Managing Change and the Data Frontier

Hosted by: British American Tobacco Microsoft

With a backdrop of Tokyo Tower and sprinkled cherry blossoms in a nearby park, Neal Walters and Yan Sen Lu, ChapmanCG’s Japan representatives, were joined by cofounders Matt Chapman and Oscar Fuchs at British American Tobacco for a round table session on ‘Successfully Managing Change.’ This was followed by an afternoon meeting at Microsoft on how companies are using ‘Data in HR’.

Successfully Managing Change

Same-same but different–Japan and Korea are similar in that no one talks or asks questions when they’re in a meeting, but right after, around the water cooler, groups gather to complain. Yet there are differences, especially when it comes to each country’s appetite for change.

The key to successfully managing change is steeped in the ability to understand a culture’s response to change. Change in Korea typically happens faster than in Japan–neither speed being right or wrong, but given the Japanese’s willingness to seek solutions that satisfy all parties involved, their process, on average, for absorbing and normalizing change takes longer.

Both Korean and Japanese organizations are undergoing a lot of change at the moment. Transformation and digitization are at the top of the list of many HR project lists. And the need to innovate to stay relevant and gain market share on the global stage is not only key for an organization’s success, but vital for each country’s home economy.

There has been a lot of innovation and giant companies have successfully been built this way but the changes happening doesn’t ensure a bright future. The ability for Japan to adapt to these changes on the world stage will greatly impact its economy.

Gaining buy-in from the Japanese usually takes longer given their willingness to seek solutions that satisfy all parties involved. The Japanese education is extremely good at developing teamwork, respect of others, fairness and praising conformity. Not to say the same isn’t true of the Korean education system.

All-in-all, everyone agreed that one of the key components to successfully managing change was communication and HR needed to customize that communication depending on the target group if change were to be effective.

One HR leader said that most employees think of change in terms of ‘restructuring’, but that is not always the case nowadays and it’s important to allay employee fears when they hear the word “change”.

Employees are happier to be in ambiguous situations if they have ‘visible sponsorship’ from management. When they feel safe and protected, they are more willing to experiment and are feel less afraid to make mistakes. And ultimately, this supportive environment is where innovation can flourish and transforms into a place where failures are lessons to be learned from so that future successes are almost inevitable.

Data in HR

Data is now changing the conversation between HR and the business. Instead of ‘intuition’, there’s now evidence shining light on why employees leave organizations, how best to retain them, and data that correlates HR initiatives to business performance. This can be powerful as the data can predict employees who are flight risk, allowing organizations to brainstorm solutions to retain top talent. In the future, with the use of AI, computers will not only provide analysis, but also summarize the situation in a form of a story and propose solutions.

It’s really an exciting time; however, it’s not without its own challenges. Not all HR professionals have the data-driven mindset. It requires training and potentially hiring technically skilled data scientists who can extrapolate the right data for decision making. Also, subsets of data alone can paint a misleading picture, so it’s important to cross-reference data with survey results, for example, which will help to paint a more holistic picture.

Ultimately, it’s called ‘big data’ for a reason as companies have a lot of it. Learning how to parse through so much information to uncover meaningful trends that could impact behavior and change is critical, but it is time intensive and requires non-traditional HR skills. And then how to use that data to track trends that aren’t simply black-and-white (say age or gender trends versus why employees leave) is a challenge as so much of the data collected is situational and subjective.

The use of data is still in its infancy. In the future, we’ll be able to identify top performers, evaluate why they were successful, and reverse engineer their performance with others. Talent management becomes fairer if its driven by data rather than potential unconscious bias. It was agreed that we human beings need to define what we’re looking for in data and to think about the value it brings. Well, at least until AI does that thinking for us.

Here’s what participants had to say:

I enjoyed the meeting. It was valuable to understand that many companies are working hard to realize the ‘Data-driven HR’ world while also learning advanced practices.

Hajime Kawamura, General Manager, Global Talent Development, Hitachi

It was a useful opportunity to learn how others have successfully managed change.

Gayla Cowie, General Manager, Alliance Talent Management & Asia & Oceania HR, Nissan

It’s a great session! Microsoft is looking forward to continuous partnerships with the Japan HR community for levelling up HR competencies in order to have more impact on the business.

Tuan Nguyen, HR Business Manager, Microsoft


Keep up with all the latest HR insights and updates.
Sign up

Related Posts

Key Contributors:

Matthew Chapman

Non-Executive Chairman

Global Management
View more
Global Management

Matthew Chapman

Non-Executive Chairman

Matthew (Matt) Chapman is the Founder of ChapmanCG. Matt oversees ChapmanCG’s future strategy, innovation and image across the globe. He also personally provides HR search and career counsel to HR leaders whose careers have grown alongside ChapmanCG — some of whom are now the biggest HR names in the world.

Matt has a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Business Law from the University of New South Wales, Australia. He is a Singapore Citizen and divides his time between Asia Pacific, the Americas and EMEA.

Matt is a wellness, self-improvement and fitness addict. He has completed six desert, 250km ultra-marathons in Chile, China, Egypt, Antarctica, Namibia and Madagascar.

