functioning. Everyone expects changes to organisational protocol occasionally. But it helps to explain the reasoning. Anything you can do to demonstrate the practical benefits of rules about appearance, attire, punctuality and so on will help you make a more convincing argument. If you can demonstrate it through surveys and numbers of specific feedback, all the better. While veterans of the workforce may think that most of this is common sense, we need to remember that those new to the organisation do not share our vantage point. In fact, their experiences may be decidedly different.

Embedding these practices requires one-on-one contact with those who don’t get it or don’t choose to get it. Once again, modeling plays a role in this transition. Demonstrating the appropriate routine with individuals accomplishes two goals - specific instruction and clear reinforcement that the behaviour really does need to change.

Show and tell is not enough. Modeling is essential. Provide samples of work. Have people accompany you to meetings with customers. Have them listen in on phone calls. Blind copy them on correspondence so they can see what professional work looks like. Never be late to a meeting. Follow through on commitments. All this sounds a little preachy. But how often do we complain about a lack of manners while not adhering to the standards we espouse? Be prepared for challenges to your changes. Your initial attempts at establishing new practices may be viewed as judgmental, holier-thanthou, or even discriminatory. Prepare responses for these reactions in advance and rehearse them. What will you say, for instance, when

or anything of the kind in your workplace. You are asking people to change their behaviour to improve their performance as defined by the organisation’s leadership. If this means better follow-through on assignments, so be it. If this means adhering to certain ways to communicate with the public, that as well. But it is one thing to establish these expectations. It’s another to ensure that these practices evolve over time. Initially, these reminders might involve posters, e-mails, tweets, video and so on. But that will only go so far. After a while, most of it will blend into the woodwork or be lost in the information overload. These efforts are necessary but only one part of the strategy.

In today’s environment of endless distractions and impatience to get things done, there seems little time to focus on the details of communication, appearance, work accuracy and so on. Yet taken together this lack of attention to detail and professionalism is what contributes directly to the unraveling of organisational effectiveness. All of this really comes down to one statement: “If you see it, address it.” A two minute conversation at the time, trumps monthly, quarterly or annual evaluations when it comes to changing behaviour and improving performance. So here’s the deal. If you are as troubled by all this as I, don’t just sit there grumbling. Instilling professionalism begins with whomever feels that it is lacking in the environment. Complaining about someone else’s lack of manners, punctuality or preparedness without saying something simply enables them to continue. What steps can you take to initiate a small change today? Robert Wendover is Director of The Center for Generational Studies and author of Figure It Out! Making Smart Decisions in a Dumbed-Down World. Contact him at

HR Matters

October 2013



Organisational Change | HR Matters

The OD practitioner


Organisation Development (OD) can at times be perceived as some kind of ‘magical art’. The reason for this is a reliance on the skills of the OD practitioner to impact on the organisational system in a way which will shift the status quo. When we begin to examine exactly how this is accomplished, it becomes apparent that great OD is achieved in the interactions between the OD practitioner and their clients.

By Alison France

Concrete Experience (doing / having an experience)

Active Experimentation (planning / trying out what you have learned)

Reflective Observation (reviewing / reflecting on the experience)

Abstract Conceptualisation (concluding / learning from the experience)

Burke (1982): One who provides help, council and support. Schein (1988): Key role defined as process consultation, i.e., a set of activities that help the client to perceive, understand and act upon process events in the client’s environment in order to improve the situation identified by the client.

Nevis (1987): Outlines five basic roles / activities of a GestaltKolb’s learning cycle (1984) oriented (holistic) consultant: Following the OD cycle, as I’ve 1. To attend to the client outlined in my previous two articles for HR Matters, is of course system, observe, and selectively share observations of what you essential. However, between these interventions people have an see, hear, etc. opportunity to reflect, theorise, plan and change their behaviours, 2. To attend to your own experience (feelings, sensations, thoughts) and selectively share these, establishing your presence in doing so. 3. To focus on energy in the client system and the emergence of or lack of issues (common figures) for which there is energy; to act to support mobilisation of energy (joining) so that something happens. 4. To facilitate clear, meaningful, heightened contacts between members of the client system (including contact with you). attitudes and even emotions (as described by Kolb’s learning cycle). 5. To help the group achieve heightened awareness of its process It is these changes in the senior and networked employees which in completing units of work, and to learn how to complete units ultimately create a shift in the organisational culture. Before, during of work so as to achieve closure around problem areas and and after these planned interventions, the OD practitioner uses their unfinished business. ‘Self’ or ‘Presence’, to create conditions for these changes to occur. To achieve this, the OD practitioner needs to develop ‘presence’. McLagan (1989) stated this succinctly: “Presence is the living embodiment of knowledge: the theories and “Organisation development’s primary emphasis is on relationships practices believed to be essential to bring about change in people and processes between and among individuals and groups. Its are manifested, symbolised, or implied in the presence of the primary intervention is influence on the relationship of individuals consultant.” (Nevis, 1998). and groups to reflect the impact on the organisation as a system.”

The development of self is part of the OD practitioner’s ethics.

Developing as an OD practitioner The role of the OD practitioner There are many descriptions of the role of the OD practitioner. Here I have included three which particularly resonate with me and my practice. 16


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HR Matters

So personal development as an OD practitioner does not just mean developing one’s skills and knowledge in a work context (e.g. facilitation, coaching, OD process knowledge). It is the essence of developing as a human being. By nature, this development path

HR Matters | Organisational Change

is unique to each individual and requires a lifelong commitment to learning and development.

The 6 elements of cultivating presence (Rainey and Hanafin, 2006)

conflict and diversity on individuals and the group. The group is typically 10-12 people who meet for 30-40 hours. I participated in my First T group as the first module of the NTL OD Certificate Programme I am taking this year. It was the most significant development experience I have had for a number of years. Having completed numerous personality questionnaires I thought I knew Actively seeking my ‘self’ well. However during feedback from this experience I gained a colleagues, clients and friends much deeper understanding (understand your of who I am and how I make impact) an impact on people around me.

Nevis (1987) outlined the skills required to be an effective OD consultant. 1. Ability to stay in the present and focus Committing time and energy to on the ongoing process, with active reflection faith in natural developmental (make full use of sequence. your learning) Continuing to work 2. Considerable sensitivity on unsolved issues and unfinished to sensory, physical business (personal functioning of self and growth, power & others. relationship issues 3. Frequent tuning into your Cultivating emotions. Presence 4. Ability to separate data from interpretation Conclusion Living life fully Experimenting and to emphasise nonwith new ways of (e.g. family, Ultimately the development being (try on new relationships, judgmental observations. of self is part of the OD hobbies, travel styles, cultures 5. Awareness of your practitioner’s ethics and all and spirituality) and behaviours) Investing in a intentions, of what you want development paths are by broad worldview to do or say, together with the definition, individual. In addition (explore new cultures, keeping ability to be clear in letting others to those stated here, mindfulness, up to date on know what you want of and from walking by the sea, journaling, world events) them. participating in group activities and 6. Ability to see where the client is at any travelling are all part of my regular activities time, and to respect that in working with alongside work based activities such as (intellectual, social, moral, emotional, the system. trying new actions, seeking feedback and psychological and spiritual) and across 7. Ability to face and accept emotional reflecting on the outcome. I wish you all seven stages (sensorimotor, impulsive, situations with a minimum of personal adventure on your own journeys. imperial, relational, organisational, worlddefensiveness. centric and self-trancendent). 8. Ability to make good contact with others. Alison France is the Another model well worth considering is 9. Ability to present self as a highly founding Director of described in the illustration above. attractive yet non-charismatic presence. evosis Limited, special10. Capacity to be both tough and supportive during the same work session. 11. Ability to help the client system draw meaning or understanding from its experience with the consultant. 12. Appreciation of the significant contextual issues involved in System Intervention. 13. Awareness of the aesthetic, transcendent, and creative aspects of working as a consultant. There are some fantastic texts and models which provide a framework to guide the practitioner in their development. One of my favourites is Kate Cowie’s Finding Merlin. This book uses a fantastic storytelling style to describe holistic development in six streams

The T Group As demonstrated by these models and Kolb’s learning cycle, the experience of creating the self is not achievable solely through reading and improving knowledge. Ultimately it is an experiential activity. The T group was created by NTL (National Training Laboratories) to facilitate this learning in a group setting. It is a learning laboratory where group members explore leadership and group membership skills by participating freely, sharing their different perceptions and giving and receiving feedback. Group members gain an in-depth understanding of how their communication impacts on others as well as the impact of

ists in Organisational Change and Leadership Development. She is a business psychologist and HR professional with over 15 years’ experience of leading organisational change projects and design and delivery of leadership development programmes. Her qualifications include an MSc Occupational Psychology (Distinction) and Chartered Member of the CIPD (L&D Specialist) and Certificate of Occupational Testing (Level A and B). Alison has facilitated organisational change initiatives as well as designed and delivered award winning leadership development programmes. HR Matters

October 2013



Positive Psychology | HR Matters

Half a mind By Sulynn Choong

Checking in. Ever caught yourself saying “I have half a mind to ... (do something) but ... (did not follow through with some excuse not to do it)”? Or perhaps driven home by default although you were on your way to somewhere else? Jumped to some embarrassing conclusion about something or someone, only to realise later that you missed some material contradictory information? As for me, I often call my daughter by my younger sister’s name, much to the former’s chagrin. Often our excuse is ‘oops, not thinking’ or ‘sorry, I was not all there’. On the other hand, when I get exasperated, I tend to lament that ‘people just don’t use their brains’; or are ‘lazy to think’. Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Laureate in Economics, leads a band of psychologists whose research findings show that there are two teams of little people who run the business of thinking inside our heads a.k.a. System 1 (Team S1) and System 2 (Team S2). (Aside: I love this guy for making my notion of ‘little people in the head’ legitimate). Team S1 is quick as a flash, intuitive, automatic and spontaneous, constantly monitoring the world inside and outside the mind and checking for coherence. It continuously generates assessments of the situation e.g. risk evaluation (to go ahead or retreat), pleasure or pain, normal or novel, and is self-preserving but without specific intention and with little effort (intuitive judgment). So Team S1 helps us recognise a friendly face, and realise that the shoe on the left is the right shoe and should be worn on the right 18


