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In almost every Asian market, competition is increasing, fuelled by both local and foreign businesses. Skills shortages are a constraint on most firms in the region, and our leaders are now faced with managing three or four generations of workers all with their own unique ways of working and behaving.
This new ebook is explaining organisations and employees how to make the most of the opportunities ahead and tells why managers must be flexible and socially intelligent.

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  1. 1. By Anthony Raja DevadossLeading thesociallyintelligentorganisation
  2. 2. 2Focus on SQ to work smarter,not just harder. The days of Asia being knownprimarily as the world’s production line are numbered.University graduates from China and Indiaare now flowing into the regional job marketat an unprecedented rate—graduates fromChina alone have increased seven-fold in thepast decade1—and they are seeking new,challenging opportunities.For many reasons, the Asia-Pacific region isswiftly becoming a critical hub in the globalsupply-chain of goods, services and ideas—ahub that must be sustained by agile, flexibleand diverse organisations.To make this transition in the face ofsignificant talent supply and retentionconstraints, Asia’s organisations must become‘socially intelligent organisations’—the kindthat embrace collaboration, harness diversityand promote innovation and change.Yes, the Asia-Pacific economy is stilldominated by manufacturing and agriculture,but this does not make it immune to the‘social intelligence’ (SQ) requirement thatis now global. Organisations all over theworld are trying to figure out how to respondto their market more effectively and moreefficiently—and ours must too.Here, as anywhere, the need to make moreof what we already have (including the talentthat works for us) is a critical element ofsuccess. Among other things, this will requirea deeper understanding of what motivatesindividuals, and how to better utilise thediversity of the workforce, including thevarious age groups that are now workingside-by-side.The great organisations of the next decaderequire leaders that are responsive to—and can critically understand—motivation,generational differences and what it is aboutour uniquely social behaviour that will help usto work smarter, not just harder.What is social IQ (SQ)?Social scientist Ross Honeywillbelieves social intelligence isan aggregated measure ofthe following:• self and social awareness• evolved social beliefsand attitudes• a capacity and appetite tomanage complex social change.1The Economist, “The Golden Rice Bowl”, 24 Nov 2012.
  3. 3. 3What kind of leader runs the sociallyintelligent workplace? Excelling at what youdo is only half the challenge of being a great leader—the otherhalf is figuring out how to help everyone else excel too.Research and surveys into what makespeople satisfied in their jobs consistently turnup the same answer: good relationships withmanagers. But what does ‘good’ mean? Andis it different for different employees?Yes. It is.The socially intelligent manager recognisesthis and goes about leading in a manner thatis responsive to individual needs, and thatembraces diversity of thought and action.The kind of leader who runs asocially intelligent workplace woulddo the following:• uses conversations to find out whatemployees are thinking—not surveys ordata points• engages often with different people fromdifferent areas of the team/organisation toensure their views are broadly informed• shares their thoughts, ideas andassumptions broadly to find out whatinformation they might be missing• is open to feedback and acts on it.The highly directive and transaction-orientedstyle of management that has becomethe basis of so many large, successfulorganisations in the Asia-Pacific region mustnow give way to a new kind of leadership.One that is more open, transparent anddialogue driven.35%
  4. 4. 4The socially intelligent organisationknows what motivates. Motivation means differentthings to different workers. An organisation with high SQ understandswhat these differences are and uses them to improve retention.As organisations seek to take theircapabilities to the next level, innovativeleadership practices that help to retain talentand raise engagement are key priorities.Our own research in 2012 with some170,000 employees across 30 countriesrevealed these key differences across thegenerations:• younger workers want more say in the waytheir organisation/team is managed• promotion and advancement are keymotivators for younger workers• younger workers are more focussed on thepersonal, rather than collective, outcomesof their work.These patterns are just one small elementof diversity that managers must understandand leverage to create an organisationwith high SQ, but they are critical toretaining knowledge in markets of near fullemployment.Clearly, there are other aspects ofmotivation that are not linked to ourage and stage at work, but generationaldifferences serve as an illustration ofhow the socially intelligent organisationharnesses diversity to do the following:• raise retention and the value extractedfrom talent; and• work smarter, not just harder.Figure 1. Significant differences across the generations in their attitudes to work0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%Prefer a democraticleadership stylein the workplacePromotion is thepreferred way ofbeing rewardedfor goodperformanceat workOpportunities foradvancement is theprimary reason toremain with theircurrent employerDefine/derivemeaningfrom their workas the ability toexcel/developPersonal growth/advancement is afactor that woulddrive a decision toaccept one job/positionover anotherSilent GenerationBaby BoomersGen XGen Y
  5. 5. 5Why should the sociallyintelligent manager focuson generational differences?Yes, generational differences are just one aspect of diversity, but they provide a greattemplate for thinking about other aspects of diversity and difference too. Here, I providemy insights about the ways the different generations work and how to embrace them.The way I see it, we’re just a little bit like honeybees in the workplace. We allhave different roles that we assume, and it appears that we take on thesedifferent attributes according to our age and stage in life and work.With upwards of three different generations now working side-by-side inmany of the world’s organisations, generational diversity is a key challengefor a manager seeking to lead a socially intelligent workplace.
