How leadership effectiveness is demonstrated at Best Workplaces across ASEAN

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This is the third blog in our series on how Best Workplaces™ in ASEAN build a high-trust workplace culture. In our earlier blogs, we shared the characteristics of a Great Place To Work® For All™, and how Best Workplaces™ in ASEAN build high-trust workplace cultures and live out their company’s core values daily. This blog will cover the third element in the Great Place To Work For All Model – Leadership Effectiveness.

Leadership Effectiveness

Good leaders set the business strategy and mobilize their company to execute the plans. Leaders at Best Workplaces develop a coherent strategy that is integrated across different levels of their organization, and effectively connect employees’ aspirations and contributions to the strategy.

Based on Great Place To Work’s extensive years of extensive research on workplace culture, we found that there are two distinguishing factors of effective leaders:

  • They have a sincere emotional connection with their company’s culture and its people
  • They demonstrate the ability to create a coherent and effective strategy at every level of the business

Great Place To Work assesses leadership effectiveness by asking employees about the extent of their confidence in their executive team’s judgment and examining the degree to which all employees experience the key behaviors related to this outcome; for example, the extent to which employees throughout the company feel leaders are approachable and easy to talk with, and the extent to which they believe leaders have a clear view of the business direction.

In the Trust Index™ Employee Survey, these effective leadership behaviors are evaluated through an employee’s experience of management in the following areas:

  • Credibility
    The extent to which employees see management as credible and trustworthy based on their experiences on how management promotes open communication with employees, their capability to lead, and their commitment to the ethical standards of the company.
  • Respect
    This refers to employee experiences of management’s actions towards them based on whether they experience support, care and encouraged to collaborate.
  • Fairness
    This reflects how management practices are experienced by employees in terms of whether they are fair and promote equity, are impartial, and there is a sense of justice in the workplace.

When employees have consistent positive experiences of these leadership behaviors, it builds their confidence in the company’s management and leadership and leads to a stronger foundation of trust in the workplace.

Insights across ASEAN

To assess leadership effectiveness across ASEAN, we analyzed employee responses to the following statements. The percentage reflects the proportion of employees who have positive experiences.

Management is approachable, easy to talk with.

Management is competent at running the business

Management has a clear view of where the organization is going and how to get there.

Management shows appreciation for good work and extra effort.

ASEAN Overall included Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
ASEAN Best refers to companies on the 2022 Best Workplaces national lists from Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

Country Insights

Across the different countries*, employee experiences varied:

*Countries included: Indonesia (IDN), Malaysia (MY), Philippines (PH), Singapore (SG), Thailand (TH), and Vietnam (VN).

Management is approachable, easy to talk with.

Management is competent at running the business

Management has a clear view of where the organization is going and how to get there.

Management shows appreciation for good work and extra effort.

Based on the information shared in Culture Audit submissions, we found that Best Workplaces have a structured approach to seek input from employees at all levels in their strategy development – a number also seek input from other stakeholders in their business ecosystem. They have a clear end goal in mind, effectively cascade the implementation approach and plans through a variety of communication platforms, equip line leaders to ensure accuracy and consistency of information shared. Importantly, they provide channels for employees to seek clarification, and understand how their daily work relates to and contributes to the bigger strategy.

The ambitious objective of being the undisputed leader in healthcare technology is Medtronic’s true north and is what drives its customer-first mentality, and the synergistic alignment between regional and local business strategy. This clear overarching philosophy helps leaders make operational decisions that address the evolving needs of the patients, healthcare providers, and their employees.

Coupled with its People-First approach, Medtronic Vietnam’s business strategy is implemented with full involvement of functional leaders as well as team members to incorporate ideas through the lens of patients, customers and employees. At the start of each fiscal year, 10,000+ employees across Medtronic APAC join the virtual Kick-Off Meeting, where they contribute to how the strategy will be carried out – through innovative products, technologies, and ways of working.

As a result, every employee understands the purpose, feels empowered, and is proud of their achievements.

In the words of an employee, “Because we get to hear from our colleagues – not just our bosses – we get to feel their pride and passion for their work, hear their stories of hard work from behind the scenes, and celebrate their contributions to our business.”

Employees’ alignment, support and contributions to the strategy are recognized and rewarded through a number of regional and local award programs, ranging from a peer nominations and recognition portal to the prestigious President’s Club and President’s Choice Awards. A newly introduced Vietnam Managing Director Award also recognizes individuals who go above and beyond their roles and responsibilities to deliver exceptional business growth in the country. This structured approach fosters employee satisfaction in work accomplished, job security, advancement opportunity, and means to share in the company’s success.

Leadership effectiveness can be expressed as the ability to communicate company decisions and business strategies with employees of all levels. At DHL Express, part of an employee’s growth journey in the company is to be honed as an effective communicator. New members of the company are immediately immersed in a 32-hour induction course where the foundations of the company are introduced. Employees from every level are hand-picked to be a new batch of qualified facilitators as each curriculum is finished. This impactful initiative seeks to grow new generations of torch bearers to pass on their business prowess to the next batch.

Communication platforms and channels are essential in developing leaders who are effective communicators. One of the highly anticipated activities in their calendar is the FOCUS conferences where progress on goals outlined in their main strategy is shared with the leaders. Synchronous to this, best practices, strategies, and reviews are exchanged. As not all can tune into this in real-time, local leaders are tasked to cascade messages to their teams to keep everyone in the loop.

Similar to the conference, there are bi-annual townhalls in every country and region. One of the key highlights of this event are the Q&A and feedback sessions. Employees and the Senior Management Team engage in open dialogue. Townhalls are vital tools at DHL Express that ensure people are well-informed from the very highest level while ensuring that the seniors are made both visible and approachable to associates. With newer generations such as Gen Z entering the workforce, DHL’s Certified International Manager program is a module that is designed to equip leaders with a transformed leadership mindset for the 21st century. A big part of this new “thinking” correlates with building trust in the workplace. An example is the creation of a high-performance environment that practices clear, regular communication. This means setting clear objectives, giving regular motivational and developmental feedback, listening and making sure everyone is involved and focused on adding value. That employees truly feel their leadership is effective is seen with 100% of the workforce in Philippines concurring that management is competent at running the business.

At Best Workplaces in ASEAN, employees have positive experiences in leadership credibility, believe that their leaders respect them, and experience consistently fair treatment across different demographics and job functions/levels. Leaders in these companies create a shared sense of purpose and ignite passion towards business and people growth. Regardless of employee size and industry, these companies demonstrate how leadership effectiveness is a cornerstone for their companies’ For All culture.

Keep an eye out for our next blog in this series on Maximizing Human Potential. Don’t forget to read our earlier blogs on Trust and Values.

Check out the highlights from our 2022 ASEAN GREATER Summit! Click here.

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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.

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