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HR Matters

foot. Its responses may be innate like recognising anger from facial expression/tone, or learned through prolonged practice like typing on the keyboard without looking or multiplying 2 x 2. So what does Team S2 do? Team S2 acts slowly; it allocates attention to effortful mental tasks of directing attention and searching through our memories to find answers to all new, unfamiliar or perplexing impressions generated by Team S1. Team S2 does calculations, makes choices, exercises self-control, and ponders the big stuff. Most of what it thinks and does come originally from Team S1, and Team S2 only takes over when things get tough, and has the deciding vote. Note that intense focusing on a task can make people effectively blind to stimuli that normally attract attention – selective attention. For example, consider when reversing our car into a narrow parking space in a congested area. We turn the radio volume down and stop listening to the conversation in the car to focus intensely on distance, turning angle, speed and space. All attention and thinking

HR Matters | Positive Psychology

effort directed into that single activity and everything else pales in the background, to avoid making mistakes. Often, we feel drained by the effort as Team S2 is a huge energy-guzzler. However Team S2 is paradoxically lazy, and mostly endorses Team S1’s suggestions of impressions, intuition, intentions or feelings, with little or no modification. Over time, it programmes normally automatic functions of attention and memory of these endorsements into voluntary actions that Team S1 executes. So we see how practice makes permanent, and we do many things quite effortlessly and efficiently, e.g. calculate a 10% discount, ride a bike, greet our Japanese customer koninchiwa, and so on. Lazy S2 takes a back seat while we live on auto-pilot and a person with a large repertoire of learned and practised ‘intuitive responses’ is considered ‘quickthinking’. All is well when we live and work in familiar settings and conditions as the division of labour between the two teams minimises effort and optimises performance. Team S1 is generally very good at what it does and cannot be stopped e.g. you see a number, you recognise it.

other relevant information (e.g. our experience) preferring to depend on formulas, unfortunate outcomes result. Team S1 also spares Team S2 by substituting a simpler question for a difficult or tricky target question. Answering ‘How happy are you in your current job?’ would probably cause you to consider ‘what mood am I in today/this week at work?’ You may not even notice that you did not answer the target question because the lazy Team S2 ‘often follows the path of least effort and endorses a heuristic answer without much scrutiny of whether it is truly appropriate’. Be vigilant! Team S1 provides intuitive answers readily and confidently, whether they originate from skills or heuristics. I have only highlighted a couple of biases here, and there are many more. In fact, negative emotions (anger, fear, envy, panic, sorrow), physical exhaustion (lack of sleep, stress, physical strain, illness), and intoxication (alcohol, medication, substance use) also has the same effect of dulling mindful and rational judgment. Be mindful. Kahneman tells us that Team S1 is not easily educable

Note that intense focusing on a task can make people effectively blind to stimuli that normally attract attention – selective attention.

Unfortunately, Team S1 is not perfect as it develops mental shortcuts (heuristics) and biases or systematic errors that it is prone to make in particular circumstances, and has little understanding of logic and statistics. The challenge is presented at those times when Team S2 is concentrating on effortful tasks and Team S1 is left to carry on unsupervised. Think of how we make spelling mistakes, write wrong numbers or forget to sign when we get distracted while writing a cheque. Hence poor judgment, hasty conclusions and unreasonable actions occur when Team S1 has to deal with the out-of-ordinary on its own without the support of busy Team S2. Team S1 is gullible; and is biased to believe what’s available (in recent memory or past) in the absence of current information - it ‘jumps to conclusions’. Kahnemann terms this ‘WYSIATI – what you see is all there is’. WYSIATI works when the likelihood of being correct is high and the occasional error is acceptable; otherwise it leads to overconfidence and suppression of doubt and ambiguity i.e. ‘we go with the flow’. When we respond to 90% fat free and 10% fat a little differently even though we know it’s the same; or fail to consider

but we can block errors in judgment by recognising the situations in which errors and omissions are likely to happen, and slowing down to seek reinforcement from Team S2. Sulynn Choong is a positive change consultant and coach working with organisations to energise their workforce for outstanding performance. Combining practical corporate experience with evidence-based research in positive psychology, she assists CEOs in evaluating their organisations’ existing and proposed change initiatives for coherence, congruence, relevance and positive impact.

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. Allen Lane. Published by the Penquin Group. Test your selective attention: watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo Quick read on Heuristics: http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Heuristic HR Matters

October 2013



The Network | HR Matters

When it comes to job hunting – it’s not who you know, it’s what you know


Ten years ago, LinkedIn was launched with the catch-cry that ‘relationships matter,’ and we set ourselves on a mission to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. We’ve noticed that since 2003 the professional landscape in many markets has changed significantly – as has job hunting. As well as becoming more competitive – that’s surely a given? – expectations at every level have significantly increased. For businesses, the bar has risen in terms of the experience and skill set required of applicants. Despite the never-ending stream of depressing headlines, job seekers shouldn’t feel downhearted – there are opportunities out there, as businesses continue to look for talent. In Malaysia, the 20 to 24 age group has the highest unemployment rate at 40.6 percent of unemployed Malaysians, a modest increase from the year 2011.1 With students and recent graduates one of the fastest growing groups on LinkedIn, it is clear to see today’s young people are trying

By Cliff Rosenberg

cliff rosenberg

Malaysia, where ‘who you know’ still has some leverage, the emerging generation will have to modify their thinking and approach to include ‘what you know.’

companies hiring for entry level positions are not just looking for skills and paper qualifications but also for those who are able to demonstrate an understanding of business, a clear and informed point of view and those who can show a passion for their chosen profession. Candidates require a sound level of business acumen. There is a wealth of resources out there offering career advice, but what can be more valuable than insight from the most successful people in business today? Recently, LinkedIn invited highly influential business leaders to provide blog posts for the site, with the likes of Richard Branson and other high profile entrepreneurs and a diverse group of influencers regularly sharing their advice and mentorship with the current and new generation of professionals. But merely having this knowledge isn’t enough. To stand out, candidates must be able to confidently communicate their thoughts and opinions on the issues that matter in their industry in order to build their own brand. And that’s how all young

Despite the never-ending stream of depressing headlines, job seekers shouldn’t feel downhearted – there are opportunities out there, as businesses continue to look for talent. to establish their professional credentials early. A decade on from when LinkedIn began, ‘who you know’ remains crucial in today’s challenging economy, but ‘what you know’ is now even more important. Even in 20


October 2013

HR Matters

Why? Because thanks to the multitude of social networking sites, anyone can claim a large network of contacts. Be it online or in person, connecting with each other has become second nature, especially to true digital natives/Generation Z. Today,

professionals should consider themselves – a brand in their own right. The online world offers a wealth of platforms – a personal blog, Twitter and, of course, a LinkedIn presence – none of which are mutually exclusive. A well-presented and

HR Matters | The Network

up-to-date blog can indicate how passionate you are, how well you articulate yourself and your motivation and commitment levels, while LinkedIn has a number of Groups where members can talk to likeminded professionals, join discussions, ask questions and evolve their own clear point of view and voice. Being able to talk with knowledge and confidence will get candidates only so far, so putting this into practice is also crucial. Experience is key to unlocking job opportunities and it’s this, coupled with workready skills, which set people apart when in the market for entry level positions. As well as the big, global companies that are perhaps the most obvious beacon to jobseekers, the small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) shouldn’t be forgotten. SMEs account for a large proportion of entry-level job opportunities yet they attract little interest compared to better known companies. Voluntary roles and work experience demonstrate a passion for a chosen industry, as well as delivering a sense of commercial awareness that can’t be taught. Those who haven’t progressed to Higher Education should bear in mind that being a graduate isn’t necessarily essential when it comes to securing a job. With the likes of internships, apprenticeships and kick-starter loans, there are a number of ways to get a foot on the ladder – especially if you have more of an entrepreneurial streak.

Having tangible skills that are of immediate value to business is critical in today’s marketplace, but candidates who want to stand out from the crowd need to go above and beyond. That’s why LinkedIn has layered on something else: no longer just connecting the world’s professionals to each other, but connecting them to the insights that will help them be better at what they do. Clifford Rosenberg is Managing Director for LinkedIn in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. With a distinguished 20 year career in the digital space, both as an entrepreneur and executive, his role also includes a pivotal task of expanding LinkedIn’s reach across Southeast Asia. He was formerly the managing director of Yahoo! Australia and New Zealand. Prior to joining Yahoo!, he was the founder and managing director of iTouch Australia and New Zealand, a leading wireless application service provider.Cliff holds a number of directorships including Australia’s leading online restaurant booking platform,, and is chairman of the Sound Alliance Group. Labour Force Survey Report Malaysia 2012 – Department of Statistics Malaysia. labour_force/Labour_Force_Survey_Report_Malaysia_2012.pdf


HR Matters

October 2013



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HR Matters | Lit

What makes a great leader?

T Title : The Leadership Code : Five Rules to Lead By By : Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood and Kate Sweetman Published by : Harvard Business Review Press Year of publication : 2008 ISBN 978-1-4221-1901-3 Details : Hardcover 190 pages Available on : Amazon

here are tens of thousands of leadership studies, theories and best practices on this topic. Can we say that there really is a definitive answer to the question : What makes a great leader? Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood and Kate Sweetman believe that they have cracked the code on leadership by drawing on decades of research experience and extensive interviews. Dave Ulrich, cofounder of the RBL Group, is a professor of business at the University of Michigan and recently, named one of the ten most innovative and creative business management thinkers. He has published 15 books. Norm Smallwood, cofounder of the RBL Group, is co-author of five books including two with Ulrich. Kate Sweetman, a principal consultant with the RBL Group, is former editor at Harvard Business Review. Synthesising their research, these authors present five rules for great leadership, based on the ideas they kept hearing time and

time again. It is these five ideas, these rules, that have become The Leadership Code : Rule 1 : Shape the future Rule 2 : Make things happen Rule 3 : Engage today’s talent Rule 4 : Build the next generation Rule 5 : Invest in yourself. At 190 pages, the book is split into seven chapters. The first chapter defines the Code and is succeeded with a chapter devoted to each rule. The authors seek to synthesise what they know about the basics of leadership and put forward a framework based on the patterns they saw emerging from their research, the interviews they conducted and their own experience. There are assessment worksheets, mini surveys as well as further resources outlined at the end of the chapters. The book is designed to drive action, is far from theoretical and dry and presents a thoughtful read. In essence, it gives you a practical yet comprehensive framework about what leaders do and why they do it.

On performance … transparency and clarity of objectives, and accountability for decision making delegated as far down as possible is generally the foundation for a high-performing organisation. You need to be focused on outcomes, and foster trust and a no-blame culture, surfacing problems and issues at an early stage and aiming to resolve difficulties collaboratively. Wendy Cartwright Former HR Director at the Olympic Delivery Authority. Find out more about Wendy’s journey at the ODA on page 26.

