The Future of Work: Innovate, Influence and Inspire
The Future of Work is something that everybody is grappling with, and it was remarkable to get different perspectives from the speakers,as well as from the panel of experts and CEOs sharing their observations of what’s happening in other parts of the world and the struggles and realities that practitioners and business leaders are facing today.
By Roshan Thiran
‘The Future of Work: Innovate, Influence and Inspire’ was the overarching theme of the Malaysian Leadership Summit 2022, held on 21st July 2022. Convened at SP Setia Convention Centre, leaders from institutions, businesses and non-governmental organisations gathered at the Malaysian Leadership Summit 2022 to discuss how the ‘new normal of work’ is shaping.
The Malaysian Leadership Summit 2022 was sponsored by Malayan Banking Berhad and SP Setia Berhad and organised by Leaderonomics, a global social enterprise, in partnership with Together We Can Change The World, an organisation dedicated to empowering and educating women and children in Southeast Asia.
Future of Work
81% of employees today are on the lookout for new jobs."
"88% of employees around the world say leadership and development programmes run by companies are completely ineffective.”
"The younger generation in Malaysia leave their first jobs within the first 18 months.
By Manoj Manon
Manoj Menon speaking at the MLS 2022
What do these numbers reflect? As employers, what can you do about it?
a. Experience Economy
“How many of you woke up excited to go to work today?” asked Manoj Menon, a key speaker at the Malaysian Leadership Summit 2022 (“MLS 2022”).
Mr. Menon in his presentation entitled ‘Future of Work: Shaping the new possible’ focused his future of work discussion on the creation of value in the workplace, people and work.
The experience economy has dominated the way we live and work today. Businesses have to ensure they create positive experiences for their customers. Likewise, employers too must stage good experiences for their customers, namely their employees. Mr. Menon broke down the employee experience to four large questions:
How can I do what I’m doing well? Am I efficient?
Am I doing it with the right set of people? Am I surrounded by the right set of people? Do I feel and have that community?
How do I grow? Am I evolving?
What is that purpose? Do I connect?
As employees or leaders in our organisations, are we asking ourselves these questions?
These four questions form a pyramid – Platform/structure, engagement, empowerment and purpose.
i. Platform/Structure – How can I do it well?
This layer in the pyramid is the foundational layer. Today with digital services, products and services are delivered to consumers in a frictionless fashion. Moving forward, organisations need to deliver psychological value – this refers to the ability to empathise and innovate. This is how value is created. In this foundational layer, employers must go beyond talks of flexibility, or a well-stocked pantry. There is no value in this as this is a given now.
How are you empowering your employees to work on a project of passion? ii. Engagement - How do I do it with my community?
Today, at work, we need to deliver a community. Every great organisation is built on community. Manoj makes reference to religious and football communities. These communities are built through rituals and the reason behind the success of these communities are the shared experiences. He references how supporters around the world watch weekly football matches together and share/discuss them later on their respective socials. This creates togetherness.
Today at the workplace, a lot of the pre-Covid 19 rituals are lost. Gone are the days when colleagues caught up at lunch or coffee at the pantry. Manoj said, organisations must create new rituals for their community and more importantly must execute them well. iii. Empowering - How do I grow?
In case you missed this above - 88% of employees around the world say leadership and development programmes run by companies are completely ineffective. To overcome this, leaders must make learning in the flow of work. For this reason, Manoj said, start-ups are usually successful as employees learn as they go along in their jobs.
Monaj also shared the case study of Loreal. In Loreal, 50% of the employees wanted more visibility into opportunities and 51% of new hires wanted internal transfers after 3 years. Against this backdrop, Loreal introduced the Internal Mobility platform. This not only solved issues of vacancy but also increased employee experience! iv. Purpose - Why am I really doing this?
“78% of next Gen employees expect their employers to focus on societal or mission driven problems”. Their core activity of the business should focus on addressing and solving society’s problems. Doing so keeps employees happy and makes them feel that their job is important. Moving forward, organisations should transform KPIs to KHIs (key happiness index.) If you are new at this, Manoj recommends adopting the following:
Make employee happiness a tenet in the company’s articles of association.
Get an app that will record the happiness data.
Encourage employees to be shareholders of the company.
When was the last time you read the vision of your company? Does your organisation have what it takes to keep the next generation of employees happy?
