The HR Diary

The HR Diary, the HR blog to get updates on the latest Global HR trends,
Global Employment/Tax laws/practices, HR books & Training recommendations.

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Corporate Culture news:- Apple bans negativity at work

Posted by thehrdiary on November 2, 2011 at 3:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Apple bans negativity at work

By: Staff Journalist, Singapore. Published: Jun 22, 2011

US – Employees at Apple stores are banned from saying negative words such as “unfortunately” or “problems” to customers while managers have to use buzz words like “I’ll reach out to you”.

According to training manuals seen by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), employees at Apple are told to replace "unfortunately" with the more positive “as it turns out” when delivering bad news to customers. One former employee was given a 90-day probation because he said "unfortunately" too many times at the retail store.

Apple staff are also trained to say “That’s not recommended” instead of “That’s stupid” or “That wasn’t smart”. Technical difficulties have to be addressed as “issues”, and not “problems”.

In-store technicians, known as Geniuses, are further told to “listen and limit responses to simple reassurances” such as “Uh-huh, I understand” to customers.

Keith Bruce, who worked at an Apple store for three-and-a-half years until late 2009, told WSJ that staff was forbidden from correcting customers who mispronounce a product’s name because that would make them feel patronised.

Managers at the tech giant’s retail stores are also trained to use specific buzz words such as “I’ll reach out to you” and “What questions do you have” when speaking to staff because they sound more open and welcoming.

According to a 2007 employee training manual that is still in use today, Apple drills its new recruits with customer service principles laid out in the APPLE acronym:

"Approach customers with a personalised warm welcome," "Probe politely to understand all the customer's needs," "Present a solution for the customer to take home today," "Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns," and "End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return."

Apple staff are further forbidden to complain about customers or their colleagues. One former employee said, “If you speak ill of a customer interaction or of a co-worker and any employee overhears you, you'll likely be reported to your supervisor.”

Employees can be fired if they are six minutes late for shifts more than three times in six months or if they are caught gossiping about Apple on the internet, WSJ reported.

Apple retail staff are paid about S$11 to S$18 per hour, and Geniuses earn up to about S$37 per hour. But opportunities to move into a corporate role are scarce, according to former and current Apple employees.

Cory Moll, a part-timer at Apple in San Francisco, has started a union and Facebook page to demand higher wages and benefits, Reuters reported.

Apple currently has more than 30,000 retail employees in its 325 stores around the world.

Corporate Culture news:- Bell Atlantic-TCI merger failed because after they found their corporate cultures clashed

Posted by thehrdiary on October 12, 2011 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Bell Atlantic-TCI


In 1993, in what was then the largest planned corporate merger, Bell Atlantic, a phone company serving northeastern U.S. states, agreed to pay $33 billion for the nation's largest cable-TV company, Tele-Communications. The deal collapsed in early the next year as John Malone, then-CEO of TCI, and Raymond W. Smith, head of Bell Atlantic, found their corporate cultures clashed. Bell Atlantic is now part of Verizon Communications (VZ). TCI was ultimately was acquired by AT&T (T) in 1999 and sold to Comcast (CMCSA) in 2001.


Corporate Culture news:- Don't stifle your creative staff

Posted by thehrdiary on October 11, 2011 at 5:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Don’t stifle your creative staff

By: Sabrina Zolkifi, Singapore. Published: May 24, 2011

Singapore – Managing creative staff seem like an art form in itself, as leaders try to balance work ideals between their artistic employees and those who are more traditional in their thinking.

Edvarcl Heng, senior manager of social media at MediaCom, said while conflicts between employees with different work styles will arise, managers must remember disagreements can be “the catalyst to innovation”.

“A traditionalist can help temper the highflying blue sky ideas of a creative to a version that can get off the ground faster,” Heng said. “Similarly, a creative can create new efficiencies in the organisational work templates.”

Douglas Harding, executive producer at Apostrophe Films, said there is the added challenge of “managing egos without stifling creativity”. He said managers should keep in mind that criticism and feedback from co-workers or clients can wear down creative employees’ enthusiasm for a project.

Stephen Pimbley, principal and founder of regional architecture firm Sparch, agreed managing creative talent can be “a bit of a conundrum”. The architect said the “desire to employ an open and flexible work ethic where anything is possible is matched against often quite stringent design constraints”.

Pimbley added it can be tough keeping the interest and energy levels high in the office, and not have employees "become complacent or lazy”.

Heng suggested keeping the workplace unpredictable to inspire creative staff. He said his team never knows where their next meeting will take place. “The last one we had was on a random rooftop next to a swimming pool and just by being in a new place unexpectedly, the output was fantastic,” he said.

Harding advised managers to give their more artistic staff space and time to “internalise and rationalise” their projects and thoughts. He added offering coffee and smoke breaks, and even food deliveries can break the monotony of routine and “bring them back to creative reality”.

Harding, who paints abstract art in his free time, said one advantage of being an artistic leader is the ability to connect and communicate with his staff. “Creatives perhaps have a better idea of how to communicate and motivate other creatives,” Harding said.

