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The Secret to Building the #1 Best Workplace in the Philippines, Asia and the World

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A CEO Masterclass with Nigel Lockett, Country Manager of DHL Express Philippines

“…All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.”

Simon Sinek, “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”

Here’s everybody’s burning question: “What is DHL Express’ secret to building the #1 Best Workplace in the Philippines, Asia and the world?” 

Being a leading global brand in the logistics industry while also carrying such a giant workforce of 111,000 worldwide, one would naturally expect an equally grand answer. Probably a reply that sounds highfalutin, unrelatable and out of this world. Or a very technical answer such as a trademarked technology that’s unique to only their process. Either way, a complicated response would not raise anyone’s eyebrows.

But to the surprise of many, the answer of DHL Express was uncomplicated and raw. In my meaningful discussion with Nigel Lockett during the latest installment of Great Place to Work ® Philippines’ CEO Masterclass, he shared the reason behind their success: the people

It is so simple yet powerful. The “big secret” is a seemingly obvious answer. But dig deeper and you’ll find it’s a value that’s yet to be picked up and prioritized by so many businesses.

In the vein of the quote mentioned initially, the people is DHL Express’ answer to “WHY.” And it’s in their consistent pursuit of this WHY year after year that they’ve achieved a workforce where 99% of the employees say that the company is a great place to work.

Clarity

John C. Maxwell, a renowned author and speaker on the subject of Leadership, once said, “Clarity of vision makes clarity of priorities.” 

Because DHL Express’ “WHY” is so clear to both management and its people, it produces focused, intentional and value-adding constituents in the business. 

Talking to Nigel, it was impossible not to feel that strong sense of “clarity of vision.” You know it’s present because all strategies and initiatives are seamlessly pulled together under one overarching theme—again, their people. Each program just makes absolute sense—not one sticks out like a sore thumb; is forced; feels like it came from a bandwagon, or is inconsequential. 

On top of hearing DHL Express’ “secret,” Nigel was generous to delve into the other sub-ingredients of the organization’s recipe for success. So, here’s a deeper take on how putting your people first can bring you to be the #1 Best Workplace in the Philippines — large organization category, Asia and the whole world. 

Purpose and Strategy 

Much like the core of their craft, DHL Express’ main strategy, “Focus: A Strategy Powered by Our People,” is straightforward. It is one that was designed to be seamlessly understood by and applied at all levels of the organization. It all falls into four pillars that form an ecosystem that’s efficient and value-adding to the business. Specifically, these are motivated people, great service quality, loyal customers and a profitable network. 

Since the strategy was adopted way back in 2010, it has reaped success after success for the company in the likes of high employee engagement, employee retention and a positive company culture that correlates with business performance.

Gearing back to the quote by John C. Maxwell, because DHL Express’ strategy is so clear it’s naturally ingrained in the work of the people. Hence, there is a “clarity of priorities” that carries a sense of purpose as well. 

This clarity translates to a lot of things. Each service rendered is meaningful. All members believe that their capacity at work helps to shape the world into a better place. Every package sent is in one way or form fulfilling DHL Express’ ultimate purpose, “Connecting People, Improving Lives.” 

Nigel used inspiring words to describe the purpose of their purpose and the impactful ecosystem that the four pillars create,

“AS ONE—we are all connected, working together as one. As our ‘motivated people’ work together as one, we can overcome any obstacles and challenges. That motivation and engagement create that passion to continue to give ‘great service quality’ that our ‘loyal customers’ expect, then ensuring a ‘profitable network’ we may invest back in our people.”

Nigel Lockett, Country Manager for DHL Express Philippines

Company Culture & Equipping

But purpose and strategies alone are not sustainable. Without a high-trust company culture and the equipping of employees, members cannot live by and deliver on the purpose and plans of the business. 

In terms of “equipping,” one of the tent-pole programs that DHL Express takes special pride in is their CIS or “Certified International Specialist” program. It is meant to build a competent and confident community that is keen on the key elements of the business—its purpose, strategy, and spirit. It is an immersive curriculum that allows new members to immediately be exposed to what makes DHL Express as it is.

