HR reflections on the new Singaporean cabinet

With the new cabinet sworn in, what can HR learn from the way in which the Prime Minister has established his government with a view towards succession?

HR reflections on the new Singaporean cabinet
“My responsibility … is not only to govern Singapore well today but also to prepare the next team to take over from us,” said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the cabinet swearing-in ceremony yesterday.
Through the speech that followed, HR can draw three distinct parallels between the PM’s sentiments and the succession strategies implemented in their own firms.
1) Building a strong team
“I have reinforced my team with backbenchers and newly-elected MPs and entrusted major responsibilities to younger ministers. They have to be tested, learn the ropes, prove themselves and shape down as a team,” PM Lee said.
The government, as well as any organisation, needs solid foundations from which to grow. A strong team is vital to achieve this goal so that everyone can work together and hone their skills, meeting all challenges as best they can. It is HR’s role to create a team able to function well, providing a stable working environment which then can reach all company objectives.
The need for a stronger team base is likely why the PM appointed three coordinating ministers to oversee national security, economic and social policies, and infrastructure. These overlapping fields work better together rather than alone. In a similar vein, HR must work with other departments in their organisation, such as management, finance, sales, etc, to ensure everyone’s goals are aligned and realised.
2) A transfer of responsibility
“Increasingly, [the younger ministers] will carry the government’s program, initiating, explaining and executing policies and persuading people to support these policies which will increasingly be their policies,” PM Lee stated.
This strategy can be used by HR as well, enabling newer members of the team to gradually take on more responsibility so they are ready once the older employees finally retire. This step-by-step methodology ensures change can be managed well, keeping the corporate environment stable rather than struggling with major disruptions along the way.
These responsibilities should be across the board too, with the PM providing an excellent example. Not only are his new ministers there to initiate any new policies but they will also have to execute them and nurture the support of the public too. This all-round approach is suitable for managing the succession pipeline in any business, ensuring there will always be someone to step in no matter who leaves.
3) Upskilling the young
“The older ministers are staying on in cabinet. They will provide my team with depth and breadth to think more deeply about issues and to plan more systematically for the future. They will also help me to mentor and guide the younger ones,” PM Lee said.
Lastly, the Prime Minister understands the value of his older ministers and the knowledge they can pass onto the young. With Singapore’s ageing workforce, this will also be a priority for HR as they tap into the experience of their more nature workers and train those just entering their team.
A diverse workforce also encourages a wider range of perspectives from which new strategies can be built and old strategies can be analysed and changed if need be. This mixture of old and young provides a broad base from which a business – and the government – can flourish in the future.
Related stories:
What the Singapore election result means for HR
How Deputy PM Tharman's words apply to the future of HR
PM says work smarter, work better and deliver results

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