Why employers should be “brutally clear” with new hires

One of Singapore’s top banking executives has given a revealing interview about recruitment, staff initiation and leadership

Why employers should be “brutally clear” with new hires
“[When] I’m hiring, I’m really looking for people who are showing a sense of resilience. I don’t mind if they have failed if they’ve learned some lesson and they’re able to bounce back,” Jeanette Wong, head of institutional banking at DBS Singapore said to The New York Times.
In a recent interview, Wong went over her hiring strategies to get the best candidates for her firm. In particular, she focused on resilience and the determination to win.
“How do they behave in setbacks, what do they do to win, how do they leverage their existing resources?”
“You can’t go through life without failing; nobody is perfect, as an individual or as a manager and leader. So it’s about learning from your mistake, living for another year.”
This aligns with views of other HR experts in the industry including Anika Grant, managing director for human resources, ASEAN and Asia-Pacific at Accenture.
“[Two] of the key predictors of success are learning agility and the ability to embrace change. As a company we are constantly changing – transforming even – in response to the rapidly changing markets we operate in,” Grant told HRD.
Wong also admitted she had misjudged with recruitment in the past although she had since learnt from these experiences.
“[What’s] important is how you deal with the mistakes. It may take you two to three months before you realise you’ve made a mistake and that’s when you should act, because if that person is still with you after that, then that mistake is no longer theirs, it’s yours.”
She recommended giving feedback quickly – spelling out what you want the individual to achieve and then giving them a chance for them to accomplish this.
If there is no improvement after this, employers should be “brutally clear” that things aren’t working out.
“Early on in my career I was always giving others the benefit of the doubt for probably too long. That’s something I’ve learned to deal with now,” she said.
“I think often in their heart of hearts, they know they are capping out, and they are better off finding other things to do that add more significance to their life. Moving up the ladder is not something everybody wants to achieve after a certain point in time.”
The New York Times also asked about leadership – something which Wong boiled down to three simple qualities:
  • “[Good] leaders should show they have a track record of getting things done.”
  • “Great leaders are able to distill everything that is going on to the essentials.”
  • “They are also able to carry a lot more people along with them … because people believe they have it in them to succeed.”
A successful leader also has to show off a certain type of resilience and adaptability to change says Dr Ronald Smith, APAC VP and MD of the Centre for Creative Leadership.
“A senior leader’s ability to improve their capability around supporting talent will unleash not only the power of that talent but extend the time that that talented person will stay with the organisation,” he told HRD.
Related stories:
Why you hire who you do – and how to do it better
Two interview questions you should be asking
Aggressive hiring tactics on the cards

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