  6. 6. 61/ Your youngest employees look to thework itself for a sense of worth.Younger workers are hungry for experience.They want to learn, to show you whatthey can do, and to be able to test theirknowledge in the real world.Younger workers focus on the work itself forsatisfaction and motivation. They look to thequality of the project and the skills that theyare learning from it to stay engaged andcommitted to the organisation.They are a little like honeybees that are morefocussed on the flower than the hive—theyknow they have a job that’s part of somethingcollective, but right now their focus is onlearning and doing what they need to do fortheir own career.Build a socially intelligent organisationthat responds to the needs ofyoung workers by:• Look to consistently create projects thatthey can learn from• Demonstrate what knowledge andexperience will be gained through eachnew assignment or task• Put safety-nets in place that will ensure youcan allow younger workers to participatein new tasks without creating higher risks,such as finding mentors that can coachthem through a new project.The socially intelligent organisationunderstands that it’s the flower, not the hivethat younger workers are most attractedto. And, it manages these workers to helpthem consistently add to their skill base andcomplete work in a more structured, project-by-project basis; it allows them to clearly seewhat they’ve achieved at the end of each day,week or month.
  7. 7. 72/ Mid-career workers want teamspirit and a clear strategy.Workers in the middle of their careers (Gen Xand older Gen Y’s) are seeking more than justa great project to work on—they want a greatteam to work on it with.After years of building skills and seeingthe cycles of business come and go,these workers are now seeking a differentkind of motivation in their work. They wantpeople that respect them, who can teachthem and help them achieve what needsto be achieved.Having a great strategy that’s clearlycommunicated and achievable, andassembling tight-knit teams to work oneach aspect is the recipe for success formanaging mid-career workers. Give themleadership tasks if that suits the individual,but most of all show them clearly howthey’re part of the team and why theirexperience matters to the group.Yes, they want to achieve great things fortheir own career, but this means having aclear business objective and people theywork well with. Strong, supportive andmutually respectful relationships are key tomid-career workers: they want to be valuedand included.So, ensure that mid-career workers:• are given appropriate leadership/mentoring and coaching roles within teams• are given as much information as possibleto help them fully grasp the strategy andadd their own insights• involve them in key decisions that affectthe entire team.
  8. 8. 83/ Senior workers want partnerships.Those from the Baby Boomer and Silentgenerations will seek satisfaction far beyondtheir own role or even the organisationitself—they may look to the community atlarge for evidence that their job is worthwhileand they seek a partnership arrangement thatallows them to bring their experience to bearon each decision.These employees want a relationship withtheir manager that is open, honest andauthentic. They want and need managerswho live and deliver upon the core valuesof the organisation, and that demonstratea responsibility to them, and to theircommunity at large.Older workers are looking not just at the jobitself or the team they work with, but thebroader context of the work they do and whatrole this plays in the community.If you’re going to retain older workersyou’ll need to do the following:• treat them as partners in the goals you set,not as employees• set the context of their work—how itimpacts the community at large and whyit’s still important• show them that the values you haveand that the organisation has reflect,and support theirs.
