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Reflections of a CEO – People can make or break your business.


A TV station in Kuala Lumpur recently interviewed me at our official opening in Malaysia and the journalist asked me a very pertinent question.

‘The 9 skyscraper buildings in this Business Park are empty besides Mindpearl. The proprietor said it was the quickest fit out he had ever witnessed. Tenants who signed their leases long before you are still working on their fit outs and have yet to move in. How did Mindpearl move so quickly and get such a state of the art office completed in such a short timeframe?’

My response, ‘I have incredible staff that do not miss timelines and do not accept that anything is impossible.’

A pivotal truth realised

I gave this answer without hesitation or much thought, because it is true. A month later, I am still thinking about by how easy it was for me to answer that question and I have spent many a night pondering this truth.   Mindpearl has incredible people who operate as if this business was their own, that push boundaries every day in the pursuit of the ultimate brand experience.

As a CEO this is something that makes me proud, but also leaves me wondering how did I get so lucky. Ask any CEO, what their greatest challenge is and they will tell you it is people. They can break or make a business.

I have been in the fortunate position where my core team and the people working for Mindpearl drive our business success.

So what is the secret to having incredible staff that make the impossible happen daily and are never afraid to tackle a challenge? Did it happen by accident or was it sheer luck? No. After much thought and deliberation, I have realised five compelling truths that have contributed to our culture, which I would like to share with you.

My top five principles for driving a people-centred culture and innovative environment:

  1. Employees, who are included in decision-making, are more satisfied and are motivated to perform better. (As I always say, this company does not run on one brain alone, it takes 2000 brains to make this work.)
  2. Employees, who are encouraged to be innovative, contribute to organisational success. (You never know where your next big idea is going to come from; you have an unlimited amount of potential and ideas within your own company’s walls – so utilise it.)
  3. When Managers encourage employees to make their own decisions, they show initiative and everyone wins. (This approach starts from the top down. You will be amazed what people are capable of once you show them you trust them.)
  4. Focus on creating a less formal environment, where management shows appreciation for their employees and communicate beyond work-related matters. (This I am proud to say, Mindpearl does really well. Employees affectionately refer to their peers and superiors as ‘The Mindpearl Family’- this sense of community motivates commitment, loyalty and retention.)
  5. Support face-to-face interaction, meetings, free participation, problem-solving, brainstorming and open discussion. (Irrespective where someone falls within the hierarchy, they should feel comfortable to contribute and know their opinion is valued. This fosters an environment for innovation.)

Mindpearl’s DNA

I have realised that these five principles form part of Mindpearl’s DNA and we have reaped the rewards. Our vision, ‘Pushing the boundaries of convention to deliver the ultimate brand experience’ can only be realised through our people. Buildings, infrastructure and technology can only take you so far.

Our newest centre in Kuala Lumpur is a living example of this. While the remainder of the office blocks remains empty, we are in full operational mode. Our people made this happen, through sheer determination and drive. It took endless late nights, temporary and not so temporary assignments, endless recruitment drives, remote and on-location project management and a few IT marvels that I still do not fully understand. Besides this, everyone was still passionate and excited about our enormous achievement and milestone in Mindpearl’s history and was determined to pull this off within deadline and budget. As we say in Mindpearl, ‘we made it happen’.

So how do you duplicate this?

We have endless examples of this ‘can-do attitude’, flexibility and passion for the business. This motivation and sense of ownership have become central to our organisational success. As I put these reflections in writing, I am fully aware that there are many organisations out there struggling to get this right. I can honestly say this was not something that happened overnight. Consistent application of these five principles, leading by example and buy-in from management at all levels is how you can start making a difference in your company culture. What I can say with certainty is that your people will thrive and your company will benefit. So go out there and start infiltrating your company culture for the better.

Author: William Pattison | 17 October 2016
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