HR Matters

October 2013



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HR Matters | Columnists

website snapshot A quick look at posts this October!

Kristin Kaufman Alignment

Laura McAdam

Carol Quinn

The ROI of HR


Everybody’s Got Something - The Power of Intention

Resume Screening - How to Pick the High Performer

A nine minute podcast on the power of

This is not the first time in my lifetime that


the unemployment rate has been high. Basic supply and demand principles are at work.

Avoid Promotion Missteps Through Succession Planning I am a proponent of developing internal candidates to fill positions and working with employees to prepare them for their next role within the company.

Rajeev Peshawaria Leadership

Yvette Rautenbach

The Key to Motivating Subordinates : Stop Trying

Who Has Got Your CV?

“I just don’t get it. We pay higher bonuses

with some agencies who act like cowboys and

than anyone else in the industry, and go to

play a numbers game with your information,

great lengths to make sure non-financial

sending your CV to whatever company they

rewards like social/cultural initiatives and

possibly can.

training are top notch. Yet, my subordinates don’t seem to be motivated enough...” said Ramli, a senior executive from a multinational company.

Chris Rowley

Working in Africa

The recruitment industry is a volatile place

Resourcing & Rewards

Is All Expenditure on Education Good for Employee Resourcing and Business? An overarching context for HRM, business and management is societal and involves demographics and the impact on labour markets stemming from falling fertility rates.

HR Matters

October 2013



HR Practitioner | HR Matters



& high performance Wendy Cartwright talks to Rowena Morais about her journey in the highly complex environment of the Olympic Delivery Authority


We wanted to know what it was like to handle a large scale and international project of this nature and the issues that typically cropped up. In a phone interview in early October, Wendy shared her excitement and exuberance for what the role brought and what she has learnt from this experience.

Most of us deal with change initiatives in our organisation at some point or other. Typically, change is either thrust upon or sneaks up on us. But what would happen if you were to help create an organisation from the ground up, knowing that it was to exist for a finite time, that it had huge international branding and that at some point in the near future, the whole thing would come to an end? What if change was an everyday affair? That is exactly what Wendy Cartwright had to deal with when she was recruited to join the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) in April 2006 initially as the Head of HR, and later as HR Director. There were about 20 people who were recruited or transferred into the ODA that first month, and the organisational task ahead was a mega-project - to develop and build the new venues and infrastructure required for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. At its peak, the ODA employed about 400 employees directly. However, employing the construction sector client model, there was a multi-tiered supply chain beneath the ODA, working seamlessly to meet their requirements, providing close to 12,500 workers at its peak and in the course of the project, up to 46,000 staff in total in the construction phase and another 9,000 in the Games-time operational phase. 26


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HR Matters

As the Director of Human Resources of an organisation responsible for building and developing new venues and infrastructure for the London 2012 Olympic Games, what were your thoughts initially when you moved into this role? wendy cartwRIght

While the Games are now over, the organisation still exists, albeit on a much smaller scale, to oversee a major property project whereby the residential accommodation provided for the athletes at Games-time is being converted into property for the housing market. The ODA will formally wind-up in 2014 once this work is completed. Wendy explains that while she primarily managed the direct employees, some issues did lead to interface and work with the supply chain as well and the closest way to viewing the relationship was that of managing a group HR function.

Wendy : I was extremely excited, this was, indeed, a once in a lifetime opportunity. The feeling has not diminished and I do feel privileged to have been part of it. It was interesting to me because it involved my home city and country and from an HR point of view, it was something different. I had previously worked on major business change, such as startups, mergers and acquisitions. But this presented something quite different - I would be involved at the very beginning, through the middle and also, see it through to its end. There were HR challenges at every step of the way, and this to me was irresistible.

HR Matters | HR Practitioner

What sort of expectations did you have about what you were called on to deliver? How did you feel about it? Wendy : It was very complicated in terms of the overall project governance and the environment. There were lots of interdependecies with other organisations. There was the interface with the supply chain, the government, and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), the organiser of the Games itself. Effectively, you were learning as you went along.

I understand that one of the biggest initiatives you worked on at the ODA is the change programme. Congratulations on being the HRD of the Year at the 2013 HR Distinction Awards held in the UK. The award is testament to your work in managing the enormous challenge of delivering the massive change associated with setting a strategic organisational blueprint. What, in your opinion, do you believe is the key factor behind your win?

the way through, we had the big picture and everything was moving on track. There were some big milestones to hit, and that required a lot of focus and determination, but also a high degree of flexibility and agility.

Are you able to share with us some significant details about the change programme? What was the primary objective of this initiative? Was this your project or was this in line with what management was after? Wendy : I think what was different about our situation was that we were in constant change all the way through, from the initial

Diversity is something I have very strong views about. The ODA had a strong Equality + Inclusion function and this was essential to building our organisational capability and culture, as well as having a direct impact on key outcomes of our project, such as ensuring that venues were fully accessible. More broadly, I worry that this may be something that has slipped down the agenda of many organisations, when it needs to be an integral part of HR strategy and day-to-day operations.

Being in control of the ODA’s HR function was exciting. It was great to work with a team of talented people who really just rolled up their sleeves and got stuck into it. But I think what really sealed the deal for me was Sir David Higgins, our first Chief Executive, who I met during my interview. I was very impressed with him, I thought that he had a real sense of how to deliver this massive project and I had confidence in and was inspired by his leadership from that point onwards. David was excellent at handling big, complex problems and finding a way through them, as well as building organisational capability and setting the right tone for the organisation and its supply chain. I was given free rein to set up the HR function, recruit my own team and determine HR policy. The buck stopped with me - that was both interesting and liberating.

Wendy : It was my team who really convinced me that we should put ourselves up for the award. I guess what made the difference for me was the recognition of how we set up the organisation, stabilised it, got it operating effectively and efficiently and dealing with taking it up to the time of the Games, which brought with it different operational pressures, and then effectively closed most of it down post-Games. In terms of the elements of change, the one thing that we had was a clear remit of seven years to do the job and the key objectives were clear. What was not clear was what we could have potentially done which was completed by others, or new activities that we had to take on as key issues emerged. I think one of the challenges was to be clear about the organisational context and how ODA should operate with other partner or supply chain organisations. That said, all

setup, doing robust workforce planning, bringing the people in, setting values and mission. Then, we got to the midpoint of the organisation where we had to keep people motivated and focused on high-performance to finish off the venues and infrastructure construction and finally, preparation for the changes to hit us right before the Games itself, which included transitioning some people to operational roles and letting others go on a planned redundancy programme. At that point we had to focus on things like operational delivery, moving people into different roles, and recruiting people in with different skills - it was constant change. Potentially the biggest change was in the period of transition after the venues were completed and we had to hand the Olympic Park and Athletes’ Village over to Games organisers. HR Matters

October 2013



Th to ov

HR Practitioner | HR Matters

There were big organisational conversations and people issues, such as the need to maintain high levels of security and health and safety practice. One of the key challenges was to maintain pace against an immovable deadline for overall project completion. One thing we did well was that we didn’t meddle too much. When you have limited time, you don’t have the opportunity to continually tweak and change policies or overly debate before making decisions. We put our stake in the ground and we left it there and you know, HR sometimes needs to resist tinkering with things. A lot of what we did was good core HR activity. Where we added value was in looking after the individual within that context and leading those big conversations. In essence, a mix of good core HR activities and some real value add in the context of organisational development activity.

were responsible for managing a budget of £7bn of public funds, but that said, the environment was purposeful, buzzy, energetic and cando. Serious, yes but also fun, friendly and open. We were constantly bringing in new people all the way through the programme and once a new person joined, they had to fit in very quickly, understanding that technical and professional capability was taken for granted at that point. There was no professional questioning of your role but with that came responsibility and accountability. The atmosphere was definitely collaborative, focused and enjoyable. We recruited good people because we paid attention to recruiting not only people who were technically and professionally excellent, but who were also able to work as part of a team and who understood the bigger picture. The tone of the organisation was crucial.

Work/life balance was something that the ODA was good at managing despite the pressures of delivery. Our CEO used to tell people to pace themselves to avoid burn-out, saying “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”. Lots of our staff had flexible working patterns, and others worked from home on a regular basis. We were very focused on outputs, not presenteism, and although people worked very hard and very intensely we very much respected the need for work-life balance.

Can you share with us your vision of the workplace that you sought to create? Wendy : There were a number of things. Firstly, in 2006, we had a relatively basic HR plan that included recruitment, set up of systems and processes and getting the organisation relatively stable. By 2007 it was clear that we needed a more strategic framework, not just a plan, to take us through to the organisation’s closure. So, we put in a people strategy with a number of dimensions to it, which we used as our guide and as a check to ensure we were on track and planning effectively. This strategy had ten key dimensions covering things like building the workforce, handling exits, vision and values, leadership etc. We have shared our approach with HR colleagues from other organisations and have had a lot of interest in our approach. Someone at an event recently told me she had used this as a template for her own HR strategy. That’s music to my ears – we are delighted to share our learning with others and even more delighted if it is useful to them. In terms of the kind of place it was, we did work jointly with LOCOG and CLM, our construction programme Delivery Partner, with joint vision and values and this very much set the tone. I would say that it was a very delivery focused organisation - we had to focus on outcomes and performance and on working as a team. We had to operate in a highly commercial manner with our supply chain as we 28


October 2013

HR Matters

What were two critical challenges you faced in managing the change initiative? Wendy : The key challenges were the interface with other organisations and the complexity and scale of the project. It’s really not about overcomplicating the situation but you had to understand how it worked. One of the key HR challenges was that everyone knew that they were leaving the organisation at some point; the only question was when, not if. So it was critical how we handled the first exits, including conversations with individuals, how we planned and communicated and the sort of package we put together to support them. That was important for us to get right because everyone was watching. It was vital for us to be upfront with our people about the communication on the changes coming on, the evolving nature of the roles and ultimately, the exits. Wendy Cartwright was formerly the HR Director for the Olympic Delivery Authority and led their HR function from April 2006 to March 2013. Additionally, Wendy chairs the Advisory Board of Global Diversity Practice. She is a member of the UK’s Engage for Success Task Force and the European HRD Circle. Wendy previously held senior HR roles in the UK in Government and the Energy, Financial and Retail sectors. She has a Masters degree in Employment Strategy and is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD.

