MANY business leaders to whom I’ve spoken in the past few months have warned that next year is going to be yet another tough year for Malaysia.
This can be affirmed by an article in The Star earlier this month, where it was reported that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the Malaysian economy to grow at a slower pace of between 5% and 5.5% in 2018.
How will this affect businesses?
To get a better idea of what to expect in 2018 and what leaders can do in preparation, Leaderonomics spoke to a few business leaders. Here are their thoughts:
Increased efforts in sustainability
Kim Lim, co-founder and CEO of The Picha Project
Pic courtesy of The Picha Project.
Trend: Leaders can expect a lot of work and discussions on sustainability due to rising issues of global warming, poverty and refugees.
We have to start learning or adapting to them because I strongly believe sustainability is the future.
From a social enterprise point of view, we can still expect challenges no matter which year we are in.
But I believe that that’s what makes social entrepreneurs or inclusive business owners even more important than ever; the work they do is highly crucial in protecting the future of mankind.
Solution: Social entrepreneurship and inclusive business have to increase and be highly promoted in Malaysia.
As leaders, we must start studying them and form a larger support group to enable the establishment, improvement and growth of such initiatives.
A parting message from me is this: It is important to be very open-minded to what’s ahead, whether it’s technology, economy or education.
We need to find a balance in applying these changes into the work we do.
Be persistent and do not give up when a challenge is thrown at you, as the challenge is there for a reason.
You might be drawing up a blueprint of what’s not been done before and it’s very important to constantly experiment, fail and try again.
Employee burnout due to expectations
Joseph Tan, CEO of Leaderonomics Good Monday
Trend: Leaders can expect more burnt out performers.
With increasing expectations for high performance, busy employees will become even busier and productive people will face the added burden to pick up the slack for the non-performers.
It is no longer just about talent management, but about talent investment – organisations need to customise their approach in helping their talented employees to achieve not only just professional growth but personal growth as well.
Leaders cannot expect sustainable performance without an intentional investment in the well-being of their people.
Take care of your people and they will take care of the business.
Solution: Develop a strong team of great managers. No matter how inspiring the vision is, the execution gap lies in the strength of the people managers and team leaders.
There are four vital roles a great manager needs to grow into:
- How to identify talent
- How to set clear expectations
- How to motivate and engage
- How to develop others
Technology intrusion and lack of skills
RA Thiagaraja, CEO of K-Pintar
Trend: In 2018, leaders are going to see a lot of technology intrusion in their day-to-day businesses.
Leaders will then be faced with a challenge of not having enough competent staff or lack of staff with new skillsets to run the business in a digital and Industry 4.0 environment.
This means the skills gap will become wider.
Solution: Leaders need to start practising agile management and leadership in their organisation.
They also need to focus on their existing talent because talent is one of the most expensive commodities.
One of the biggest challenges today is in attracting and retaining quality talent.
Therefore, investing in providing industry qualification and new skillsets to help grow employees is crucial for talent retention and attraction.
Uptrend of mobile technology
Datuk Kenny Goh, CEO of Macrokiosk
Trend: 2018 will be a tougher year indeed. There is, however, good prospects for the mobile technology industry as more and more companies (start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises and large conglomerates) are already leveraging mobile technology for their businesses.
If you think about it, everyone is already on mobile and, due to challenging times ahead, businesses will more likely look for alternative solutions that can enhance business efficiency.
Take airlines and banks for instance. They are already utilising mobile technology for security purposes through the use of mobile QR, mobile one-time password and console.
In fact, there are a lot of mobile wallet services coming into Malaysia, with the biggest example being Alipay. It’s good to see that the government is very supportive of this industry.
Solution: Leaders should have an open mind and widen their perspective.
Just because we invest more doesn’t necessarily mean we will lose more. Also, in order to see results, we don’t need to invest billions in technology!
IT isn’t like manufacturing where you purchase X amount of machines to achieve a certain target.
The most important thing is to take the first step in investing into digital initiatives.
It’s not going to be a one-time investment, but rather a perpetual investment that can be done according to the pace of your business.
Read More: The Key to Collaboration: Insights from the Malaysia Leadership Summit 2019
The future of Malaysian companies is technology. There are endless opportunities to stay in tune with your employees by using techonology like Happily (or Budaya for those from Indonesia). It has amazing analytics and also provides activities for employees to be fully immersed in the organisation's culture.