RANK #2: Leading by example

Ms Ong (seated, centre) and her colleagues (from far left) Irene Douma, Franchette Briones, Yu Khing Poh, Huey Ling Lai, Alfred Cheong and Ann Romey. PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Leading by example

Rohei is committed to creating a workplace that is nurturing and offers employees a fulfilling careers

Fostering healthy workplace relationships, giving and receiving feedback, and nurturing an emotionally safe environment — these are some hallmarks that make ROHEI Corporation a great place to work at.

ROHEI is among the companies listed in the 2017 Best Companies to Work For, a list curated by the Great Place to Work Institute Singapore.

It is no stranger to this list, having won the same accolade in 2015.

Last year, it made it onto the list of Best Small and Medium Workplaces in Asia, the first local company to do so.

Says ROHEI’s founder and chief executive, Ms Rachel Ong: “Culture trumps strategy, relationships trump culture.

“A relational leadership approach listens and serves. We are able to hear the concerns; to see the potential in people.”

ROHEI is a learning and development consultancy specialising in corporate training and development.

Founded in 2007 by Ms Ong and a group of like-minded friends, the company — whose staff strength has grown to more than 60 people over the last decade — has a clear culture and mission.

Playing as a team

One of the core pillars of ROHEI’s culture is teamwork that focuses on maintaining cohesion within the company and fostering a sense of belonging.

“Our culture is determined by the worst behaviour we will tolerate,” says Ms Ong. She explains that the company does not tolerate negative office politics and strongly encourages staff to take care of any offences quickly and directly.

“We ascribe good intentions to each other and need to fight to keep the unity in the team,” she adds.

This emphasis on building community has served the company well. Although hiring a team of full-time staff was costly at the start, employees now feel a sense of ownership and personal investment in the company and its culture.

This allows them to contribute authentically and to be personal and vulnerable — important traits to have for the type of relational training that ROHEI conducts.

Communicating company values clearly and hiring people whose perspectives and values align with the company’s is key to maintaining a strong team, says Ms Ong. Doing so ensures that people working at ROHEI are fully on board with the company’s vision and mission to take on new challenges with the confidence of being part of a great team.

Walking the talk

People and processes are both equally important to ROHEI. While fostering a culture of care and trust is important, so is pragmatic action focused on improvement. Building people up and delivering quality results must go hand in hand.

Says Ms Ong: “Open feedback keeps the channels open, allowing us to identify what we are doing well and be encouraged, to learn from what we can improve.

“We want to avoid crippling empathy, where all we do is empathise with others, but do nothing to help them get better.”

Even the chief executive officer and senior members of the team are not exempted from constructive criticism from junior staff members.

She says that open communication is not easy and getting everyone on board required the top brass to lead by example. But when staff see that the management walks the talk, they will understand that what is being put across to everyone is well-thought-out and possible to achieve.

Ultimately, when the staff know that they are being taken care of, they will take care of the business, says Ms Ong.

“People don’t give up or give in, they give their best. Everyone plays a part in creating the type of company that we would love to be a part of,” she adds.