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We could talk about us

Diary | HR Matters



HR Matters presents Talent Management. Raising Your Game 2013 HR Briefings Dates : 28 November 2013 Venue : Menara Star, Section 16, Petaling Jaya Info : htm 3rd Annual Business Transformation Shared Services & Outsourcing Summit Japan Date : 12 - 13 November 2013 Venue : Tokyo Info :

These are events of interest to the HR community. Event listings are complimentary. If you have an event that you think will be of interest, send details at least two weeks before month of magazine issue for inclusion in the print edition. Details can be emailed to



Human Capital Institute : 2013 Talent Acquisition Technology Forum Date : 5 - 6 Dec 2013 Venue : San Francisco, California, USA Info : Emerging Markets HR Summit Three Pre-summit Masterclasses Date : 1 - 4 April 2014 Venue : London, UK Info :


Talent Leadership : A Proven Method for Developing Leaders and Future Leaders John Mattone’s first ever public event in UAE Dates : 20 November 2013 Venue : Dubai, UAE Info : johnmattone

NOW AVAILABLE AS AN E-MAGAZINE Growing from strength to strength, HR Matters Magazine launched in August 2011 its first-ever digital version of the magazine on its website. The 52 page magazine will be produced in both print and digital format to provide you with unparalleled choice and ease. Digital subscriptions can be purchased on an annual basis or as a single digital copy of any issue. Readers of the digital version of the HR Matters Magazine will experience the same stunning visuals as well all articles, interviews and news releases as found in each print issue. Check out the website for more details at



October 2013

HR Matters

HR Matters | Learning & Development

Building High Impact Learning Cultures


s constantly changing market forces continue to keep

Opened Book image courtesy

Changing the dynamics of learning and taking advantage of an IT-savvy workforce By Nik Feizal Hanafi

solving methodology within the dynamic work processes.

businesses nimble, companies need to operate intelligently to remain competitive. Knowledge and skills are getting

outdated faster than the rate of acquisition. To adapt quickly,

Changing the dynamics of Learning Concepts

continuous learning has become a core strategy for business survival

Asians tend to be perceived as passive receivers of knowledge since

and growth. The concept of having an effective learning culture has

the emphasis has always been on Education rather than Learning.

gained popularity in Asian organisations recently.

Formal learning formed their educational foundation and was usually taught by subject matter experts.

According to a recent Oracle whitepaper entitled “Seven Steps to Building a High-Impact Learning Culture”, most HR professionals

These formal learning education systems are commonly deployed

The role of teaching professionals has progressed to become more of a facilitator in a climate of continuous learning, that is mostly driven by employees and managers themselves. know a learning culture is important to the health of the organisation,

in most Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Thailand,

but few can say why or even define what it means to have an effective

Indonesia and Vietnam. Most of what is taught by teachers and

learning culture.

trainers is determined by the school or organisation and ‘pushed out’ to students.

A learning culture is a foundational set of organisational values, conventions, processes, and practices that encourage individuals

However, today’s learning programmes are evolving from being

and the organisation to increase knowledge, competence and

‘teacher-centered’ to high impact constructivist learning. The role of

performance. Employees learn more effectively through a problem

teaching professionals has progressed to become more of a facilitator HR Matters

October 2013



Learning & Development | HR Matters

in a climate of continuous learning, that is

constructivist learning programmes where

in the evaluation process. The right

mostly driven by employees and managers

IT plays a significant role to strengthen

learning culture is key in driving business

themselves. The focus is on students



‘pulling’ knowledge from various sources

development and skills developments.

that are broad and diversified, thus

How can they do this?



enhancing the learning experience.

Ultimately, what organisations focus on, vary depending on their business strategy.

The first step in engaging a workforce is to

For example, organisations that want to

Today, high-impact learning organisations

get to know them better, and technology

excel in product innovation should place



solutions promote this by capturing and

more emphasis on empowering employees.

new concept in learning, are better at

managing a comprehensive profile of each

Companies that place a priority on high

developing skills and talent. With a strong

employee. This profile provides deep insight

employee productivity should focus on

learning foundation in place, HILOs tend

into the employee’s current capabilities and

building trust.

to significantly outperform their peers

their potential aspirations for growth into

in several areas: market share, greater

other roles in the organisation.




employee productivity, the ability to deliver

All of these practices add significant value, but it’s important for leaders to select the

quality products and better response to

Secondly, the organisation can develop

right practices for their business strategy to

customer needs.

and deliver a highly-configurable learning

build a high impact learning culture. This,

The first step in engaging a workforce is to get to know them better, and technology solutions promote this by capturing and managing a comprehensive profile of each employee. Engaging an IT-savvy Workforce

experience that reflects the organisation’s

in turn, enables employees with sufficient

culture, such as a successful learning

time to self-reflect, develop and encourage

The latest generation of employees entering

programme that promotes higher levels of

knowledge (and expertise) sharing in the

the workforce has grown up in a world of

acceptance and adoption, brand awareness,

organisation – all of which are increasingly

constant change and innovation. These

and in turn, higher productivity and

crucial in today’s business world.

employees want to learn continuously


and expect that their employers value and

address the learning needs of organisations

Nik Feizal Hanafi is

nurture their potential. The mobile and

throughout the entire employment cycle,


transient nature of this new workforce

from onboarding, certification requirements,


also makes it easy for them to ‘jump ship’

compliance mandates, job-related training

Malaysia. Prior to this,

to companies that can offer them better

to continued career development.


These learning experiences

development opportunities.



Manager, Oracle was


Director for the Public Lastly, it is about fitting the learning

Sector Group at Microsoft Malaysia, where he

Learning and development activities are

culture to the business strategy. Assessing

worked closely with the Malaysian Government

a key component of a talent management

individual contribution and performance


plan that seeks to engage and retain the

levels is

initiatives that support the Government’s

workforce. Organisations in Asia should

career growth. However, overall team


success has also become a key barometer




October 2013




HR Matters

fundamental to the person’s



Transformation Programmes.


HR Matters | Global Study

The Asian Firm’s Balancing Act


by Dr Andreas Raharso and Senthil Sukumar

Which businesses can maintain a steady course towards profitability in a sea of rapidly increasing market complexity and volatility? It’s not an easy question to answer, but management consulting firm, Hay Group, sought out these enigmatically successful companies through its 2013 Best Companies for Leadership (BCL) study. Now in its eighth year, the annual global study of over 2,200 organisations worldwide identifies which firms have the best leadership practices, and finds out what we can learn from them. This year, Procter & Gamble (P&G) reclaimed the number one spot it last held in 2005, and takes the top spot from General Electric (GE), the Best Company for five of the past seven years. It turns out that P&G, GE and other companies ranked highly, display one standout feature: a profound ability to maintain a balance between exploration, the ability to commit to innovation and new ventures, while simultaneously exploiting existing marketing strengths to achieve business excellence. This ability of firms’ management to both explore and exploit, a concept known as Ambidextrous Leadership, is crucial in ensuring the long-term sustainability of firms. To validate the level of ambidexterity of participating firms, their exploration and exploitation scores, derived from employee responses, were matched against the firms’ EBITD (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes and Depreciation) margin. The results showed that firms that best balanced exploitation and exploration have the highest EBITD margin, while organisations that gave little attention to exploration have much lower figures. These findings unearth a telling paradox: pursuing short-term financial performance actually results in reduced profitability. To ensure long-tem financial success, businesses need to invest in long-term sustainability. “The Best Companies for Leadership recognise that many of the skills once required solely for senior leadership roles — high levels of emotional intelligence, commitment to continuous learning, analytical thinking — are now critical at every level of the organisation,” says Ruth Malloy, global managing director of Hay Group’s Leadership and Talent practice. “To excel in today’s highly complex and competitive business environment, the Best Companies are taking deliberate steps to develop and reward these competencies to enable their organisations to achieve operational excellence today, while driving innovation for tomorrow.” Closer to home, Asian conglomerates Tata and Samsung have the best exploration and exploitation scores in the study. They also have

some of the highest EBITD margins, with an average figure of 26.5 percent. On top of these, according to Reuters data, they both enjoy five-year earnings-per-share growth rates of over 25 percent, an indication of strong investor confidence in their future performance. As such, both Tata and Samsung are well positioned for market success over the next few years. How do these forward looking firms achieve ambidexterity? By investing and rewarding their employees for both short and long term initiatives. 82 percent of the Best Companies for Leadership use rewards or reprimands that are based on rigorous measurements of performance against goals to drive exploitation. At the same time, they promote cultures that encourage innovation by stimulating and rewarding cross-functional collaborations that lead to new business lines. The Top 20 companies are also more likely to reward employees for innovative business ideas. Unfortunately the data shows that on average, Asian firms are not as ambidextrous as their American and European counterparts; fewer than 60 percent of companies in Asia grasped the importance of an organisational strategy that balances exploitation and exploration. The immediate benefit of improved cash flow and market share may disguise the longer-term implications of a strategy that is not as forward-thinking as it should be. For example, Chinese petrochemical giant Sinopec’s exploitation score outweighs its exploration score, but the world’s fifth largest company by revenue has an EBITD margin of only 6 percent. On the flipside, Indian wind power market leader Suzlon Energy has an exploration score that outstrips its exploitation score, but its commitment to innovation did nothing to stave off net losses incurred in 2010 and 2011. These numbers suggest that embracing ambidexterity is an effective way for Asian firms to future-proof, while posting strong short-term results. The key takeaway from the BCL study is that it will be the ambidextrous Asian company – simultaneously exploiting present business lines and exploring future innovative concepts – that builds a sustainable future. Dr Andreas Raharso is Director of the Hay Group Global R&D Centre for Strategy Execution and is based in Singapore. Senthil Sukumar is a Research and Content Strategist at Hay Group’s Global R&D Centre for Strategy Execution. HR Matters

October 2013



Small Business:

Special Feature | HR Matters

Simple HR tips for hiring and retaining talent, driving engagement and organisational growth By Rowena Morais

Hiring good talent

 relying on gut feel;

of the team, production of business cards

 not being clear about what you want

and preparing his environment - computer

from the role;  talking far more than listening;

Ensure detailed Job descriptions for each role In the start-up environment, or in small business, execution is key. Proper planning

setup, phone allocation and accounts, email provision.

 taking the candidate at his word; and/or  failing to prepare for the interview.

Make employees feel welcome

Always be on the lookout for talent As a small business, you cannot afford to wait until an opening comes up to then

They are on board! All your hard work in

start looking. You need to always be ready

advertising the position, spreading the news

to act. Establish your network early, keep

among your network and going through

your network fresh and maintain contact

the rounds of interviews have finally paid

on a regular basis. Be willing to support

off. The applicant has now been hired but

others in your network readily so that you

what kind of place is he stepping into?

too may call on them should the need arise.

