Google is notorious for its quirky and atypical interview questions. However, when it comes to leadership evaluation, the technology giant turns to the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
To identify the key behaviours of its best team managers, Google asked team members to answer the following questions on a scale of 1 (strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree).
My manager gives me actionable feedback that helps me improve my performance.
My manager does not micromanage (get involved in details that should be handled at other levels).
My manager shows consideration for me as a person.
The actions of my manager show that he/she values the perspective I bring to the team, even if it is different from his/her own.
My manager keeps the team focused on our priority results/deliverables.
My manager regularly shares relevant information from his/her manager and senior leaders.
My manager has had a meaningful discussion with me about career development in the past six months.
My manager communicates clear goals for our team.
My manager has the technical expertise (e.g., coding in Tech, selling in Global Business, accounting in Finance) required to effectively manage me.
I would recommend my manager to other Googlers.
I am satisfied with my manager’s overall performance as a manager.
Then Google employees are asked to complete two other questions:
What would you recommend your manager keep doing?
What would you have your manager change?
The majority of the questions above are based on soft skills, instead of technical skills, affirming the purpose of leadership: Being an excellent communicator that nurtures and develops his or her team to meet the goal.
In terms of mother nature, the alpha male or female of the wolf pack who is aggressive towards invaders and cooperative within its whole pack epitomises the role of the leader. Without the pack, it will just be a lone wolf who lives most of its time alone. It might be more capable than others but when it comes to hunting, it will encounter more difficulties and dangers.
Very often, engagement, satisfaction and connection with the leader is based on the autonomy and independence a leader offers.
In fact, in Singapore, a survey by YouGov Omnibus involving 1,083 Singaporeans revealed 33% believe robots could indeed replace them at work. The results were the same across ages and income groups.
Of the respondents, those working in accountancy, banking and finance are the most concerned about this, with 50% thinking it is possible.
On the contrary, just 13% of those working in business and consulting believe so. Overall, 69% think it will create job losses in the wider economy, while the remaining 31% think a wider adoption of technology will create more jobs instead.
In addition to that, the following was also found:
Nearly half, or 49%, of Singaporeans believe robots will have some sort of effect on their jobs.
Of these, 7% see their role already being affected by robots, while 69% think it will happen in the next 10 years.
Lastly, 22% believe it will take 10 years or more.
Almost all of those surveyed (97%) currently use technology in their role in some way – 27% work in jobs that ‘very much’ involve technology, 50% ‘somewhat’ do, and 20% don’t use it ‘very much’ at work. A minority of 3% work in jobs with completely no technology involved.
Commenting on the perceptions towards technology, Jake Gammon, Head of Omnibus at YouGov APAC said: “As we ride the wave of automation, it’s interesting to see the wide gap between those who think it will lead to job losses overall and those who think their role could be taken by a machine.
“The question will be whether Singaporeans are able to adapt to upcoming changes in the workforce.”
Earth Day special: 3 ways organisations are helping to conserve the environment
Today, more than 36% of HR and business leaders in SEA said social enterprise issues are more important to their organisation than they were three years ago, found Deloitte’s ninth annual Global Human Capital Trends report. Additionally, 56% in SEA and globally expected these issues to be even more important three years from now.
A similar situation can be seen when it comes to environmental issues, with companies such as Citi Singapore, Henkel, and Schneider Electric doing their part to ensure and promote sustainability in their respective businesses.
Supporting and implementing initiatives to combat climate change
Part of this comes in the form of environmental finance, where Citi has committed to lending, investing and facilitating US$100 billion over 10 years from 2014 to 2023 to activities focused on environmental solutions and reducing the impacts of climate change globally.
In addition, Citi has earmarked 2020 as the year for its global operations to be 100% powered or be carbon neutral by renewable energy. Key green initiatives include reducing energy usage and the designation of April as the “Earth Month”. Citi also formed a green/sustainability committee which comprises representatives from different business functions. The committee is tasked with the sustained engagement and education of Citi employees around climate action.
Ambassadors of sustainability
Sustainability is one of Henkel’s five core values and a top priority for the Singapore hub.
The German chemical and consumer goods company behind well-known brands including Loctite, Schwarzkopf, and Persil, has a daily Earth Hour whereby lights are switched off during lunch hour, a ‘Bring Your Own Cup’ initiative, as well as centralised waste bins to eliminate the use of more than 13,000 plastic bags a year. Apart from that, all of Henkel’s employees in Singapore have pledged for climate action in 2018, and employees have been trained to be sustainability ambassadors.
This year, in support of World Water Day (22 March 2019), Henkel Singapore partnered Nurture Education Group, Girl Guides Singapore, and Fernvale Gardens School to conduct school visits to spread the message of water conservation as well as reduce, reuse and recycle to 235 children across the ages of 5 to 13 years old.
A carbon-neutral HQ by mid 2020
Earlier this month, Schneider Electric, global specialist in energy management and automation, announced announced that their regional headquarters at Kallang Avenue is set to be 100% carbon-neutral by mid 2020. This is six months ahead of its original schedule of end 2020, and 10 years ahead of their global timeline.
Globally, the building will also be first among thousands of Schneider Electric buildings in the world to be carbon neutral. Schneider Electric is aiming to be carbon neutral and to fully run its buildings on renewable electricity by 2030.
Damien Dhellemmes, Singapore Country President at Schneider Electric, said: “It is not that difficult to be carbon neutral – one can simply switch from using electricity to solar energy. The challenge here is making the switch to renewable energy at an economically viable and sustainable level.”
Three tips on how your organisation can play a part
On the back of the three-day Earth Hour 2019 festival organised by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in March, Human Resources spoke to Kim Stengert, Chief, Strategic Communication and External Relations, WWF-Singapore, for tips on what HR and organisations can do to help conserve the environment.
