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Leadership perils that could tarnish reputation, relationships and successes

2020 was the year we were presented with radical challenges caused by a sudden pandemic, political and social unrest and a seemingly fragile economy. These challenges have creeped its way into 2021, and we know for a fact that these impediments are definitely not going to miraculously vanish into thin air soon. In these unprecedented times, business leaders in various organizations, be it private or public sectors have the moral obligation to actively cultivate self-awareness and be more sensitive when tending to their subordinates or peers needs and requirements at the workplace or in a virtual setting due to the pandemic, there has been a massive shift in the employees, physically and psychologically – from being mobile in the office with a conducive environment to a cramped up space working from home.

The lack of awareness in a leader’s behaviour can cause a negative impact such as disintegration in the workplace

Based on the book Leadership Blindspots by Robert Bruce Shaw, blindspots in a leader are threats that are dangerously unrecognized in the workplace, this could tarnish workplace reputation,  relationships and can hinder a leader’s success and further derail them from achieving their objectives and goals in the long run. The lack of awareness in a leader’s behaviour can cause a negative impact such as disintegration in the workplace and most of the time it is subconsciously unintentional.

Based on a Boston Consulting Group survey, 65 executives named the foremost hindrances to adopting agile behaviors, their utmost fears were to “leave their comfort zones”, “leadership team dynamics” and “a lack of self-awareness”. During times of a pandemic, disruption and fast-paced changes, employees will generally look for directions from leaders regarding situations or questions they are unclear of. Only a leader who shreds off tunnel-visioning has the ability to provide clear directions that an organization requires while allowing autonomy to ensure actions are executed at the frontlines.

Agile methodologies in leadership prevent organizations from slipping back into bureaucracy that would impede a post pandemic rebound

With this pandemic, employees are forced to accustom themselves to remote working, a strong alignment from top-tiered management to the frontlines is more vital than ever before. Agile leaders need to foster autonomy amongst employees, to build a culture of trust and effective communication within the organization, as the concern over the virus has greatly impacted employees mentally and physically, leaving them hanging on a broken thread. Hence, it is crucial that leaders need to prioritize agile methodologies in leadership to ensure seamless management of human and business matters at this point in time but to also prevent organizations from slipping back into bureaucracy, top-down communication, command and control modes that would impede a post pandemic rebound.

Some great insights on Achilles’ Heel of Leadership shared by Kirk Hanson, former fellow and Executive Director of Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and President of Electric Impulse Communication Leslie G. Ungar, both have stated some notably common blindspots in leaders that are essentially run by pride, for instance, leaders who:

  • Do not know that they’re trapped in a worldview of their own bubble
  • Do not see themselves doing things that are unjust
  • Demonstrate inconsistent leadership
  • Stop innovating and envisioning a better future
  • Believe all workplace successes are due to their sole contribution
  • Believe that rules do not apply to them
  • Believe they will never fall and fail
  • Avoid tough questions i.e conflict avoidance
  • Avoid accountability i.e playing the victim
  • Repress emotional commitment i.e emotional blackmail

Here’s a great example of a leader’s blindspot, looking into the past case in the early years (1997-2001) of Larry Page, the ungovernable and opinionated co-founder of Google, employees at Google were opting for new directions and strategies for the company, even the basic mechanisms of leadership and they had fought and lost countless of battles with Page. For years, Google was at the brink of losing fundamental authority until Eric Schmidt stepped in to provide “leadership control”. Business Insider covered a sensational story and noted Page finally had the realization of accepting different perspectives, accepting feedback and learning from others regardless of hierarchy thus correcting its course. This is a monumental change as it shifts and re-shaped Page’s perception on traditional and basic management systems. This allowed Page to reign as CEO for a second stint in Google from (2011-2015) before he moved on to Alphabet Inc, a company he “created to deliver major advancements” as Google’s parent’s company.

However, we live in a pessimistic world where the majority of corporate leaders fail to recognize their blindspots as they lack a systematic way to think on possible recourse in increasing their level of self awareness. Here are some effective baselines to follow on improving your level of self awareness and avoiding having tunnel vision by embracing a reversed version of Hanson’s scrutiny:

  • Admit that we do not know everything that is presented to us
  • Walk the talk as actions speak louder than words
  • Give credit and recognize people who did well
  • View ourselves as a small puzzle being fit into bigger puzzles
  • Surround yourself with people who are diverse in thinking
  • Hire a skilled facilitator/coach in your team
  • Solicit feedback in the correct manner i.e 360 degree feedback
  • Reflect and reexamine your past to identify patterns
  • Develop an open culture
  • Communicate effectively and transparently with your employees

There is no one size fits all solution to every leadership equation, the answer is multi layered and it involves these qualities – validation, recognition, empathy, sympathy and consistent actions from the leaders. These aspects provide a much clearer perspective on leadership humility that one should possess. When problem solving eventually becomes a seamless process that enables employees and the organization to flourish and grow, you know that you have successfully cultivated great leadership. There is this saying “failure serves as the greatest lesson” albeit in a person’s life or in business, every experience teaches us new lessons and the unseen pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that it represents. So all in all, the question goes back to the leader: Would you be open to all of the above suggestions to overcome your areas of vulnerability?