What first impression will you make? Time

Draw up a staffing plan that reflects the

spent looking at the new hire’s onboarding

growth you expect and ensure you have

clarity of outcomes.

experience will go a long way to ensuring

some funds set aside for this. Understand

that good hires stay :

that your employees are also your brand

Learn to interview effectively - don’t just wing it

 how are they being welcomed that first

ambassadors - how will you maximise this?

and establishing frameworks or systems are frequently seen as less of a priority to getting the job done. However, detailed job descriptions are critical on two fronts. They give the employee a clear idea of what the job entails. They also ensure that the business knows exactly what is expected. Clarity of role is important to establishing

Most small businesses do not have the expertise or experience to hire effectively. However, time spent learning how to interview well will mean hires that stay, who are connected to the business and who can best support you in your growth plan. Spend time to learn good interviewing techniques as well as avoid common hiring mistakes such as : 34


October 2013

HR Matters

week and month?  have you got a welcome pack ready?  can you assign a buddy to the new hire?  what sort of on the job training will you offer?  what feedback loop will you employ

Retaining good talent

in the critical first few weeks to ensure issues are addressed?

Keep communication simple

Identify the things that need to be ready

One of the advantages small business

and done on the new hire’s first day - the

has over the established firm is its size.

basics should cover introductions to the rest






HR Matters | Special Feature



small business



much more accessible and closer to each other without the layers of bureacracy ever-present in the large organisation. This presents an opportunity to better


are put in place to protect yourself. Do

means that you can remove the chaos from

not rely on goodwill or assurances;

your life. You don’t need to worry about

 Employment records should be well

whether he is doing the work and how this is done - is he getting the results you want?

maintained from the start; and

This approach takes the clutter, stress and

understand your employees and their

 Be familiar with and regularly updated

environment. By keeping communication

on entitlements and your obligations as

simple, you allow the challenges and

an employer on things like the minimum

hiccups to rise quickly to the surface - and

wage that should be paid, the minimum

be addressed. Additionally, by keeping

number of days off allowed per year,

your people involved in the progress of

the laws on dismissal, responsibilities

Objectives should be challenging, yet

your company, your struggles and key


realistic. Regular reviews ensure that

developments, they feel part of something

other mandatory deductions, the laws on


bigger than themselves. Doing this then

sick pay, how grievances and complaints

addressed in a timely fashion and problems

creates further alignment between the needs

should be handled and whether the

nipped in the bud.

of your people and your organisation.

employees understand the process for




dealing with this.

First impressions count

Pay people on time

focus off the things that seemingly matter.

Appraise your people regularly





Find ways to provide value, make a real connection and establish your employer brand

As a small company, you lack the presence,

As a small business, cash flow is

brand and cache to impress with large

king. Whatever challenge comes your way,

In today’s competitive landscape, employer

office spaces, personalised car spots and

ensure that you always pay your people on

loyalty is not a given. Talent today typically

the games room. However, being small and

time. While reward is not the only thing we

moves every few years. Businesses that

nimble, you have the ability to personalise

focus on, our salary is what we rely on to get

want to retain good talent must find ways

your employees’ experience to a great

through the month - anything that impacts

to provide real value, emphasising a

extent. Understanding that first impressions

this and that causes people to doubt what

deeper connection with their employees

matter, you can think of ways to stand

you have been saying will go to the heart of

and establishing the benefits of staying.

out with your new hires so that their first

your reputation. Not only do you risk your

Compensation, while important, is not the

three months of employment leave a good

standing with your new employee, you

sole or primary determinant of loyalty. If

impression and importantly, make them

risk your reputation when your unhappy

you can find ways to provide individualised

feel welcome. Not everything that should be

employee leaves, only to badmouth you in

assistance to your talent, if you can help

done in this regard need be expensive and

the marketplace.

them to do their job, if you can assist them

time consuming - it is about considering the

with the things they struggle with, whether

approach and humanising the experience.

at home or at work, big or small, you will make a significant impression. This can take

Cross your T’s and dot your I’s Ensure all the basics are handled well and

Growing good talent

acted upon in a timely manner.  Employment


the relationship between the organisation and the talent to the next level and it starts with the question : How can I help you today?



drafted, completed and provided to all

Results are what matter

employees as soon as they begin work;

Many fall into the trap of focusing on

 Intellectual property should be protected

hours worked, attendance at meetings and

- have the conversations with your staff to

absence rates. But a stringent focus on the

address these issues but ensure systems

bottom line, on the final results you are after HR Matters

October 2013



Self Dev | HR Matters

Clarity in Thinking


Much of our thinking is driven by decisions we made in the past, which makes us who we are. By Yoga Nesadurai

Thinking determines outcomes. Every thought is the ancestor of every outcome. Thinking competently begets clarity. Clarity strengthens purpose, resolve and engenders peak performance. Therefore, leaders should help their people gain clarity in thinking. Having worked across the globe where I led cross-cultural teams, I acquired an appreciation of the power of the individual. I observed key competencies which led to success irrespective of the situation or culture. To enhance these competencies, I developed questions to expand individual thinking. I highlight some questions below. To the seasoned leader, these competencies are observable. The related questions should be used as a transformational tool that engenders agility, responsiveness and resilience to volatile global economic forces.

Shift in Perception Perception plays a key role in thinking. Much of our thinking is driven by decisions we made in the past, which makes us who we are. They are a part of us and this is how we perceive the environment around us. Our perception is so powerful that it can sometimes distort reality. Finding ways to shift these set ways of thinking is the central challenge for leaders in bringing the best out of their people. In the current globalised environment, success depends on our ability to question and challenge some of our beliefs. What are you doing to challenge some of your beliefs, biases and assumptions? Have you had a strongly held belief challenged? How did you react and what was the outcome?

Solution-Focused In the past, I held a belief that I could not write. I found excuses and reasons (symptoms) for not writing. I then decided to question my belief and wrote an article which was later published. This happened through a shift in my perception and by being solution-focused. I chose to focus on writing and not on the excuses. Quiet Leadership author, David Rock, states that to change processes within an organisation, an analytical problem-focused approach is useful. But to shift or enhance thinking, a solutionfocused approach is better. The key to being solution-focused is not to dwell on the ‘why….?’ but to focus on the ‘what can I do about…?’ Shifting the brain’s attention towards alternatives and possibilities gets us into a solution-focused mindset. How do you know you are working within a solution-focused mindset? What are the steps or actions you are taking to be more solutionfocused?



October 2013

HR Matters

Causal Analysis For the solution-focused approach to work, we need to find the cause of our thinking or feelings. One of the greatest gifts we possess as humans is our ability to think things through. However, in many instances, people are treating the symptom rather than the cause. Better outcomes are achieved when we focus on the cause. It is a balancing act in applying the appropriate amount of analysis (to avoid dwelling) to determine the cause. What method are you using to derive the cause of your thinking or feelings? What do you do when you cannot determine the cause?

Personal capital Personal capital is our capacity to make an impact. This is our ability to transform a set of resources into a desired outcome using our energy, attitude and intuition. Impact is achieved because of us rather than the resources provided. It determines how we react to situations irrespective of whether we have the skills to deal with them. Do you usually react-first/think-later or think-first/react-later? If it is the former, what can you do to think-first/react-later? Do you believe you always have choice? What are you doing to have more choice?

Social capital Social capital is our capacity for enriched interactions. To empathise, build trust, long term relationships and networks. The most important attribute in developing our social capital is our intent: is it about me or the other person? When it is about the other person, the resulting interaction is more genuine and rich. When it is about me, the interaction may seem superficial or fake. Are you aware of your intent during an interaction? What can you do to be more aware of your intent? Are you aware of how others perceive you? Are you able to take action based on this awareness? The future is about enhancing these competencies. Leaders should ask the appropriate questions to help their people think, grow and perform. Yoga Nesadurai is a Consultant, Facilitator and Founder of Options & Choices, specialising in organisational and leadership resilience through clarity in thinking. She can be reached at

HR Matters | Trends

Job requirements become more demanding for Malaysian employees


Randstad Workmonitor Q3 Report finds that 86 percent of Malaysian employees indicated their job requirements changed significantly over the last five years. By Jasmin Kaur

Nine in 10 (91 percent) Malaysian employees expect their jobs to become more demanding in the next five years, with the majority (95 percent) of these employees willing to develop their skills to meet the demand. These were some of the findings in the Randstad Workmonitor Report for Q3 2013 released in late September. The forecast of increased workplace expectations was higher in Malaysia compared to other respondents in the region such as in Singapore (80 percent), Hong Kong (73 percent), Australia (73 percent) and New Zealand (82 percent). The figures are reflective of Malaysia’s aim to achieve greater workplace productivity and develop a multi-skilled workforce in line with its goal of becoming a high-income nation by 2020. Accomplishing the status of a high-income nation requires the development of a highly skilled workforce which possesses the necessary skills and qualifications to match relevant industry requirements. As such, businesses and employers will raise performance expectations to enhance overall productivity. It also becomes more important for employees to see the value in upskilling to ensure their knowledge corresponds to the requirements of their role. Signing up for training exercises or refresher courses is a good first step to proactively develop their skills and progress their career. The survey, conducted between 17 July to 5 August 2013 of 405 Malaysian employees also found that 92 percent of the respondents believe their employers are placing greater importance on digital skills than they did five years ago, and that this trend will continue. The advent of digital technologies is becoming increasingly influential in the world of work. Firms recognise the need to embrace technology in order to remain competitive, with many businesses using social media and digital technology tools such as web conferencing and online collaboration tools to drive their businesses forward. While it is important for employees to be comfortable and confident in their use of technology in the workplace, traditional workplace skills such as the ability to work in a team and being self-disciplined are still vital. Regionally, the survey also found that Malaysian employees are the most satisfied with their current employer (77 percent), compared to employees in Singapore (56 percent), Hong Kong (47 percent) and Japan (44 percent).