Change is inevitable, and we all have to figure out how to work in these transitionary times; that there are different tools available and different practices that we can learn to apply to ourselves and that we are all in this together, whether you’re the CEO of a large company, an SME or a start-up.
By Roshan Thiran
Roshan Thiran speaking at the MLS 2022
a. Change Mindset
Mr. Cyriel Kortleven, another key speaker at MLS 2022, using props such as a banana peel and a ladder explained so graphically how we all have assumptions at work, in life and relationships that hinder us from achieving great things.
As explained by Cyriel, change will happen. We see it everywhere. COVID 19 has been a catalyst for change. But change is difficult. How do we manage this? Cyriel says it can be done in three simple words.
YES. AND. ACT.
i. YES YES stands for ‘suspend your judgement’. Whenever an idea is suggested at work, you can bet that it is always followed by “Yes, but……” Calling this an ‘idea killer', Cyriel says this kind of response immediately kills an idea that can potentially resolve a problem. He suggests responding by saying “Yes, and…..” Not only will more ideas be generated but the energy is also heightened, creating a good positive outcome to solve a problem. A simple change of substituting one word is a morale booster. Cyriel calls this an ‘idea booster.’
Cyriel shares a practical toolkit called, ‘The 3 Minute Rule’ on implementation of the idea killer and idea booster. He says, in meetings where you have to create solutions or generate new ideas - suspend judgement for the first 3 minutes. Anyone who shares an idea killer will be punished by providing two new ideas. At the end of the 3 minutes, look at all the ideas, collect the top ideas, and choose ideas that have potential to solve your problems.
ii. AND AND stands for ‘look at your world from a different perspective’. Faced with a challenging situation at work, life or in our relationships, can you switch your perspective and look at the situation differently?
iii. ACT ACT stands for ‘get into action and experiment a bit more’. We are great at making plans (whether to implement a change or solve a problem). In reality, however, our journey (when executing our change plan) is filled with potholes, roadblocks and obstructions. “So then why do we spend so many hours at work making the perfect plan?” Cyriel asked. Change as we know is laden with friction. Cyriel suggests to make it less painful by adopting the Banana Principle - make the changes easier by taking away a bit of the friction or resistance. Doing this increases the success rate.
For changes to effectively take place in any organisation, Shahnaz Al Sadat from LeapEd Services is of the opinion that changes to the culture is a precursor before implementing any other form of changes. During the fireside chat with Yana Fry, Shahnaz used gardening of good quality seeds as a metaphor. She said that before you expand your money to buy good quality seeds to plant your roses, “the soil must be of a certain quality or level.” It is pointless planting the best quality seeds when your soil is not at an optimum level.
In her experience in transforming schools, she adds it is pointless making the teachers competent when the culture or the learning environment is not positive. The language the educators use is of utmost importance. There will not be any emotional connection if schools are not safe. Work on building the correct culture!
c. Instil change in the young
Andreas Vogiatzakis from AMVPLUS ACADEMY in his fireside chat with Freda Liu, said leaders must create an environment of trust to enable the young to function. To be able to create trust, Andreas said, leaders need to “look at yourself first”.
Fireside chat with Ko Chuan Zhen
Pro tip to create trust: Mr. Ko Chuan Zhen of Plus Xnergy in his fireside interview with Andrea Chew said, to create trust – leaders should find common needs within the team. Doing this creates a relationship. Buy-in is natural for 20% of employees within the team, 60% will sit on the fence and the balance will need some form of motivation.
a. Emotions + Performance + Inspiration
With changes happening at an exponential rate – what skills can you learn, or take on to future-proof yourself as a leader? Omar Hadoui from BI Worldwide, during his fireside chat with Yana Fry said, leaders must possess the following skills:
Empathy. We have to “listen to people, listen to people we do business with”. Know what they need.
Inspire. When we manage people, we have to make it personal. Have direct engagement with your employees. “Leaders are here for the people”. Leaders have to equip and enable the employees to carry out their responsibilities well at work. If you are working in different time zones, ensure your organisation has emotional experiences for its employees. Employees are humans and want to be touched in a meaningful way, regardless of the difference in cultures.
Communicate. Communicate with clarity. Employers must be tasked to ensure employees know and understand the vision of the company and celebrate the employees.