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Read more leadership articles:  Essential Traits of a CEO

 

 

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The original article was published in  中外管理 中外管理杂志 文:曹金华   新媒体编辑:胸怀天下.  The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author.  They do not reflect the views of WiseNet Asia, its affiliates, or its employees.

7 Key Influences of HR from the perspectives of a HR personnel in China

How do HR exert it’s influence to make up for the gap between the importance of the human resources department and the actual degree of attention it is getting?  How should HR influence the top management and other departments?

Human Resources work has evolved from traditional personnel tasks such as checking attendance and calculating salary to more strategic roles, such as how to enhance the competitiveness of the company, how to retain talents for the company, etc. However, as revenue is a constant agenda of the company, HR is subjected to many restrictions in the course of carrying out their work.  For example: communication with some business departments is not so easy; when there is a disagreement with the sales department, HR often have to make concessions in order to reach an agreement.

As a practitioner of human resources management, I often ask myself, how can we exert our influence to make up for the gap between the importance of human resources and the actual degree of attention it’s getting? How should we influence others?

Based on my years of experience in the industry, relevant theories in management, and the exchanges between colleagues, these are the recommended strategies of influence for HR:

Enlist the support of top management

To exert influence, the most important thing is to obtain top management’s trust and support.  With support from the top, the influence will be greater on other managers and colleagues.

The following methods can be used:
– Help top management deal with difficult problems
To gain the trust of top management, it is necessary to initiate help in settling difficult issues, such as labor disputes, handling of “troublesome” employees, etc.

– Think from the perspective of the boss or the company
Recruitment and training all cost money, yet their impact cannot be seen immediately.  Hence contribution of human resource management may be difficult to quantify for some companies’ top management team.  Therefore, HR must be able to think and comprehend issues from their perspectives.  They have to be able to accomplished scheduled tasks in ways that meet the stakeholders’ expectations.

– Give your boss appropriate credit
Aside from being capable at our work, we also need to be capable at managing people relationships at work.  To gain trust, we need humility and know when to give appropriate credit to the boss.

Effective communication

– Know yourself and know others

The prerequisite for effective communication is to know yourself and know the people you are working with. When people feel that you know them, they are more inclined to listen; and more open to changes that you are proposing. To know co-workers more, you need to do these two things.  First of all, you need to keep abreast of their activities and know what they are thinking.  These will help you come out with more customized people approaches. Secondly, know the personal characteristics of each employee and choose different communication methods for different people.

– Use data and analytics as the basis of communication
Debate or even arguments are common ways of communication in the workplace, and the best way of justify an argument is to provide supporting data and analytics. If the data alone doesn’t attract the attention of the bosses, then we have to use facts, in addition to data support.

– Have sufficient information on hand
The more information that is available, the more helpful it will be for decision-making and good judgment. Therefore, whether we are trying to influence upward, parallel, or downward, we must have sufficient information.  Especially when making suggestions to decision-makers, the proposal must be backed by sufficient information to enable them to make decisions with confidence. To have enough information, human resource information system (HRIS) or management information system (MIS) is an indispensable and important tool.

– Know who are the key influencers in a small group
Key people in small groups often influence the behaviour and thoughts of other members of the group.  Respecting the opinions and ideas of key people in a small group is essential for communication and overcoming resistance.

When trying to get a buy in with groups at work, we must try to listen to the ideas of key figures in these small groups, and then communicate with them and request assistance.  The key figures will feel respected, thus minimizing resistance when we are trying to push for work.

Gain trust

The Human Resources Department is unlike other technical units such as production or engineering, R&D, that have physical products for discussion with other managers. Human Resources mainly provide consulting and support services. Therefore, we have to make other department managers and employees co-operate willingly so that work can move ahead. It is very important to gain the trust of other department managers and employees.

– Respond quickly to the other party’s suggestions
To gain the trust of others, the first step is to quickly respond to the other’s suggestions, because this can reflect the individual’s ability and efficiency in doing things, so as to build a good reputation and trust.

– Showing personal ability
Human resource management must be valued. To this effect, our own abilities are key. We must seize the opportunity to fully demonstrate our personal abilities and establish respect and reputation among colleagues. Once there is respect, future work can be easily promoted. To show personal talents, the best way is to have a set of plans from beginning to end, think about the whole process carefully, predict possible issues and figure out solutions beforehand.