  9. 9. 99This is the age of the socially intelligent organisation.“Asia” is hardly a homogenous region. The various markets within markets mustnavigate fragmented regulation and infrastructure, not to mention many culturesand ways of doing business. A single organizational umbrella in this region canembrace significant diversity—so long as it’s properly harnessed.The potential for innovation, growth andnew ideas within this diverse landscape isenormous, and this is why the very ideaof the socially intelligent organisationis particularly relevant here in theAsia-Pacific region.If social intelligence is the “capacity toeffectively navigate and negotiate complexsocial relationships and environments”,the social organisation is one that makesthe most of diversity and uses it to achievestrategic goals.For companies that need to make majorleaps forward in strategy, they need:• to attract the right skills; and• to be “socially intelligent” enough toretain and utilise those skills effectively.The social organisation in theAsia-Pacific region will:• provide many opportunities forcollaboration• facilitate knowledge sharing to improvethe application of skills and ensureemployees consistently develop• be effective at capturing ideas andinnovative practices.It’s not enough for organisations to besmart and have a bank of great talent withexceptional skills. Instead, organisations mustdevelop their social intelligence in order towork harmoniously and as a strong collective,and to develop relationships and networksthat will promote the interests of the businessover the long term.A socially intelligent organisation alsounderstands and responds to the contextand cultural environment they operate within.They know better what customers wantand need and how to make the most of theopportunities around them. This, above all,is the motivator for change.
  10. 10. 1010Conclusion.As the rest of the developed world looks toemerging nations and regions such as ours,they will be looking to understand not justwhat, but how we are to achieve the nextsustainable wave of growth.In almost every Asian market, competition isincreasing, fuelled by both local and foreignbusinesses. Skills shortages are a constrainton most firms in the region, and our leadersare now faced with managing three or fourgenerations of workers all with their ownunique ways of working and behaving.We need to find ways to retain and makethe most of the talent we already have in ourorganisations. And, we need to find ways tohelp these organisations meet the challengesof a fast-evolving market. Social intelligenceprinciples are part of the answer becausethey give us tangible ways of managing andharnessing diversity.For organisations and employees to makethe most of the opportunity ahead, managersmust lead the way. Increasingly, thosemanagers must be flexible andsocially intelligent.References• Global Talent 2021 by Oxford Economics: How the new geography will transform human resource strategies.• The Economist, “The Golden Rice Bowl”, 24 Nov 2012.• McKinsey Quarterly Nov 2012, “How ‘social intelligence’ can guide decisions”• KGWI, 2012
  11. 11. EXITAbout KellyOCGKellyOCG®is the Outsourcing and Consulting Group of workforce solutions provider Kelly Services, Inc. KellyOCG is a global leaderin innovative talent management solutions in the areas of Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), Business Process Outsourcing(BPO), Contingent Workforce Outsourcing (CWO), including Independent Contractor Solutions, Human Resources Consulting, CareerTransition and Executive Coaching, and Executive Search.KellyOCG was named to the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals®2012 Global Outsourcing 100®list, an annual ranking of the world’s best outsourcing service providers and advisors.Further information about KellyOCG may be found at kellyocg.com.About the AuthorsAnthony Raja Devadoss is currently the Vice President – APAC with the Outsourcing & Consulting Group of Kelly Services. Fromnetwork services, engineering to e-business solutions, Anthony Raja has worked in both India and Malaysia, in roles ranging fromtechnical to CEO. He has received his Bachelors degree in Science and his MBA in Marketing and a Postgraduate Diploma in Computing.He holds membership in various local and international associations such as the MIM, Human Capital Institute and Association of CareerProfessionals International. He is the Head of Policy Enablement and Government Liaison with Outsourcing Malaysia and a member ofthe Industry Advisory Board for the Graduate School of Business, UNIRAZAK. He was recently appointed to the HR Capacity Buildingtaskforce by the Ministry of Human Resources, Government of Malaysia. Anthony is also a member of the HROA APAC Chapter Board.http://my.linkedin.com/in/anthonyraja http://twitter.com/anthonyraja