Omar went to say that engagement is everyone’s responsibility. This will magnify success not only for the organisation but also for the employees.
b. Adaptability + Resilience
Andreas Vogiatzakis, shared the following during his fireside chat with Freda Liu:
To manage change, leaders need to rely on their soft skills, which he calls ‘powers skills’. Leaders need to be resilient and understand what their teams want to do or not do. Leaders need to introspect and be self-aware of their responsibilities and expectations. Leaders must manage the expectations of shareholders and stakeholders and their competing expectations. Profit versus purpose. Leaning in on his mentor’s advice, Andreas says the secret lies in the 3Ps – people, product, profit. The real secret is in the sequence – People, Product, Profit.
He prefers to look at the VUCA environment in a positive way and grab the bull by its horns. He rather view VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguous) as Visionary, Unity Cohesion and Agile.
You become what you believe. Be seen as a catalyst of positive change!
Datin Badrunissa Khan from QSR Group of Companies calls this skill amongst the many others, evergreen capabilities that will enable employees to problem solve in a new environment where there is no precedent to help provide guidance.
People, the future
a. Talent management
To future proof the continuous running and sustainability of an organisation, the issues surrounding people must always be discussed first and foremost before the business plan, sales, strategies, finance and so on. This is the view of Datin Badrunissa Khan as shared during the fireside chat with Freda Liu.
She says, to measure the financial health of a company, the shareholders and boards look at the financial records to gauge it. However, the same cannot be said of employees. It is difficult to measure the value of people. The key matrix to decipher value according to Datin Badrunissa is to look at whether your company is able to attract and retain talent in your organisation.
Fireside chat with Datin Badrunissa Khan
When speaking about her experience in her former company, she mentioned that the CEO of the former organisation lived by this principle “I’m not successful even if the business is successful, unless I’m successful at developing people, only then truly am I successful”. Today, Datin Badrunissa is trying to institutionalise people development or learning as part of the organisation’s culture.
“Organisations must continually grow employees so they take on career growth opportunities within the company, failing which they will leave” said Datin Badrunissa. She also encourages talent to seek new challenges from their bosses and listen to other aspects of the business they have no or little understanding of. This can help employees step out of their comfort zone and grow.
b. Potential of people
“Success depends 100% on people”. This is one of the many interesting revelations by Pete Yoong during the fireside chat with Roshan Thiran. Similarly, he also shared that all his failures were attributed to people too.
Pete leveraged on this understanding and launched several successful businesses. His advise to CEOs today is to focus on people. “It’s all about the people '' said Pete.
“At the very core or foundation of any business is the people.“
Keynote speakers and leaders present at MLS 2022 were asked to impart some of their wisdom to the young generation. If there is one thing they could tell the future generation of employees, what would it be?
Omar Hadoui – learn to be curious. Ask questions. Inquire!
Shahnaz Al Sadat – have empathy. Once you have empathy, everything else comes naturally.
Other key takeaways and happening from MLS 2022:
The definition of success. Success 3.0 according to Yana Fry would be : Money, Mastery and Meaning’ for them to see what they are on that scale, what they need to work on, and how they can find the tools to implement these changes in their lives and their business. She said, “Money is not the end game, it is just the starting point."
To communicate better by the use of proper words. For example, the use of terms such as ‘deadline’ and ‘finish line’. The use of deadline seems to connote the end of one’s career if the work is not done or completed by the deadline. Moving on, we have to reframe deadlines and think of them as finish lines. This has a more positive connotation than ‘deadline’ which seems to suggest death if the work is not completed. The use of the word finish line is a good reminder to “acknowledge our little wins” said Scott Friedman.
The launch of MAD For Good which is a platform that enables anyone to ‘Make A Difference’ by volunteering and doing good. MAD For Good aims to transform the way we impact in the volunteering space through digitalisation, on-ground activation, and upskilling the community. If you’re interested in making a difference, check out their website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kiran Tuljaram, the Lead Editor at Leaderonomics, brings a wealth of experience to her role. With a background as a trained lawyer, she dedicated nearly a decade to the banking industry before embarking on her entrepreneurial journey. Following her tenure as a Legal Manager at a bank, Kiran founded and successfully ran multiple businesses, including the establishment of her own fashion accessories label. Balancing her entrepreneurial endeavours, Kiran is also a devoted mother to three girls. Her varied background in banking, motherhood, employment, occasional social work, and managing director in her business has provided her with invaluable insights and a unique perspective on the critical importance of leadership within organisations.
As working from home has continued to gain popularity, the landscape of workplace culture has shifted in many ways. If you're looking to advance in your career, you'll want to show you have leadership skills that make you deserving of managerial or upper-level positions.