– Respect and trust employees
Respect and trust are motivating factors at work.  For employees to willingly contribute to the company, it is very important that the human resource system is designed based on strategic empathy. If we can do this, our downward influence will be greater, and accordingly we will gain the respect and trust of our employees.

Make strategic recommendations to the organization

We must have some strategic thinking and ideas about the organization, and then promptly suggest or reflect upward.

– Acting as a consultant to organizational change
When the organization is going through change such as organizational restructuring, we must be able to take on the responsibility of consultants.  We must proactively provide data, relevant information, take on new opportunities and not be passive human resource managers.  We must understand the procedures and steps of organizational change, as well as master the professional characteristics of people in different fields of work.

– Expand your network
As our network widens, we will be able to grasp more information.  After which, information can be analysed from the perspective of providing a service to enhance the breadth of thinking.

Leverage

It is usually difficult for us to influence the boss, other department managers or employees by ourselves or even with one department’s power. However, we can leverage on external forces to do that.

– Cite the advice of outside experts
If we think that we are not persuasive enough in pushing for changes in HR systems such as remuneration, performance management, organizational reform etc, we can invite external experts or consultants to meet the boss or other department managers to provide opinions, and use their advice or assistance to convince the boss or other department managers.

Most people think that external experts are ‘guru’ in their field, and will generally respect the opinions of outside experts and consultants. When we raise the subject again, it will be smoother.

– Joint strategy
While drawing on the power of external experts, we also need to integrate the different internal opinions in order to create teamwork. For example: When the boss doesn’t accept your suggestions, you can form a common group to resolve resistance.

– Take advantage of training
Training is an important activity in human resource development. We can use this good resource and mechanism to indirectly influence company bosses or colleagues, that is, through training opportunities, we can stimulate everyone to learn, and then influence everyone’s thoughts and behaviours. In this way, everyone can reach a consensus, thus minimizing resistance.

Creating additional value

– Proactively take on the responsibility of knowledge management in the organization
More and more companies have begun to pay attention to the storage, sharing, transfer, and activation of knowledge in the organization.  Who should be responsible for knowledge management in the organization? From the perspective of strategic human resource management, our role must move from a passive, responsive, operational manager to an active, proactive, and decision-making strategic partner. Therefore, we can take the initiative to assume the responsibility of knowledge management in the organization. If this aspect is done well, it can help the boss or colleagues to quickly obtain the correct information, make effective decisions, and thus increasing HR’s influence.

 Acts of Strength

Although the human resources department is a service support unit within the company, we should still step forward and make our stance when there are impacts that will cause adverse effects. Especially when there are sufficient data to support our points, we should show our strengths, thus enhancing our influence in the company.

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January 2021

Successfully helped our client, a manufacturer of mobile devices in Singapore to close the Accounts Manager position

 

January 2021

Successfully placed the role of Senior HR Manager, Singapore for a real estate asset management company

January 2021

Closed the position of AGM, Retail Leasing, Singapore for a real estate private funds company

WiseNetAsia Knowledge Center
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So, what happens next after you’ve graduated from college or university? Majority of the fresh graduates would definitely hop onto the bandwagon of either opting for an internship or applying for a permanent role at any pre-eminent local or multinational company or conglomerate. It is undeniably difficult and nerve-racking to land coveted positions in today’s competitive job market, what more so if you’re eyeing for that dream position of yours that many are competing for? When you finally brace yourself to apply for a job and you’ve successfully secured an interview with your employer, the only assets that you get to carry with you are your demeanor, experience and skill sets. You might wonder, how do I make myself stand out amongst the wide variety of applicants?

Understanding how AI works in recruitment

Job recruiters are deluged with resumes so time is a major constraint, it is just not feasible for them to thoroughly go through each and every resume. Hence why Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being deployed and have since become imperative prerequisites in the ways of recruitment, it is inarguable that AI has subsequently improved the hiring processes of enterprises that took advantage of it. Looking back at how recruiters used to spend hours sifting through an abundance of resumes just to find the best fit for a specific role, AI possesses a superlative ability that enables them to instantaneously sift through millions of data, allowing recruiters to easily identify a pool of potential candidates. The traditional recruiting process has been hampered with unconscious biases – discrimination on gender, sexual orientation and race is prominent, hence AI is being programmed through a predictive analytic component to eliminate biases by scanning candidates’ demographic information to disallow candidate’s life’s history to be utilized in decisions made about them.

AI eliminates biases by scanning candidates’ demographic information to disallow candidate’s life’s history to be utilized in decisions made about them.

In recent years, the use of Chatbots have infiltrated businesses, with proven records of their potential to exponentially enhance relationships between businesses and consumers as there would be no conscious or unconscious bias at play. Chatbots are equipped with information-gathering ability and speed to progress through hiring phases and candidates are more likely to finish the application process seamlessly. AI ensures that employers are able to acquire the candidates with the right calibre whilst taking into account diversity and inclusion.

