Total Rewards Asia Summit 2024 Singapore
human resources online

Suite talk: Tristan Torres, general manager, Deliveroo Singapore

Tristan Torres, general manager, Deliveroo Singapore reveals the secret to engaging employees for business success and dwells on the real role of the CEO in firms.

Having been with Deliveroo for about one year, what are your priorities Deliveroo makes an entrance into Asia/Singapore?

My priority was to make people happy in the company. It is what I invest 70% of my time in.

As the CEO of the company, what I wanted to do last year is to build a strong team, and these people need to build the business. A lot of CEOs make the mistake of pretending to build the team and build the business. You need to trust your people.

I want to feel dispensable to the company. As a CEO, if you are dispensable, you are doing your job, if you’re indispensable, you’re not doing your job. I think we have a very strong management team of local people in Singapore now.

In line with that, how do you go about building a strong team?

Every morning, I look at my laptop screen saver that says, “happy employees will give you happy customers and happy customers will give you revenue”.

My leadership style is engagement and communication. Communication is the base of everything - if there is no communication, there is no respect, engagement or motivation.

I created a term, “ courageous proactive communication” (CPC) - if you have a problem with someone, you have to be proactive to take this person outside the company for a coffee and communicate about the problem.

When we take an important decision about the company, I get my team together and we take a decision together. I want people to feel engaged and take ownership. The company belongs to everybody, from the sales person, to the riders, and we need to love the company.

I’m not a micromanager, I don’t believe in that and I don’t believe in levels. The way I manage people is about empowering them to become better.

People leave jobs not because of the money - money is just an excuse - it’s because of the boss and the culture. So I’m trying to build a strong culture in the company. When you manage a company that way, you see the results because people feel engaged.

I always say that motivation moves mountains but with micromanagement, the only thing that moves are chairs because people will leave the company.

What advice do you have for leaders to motivate people the way you motivate your team?

You need to listen to your teams and see what the problem is. If I see someone who is not smiling, I would probably order some cupcakes, sit down and listen to the person. Or if I see them unhappy, I will call them and ask if they are ok and if they need any help.

There’s a tendency of CEOs to treat people like assets, but this is a short-term approach, because if you have unhappy employees, they are not going to make your customers happy, and if your customers are not happy, they are not going to give you revenue.

Leaders should always focus on empowering the team and giving them incentives - monetary as well as non-monetary such as recognition. At the Deliveroo office, we have a hi-five culture to recognise employees for their good work.

In many companies, HR is left to tend to the engagement of employees. How do you view the HR function?

HR is one of the most important areas in the company. I work directly with Siti, our human resources manager, and we build processes together. We are always speaking about how we can develop a strong culture in the company. The culture can make us win or lose a market.

For me, 60% of my job is about human resources and 40% is strategy. I speak with the employees every day - we talk about everything and at anytime. Working with Siti is my main priority because she can help me amplify the message throughout the company.

With 60% of your job being HR, do you think HR leaders can become CEOs?

It depends on the type of business. When you’re building a more open-minded company (as compared to the traditional sectors like banking), everyone can be a good leader.

At the end of the day, a leader needs to empower and engage with people. If you come from finance or other functions, it doesn’t mean that you can engage with people more than if you come from human resources.

In startups or technology companies, what the CEO needs to do is build a team and who better than human resources or someone who has been involved with managing people to do it?

What advice do you have for employees to balance their work and personal lives?

I think the perfect job from 9 to 5/6 doesn’t exist. Or at least I haven’t had the pleasure of working in a company with such working hours.

It’s not about the number of hours you work, it’s about being productive. There is a study that says that after seven hours of work, you become super unproductive.

My suggestion to employees is - enjoy what you do. Put passion and love into what you do. If you wake up and feel that you don’t want to go to work, change your job. You have to be happy going to work.

When you’re at home, enjoy what you do. Don’t spend your time complaining or doing nothing - you need to fill your life with colours. You can earn as much money as you want and be a billionaire, but time is the one thing money cannot buy and it is the most important thing for me.

The future is something that can come or not. The only thing we can be sure about is the present so this is what you need to focus on and be happy.

Image: Provided

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