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The CEO of Canon Marketing Malaysia, Wataru Nishioka, reveals how the firm’s unique culture and talent engagement policies help him in managing a large global workforce effectively.
What attracted you to working at Canon Marketing Malaysia?
Before coming to Malaysia, I had heard many good things about the country and the Canon office here. Like every Canon office worldwide, the working styles and cultures are very different in each country as each local office is mainly staffed by the locals.
How has your experience been working in the company to date?
Personally, I find that our Canon Malaysia staff are very friendly, knowledgeable and they share a common passion for food!
I have now been here for two years. I have to say that my time here has been great. Having worked in Canon Japan, US, Europe and Thailand, the Malaysian office offers a different perspective and work culture.
Working towards a common goal helps all of us at Canon Malaysia. We can put our best foot forward while embracing “Kyosei”, our corporate philosophy, which means to work and live together for the common good.
Could you share any examples of how the company engages and retains its employees ?
Our employees are our greatest assets. They are the ones who grow our business and also ensure that every aspect of the business is taken care of.
Therefore, it is very important to constantly engage with our employees, communicate and provide them with a promising working environment to ensure high levels of productivity.
To achieve that, we have implemented our very own “morning greeting” activity. Every morning at 8.30, a team will be assigned to visit and greet colleagues from every department on every floor. This daily duty is rotated among the departments each day. We have seen great outcomes from this initiative. There is greater staff interaction within the office.
Taking this initiative a step further, we have since added an element of fun to the morning greeting by introducing a monthly thematic challenge. This has further encouraged creativity between team members as well as strengthened work relationships.
For instance, it was nice to see staff distributing home baked cakes, handmade flowers and sharing well wishes during the Mother’s Day thematic challenge.
What’s your secret to managing a large global workforce?
It all comes down to ensuring our employees’ voices are heard. Running a nationwide workforce is no easy task. Currently, we have about 700 staff in our Malaysian office.
These people come to work every morning to do what’s best for the company.
As a CEO, I make it a point to listen to what they have to say and to do my best to provide them with a positive working environment. It also helps to motivate them as people do burnout after some time. A little nudge is necessary from time to time to get them back on track.
We have a “Breakfast with CEO” session where staff are given the opportunity to ask me questions directly and they get an answer almost instantly. Besides that, our employees can write to me directly through a special Gmail account and they may choose to be anonymous. We hope these efforts will make them feel their voice will be heard.
Canon has a unique guiding spirit called the San-ji (three selfs) spirit which consists of three elements: self-motivation, self-management and self-awareness.
I have to say the San-ji spirit is the core part of my secret in managing a global workforce.
Japanese leaders give priority to the harmony and effective delegation on each level in order to make the organisation work as a strong team.
And at Canon Marketing Malaysia, my teams are encouraged to embrace the guiding spirit of the “three selfs” and reflect the qualities of true Canon employees who the company can be proud of.
How do you help low-performing or unmotivated employees to perform better?
I believe that strategic thinking, consistency, accuracy and motivation are keys to success. To me, these are the traits that set a company apart and drive teams to achieve outstanding performances.
In Canon Malaysia, I aim to inculcate a culture where superiors are to be respected and juniors educated.
When an employee is not performing up to par, managers/supervisors will have to step in to guide them back to the right path and to instil positivity in the employee’s mindset.
The HR department plays a pivotal role as well. Team-building activities, motivational talks, company dinners and outings are just some of our ways to get them back on track.
Your role is no doubt a stressful one. How do you cope with a bad day at work, and how do you re-energise yourself?
I believe it always starts with our mindset. I maintain a positive outlook and no matter how tough and stressful things may be, I take a step back to assess the situation and decide on positive actions that can be utilised to address things and make situations better.
When I am facing an especially challenging day or a situation that is upsetting, I leave it for a day before I take action. Time is money, but it is a medicine too.
A game of golf helps and I also spend time to unwind in the evenings with my wife over a meal or just to relax. Listening to jazz piano music works very well for me. It helps me to forget about a bad day or the huge pressure and helps me concentrate on what I have to do.
Do you think HR leaders have the necessary skills and vision required to make it as a CEO?
Definitely. The HR department plays a crucial role in every company and the same applies for Canon Marketing Malaysia.
A good HR leader must possess the ability, knowledge and skills to better manage and understand the needs of its employees.
Besides that, finding a system that works for every individual and to bond everyone together within the establishment is not an easy task either.
In my opinion, there are a few qualities a CEO must have and one of them is people management skills. This is highly required in every leader and is essential in a good CEO as employees are now striving for better work-life balance.
With an HR background, the CEO will be able to accommodate to this changing work trend without compromising on the business and the employees’ quality of work.
In addition, HR leaders must also gain knowledge and training in the management of business, strategic planning and other related fields such as marketing and finance that will equip them for the role of CEO.
How do you think the HR function can become more strategic and be a better business partner?
An effective HR management can be seen through the retention of talent/employees.
First and foremost, employing the right fit for the company is important. Placing the right staff in the right position is more challenging than just completing the recruitment process.
These people must share the same goals, be highly motivated and are team players. They must be eager to learn and adapt. When these people meet the criteria, half the battle is won.
Next, it is all about growing these talents to their maximum potential. HR will need to assess their progress in the company and fully utilise the employees’ expertise, while providing ways to improve in areas in which they are non-performing.
Employees’ morale should be continually addressed which will then help propel the company’s business further.
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