What would be the next step after AI has managed to screen through your basic profile and you have managed to get through the next round? You’ll need to prepare a resume and you have to be strategic and judicious on what to include. Many people tend to fall into the trap of fully replicating a traditional resume that is too structured and rigid and it appears to be like any other applicant’s resume. In this digital age where job market competitiveness is apparent, to stand out, you need to be unconventional and distinctive.

Key points of a successful resume

Here are some useful tips to create an eye-catching resume:

  • Brief but comprehensive

A recruiter has tons of resumes to skim through so be sure to keep a consistent format and structure, titles to be in bold, use black or dark readable ink, if you’re opting for colors, make sure that it is in a monochromatic format so that your resume can be visually differentiated from a pile of applications.

  • Include key achievements, highlights and metrics

Demonstrate how you’ve accomplished projects and initiatives whilst schooling with

supporting facts. Metrics is highly desirable to show quantifiable gains i.e. “Implemented

X which resulted in cost cutting of Y amount”

  • A concise objective is required

Include an objective statement on the top of your resume. This enables recruiters to comprehend ruminations behind your decision on applying for the job. Objectives need not be lengthy but merely focusing on how you can add value to the company.

  • Research the company’s background and culture

Read up on the company’s background, values and cultures and align it with your accomplishments i.e. leadership qualities, spearheading a team whilst volunteering or visible in extracurricular activities at school.

  • Zero grammatical errors and easy to read

Grammatical errors are just out of the equation when it comes to writing your resume. Majority of the recruiters would dismiss an application with typos and errors as they equate that with laziness.

  • Be a storyteller and tailor your resume in accordance with the job post

Give substantial details and supportive facts on why you think you could be a great fit for this job that you’re applying for. Customize your resume to tell a personalized story. Bring your readers along into your journey of accomplishments, knowledge and skills.

The criteria of an internship worth pursuing

Another point that you should consider is whether an internship is worth pursuing and what benefits would it bring? An internship would grant you with valuable experience, insights and increase your marketability hence giving you exposure in the career field you want to pursue. You will also learn how a business operates, allowing you to be more confident for your next role and figuring out your interest and what ultimately motivates you, if you’re interning at a company that doesn’t ignite the spark in you, you can rule them out and seek for another option that is best fitted for you.

Take the time to define your goals by asking yourself what you’re actually seeking for? Take into account the employment duration, do you prefer jobs that are structured and specialized? Or does versatility and diversified job scopes excite you? A company’s working culture, remuneration package, opportunity for personal and professional development are also vital factors that one has to ponder on before pulling the trigger.

How to choose between different job opportunities

When you see yourself deciding between multiple job opportunities, though exhilarating, it can be grueling at the same time. Put on your critical thinking cap and weigh the pros and cons, once you have identified your preferences, rank and compare them from most important to least. Put some thought into the longevity and future potential in the company, can you see yourself being in that role for a specific timeframe and are there growth opportunities available.

Every company has it’s unique culture.  It is important to judge whether your personality will fit into the company’s culture.  For example, if it is a norm for everyone in the company to work long hours beyond the normal stipulated hours, can you accept this?  You can find out more about a company’s culture through online research of the company.

At your first job

After acquiring your first job, which also means your route to adulthood has officially begun. It is essential to make a great first impression in the office by channeling your inner extrovert demeanor, make an attempt to greet your co-workers and remember their names. Also, not all corporate jobs and tasks are strategically laid out for you, you have to be proactive to reach out to your co-workers if a coach is unavailable, be inquisitive and put in the extra effort, ask questions on how to go about your day to day, embrace precariousness and jump right in to take on even the unfamiliar tasks.

Some companies have onboarding programs for new employees to help them familiarize with the basic company structure, operations and people.  This will be a good opportunity to observe the dynamics in the company and be mentally prepared for the job.

In perspective

Long story short, as a fresh graduate, you are going to feel frustrated but it is a stepping stone into adulthood. If you set your mind straight, with perpetual discipline to pursue the end goal with inventiveness and confidence, even if you get thrown into the deep end, you’ll inevitably survive.

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30 Jan 2021, Singapore –  The Singapore Management University (SMU) Incubation Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship organized a seminar for Career Coaches from WiseNet Asia to assist SMU students who intend to do remote internship in China to prepare their Chinese resume.

Wesley Hui, Director/Career Coach from WiseNet Asia shared, in brief, some of the work culture and things to look out for when working in China local firms.

Close to 40 students attended the seminar, with 1 trainer and 4 facilitators from WiseNet Asia.

Find out more about WiseNet Asia’s career coaching services:  https://wisenetasia.com/hr-solutions/internship-programs/

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