Note: This interview appeared in the July 2018 issue of Upbeat, the quarterly publication of TAFEP (Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices) and is re-published with permission.
Changing the ‘heart-set’ and mindset of leaders first is the way to go about when engaging employees, according to ROHEI’s Principal Consultant, Mr Calvin Yeo. We speak with him to understand his belief in empowering his clients to cultivate an engaged workforce and how this is well-aligned with ROHEI’s mission of inspiring hope, joy, courage, and purpose in the global workforce.
At the Conference for Fair and Progressive Practices last April, you spoke about the importance of leaders to walk the talk in terms of cultivating the desired culture. For the benefits of those who were not at the conference, can you tell me more about your plenary session?
At the plenary session, there was an agreement that what makes an effective leader is one who not only cares deeply for his people but is also able to push for performance and excellence. This ensures that both people and results are taken care of. We call this Relational Leadership, which is key in building a culture of trust and cultivating an engaged workforce.
Why do you feel that employee engagement and training are important in this digital age?
The accelerated rate of change in this digital age, coupled with industry and business transformation, is causing discomfort, anxieties and even fear amongst the workforce.
Therefore, employee engagement is crucial to help team members feel like they are an important part of the organisation, just as how different parts of the body are important. Engagement strengthens understanding, respect, trust and relationships amongst team members. This enables them to put forth their best contributions and efforts daily, and creates a ‘positive-energy’ environment that is more open, productive, creative and resilient.
With jobs transforming in this digital age, training provides team members with the skills necessary to enhance their contributions to the organisation and also improve their continuing employability. Training also allays their anxieties of being left behind and empowers them to broaden their work horizons.
Both employee engagement and training, undergirded by relational leadership, contributes to building a culture of high trust and high performance.
Share with us ROHEI’s culture and HR practices and how all of this leads to a happy workplace with better business outputs.
ROHEI’s ‘culture of trust’ provides an environment where our team members feel safe to share ideas, learn from mistakes, and give appreciation and feedback to anyone in the organisation regardless of seniority. This enables our team to constantly get better from the feedback and fresh ideas. Clients who work with us on on-going projects notice and appreciate our continual enhancements and are inspired themselves to develop a culture where ‘feedback is a gift’!
Our joy comes from working as one team, valuing and growing every member, and helping one another to succeed. Our apprenticeship approach of ‘walking the talk’ and ‘guiding the learning’ helps us realise this. We place great importance in engaging the whole person, founded on the belief that each individual can make a meaningful contribution at the workplace.
In your interactions with organisations as a consultant, tell me one that has left a strong impression on you in terms of their culture and employee engagement.
I facilitated a workshop for the leadership team of an organisation where there was in-fighting and mistrust between ‘opposing camps’.
Through the experiential activity and dialogue, the leaders became self-aware of their misperceptions of one another, spoke openly about the issues whilst withholding judgment, and then reconciled their relationships through apologies and appreciation of one another.
This then led to the organisation adopting a new relational way of engaging one another, where ‘empathy & care’ is coupled with ‘challenge & support’. The leaders were intentional about putting people top of mind, and this led to them winning on both relationships and performance results.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
What I enjoy most about my job is helping others experience transformation in themselves first, and then to be a ‘thermostat’ to influence the climate or culture of their companies to one of ‘high trust, high performance’. And also in the process, to see how people discover their potential and purpose in their lives, so that their work is both fruitful and fulfilling!