Leading Through COVID-19
The Coronavirus has accelerated the impetus to move the digital agenda more powerfully than any leader or government incentive can. Is a digital mandate sufficient for organisations to respond to this crisis with agility and success? Through our discussions with business leaders, we observed that enterprises who have invested in the human element along with digitalisation are more equipped to adapt, respond and accelerate through the turn. In this five-part series, we speak to business leaders who have invested in human capital and seen it pay dividends during times of crisis.
FarEastFlora.com started out as a little van that went around Singapore selling eggs and flowers in the 1960s. When Ryan became the Managing Director in 1999, he proposed starting an online store to expand the company’s reach. Now, FarEastFlora.com has presence in Malaysia and Hong Kong, offering over 1,000 products that can be shipped to over 140 countries worldwide. If you have an Instagram account, you might have seen your friends post beautiful flowers from Freshblooms, Singapore’s best floral subscription box service. I got myself a subscription and caught up with Ryan Chioh and See Pei San, the Managing Director and General Manager of FarEastFlora.com.
Pei San: “A few years ago we completed the Human Capital Diagnostic Tool and it was a really helpful snapshot in that time. Thanks to the diagnostic process, we realised you can have all the digital components in place but you need to build a strong organisation culture to support the business vision.”
Ryan: “We worked with a business advisor for a year and had a lot of exposure on how to cultivate the kind of culture we desire. We recognised a need for a more objective, transparent, integrated performance appraisal process that was linked to business outcomes and to the values and behaviours we want as an organisation.These were then integrated into our performance appraisal and feedback process. What we noticed is people were more motivated to put in the work because they know it has direct correlation to the rewards system.”
Pei San: “One of the things that really helped us when all of us had to work from home is how we lean in to the values we stand for. One of our values is to listen and learn sincerely to foster continuous improvement – between the various levels of leadership in our organisation, there is very low power distance. Open communication is put into practice – it is okay for you to disagree with me, anyone from the ground can bring something up and we can have a debate. There is no blame culture and I will not fault my team for bringing problems to my table. That helps us be more responsive to customer’s demands on the ground. That helps to close the gap between leaders designing strategy and people executing the strategy. This also helps me get a pulse check of how our employees are doing.”
Pei San: “I think its even more important now to stay close to the organisation heartbeat. All managers we hire care deeply about their people and that helps us to do our work well. Defining and articulating our culture has helped us stay anchored to who we are in times of crisis.”
Ryan: “Most definitely! it really opened our eyes on how to develop and strengthen our people capabilities to achieve business growth.”
If you are a business leader also looking into leveraging on your human capital to accelerate through this crisis, reach out to us for a complimentary advisory Human Capital Health-check at firstname.lastname@example.org.