Speaking About Culture to Malaysian CEOs

4945f533c649a7f1e232ff85287353f2

It was an interesting experience for me to speak about work culture to a group of CEOs in Malaysia. When I was first invited to do it, I was quite skeptical about how receptive this topic was going to be. After all, these are very experienced business people who have successfully built multi-million dollar businesses without having much thought about culture. Why would they even care?

To my surprise, they really did. These were very forward looking people who wanted to know where the wind was blowing, incredibly dynamic people who would want to hear every idea, realising that resistance to change and evolve according to what the world has become, will have a negative effect on their companies.

The one thing some of these CEOs could agree on, was that culture increasingly mattered to a lot of the younger jobseekers, and therefore this could no longer be ignored. In fact, while the need to change and start caring about culture may not be immediately obvious, by the time you realise you need to do something about it, it’s probably already too late. Because the culture of your organisation is made up of the people you hire, and how they think, and any change is extremely difficult and time consuming.

A special call out to two companies that really stood out for me during this talk – Feruni and PosAd.

Feruni is a ceramic tiling business, and was probably one of the last businesses I would imagine to start caring about culture. Yet the senior management team took a trip to attend a course in Zappos in Las Vegas, to learn about what culture means to them, and they have since been passionately implementing a lot of these ideas back here in Malaysia (separate blog post coming soon!)

PosAd is a diversified advertising business that recently embarked on a culture change initiative, as they hired external consultants to help them make their workplace a better environment to be in.

I hope more companies in Malaysia will look at these companies as amazing examples that caring about culture is important not just to attract talent, but to succeed as a business, before it’s too late.