Q. What are three things organisations can do from a HR perspective to help conserve the environment?
Sustainability is about transformation
We are seeing a shift among businesses – as well as their customers and partners – to move beyond traditional notions of corporate social responsibility. The World Economic Forum already outlines four environmental issues as the largest risks to business. There is a growing understanding that in order for economies to succeed, nature has to thrive. Businesses can no longer turn a blind eye on the negative impacts of their supply and value chains. Sustainability has to become everyone’s KPI and businesses have to ensure their practices do not come at the expense of the natural environments we all depend on. This transformation needs to start from within the organisation.
Walk the talk
Sustainable choices can be made everywhere, and to build a culture of sustainability, you have to walk the talk on a daily basis. For example, WWF-Singapore has implemented multiple office policies – this includes initiatives on practicing carbon offset in our operations, serving vegetarian and plant-based meals only, eliminating unnecessary single use plastics and strong sourcing policies requiring certified sustainable materials.
Involve everyone in the change
Meaningful organisational change towards sustainability has to be both management-led and ground-up. In every single business that we’ve partnered with, successful initiatives always involve staff at all levels. Staff have to understand why, so Internal communications play a vital role in facilitating the necessary discussions and creating an shared understanding behind sustainability initiatives.
Q. By conserving the environment what do organisations stand to gain from a business and employer branding stand point?
Today, customers, investors and partners expect their favourite brands to be environmentally responsible. If an organisation doesn’t know the environmental problems their raw materials or final products create – or if they choose to ignore it, it is simply bad governance that is not acceptable for any stakeholder. The business and reputational risks go hand in hand.
Beyond branding, sustainability measures also help reduce regulatory risk, which may include supplier disruption, direct fines, reputational risks, and restrictions on market access. There are also operational benefit as sustainable businesses can build more resilient supply chains, with greater transparency, and higher quality control. Environmental sustainable is not a nice to have anymore – it is a requirement for long term financial sustainability.
Despite the fact that more than half of Hong Kong’s workforce is made up of women, they remain poorly represented at senior management level.
This is backed up by a comprehensive report entitled the Female Talent Pipeline Study – ironically released on International Women’s Day – published by the University of Hong Kong and Meraki Executive Search & Consulting.
“We think of Hong Kong as an international city with a global outlook, and yet this gender bias suggests a much more traditional mindset. And testament to this is the fact that many firms don’t see the disparity as an issue. More than half of the Hong Kong companies engaged in the study are not tracking female talent pipeline data,” Kirti Lad, executive director of Meraki Executive Search & Consulting, told the SCMP.
The report surveyed more than 200 companies employing more than 200,000 Hong Kong people. The key takeaway was the participation rate of women drops significantly as they rise up the ranks – with women accounting for just 29% of senior management positions, despite making up 53% of Hong Kong’s workforce.
One relocation company Human Resources interviewed recently revealed that at senior board level one of the three representatives was a woman – although this turned out to be the daughter of the male CEO.
“The corporate setting has to change – I don’t think it works any more. The work structure we know today was created by men for men. Women now work in that environment. We need to fundamentally think about how organisations are structured, and how we develop a structure of inclusion,” Lad said.
“Many companies don’t even recognise they have a problem with the management of their female talent pipeline. They feel they are doing an acceptable job because they are doing better than industry competitors.”
Lad believes a significant part of the problem is ingrained social attitudes, where a good employee is someone committed to long and rigid hours in the workplace.
This does not fit well for many women who also need to meet the demands of family on their time – and who could benefit from a more flexible working arrangement.
“As long as companies continue promoting these old-fashioned ways of assessing potential, women will never catch up,” Lad said.
In fact, close to three in four (73%) currently work in an open environment where feedback can be shared at any time, while 80% are able to have an open conversation with their managers during their performance review.
In addition to Singapore, the percentage of respondents in the region who work in a company with real-time feedback is as follows:
Despite this, a vast majority (88%) of respondents in Singapore still feel their performance review is used as a platform for managers to give feedback, while 15% have not had the opportunity to share about their career aspirations or concerns.
Overall, in terms of feedback channels, here’s the typical usage:
55% of employees are able to do so face-to-face;
16% via an online survey;
12% in writing on paper;
2% do so via other channels and;
15% are not asked for feedback at all.
When asked about how they feel towards sharing and receiving real-time feedback as well as sitting through performance reviews, most respondents demonstrated positive experiences.
For example, 60% are positive as it gives them a clear understanding of what they need to achieve and how to do it. Close to half (49%) feel it encourages open communication, while 45% feel it helps them learn and develop.
On the other hand, for those who prefer not to have such practices, 32% revealed they feel vulnerable in such situations. Further, 26% feel uncomfortable and 29% are unsure of how to react in such situations.
A similar response can be seen in Malaysia, where among the over 400 respondents covered, a majority (69%) of employees believe feedback gives them a clear understanding on how to achieve their goals, while 49% believe it supports learning and 52% feel it increases their motivation.
On the contrary, 34% don’t know how to react in such situations, 33% feel uncomfortable and 29% feel it can be hard not to take any negative feedback personally.
Regular yearly performance reviews
Annual performance reviews are the most popular frequency of such conversations in both Singapore (47%) and Malaysia (34%).
Lesser popular in Singapore is the half-yearly review at 19% (compared to 17% in Malaysia), while for quarterly reviews, it is used by 15% of respondents in both countries surveyed.
The percentages of respondents citing monthly, weekly, or zero performance reviews is relatively lower, except in the case of Malaysia where 22% are using monthly reviews.