Getting buy-in

HRM 08 Feb 2013

Vicky Skipp

Regional Director, Southeast Asia, Adobe Systems

As a technology company that deals with digital content creation and digital marketing, Adobe encourages a culture of creativity, collaboration, and community in the organisation. We value great ideas and innovation throughout the company.

The key factors leading to adoption of new ideas in the workforce will be open communication from the management team, setting clear goals and objectives, active engagement, skill development and recognition for performance. For instance, Adobe is making a gradual shift away from selling traditional software licenses to a new subscription-based business model. To ensure buy-in from every level, we constantly engage with our employees through various internal communication channels to help them understand the rationale behind the new business model. We set up helplines and collaboration spaces allowing employees to have their concerns addressed. At the same time, clear measurable goals are set and rolled out together with regular training so that everyone on the team is moving in the same direction. It is also very important to share successes by high-performing teams and individuals to encourage acceptance of new initiatives.

As one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for the past 13 years, we see people as our greatest assets and want to ensure our employees are deeply involved in our ongoing journey to be ahead of the curve and connect new ideas with business realities.


Rob Bratby

Managing Partner, Olswang Asia

I moved to Singapore in 2010 to set up Olswang Asia, Olswang’s first office outside Europe.

As an international law firm, we consider diversity as a business imperative and our office contains talented people from many different nationalities, with different working styles.

To be effective and successful it has been important to build strategic consensus and help everyone to value the respective contributions of their colleagues.

To overcome this issue and get the buy-in needed from employees, we have adopted a number of initiatives, but I am most pleased with our corporate social responsibility programme as it has enabled us to promote engagement across our entire workforce.

A concrete example was a morning where the whole office spent chopping vegetables at a local soup kitchen. As well as giving back to society it broke down hierarchical barriers. Everyone is equal with a potato peeler in their hand and everyone was able to make friends and realise that ‘the boss’ is not so scary – especially when he or she needs tuition on how to chop vegetables.

We have also adopted, counter-culturally for law firms in Singapore, an open-plan working environment. Whilst this has not been without its challenges, it has made a material contribution to teamwork, collaboration and communication. As we evolve from a new firm to become part of the legal establishment in Singapore, it will be a big challenge to keep the open communication and culture of an entrepreneurial start-up.


Steve Melhuish

CEO & Founder, PropertyGuru

I must say I’m fortunate to have a team who understands the company DNA; who in fact forms part of that DNA. They understand what we are trying to achieve here at PropertyGuru, and that unity is a big reason why we’ve come this far in just six years. I can’t stress enough the importance of appointing the right people from the get-go.

That said, whether you’re a two-man tag-team or a 200-strong company, disagreements and disputes are inevitable. Everyone wants to be heard and thinks they have a better idea but at the end of the day, you don’t get to win by default just because you are the big boss. We keep our focus squarely on what’s best for the company, which means no room for egos — including mine.

As a leader, it pays to keep your mind and ears open, because the winning idea I’ve learned, often turns out to be the sum of the best parts from a collective pool of shared ideas. That’s why we have an open-door policy and hold regular meetings to brainstorm on how we can improve things, or create new ways on how we can reach that common goal.

It’s all about communication, cultivating a good working environment and earning your team’s trust and respect by putting your money where your mouth is. Autocracy is not our style. It’s all about being on the right track and taking a leap of faith to depend on the people who have made PropertyGuru the place it is today.

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