“We speak the same lingo, and we know how important it is to keep 'business' away from clouding the creative process.”

Corporate Culture news:- Nokia and Siemens may once have had two opposing corporate cultures

Posted by thehrdiary on October 11, 2011 at 5:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Merger lessons learnt from Nokia Siemens Networks

By: Staff Journalist, Singapore. Published: Jun 17, 2011


Singapore - Though Nokia and Siemens may once have had two opposing corporate cultures, the telecommunications giants conquered the impossible by creating a new family upon their merger.

Speaking at the HR Summit 2011 held yesterday, head of HR of Nokia Siemens Networks in Asia Pacific, Ciaron Murphy touches on valuable lessons learnt from the merger of equals.

Four years ago, the two telecommunications companies decided to combine their mobile and fixed-line phone network equipment business sectors to form one of the largest network firms globally.

Though there was initial "paranoia" about the power dynamics between executives from both sides, senior leaders eventually came together to establish new norms and culture for the merger.

The new culture for Nokia Siemens was crafted primarily through a "Values Jam", where employees and management had a 72-hour long online discussion about the corporate values the newly-formed company should adopt.

But integrating the new culture was initially plagued by employees stereotyping the working styles which had existed in both companies. Nokia employees saw Siemens' structured, organised working style as "boring", while Siemens staff interpreted Nokia's ad hoc, flexible corporate ethos as "disrespectful".

Yet creating a cohesive group of employees was ultimately successful because the top management did not merely combine Nokia's corporate values with Siemens'.

Based on the input of employees and leaders alike, the top management created a new culture that was appropriate and tailored to the new venture's needs. It now advocates employee engagement and welfare, team-work, innovation and open communication, values instrumental to the success of the firm today.

Murphy emphasised the importance and effectiveness of such a customised solution, "One size does not fit all."

Nevertheless, looking back, Murphy said the strategies undertaken to integrate a new culture would have been more effective if the senior management had sat down to work on a common leadership code before embarking on anything else.

Murphy added that bringing in a neutral third-party consultant might have also eased the bumps in the integration process.

Lessons learned from the merger of Nokia Siemens Networks will serve the growing number of companies planning to purse mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity of their own this year.

According to a survey conducted by Deloitte, nearly two-thirds of 325 corporate development professionals anticipate a rise in the number of deals their firms will pursue over the next two to five years. It added that firms are "looking to M&As as a potential catalyst to accelerate growth".

About half of respondents believe that their companies will consider up to four M&A transactions per year. Nevertheless, only 7% of respondents replied that previous deals exceeded their expectations, while 31% indicated that past deals failed to meet their expectations.


Corporate Culture news:- Yahoo! retains staff with sticky culture

Posted by thehrdiary on October 11, 2011 at 4:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Yahoo! retains staff with sticky culture - By: Lee Xieli, Singapore


Singapore – While most companies plan to use financial rewards in their retention strategy, Yahoo! intends to attract and retain staff with its “fun culture”.

Talent attraction and retention have been a big issue for most companies in Singapore recently. It is no different for Yahoo!, particularly as the city-state has a small pool of skilled digital media professionals.

Jessie Lim, HR director for the tech company in Southeast Asia (SEA), says despite the widely predicted impending global recession, Yahoo! has plans to boost its headcount in the region. “We are continuing our expansion plans in SEA because this is an emerging market.”

Yet while many employers focus on talent management programmes as a key hiring strategy, Yahoo! has a different approach. It prefers to boost job satisfaction levels instead.

“We retain [staff] with a fun culture,” Lim says. “Fundamentally, Yahoo! stands for spontaneity, innovation and empowering people to reach their potential.”

Its SEA headquarters will be launching an innovation programme – that was adapted from its global “Hack Day” initiative – in Singapore over the next two weeks. In the US, Yahoo! developers would be invited to work in teams on projects that require them to “hack” on particular products. They are given 24 hours to take it apart and put it back together again in another format.

Launched as “SEA Innovation” here, Lim says instead of having staff take apart a product, teams made up of four employees from different departments will engineer something “entirely from ground zero”. Funding and time off would be given to staff on request.

Lim says, “It can be an idea or a business plan. [The main purpose is] We want to encourage cross-collaboration relationships between different job functions.”

While HR leads and facilitates the programme, Lim stresses that her team does not “monitor or direct” staff to participate in it. “It’s more of encouraging them if they would be interested to participate in the programme.”

Likewise, there are no formal processes or official meetings to check on the teams’ progress. “We are friends here and we always know what other people are working on. It’s having a friendly chat,” Lim says.

Organising CSR-related activities and showing unity have also been other key elements in engaging staff, Lim adds. According to her, its annual employee engagement survey has shown that CSR programmes have been one of the many reasons people stay with the tech firm.

Yahoo! recently launched the “Purple Hope” community initiative in support of the Children’s Cancer Foundation after one of its staff made a personal contribution to the charity.

In a show of camaraderie, 11 other Yahoo! employees will shave their hair off to raise funds for the CSR initiative.

“It has always been a big part of our DNA,” Lim says. “When people join Yahoo!, they know that the company is truly embedded into the society and the community.”