Khind introduces email and facebook to staff to encourage communications
CEO notes that companies with poor communications suffer from lost productivity
“I CANNOT promise you a high salary but I promise you will be happy and you will learn working here.” You definitely won’t hear this very often in an interview but this is what Gan Bee Yow, (pic, left) group information system manager at Khind Holdings Bhd likes to tell the people she interviews.
The way Gan manages her team of eight, which not surprisingly, has had no attrition at all, is symbolic of the culture Khind’s Group CEO, Cheng Ping Keat (pic, middle), is trying to create in the electrical goods company.
“We are trying to create a culture that attracts people to stay and learn with us,” he says. “You know people get up in the morning and when they leave for work, they are leaving one comfort zone. We want them to come into another comfort zone with us when they come to work.”
Part of this includes a strong corporate social element into Khind. Before they interview, Cheng pointed out an employee who had recently gone bald in support of a cancer cause he was supporting and notes that such actions are common throughout the organization.
He notes a recent survey in Australia which found the top three reasons people stay with an employer is because of their relationship with colleagues, with their immediate boss and for money. Cheng aims to create an environment which facilitates these reasons.
In part, he has turned to technology to do so and with what many will consider a basic feature, introducing email and Facebook, but which in reality is still not common especially in manufacturing-based businesses.
Khind recently introduced email for all its 800 staff across the countries it operates in. Cheng notes there was some apprehension about giving email to factory floor staff but Cheng notes that even his driver has a Facebook account and that having a company issued email ID will be a tool to bond staff closer to the company.
“Giving staff their own email shows that I respect you as an individual and that is a big part of the culture we want to shape,” claims Boh Boon Chiang, (pic, right) the chief operating officer of Khind Holdings Bhd.
Plus, he notes that staff, especially the sales teams, have long been using personal email to communicate with the various retail outlets. “It defeats the purpose if they use personal email for official work.”
It has sometimes been a delicate issue too as senior staff, who have long had company email ID, may at times not share emails with some people who feel left out of the loop and slighted. But the recent move to issue email to all staff, starting by departments, will help improve the flow of information.
Of course there are early problems of staff needing to learn to use email properly. “There is too much CC-ing going on which can get annoying,” notes Cheng wryly. But that is part of the learning curve in handling any new technology feature introduced.
What is interesting here is that Cheng considers this the first phase of the liberalization of information in Khind with giving all staff their own email ID representative of the open book management style he is introducing. “I see IT as an important tool to allow us to accelerate changes,” he says. “Our staff will now look at us senior managers to see if we are transparent.”
The introduction of a company Facebook page too allows staff to share their thoughts, feelings and ideas in an open manner and for departments like HR to share information more easily and respond to requests.
Being open and transparent is important to Cheng as he believes that poor communications has a hidden cost to companies. “I feel that companies that have poor communications suffer from lots of misunderstandings and this actually slows work down as their systems are not good and people become suspicious of each others motives.”
At Khind, he strives to keep things open and ensure staff are consistent in what they do. “I believe this will reduce suspicions of each other and we will become more transparent.”
Adds Boh, “in moving towards an open book management style we will keep everything transparent and above board.”
Indeed Cheng believes that as the company becomes honest and practises high integrity in the information it shares, “we will also attract those with high integrity and honesty and having more of such people join us will further reduce miscommunications and just enhance the work environment and culture of Khind. It comes back to the culture issue, I feel.”
While he is using technology to help him achieve some of his goals he notes that it is just a tool. “It still is about procedure and people’s mindset. You can have the best software but without discipline and commitment to use it and use it well, it will be a waste of time.”
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