Other interesting insights from the Workmonitor include: • 86 percent of the Malaysian employees indicated that their job requirements changed significantly over the last five years; • Almost all people in Malaysia (94 percent) consider employers responsible for ensuring the right match between job requirements

The advent of digital technologies is becoming increasingly influential in the world of work.

and employees’ skills and competencies. 94 percent of the Malaysian people consider this (also) as a responsibility of employees themselves; • Compared to the previous quarter, the focus on getting a promotion rose in Malaysia (85 percent vs. 77 percent). The Randstad Workmonitor was launched in the Netherlands in 2003 and now covers 32 countries around the world, encompassing Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas. The Randstad Workmonitor is published four times a year, making both local and global trends in mobility regularly visible over time. The Workmonitor Mobility Index, which tracks employee confidence and captures expectations surrounding the likelihood of changing employers within a six month time frame, provides a comprehensive understanding of job market sentiments and employee trends. In addition to measuring mobility, it provides insights into employee satisfaction and personal motivation, as well as explores sentiments around key trends shaping the world of work for employees each quarter. For more information, please visit Jasmin Kaur has more than 15 years of talent recruitment experience in Malaysia and Hong Kong. As Director, Randstad Malaysia, Jasmin is responsible and accountable for the performance and operational direction for Randstad Malaysia.

HR Matters

October 2013



Leadership | HR Matters

Insights and Lessons from

Leadership in Asia

Part I of a two part article. By Professor Chris Rowley & Professor David Ulrich

Points on Leadership in Asia


Media frenzy and interest in leadership and leaders in Asia continues apace and unabated. From Japan, this ranges from the unfolding tragedy and culture clash at Olympus, to the snipping about the ‘depth of bow’ given by non-Japanese CEOs of Japanese companies and short lived tenure of the US born chief executive of Nippon Sheet Glass. From South Korea, there are the continuing sagas and shenanigans of the scions of the South Korean chaebol. From Thailand and Indonesia, it is leaders’ close links with politics and what is seen as ‘crony capitalism’. From China, there is the recent spectacular unraveling in true Icarus fashion of the career of

We began this overview with some very simple assumptions. First, both individual leaders and organisational leadership matter. The knowledge and actions of individual leaders have an impact on employees, customers, investors and societies. Widespread leadership within an organisation institutionalises a culture and endures over time. Second, Asia is a fertile ground for the study of individual leaders and organisational leadership. Asia is clearly the driving engine for global growth, with both imports and exports of products and services. We

In studying Asia, it is important to recognise that “Asia is not Asia.” Bo Xilai and now the widening fall out of this to the family’s business interests, such as China Everbright, Beijing Liuhexing Group and Yungkong Security Printing. It is never easy, or even possible, to synthesise insights across independent and thoughtful research because any summary overlooks important detailsi. But key messages which reflect patterns and themes identify past and future progress.

Country context: Asian countries have philosophical views that shape norms and patterns

Leaders’ thought and actions

Personal competence: A leader’s personal style, traits and predispositions

Company culture: Each company has a unique culture and practices

Figure 1: Factors Affecting Effective Leadership 38


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HR Matters

believe that, here to date, most leadership in Asia has been imported from Western ideas and practices. With the insights drawn from this and other research, we believe that Asian countries and companies can begin to export leadership as well. In studying Asia, it is important to recognise that “Asia is not Asia.” While Asia has some common philosophical orientations, the unique context of each country offers a rich setting for further study of leadership. Asian countries differ along a number of dimensions. It is as dangerous to group all of Asia together as Europe, Latin America or Africa. Each country has unique social, technological, economic, political, environmental and demographic characteristics that determine market and organisation maturity. For example, there are many striking differences between doing business in China and Japan. In China, for example, the gender gap is substantially smaller than in Japan. A 2007 survey by Grant Thornton International showed that approximately 25 percent of businesses in Japan reported that women held senior management positions. In contrast, the survey found that over 80 percent of the businesses in mainland China reported that women held senior positions. In Malaysia, a key issue is the multi-ethnic context leadership operates in and the embedded ‘Bumiputera’ policies and practices. Third, understanding and furthering leadership requires rigorous research. Many case studies and personal observations about leaders dominate leadership thinking and practice. We believe that through theory and research, theorists who study and leaders

HR Matters | Leadership

who act can better define and sustain effective leadership.

Table 1: Differences of Western and Eastern Business Approachesii

Summaries We now want to offer some broad summaries. These summaries are organised around four key, overarching questions that shape the study of leadership.


What drives effective leadership in Asia? We know that being an effective leader is a mix of factors. We can identify three factors that determine what makes an effective leader (country context, organisation culture and personal competence (see Figure 1 on the left). What leaders do that make them successful is to respond to the country context so that their behaviours are consistent with the values and beliefs of the prevailing culture. Leaders also need to respond to their company culture which creates expectations and norms of how they should act to help their company deliver business goals. And, leaders have personal competencies about who they are, what they know, and what they do. The mix of these three drivers of effective leadership are evident in studies.

Western Time horizon

Short term; how

Long term; future


Leading to allocation of resources today

Leading to positioning the firm for the future

Management philosophy

Management by objectives

Management by shared mindset

Decision making

Fast to decide longer to sell and implement

Slow to decide quick to implement


Personalised and focused on “I”

Shared and focused on “we”


Linear and focused on the task at hand

Cyclical and focused on the context in which work is done

Career orientation




High pay gap between senior executives and lower employees; Pay often based on performance

Lower pay gap between senior executives and lower employees; Pay often based on tenure and position

Leadership philosophy

Hands on, walking ahead of people “Leadership is done from in front. Never ask others to do what you, if challenged, would not be willing to do yourself.” – Xenophon

Hands off, walking behind people “In order to guide people, the leader must put himself behind them. Thus when he is ahead they feel no hurt.” – Lao Tzu


Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Integral Yoga, Islam, Taoism, Zen, Han Fei


Country context: What is the philosophical context that shapes how leaders think and act in Asia? Philosophical Philosophical approaches underlie leadership schools behaviour throughout Asia. A thorough and insightful review of Confucian style, principle and constants is useful (McDonald). Similarly, a comparison of Confucian and Daoism ideologies with work by Han Fei which offers a more legalistic view of society and leadership is important (Witzel). These philosophical differences show up in Western versus Eastern approaches to business (see Table 1). Leaders from the West assigned to work in Asian organisations need to be aware of their biases and to adapt to Eastern philosophies. Asian leaders who fall prey to only doing things the ‘Eastern’ way will not be able to respond to global pressures. Asian leaders who give in to the ‘Western way’ will lose sight of their heritage and be inattentive to their cultural uniqueness.



Company culture: What are the unique company culture challenges that leaders face in the Asian context? An organisation’s culture often starts with its strategic challenges. Organisations competing on price need to build a culture of efficiency and cost containment. Organisations competing on innovation need to build a culture of risk taking and experimentation. Across Asian organisations, some common strategic challenges

exist. Asian organisations increasingly play in global, not local, markets. As the business world shrinks through technology and access, Asian companies have faced the challenge of becoming more multinational. Asian organisations are shifting from being low cost drivers to discovering how to innovate. It is not enough to be a low cost producer of global goods; Asian organisations are recognising that they have to provide innovative products and services. Asian organisations thrive through talent. In Asia, the war for talent is intense with concerns around attracting and retaining top talent. Asian organisations also face the business challenges of the shifting sands of demographic change and trends, impacting on labour forces. In light of these business challenges, Asian organisations have to evolve their corporate cultures. These evolving cultural issues are discussed in a number of studies. These show that the Confucian context drives a continuous learning culture where leaders act with junzi to encourage self cultivation and learning in Chinese high technology firms (Wang et al). Others show that Malaysian leaders in HR Matters

October 2013



Leadership | HR Matters

What leaders do that make them successful is to respond to the country context so that their behaviours are consistent with the values and beliefs of the prevailing culture. financial and information services industries tend to reflect and shape the culture where they work, tending to be transformational and create new cultures (Jogulu and Ferkins). Still others report that Japanese multinationals build organisation cultures that adapt leadership to the requirements of the local markets where they operate (Black and Morrisson) and others offer suggestions on winning the war for talent through leaders shaping the right culture (Lynton and Beechler).

value. He studies how organisations build capabilities of leadership, speed, learning, accountability and talent through leveraging human resources. He has published over 200 articles and book chapters and over 25 books.

What are some of the cultural dimensions that Asian leaders must attend to? Part II of Insights and Lessons from Leadership in Asia will be featured in our January 2014 issue.

ii. Some of the differences of East vs. West can be found in:

Professor Chris Rowley, BA, MA (Warwick), DPhil (Nuffield College, Oxford) is the founding Director of the Centre for Research on Asian Management at Cass Business School, City University, London, UK. He is Editor of the leading academic journal Asia Pacific Business Review, book Series Editor of both Working in Asia and

i. This overview draws on the works of experts in the area. These authors are noted in brackets and are collated into a Special Issue of the leading journal in the area, Asia Pacific Business Review, due out late 2012 on Asian Leadership and a book published by Routledge in 2013, both by Rowley and Ulrich. crosscuttings/cultures_east-west-phylosophy. html referenced on July 15, 2010 Professor Dave Ulrich

Asian Studies and serves on many journal Editorial Boards. Professor Dave Ulrich is a Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and a partner at the RBL Group, a consulting firm focused on helping organisations and leaders deliver st+Philosophy,+Cultural+Values+and+Mindset++by+Hemant...-a01073951527 referenced on July 15, 2010 William G. Ouchi. Theory Z. Boston, MA: Addison Wesley. 1983 Geert Hofstede, Gert Jan Hofstede, Michael Minkoy. Cultures and Organizations: Software for the mind. New York: McGraw Hill. 2010 (3rd Edition). Geert Hofstede. Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations Across Nations. Los Angeles: Sage Publications. 2001 (2nd Edition)

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HR Matters | Hiring

Liar liar, should I hire? Do you know who you are hiring? By Tham See See

M Many leaders would agree that talent is the most important asset in any business, but many fail to realise that the integrity of the talent is equally as important. The problem we face today is that what candidates claim or put in their resumes contain only disclosed information i.e. information that is not yet verified.

Without conducting a background check on a candidate, it is often difficult to separate fact from fiction. More importantly, how is an employer to obtain information on issues that employees are generally not asked about, such as, whether there is any civil litigation pending, any criminal records or even his financial status? How does an employer know if a candidate is involved in a legal wrangle with their previous employer, or if they are bankrupt?

All this, coupled with other factors such as lack of good talent, a competitive global landscape and the peculiarities inherent in managing the Gen Yers, means that our employment market is a difficult environment to operate within. So, how is this affecting HR practitioners today when it comes to finding good candidates? What information should we be on the lookout for? How can we improve our chances of identifying the right candidate?

Significant numbers of resumes contain false information Up to 20 percent of resumes today contain falsified and/or embellished information, covering things such as the duration of employment, position held, salary, disciplinary action, negative assessments. This is one of the key findings of our Background Screening Candidate Findings 2013 which also discloses common discrepancies in applications today. The survey was carried out over a one year period until June 2013 and is based on information from 29, 643 cases, gathered from 107 multinational companies operating in Malaysia. Many of the major industries are represented including shared services, IT, banking and finance, oil & gas and manufacturing.

