How to continuously evolve for superior business outcomes

Organisations that constantly evolve benefit from creativity, ingenuity, and collaboration, experts from TAFEP note.

This article on continuous evolution is the third installment of the five-part series on the building blocks to develop the DNA of a progressive employer. Read parts one and two here.

Change is not just a management buzzword; it is a necessity for business survival in a world of disruptions. Keeping pace with change requires organisations to continuously evolve, and this is identified as one of the five building blocks to develop the DNA of a progressive employer in a study commissioned by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP).

Organisations that embrace continuous evolution continually improve their processes, programmes, and practices to achieve superior business outcomes. They experiment with new ways of working to improve the status quo, and use data to track and measure effectiveness. More importantly, they bring their people along the change journey.

Examples of organisations that have been actively changing their business processes or products are, as expected, some of Silicon Valley’s big tech players. But in what may come as a sweet surprise, Singapore’s oldest sugar manufacturer is also transforming.

Business reinvention breeds success

Founded in 1947, Singapore’s Cheng Yew Heng Candy Factory’s family business has evolved in the last seven decades – from producing sweet snacks like sour plum candies to manufacturing rock, red and black sugars for global export.

It modernises the business with automation to increase productivity and instils in employees a culture of learning and innovation. This accelerated when third-generation leader John Cheng joined the business in 2008.

For instance, he sent employees for courses to upgrade their skills, created new product lines to provide jobs for staff whose work have been replaced by machinery, and introduced a system of employee benefits.

On the other side of the world, US tech companies also charted new frontiers. For example, Netflix evolved from a DVD rental company to a giant subscription streaming service and production company with over 200mn subscribers.

Netflix’s success could be attributed to its culture, where employees are trusted to take smart risks, make and own decisions based on what they think is best for the organisation, and have candid exchange of constructive feedback at all levels to embrace different perspectives, make better decisions, and understand how one can improve, learn, and adapt more quickly.

How can you develop a company culture of continuous evolution? Here are some tips to get started:

#1 Encourage experimentation, learning, and discovery

Both employers and employees must be curious to challenge norms and assumptions, without fear of failure and view setbacks as opportunities to learn.

This can be achieved with leaders who do not play the blame game, and instead find out what went well to identify areas for refinement. To further encourage employees to test new ideas, leaders should recognise employees’ efforts by rewarding the innovative spirit that resulted in both achievements and those with less than sterling results.

Leaders also ought to instil a growth mindset and ensure that there are fair and relevant training opportunities for employees to acquire new skillsets to keep up with changes.

#2 Ensure all employees contribute

Giving employees a voice in initiating change helps build ownership and makes them more likely to support change and champion it.

Empower your employees’ creativity by fostering collective participation, where everyone feels responsible to contribute and proactively identify areas for change.

This can be done by giving them outlets to pinpoint areas where they can improve and ideas to do so. More importantly, listen to them and develop line managers to become your change-makers for better engagement and business growth.

#3 Put in place a clear process to facilitate change

Clear processes and guidelines help reduce uncertainty, enabling employees to act with greater confidence.

For example, periodic reviews to track progress and analyse results, especially during the experimentation phase or when a pilot initiative is launched will help promote agility in making adjustments and improvements along the way, and ramping up internal communications to employees provide clarity and ensure that they feel more involved in the process.

Organisations that embrace a culture of continuous evolution enable creativity, ingenuity, and collaboration to flourish, and are agile in responding to organisational changes. This will lead to business longevity and sustained success.

[View part two of the seriesDecoding the DNA of progressive employers: How to value employee voice]


Learn more about instilling a culture of continuous evolution at your workplace by downloading TAFEP's Beyond 20/20: DNA of Progressive Employers.

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