EA Registration Number: R1111550 Licence Number: 08S3543

Latest Articles by Matthew

ChapmanCG News 4 March 2019

ChapmanCG appoints Stephanie Nash to the new role of Global Chief People Officer

Global HR executive search firm ChapmanCG today announced the appointment of Stephanie Nash to the…

Ben Davies
ChapmanCG News 23 May 2018

What CHROs Look for in Their Asia HR Head

The Asia HR Head possesses a unique set of skills that allows them to meet…

Matthew Chapman
Talent Development 25 March 2018

The Asia HR Head Competitive Advantage

Asian HR leaders have learned to adapt to environments where there is no ready-made human…

Matthew Chapman
Culture & Business Transformation 17 April 2017

Managing Change and the Data Frontier

With a backdrop of Tokyo Tower and sprinkled cherry blossoms in a nearby park, Neal…

Matthew Chapman
Culture & Business Transformation 10 March 2017

ChapmanCG HR Leaders Breakfast Series: The Future of HR

DSM’s impressive regional HQ in Singapore was the location of ChapmanCG’s latest HR leaders breakfast…

Mathew Boardman Mathew Boardman
Digital Transformation 9 November 2016

Technology, With a Purpose

Charles Bendotti, Global CHRO at Philip Morris International, David Thomas, APAC HR Head at Manulife…

Tracy Goh
Culture & Business Transformation 28 April 2016

The Evolution of Culture and Engagement in the Workplace

ChapmanCG hosted a lively roundtable in Singapore at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML), which…

Matthew Chapman
Digital Transformation 15 April 2016

HK Talent Management and Talent Acquisition Leaders Meet at Bloomberg: Digiti...

Greater digitisation and the maturity of analytics in HR were twin topics featured in Hong…

Matthew Chapman
Culture & Business Transformation 15 December 2015

Influencing Change in Japan: Regional HR Successes and Misconceptions

In early December, ChapmanCG hosted an exceptional meeting for Singapore-based regional HR leaders on the…

Paul Jury
ChapmanCG News 13 October 2015

Workplace Flexibility in Australia: Trends and Useful Tips

In conjunction with IBM, ChapmanCG had the pleasure of hosting 40 HR Leaders, as part…

Fiona Jury
Neal Walters

Managing Director

Consulting Team
View more
Consulting Team

Neal Walters

Managing Director

Neal Walters is a Managing Director with ChapmanCG, based in Japan. He specialises in Japan & Asia Pacific HR search and recruitment, working on mandates for HR Directors, Senior HR Business Partners and head of function positions in Compensation & Benefits, Talent Acquisition, and Talent Management. He also works with the broader ChapmanCG team on international searches both in Japan and across the Asia Pacific region.

Prior to joining ChapmanCG, Neal worked as Vice President, Japan and Asia Pacific for en world Japan where he was responsible for executive-level searches and new business development for Japan and the Asia Pacific. Neal’s career in recruitment spans more than 12 years and he has a track record of providing excellent service around people and recruitment strategy development.

Originally from Canada, Neal has lived in Japan for more than 19 years. He graduated with honours from Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario with a Bachelor of Business Administration. In addition to English, Neal speaks Japanese. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf, ice hockey, squash and fitness training.

Latest Articles by Neal

Talent Development 12 November 2019

Talent Acquisition and Strategy Japan

The question of how to find and attract top talent in Japan is a critical…

JLew_JasonLewis_chapmancg 2019 Jason Lewis
Employee Engagement 11 November 2019

Awesome Workplace: Defining Employee Experience

It’s hard to argue the fact that a highly engaged workforce has several benefits to…

Shunsuke Takamatsu_2019 copy Shunsuke Takamatsu
Talent Development 25 September 2019

Shifting Talent Requirements for HR Teams

Data and analytics are being used not only to inform business decisions, but in the…

ChapmanCG ChapmanCG
Culture & Business Transformation 30 January 2019

Globalizing Japanese HR Talent

The question of how to best globalize HR talent is a crucial consideration for many…

Andrew Sipus
Culture & Business Transformation 30 November 2018

The Agile Revolution: What it Means for HR

HR as a function has traditionally mirrored both the form and the structure of the…

Nick Scheele
Culture & Business Transformation 4 August 2018

Managing Through Change – HR Transformation Challenges and Solutions

HR transformation is central to many an HR strategy these days. An informative ChapmanCG HR roundtable…

Alan Mait
HR Trends 18 June 2018

Global HR Outlook Q3 2018

The global economy continues to perform well, making the outlook for the second half of…

Stefanie Cross-Wilson
Future of Work 16 March 2018

Three Ideas on the Future of the HRBP Model

One of the most highly debated topics in the HR market currently is the necessity…

Andrew Sipus
ChapmanCG News 16 February 2018

HR's Role in the Retirement Journey

Recently, ChapmanCG partnered with Saint-Gobain in Tokyo for discussions around ‘HR’s Role in the Retirement…

Andrew Sipus
ChapmanCG News 14 February 2018

Making Teleworking Work

ChapmanCG and Boehringer Ingelheim hosted HR leaders in Tokyo to discuss innovative ideas around ‘Making…

Andrew Sipus