1,186 candidates were involved in civil litigation or labour court cases 1,779 candidates had credit or bankcruptcy issues

Mark Leow, Managing Director of Verity Intelligence Malaysia, who championed this survey said, “This survey was conducted to provide hard data mark leow to educate all HR practitioners as to the importance of due diligence in their hiring process.” He added that, “in the US, approximately ninety percent of corporate America screen their candidates as part of their hiring process, whereas in Malaysia, less than ten percent fully screen their candidates. But once you do, you will be surprised at its benefits, especially in making that well-informed decision to hire.”

445 candidates had fake degrees

liar, liar, should i hire? [continued on page 49]

5,929 candidates lied about their employment details and / or had a negative assessment from their previous employer

20% Employment Discrepancies 17% Driving Violations 6% Negative Financial Probity 4% Civil Litigation and / or Industrial Court Findings

5,039 candidates had driving violations

1.5% Fake Education Certificates

Figure 1: Background Screening Candidate Findings 2013 HR Matters

October 2013



Events | HR Matters


Breakfast Roundtable

HR Matters Breakfast Roundtables These invitation-only Roundtables were held in August and September in Kuala Lumpur.








Guests at the HR Roundtable : Getting People To Do The Things You Need Them To Do which was held in August 2013. (L - R) Grace Munsayac, HR Director Mondelez Malaysia with Chin Tuck Piew, HR Director Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur


(L - R) Vikram Anand, Head, Performance Management & Rewards, AirAsia Berhad; Shahrin Chin Abdullah, Senior Group General Manager – Human Resource, IGB Corporation; Philip Wong, Executive Vice President, Group Human Resources, SEG International Guests at the HR Roundtable : The Leadership Code which was held in September 2013. (L - R) Helena Ng, Human Resource Director, Asia Pacific, Comptel Communications with Tan Shu-Tze, Head of Talent Management, Group HR, Sime Darby Berhad (L - R) Nur Azlene Abidin, Human Resource Manager - Central Asia, Halliburton Energy Services with Ridzuan Buasan, Head, Talent Management & OD, Prasarana Negara Berhad


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Talent Management | HR Matters

Shazmi Ali : What My Years in Talent Management Have Taught Me We HR professionals suffer the poor reputation of ‘the Administrator’ simply because we lack sufficient understanding of the business. Getting this right will be our greatest strength. By Rowena Morais


Shazmi Ali

“It’s far more important to keep happy the very talent you’ve got with you today than it is to hire someone new”, asserts Shazmi Ali, who is armed with more than a decade of Human Resource (HR) experience.

Described by peers and leaders alike as a truly commercial HR person, the Universiti Utara Malaysia and Victoria Univeristy graduate brought to bear his early experiences in sales and business development, to the various HR roles he held. “I strongly believe that HR professionals suffer the poor reputation of ‘the administrator’ simply because of our lack of sufficient understanding of the business. The greatest strength we can possess today is not how competent we are in delivering our HR goals. It lies in how well we understand the commercial nuances and business direction of the organisation.” I spoke to Shazmi over the phone, earlier this month, to talk about his recent move to Pfizer Malaysia, taking on the HR Director role. Ambitious, reliable, proactive - these are words I would gladly use to describe Shazmi, who was quite happy 44


October 2013

HR Matters

to talk shop despite choppy internet access and jetlag resulting from a trip to Mexico. Travel used to be part and parcel of the job. Leading teams, both local and regional, is something he is well acquainted with even in his earlier days at ExxonMobil where he held business partner roles for various Upstream departments and the IT Group. Thereafter, even as the HR Lead at CAE (world leader in flight simulators), his work involved supporting regional expansion within Asia, expanding to ten locations across eight countries.

Different experiences, the same happy feeling Both the organisations that Shazmi has worked at presented completely different work environments. Were the critical initiatives that were put in place at these companies different? In a word, yes. ExxonMobil was all about safety in the organisation. It was about ensuring that all employees were able to return home safely from work while simultaneously, enriching their lives by working in an organisation that cared for them and their family. No expenses were spared in ensuring that the safety of the employees was taken care of. The company regarded the safety issue both in terms of equipment as well as in relation to health and wellness. “I don’t think anyone in ExxonMobil can ever say that the company does not bother about their wellbeing. They provide excellent health care benefits, ergonomically friendly equipment, wellness programmes and sports activities. This, in addition to a very competitive compensation and benefits strategy, is how they retain good people,” Shazmi explained. CAE, on the other hand, was different. CAE presented Shazmi and its employees a fantastic work experience. “There was hardly a day that you would come to work thinking that

HR Matters | Talent Management

it was going to be boring or mundane. The When you move fast and from the ground expat packages are tax-free), it is easy to fact that we were growing a region at record up, you cannot do it all. You should be able see why organisations really need to go speed was exhilarating to the employees. to rely on partners and consultants but be beyond dollars and cents to show value in The opportunity to venture into new wary of over-reliance. With a lot of ground order for talent to remain loyal. territories and learn new business practices to cover, over-reliance on consultants For the aviation industry however, being a and culture gave everyone a motivation is typically why many organisations fail, top organisation means that many smaller boost,” he clarified. “Every time we opened according to Shazmi. If you don’t have organisations ( both local and foreign) are up new countries, we would give employees the basic knowledge of what it means to always willing to pay a premium to pinch from Asia an opportunity to work from a establish yourself in a new territory, you good talent. The key to retention, therefore, new country. We grew many key positions open yourself up to being taken advantage is to spend time and resources to develop internally and more importantly, we had of. However, the internet’s ability to level the your talent and provide international start up project teams to focus on new playing field in some respects means that opportunities for them. countries. So, even if some employees from HR professionals today have the ability to : Malaysia or other countries didn’t get expat • research legislative differences; “I think my two months, so far, in the assignments, they would get an opportunity • discover variances in compensation and pharmaceutical industry now, has been a to be part of these teams. This essentially benefits practices; and real eye opener. The industry’s attrition rate meant that you would be responsible for starting up The secret to a successful regional presence from an HR angle? a new country and could mean you’ll be in the new Having a clear picture, not of what the business wants but of what country a few times a the business needs. year”.

Why regional expansion can fail Growing the region is part and parcel of Shazmi’s role. Considerable time was spent on growing the region from his base in Kuala Lumpur into countries like Korea, Hong Kong, China, Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam. Many try to do this - some succeed and some fail. The secret to a successful regional presence from an HR angle? Having a clear picture, not of what the business wants but of what the business needs. As Shazmi pointed out, “It is important that you partner with the Operations team early to be part of the start up team. Many failed because HR only strategises once the business has decided what they want to do. I was fortunate that both the Business and Operations leaders were very clear about the importance of HR being strategically involved from the early days. This meant as early as the day that business development thought of moving into a new county even before a bid is booked or a business proposal drafted”.

• benchmark against rewards strategies in different countries. A common pitfall when recruiting? Rely completely on regional recruitment agencies. While he does not have anything specifically against them, Shazmi has always found more success partnering with a local recruitment agency instead. Two tips for those who are considering regional expansion. Firstly, build relationships with key stakeholders in the new country which include labour department officials, embassy and trade commissioners and also fellow HR professionals. Secondly, act with humility. This is the secret recipe in being successful in a new country. No one likes a foreigner who’s a show off!

The challenges of retaining high potential talent Different industries provide different challenges. The oil and gas industry is indeed competitive and with lucrative salaries aplenty in the Middle East (many

is in the double digits, which is unlike any other industry that I’ve been a part of and it has been like that for a number of years. It is almost like ‘musical chairs’ where talent moves from one company to the next. Personally, I feel that we need to cater to our talent in the extreme - in terms of their growth, their development and provide a challenging and rewarding career. We are planning many programmes that can do just that,” he added. Shazmi’s parting words for HR success: Firstly, educate your people that talent management is far more about employee accountability than it is the manager’s responsibility. Secondly, you’ve got to show people the value in staying with your organisation. Sometimes, people resign because they cannot see their worth therein, there is no clear career path and there’s simply not enough visibility. You need to make that path clear for your people so that they can see their role and therefore, their impact.

HR Matters

October 2013




Talent | HR Matters

inning the war for

talent 2.0 in Malaysia By Professor Sattar Bawany


In 1997, a groundbreaking McKinsey study exposed the ‘war for talent’ as a strategic business challenge and a critical driver of corporate performance. Then, when the dotcom bubble burst and the economy cooled, many assumed the war for talent was over. It’s not. Subsequently in 2001, the authors of the original study revealed that, because of enduring economic and social forces, the war for talent will persist for the next two decades. McKinsey & Company consultants

to talent management. They describe how to: create a winning EVP (employee value proposition) that will make your company uniquely attractive to talent; move beyond recruiting hype to build a long-term recruiting strategy; use job experiences, coaching and mentoring to cultivate the potential in managers; and strengthen your talent pool by investing in A-players, developing B-players and acting decisively on C-players. Central to this approach is a pervasive talent mindset - a deep conviction shared

vital for achievement of business growth and to build organisational competencies, which represent a competitive advantage. The loss of needed talent is costly because of the resultant bidding up of market salaries for experienced hires to replace them, the costs of recruiting and assimilating new talent, the lost investment in talent development, and the hidden costs of lost productivity, lost sales opportunities and strained customer relationships. Can companies win the ‘war for talent’? Will we be able to define and implement a

The increasing trend of growing leaders from within is based on a dawning realisation that a popular alternative for acquiring talent— poaching key people from competitors—ultimately leads to frustration. Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones and Beth Axelrod argued that winning the war for leadership talent is about much more than frenzied recruiting tactics. It’s about the timeless principles of attracting, developing and retaining highly talented managers - applied in bold new ways. And it’s about recognising the strategic importance of human capital because of the enormous value that better talent creates. The outcome of the study is applicable to Malaysian companies as it was fortified by five years of in-depth research on how companies manage leadership talent including surveys of 13,000 executives at more than 120 companies and case studies of 27 leading companies - the authors propose a fundamentally new approach 46


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HR Matters

The Malaysian Context

retention strategy that will give us the stable, committed, capable workforce required to achieve a competitive business advantage? Consulting firm and research organisation reports, published books and articles and internal company retention studies suggest that everyone is following the same overall plan. How will this approach give a company an edge? Few, if any, organisations today have an adequate supply of talent. Gaps exist at the top of the organisation, in the first to midlevel leadership ranks and at the front lines.

