Speak Up, Listen and Respond Because iCare

New initiative to engage CapitaLand employees with heart takes off with Because iCare Awards

Issue: Jan 2012

The inaugural BiC Awards were created to recognise CapitaLand employees' efforts to speak up constructively and listen emphatically
The inaugural BiC Awards were created to recognise CapitaLand employees' efforts to speak up constructively and listen emphatically

CapitaLand has always prided itself on being more than just a brick-and-mortar business. People, it has maintained, is what is important. Managing, motivating and engaging people, therefore, have been as much as its preoccupation in developing, managing and operating properties.

So, in May 2011, as part of the "Because iCare" programme (read Right from the Heart), an initiative called "Speak Up, Listen, Respond" was launched. The idea was mooted to encourage people to speak up constructively, listen actively and respond accordingly in an environment of acceptance. Knowing that their superiors care enough to take into consideration their suggestions will, in turn, inspire people to care enough and share ideas more freely.

Honouring Those Who Care

The inaugural Because iCare Awards were given out in conjunction with CapitaLand's 11th anniversary celebrations in November 2011
The inaugural Because iCare Awards were given out in conjunction with CapitaLand's 11th anniversary celebrations in November 2011

"Because iCare Awards is our way of recognising our staff's participation in the Because iCare moments through speaking up constructively and listening emphatically. This will hopefully encourage more staff to do the same and contribute to our journey in creating a positive work environment," explained Mr Tan Seng Chai, Deputy Chief Corporate Officer and Chief Human Resource Officer.

In August 2011, there was a call for employees to nominate colleagues whom they felt exhibited the "Because iCare" spirit. Over 90 nominations were received. In November, as CapitaLand celebrated its 11th anniversary, the inaugural Because iCare awards were given out to 33 winners that were selected by a panel of judges.

As Mr Yip Hoong Mun, Deputy CEO of CapitaLand (Vietnam) Holdings, had said at the launch of the Because iCare programme last year, "They don't have to be big ideas from the senior management. Every individual can be innovative in doing his work. If everyone treats others with heart and thinks of better ways to do things, then the company will be more vibrant."

Ha Pham An from Somerset Hoa Binh Hanoi, Vietnam, is a fine example of speaking up for the benefit of customers and company
Ha Pham An from Somerset Hoa Binh Hanoi, Vietnam, is a fine example of speaking up for the benefit of customers and company

Speaking Up

Among this pioneer batch of Because iCare Awards winners is Ha Pham An, Engineering Manager from Somerset Hoa Binh Hanoi, Vietnam. She embodies the very spirit of "Because iCare" with her constant drive to share ideas on how to improve customer service and work environment in the property, often going well beyond her work scope.

"It is my personal goal to contribute as much as I can to customer satisfaction. So I always think from their point of view and try to come up with ways to make their experience better," said Ha.

On one occasion, Ha sent out a schedule for maintenance service, suggesting for the Engineering Team to do the maintenance work while the Housekeeping Associate conduct cleaning of the apartments to reduce the inconvenience to the residents. She had also recommended that good news be posted on a communication board to encourage the employees and foster a sense of community.

Liu Diadong from CapitaMalls Asia (China), makes listening a part of his leadership style
Liu Diadong from CapitaMalls Asia (China), makes listening a part of his leadership style

In Sichuan, China, Because iCare Award winner, Marcom Manager Liu Daidong from CapitaMalls Asia (China), was already living the "listening with heart" principle even before the "Because i Care" programme was formalised. He is affectionately known as Dong Ma (Mother Dong) because he listens to his colleagues and shows genuine care for them, encouraging them to speak up freely without fear. Subordinates praise him for his concern over their career development. He makes a habit of having one-to-one talks with his staff to better understand them and has also established a mentor programme where each junior staff is mentored by a senior colleague who will nurture and guide them, and monitor their progress.

"I worked my way up, too, so I understand what it is like to be a subordinate. From past experience, if bosses listen to their subordinates, it helps the bosses themselves do a better job," said Liu. "In addition, I am inspired by CapitaLand's people-first attitude. I saw how the company supported our staff when we were affected by the big (Sichuan) earthquake in 2008. Their good example has encouraged me to treat people with respect and kindness as well."

Responding Accordingly

Ideas alone are not the only things the "Because iCare" programme is promoting. The initiative also wants to get employees and stakeholders alike to act on the ideas. Because iCare Award winner Ang Li Min from CapitaLand Residential Singapore, is a prime example of thinking doers that CapitaLand seeks. One of the tasks assigned to Ang when she first joined the company was to take care of the accounts of joint-venture entities. She was required to do reports and attend to the queries of external partners. Her approachable and pleasant style of communication helped her to foster good working relationships with all the different departments.

Our Because iCare winners have shown that acting with consideration and listening with heart can be done, in the spirit of Because iCare
Our Because iCare winners have shown that acting with consideration and listening with heart can be done, in the spirit of Because iCare

But beyond being likeable, Ang is also a team-player. She is often approached to assist in group reporting and forecast exercises although it is not part of her job. Her acute ability in assessing financial and cash flow implications for operational decisions have, on more than one occasion, contributed positively to the reporting process. Even when she was busy preparing for her wedding, Ang still tirelessly worked under tight deadlines without a word of complaint. In fact, she postponed her honeymoon by a week in order to complete a project she was working on.

"I couldn't believe that I had won the award in the beginning. Having colleagues who appreciate my efforts and who reciprocate in kind gave me the extra zest to go the extra mile. I also have a supportive family who understands my work commitment," said Ang.

Du Jin, a senior executive from the Housekeeping Department in Somerset Jiefangbei Chongqing, China is also one who acts on her ideas. In 2009, the property management department had plans to put up Christmas decorations for the festivities. However, because it was their first time doing this, they under budgeted and only gave her RMB 2000. Instead of complaining, Du came up with the idea of using gold foil cloth made by the uniform room to wrap the potted plants in the property. She personally shopped for the decorations and bargained with suppliers to get a good price so that she could keep within the budget.

"My personal philosophy is that if we can save, we should," said Du. "I always believe that if we help the company do well, it benefits us, too and if we do our best, we can inspire others to excel as well."

CapitaLand’s Because iCare collaterals, to remind staff to
CapitaLand’s Because iCare collaterals, to remind staff to "Speak up, Listen and Respond", are placed in meeting rooms

Working Together

At Ascott Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Because iCare winner Rahimah Razali is constantly working to ensure smooth communication and work relations amongst the departments in the property. When the entire office was converting to a different software, she ensured that the Guest Service, Reservations and Finance departments worked closely together. The conversion went much more smoothly because she was not afraid to provide constructive solutions, think ahead and listen to the Reservations Officers working with her.

To further promote CapitaLand’s Because iCare spirit, a set of collaterals - a Because iCare acrylic standee and post-it note pad – has also been produced and placed in meeting rooms to remind staff to "Speak up, Listen and Respond".

Regardless of nationality, designation or work scope, these men and women have shown that acting with consideration and listening with heart can be done. And when done well, everyone stands to benefit. Truly reflective of CapitaLand's spirit of “Because iCare”.

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