Clear corporate objective unites team

by Alex Chan

Louisa Lee, director of human resources, TNT Express Worldwide (HK) Ltd
Photo: Johnson Poon

Performance management system helps to exceed customer expectations

Although each employee's role within a large corporation is more or less unique, the performance of the overall business may fall well short of potential if staff do not share the same goals and vision.

Realising this, TNT Express Worldwide (HK) Ltd sets out a clearly defined vision to ensure all employees are in no doubt about the company's objectives and can contribute effectively in their own way. The stated aim is to exceed customers' expectations in the transfer of their goods and documents around the world.

According to Louisa Lee, director of human resources at TNT, one part of the performance management system is to assess how well individuals and teams are achieving this corporate mission. The process involves checking competencies and seeing which employees are consistently exceeding customer requirements. A mid-year review evaluates if staff have the necessary skills to perform each key function, and new objectives are set out in meetings with line managers and the HR department. These sessions identify ways to improve business operations and personal skills, which may lead to greater customer satisfaction.

Our commitment to training and the investment in people means greater job satisfaction all round

Continuous improvement

"Managers are also encouraged to coach their staff to ensure they have the tools and competencies to achieve the company's objectives and their own," says Ms Lee. If, for example, it is agreed that further training is needed in the form of a degree or diploma, the company will fix a long-term development plan and provide certain subsidies. There are also competency-based training programmes to teach specific job-related skills.

"Our commitment to training and the investment in people means greater job satisfaction all round," says Ms Lee. This begins as soon as a new member of staff joins. An induction course explains the company's vision and objectives, and outlines how the individual can be part of the ongoing success. In total, it is an eight-week programme which also takes in company orientation, on-the-job training and coaching sessions.

TNT's commitment to staff was rewarded with the internationally recognised Investor in People (IIP) accreditation in 2002. This has a strict set of requirements relating to training policies and people management and, to date, TNT is the only company in the express industry — and the first in Asia — to win accreditation. "We also obtained the Hewitt best employer award in 2003, and have been recognised as a Caring Company by the Hong Kong Council of Social Services since 2002," says Ms Lee.

Open communication

She adds that the company's success can also be attributed to its commitment to employee engagement. "We emphasise two-way communication and encourage staff to express their opinions and suggestions," she explains. There is an open-door policy to make managers more accessible, as well as departmental workshops, focus groups, newsletters, an intranet, and organised activities, which all help to foster communication and create a stronger team spirit.

One example is the regular get-togethers involving the customer service, operations and sales teams. Since, these three groups are dealing with customers, it is important for them to know each other well and exchange their points of view. The company also has a unique programme in which, every month, the management team invites colleagues from each department out for afternoon tea, so that staff can discuss their concerns in a more informal environment.

An annual survey is conducted by an independent company and used to measure the level of employee engagement. The results highlight strengths and areas for improvement, making it possible to benchmark against the global and local industry norms.

"In 2006, we had an overall satisfaction score of 90 per cent," says Ms Lee. "Our performance scores were more than 10 per cent higher than the market average and the separate scores for recognition, rewards, working relationship, learning and development were also very good. The fact that we have a remarkably high retention rate of 90 per cent demonstrates that a focus on staff development and training can really lead to having loyal workers."


Taken from Career Times 15 September 2006
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