In today’s tight labour market in Malaysia, companies are facing intense competition for talent – and are giving increased attention to ways to retain talent rather than rely on costly replacement and retraining. Retention of talent with critical skill sets is

Talent is an increasingly scarce resource, so it must be managed to the fullest effect. During the current economic downturn we may experience a short ceasefire in the war for talent, but we’re all seeing new pressures

by leaders throughout the company that competitive advantage comes from having better talent at all levels. Using practical examples from companies such as GE, The Home Depot, PerkinElmer, Amgen, and Enron, the authors outline five imperatives that every leader - from CEO to unit manager - must act on to build a stronger talent pool. Written by recognised authorities on the topic, this is the definitive strategic guide on how to win the war for talent.








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Talent | HR Matters

put on the talent running our organisations. Are today’s leaders able to do more with less? The A-players can, and there should be a strategic emphasis on keeping those leaders—and developing their successors. Many organisations are reducing their workforces, but let’s be careful not to cut so deep that talent is scarce when the economy rebounds. The supply of leadership talent is critical to any organisation’s prosperity and is, therefore, a central element of talent management. The increasing trend of growing leaders from within is based on a dawning realisation that a popular alternative for acquiring talent—poaching key people from competitors—ultimately leads to frustration. Outstanding leaders who can ‘ramp up’ quickly are hard to find, increasingly expensive, and even when successfully recruited, tend to move from company to company. So the best approach, usually, is to develop systems and processes to identify available leadership talent. Many studies have shown that an important factor for commitment and retention is the effectiveness of immediate management. Employees say it is an important element of the work environment; research shows it highly correlated with commitment and retention scores, and employees cite poor management as a key reason for leaving a company. Accordingly, there have been many books focused on manager effectiveness. One big seller was First, Break All The Rules, reporting on the Gallup Organisation’s findings and recommendations for better management of people.

Integrated Talent Management System So, what do we mean by talent management? In the broadest possible terms, it is the strategic and tactical management of the flow of talent through an organisation. Its purpose is to assure that the supply of talent is available to align the right people with the right jobs at the right time based on strategic business objectives. The term ‘talent management’ is often used to denote e-recruitment and automated applicant tracking systems. This emphasis on staffing and recruiting is more appropriately called the talent acquisition phase of the talent management cycle (see Figure 1), an important but preliminary step in the overall process. The Talent Management Cycle includes the proactive analysis and planning to assure long-term strategic development and deployment of critical leadership and other resources through systematic identification, assessment, planning and developmental action. The Talent Management Cycle is composed of several essential elements: 1. Talent Acquisition: Proactively recruiting world-class, diverse leadership talent and providing on-boarding support for them to accelerate their assimilation into their roles; 2. Talent Development: Developing and executing learning and development programmes, processes & assessment tools to grow current and future leaders; 3. Performance Management: The process of creating a work environment in which people can perform to the best of their 48


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HR Matters

Talent Management Strategy Competency Framework Performance Management

Talent Acquisition

Organisational Results

Talent Management Succession Planning

Figure 1: CEE Talent Management Cycle Vision, Mission, Strategy and Values

abilities; 4. Succession Planning: This is critical towards developing a leadership pipeline or assuring near-term leadership continuity by thoughtful consideration of the availability, readiness, and development of internal talent (including High Potentials) to assume critical ‘priority’ leadership roles; and 5. Organisational Results: Achieving favourable and desired results is obviously the ultimate outcome expected out of any effective integrated talent management system. However, it is a lagging indicator and business leaders will have to focus on the organisational climate which will have an impact on the other elements of the Talent Management Cycle as explained earlier. The flow of effective communication and the systems of recognition and rewards are integral parts of the climate which influence the talent’s performance effecting productivity, creativity and in driving results with the right impact. The climate is impacted by a values-driven leadership team.

Conclusion Your organisation can create a new product and it is easily copied. Lower your prices and competitors will follow. Go after a lucrative market and someone is there right after you, careful to avoid making your initial mistakes. But replicating a high-quality, highly engaged workforce is nearly impossible. The ability to effectively hire, retain, deploy and engage talent—at all levels—is really the only true competitive advantage an organisation possesses. Professor Sattar Bawany is the CEO of the Centre for Executive Education (CEE) and Strategic Advisor of IPMA (International Professional Managers Association). For more details, visit

HR Matters | Ladder


Nicolas de La Giroday, Country CEO, P&G Malaysia Procter & Gamble (P&G) announced a new Country CEO for Malaysia and Singapore, Nicolas de La Giroday, in August 2013. Based at P&G’s corporate headquarters in Surian Tower, Mutiara Damansara, Nicolas leads the global consumer goods company with a portfolio of more than 30 brands in the country. Nicolas has been with P&G since 1998, working with the company in France, Turkey, Poland, Taiwan and China. He brings with him a lot of experience in Market Strategy, Operational Marketing and Go-to-Market execution coupled with his organisational and coaching track record.

liar, liar, should i hire? [continued from page 41]

What does a traffic violation have to do with this? The second key finding from the survey relates to traffic violations. The survey found that 17 percent of candidates have at least one summons (typically for speeding, drink driving or parking violations). You may ask, “Why bother with driving violations? My candidate is an Administration Executive of an FMCG company, not a courier boy.” In this case, the candidate’s driving summonses have no implications on his/her job. And you are right. But imagine if this Administration Executive has 35 unsettled summonses resulting from parking violations and speeding. Now, what does that say about their character?

Financial probity Negative financial probity occured in 6 percent of the candidates in our survey. This means that 6 out of 100 candidates, were either bankrupt or had defaulted on a payment. Hiring a candidate with credit issues places a company at risk. In the same way, hiring a bankrupt can be inconvenient and present certain limitations when it comes to the candidate’s role and responsibilities.

Sue me! Civil litigation and industrial court records were less common, at only

Michael Warren, Country President, Fujitsu Malaysia Fujitsu announced the appointment of Michael Warren as the new Country President for Fujitsu Malaysia effective 1 September 2013. With this appointment, Michael helms the local Fujitsu entity and drives overall business growth and profitability in Malaysia. Michael brings with him 25 years of leadership experience gained from a range of multinationals and governmentlinked companies across Asia Pacific, as well as an extensive network of commercial and government relationships. Executive appointment notices can be emailed for inclusion in this column. Please send details to

4 percent. Industrial court suits being used to settle matters with an employee is an extremely time-consuming and expensive task. For this and many other reasons, companies typically shy away from candidates with such history.

Can you fake it till you make it? The fifth significant survey finding relates to fake degrees. The survey found that there were candidates who either did not attain the qualification they professed possessing from a particular education institution or that the education institution is not recognised nor accredited with the Ministry of Education. As many as one a day were found and these consisted of fake degrees typically from Malaysia, USA, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Most of the fake degrees were photoshopped, as opposed to being bought from a degree mill. Commenting on this, Mark Leow stated, “Our main objective is to educate our customers to practise due diligence whenever they hire. Our studies have shown that one wrong or negligent hire can cost the company between 5 to 10 months of the employee’s salary. This doesn’t include the damage to the company’s reputation and to employee morale. “ Employment background screening is a small price to pay for great peace of mind. Tham See See is the Business Development Director of Verity Intelligence, responsible for managing the sales, marketing and product development of Verity Intelligence’s business in Malaysia. HR Matters

October 2013



Governance | HR Matters

Managing human capital risk: Whose responsibility is it?


By Vijayam Nadarajah

Human capital risks (HCR) can be defined as employee behaviours, mismatch in skills sets and events that can affect employee performance and impact organisational results adversely. HCR can derail the execution of an organisation’s strategy as well as its financial and operational objectives. The sensitivities involved in dealing with people and the complexities inherent in this means that oftentimes, defining the ownership for HCR can be a challenge. Organisations therefore need a robust Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) programme that incorporates risks from the people and work flow management issues into their overall risk framework. Doing so will enable responsibilities to be clearly identified. The Conference Board Inc., of Canada (June 2011) conducted research on companies in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific on the current state of management of HCR. One of the key findings revealed that companies can assess and manage HCR effectively if they have a formal HCR process and have the business participating in the process. The research showed that there are disconnects between the ERM and HR functions on the impact and management of HCR and these disconnects reflect a communication failure within organisations. ERM programmes fully integrate strategies, compliance and operational aspects of human capital (HC) into financial and operation management in order to develop a complete picture of risk to the organisation - they identify, assess, manage and monitor the HC strategic decisions, and level of compliance with standards on occupational health and safety, industrial relations laws and policies on sexual harassment in the organisation. Performance measurement tools are used in ERM programmes to track attrition rates, compensation related issues and to evaluate outcomes of training programmes. HCR includes failure to attract and retain required employees, selection of the wrong employee, high turnover and absenteeism, unsatisfactory performance, fraud and inadequate learning and development in people – such risk can increase costs and ineffectiveness in organisational management. HCR arises in various stages of the employee life cycle and in all



October 2013

HR Matters

aspects of the business – a failure to implement risk processes can result in HCR. You need to have clear HC strategies which are aligned with corporate goals, formal assignment of HCR ownership to business owners, communication on dual responsibilities between business owners and HC Directors (HR) on talent identification and management, and adequate employment practices. ERM programmes are therefore necessary to facilitate intelligent collaboration and cooperation across organisations – the programmes identify HR roles in managing personnel issues and their shared responsibilities with business owners and senior executives on these issues. The risk manager’s role to advise and monitor effectiveness of HCR plans, and the mandate for internal auditors to provide assurance on HC governance and control are also included in the ERM programmes. These programmes reflect the interrelatedness and interdependencies of HCR to other risks in the organisation and the integration of HCR in business activities –the programmes facilitate clear communication on HC strategies and how these assist the overall achievement of business strategies and activity plans. The rationale for HCR management such as identifying reckless decision making, fraud or talent lost due to poorly managed HC policies, need for succession planning, talent management and building of leadership are facilitated and tracked by ERM programmes. In my opinion, there are three HCR processes that require immediate implementation : cross functional dialogues between HR and business owners, the creation of a risk mindset in the HR function and monitoring the impact of HC changes on ERM. Deep insights on current and future risks in HC can raise the red flags on potential organisational failures and its continued sustainability. Embracing a strong risk culture is essential in managing HCR. Vijayam Nadarajah is now a freelance analyst on corporate governance and financial matters. In this role, she assists companies to embrace best corporate practices and highlights weaknesses in governance, internal audit and risk management practices. Vijayam is a Past President of the Institute of Internal Auditors Malaysia.

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