The CIS training platform covers a wide array of things: company culture, knowledge, leadership training, employee engagement activities, and other good-to-know courses. All in all, this helps to also instill customer-centricity at the core of the organization. 

Nigel further described the initiative, “It is a learning journey designed to equip our people with the tools and knowledge to perform their roles in line with our global standards. It’s what makes us the World’s Most International Company.” 

In many ways, this can be considered DHL Express’ flagship program. Besides the fact that it requires a whopping number of 2 to 2 ½ years to complete, it also offers a great sense of pride to those who undergo it. 

The extensive undertaking culminates in an actual graduation ceremony with matching paraphernalia to fully celebrate the now certified body’s feat. For others, such as those who didn’t earn a degree before joining DHL Express, this is indeed a joyous occasion. Without a doubt, living the experience of walking down the stage in their togas and with their accredited post-graduate course in tow is truly life-changing and fulfilling.  

Truly, good leadership influences others to surpass our success and empowers more people to do the same. In the culture of the #1 Philippines Best Workplace for 2-consecutive years, the aforementioned rings true. Developing leaders is of utmost importance—specifically 21st-century leaders. 

DHL Express’ culture hinges on balancing the values and behaviors of Respect and Results™.

Respect falls more on practices that support the emotional and mental well-being of those you lead. Respect-focused behaviors include displaying genuine passion and energy, being open and approachable, delivering on your commitment and showing equal appreciation to all. 

Paired with those are the results-focused behaviors which delve more into competency-building and management practices. These come in the form of communicating expectations and clear parameters for success, building a culture of feedback, constantly recognizing results and good behavior and ensuring your team is always adding value to the business.

For the Big Yellow Machine, being a 21st manager can be summed up as a balancing act of three elements: the head, heart and guts. For example, leveraging strengths is not feasible without having and creating a trust for your partners’/team’s capabilities. It also follows that being results-oriented means nothing without providing purpose to why the work done is important. So, you see, it’s all interconnected; all equally vital to render effective leadership.

The above is important to note because the common pitfall in many organizations is to promote managers based on how well they execute their functional roles. However, leadership, especially nowadays, doesn’t just necessitate your brain. Frankly, you’ll also need a big chunk of your heart and guts.

DHL Express is a Great Place to Work For All™

DHL Express focuses on continuing to invest in multiple endeavors in prospective time. These are the likes of improving their infrastructure, fleet and air network. But one promise that will always be kept close and continued is that they will never stop investing in their biggest asset—their people. 

With their high-trust company culture, DHL Express makes all things holistically better For All (meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential).  

If it were to be summarized, DHL Express is the #1 Best Workplace worldwide because of their: 

⬛ Clarity in purpose
⬛ Simple four-pillar strategy that all employees understand and commit to
⬛ 21st century leaders that are raised to demonstrate “Respect and Results™ values and behaviors
⬛ Unique and life-changing training platform that goes beyond just career development, but also serves as a dream come true for many of their Certified International Specialists

All these motivate DHL Express’ employees in giving great service quality which leads to loyal customers and a profitable network. These indubitably result in connected people, improved lives and in DHL Express’ case, clinching the #1 Best Workplace in the Philippines, Asia and the world.

Make Your Way to Achieving For All 

Achieving a high-trust workplace culture For All is without a doubt difficult. But with our powerful tools, Emprising™ Culture Management Platform and the Trust Index™ survey, that goal quickly becomes a reality.

Drop us a message today! Work with us and find how you can be Better for Business, Better for People, Better for the World™. 

Antoniette Mendoza-Talosig

Antoniette Talosig is the Managing Partner of Great Place to Work® Philippines and the Lead Consultant for Singapore.  Driven by her passion to help people be the best that they can be, Toni started Great Place to Work® in the Philippines with a vision to create a high-trust workplace experience for every Filipino.  She has close to two decades of partnership with some government agencies, SMEs, MNCs and some Fortune 100 companies across industries and geographies. Toni believes being a mother is the greatest adventure of her life and she enjoys seeing the world with her family. 

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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.

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