It is timely that the SMRT group’s chief executive Desmond Kuek has encouraged his staff to learn from the flooding incident and the breakdowns so that they can come out stronger and better (Desmond Kuek urges SMRT staff to come out 'better and stronger' after 'collective shame' from tunnel flooding incident”; November 9, 2017, TODAY Newspaper).
Enlightened leaders today make it a point to engage in a way that resembles an ordinary person-to-person conversation. By speaking with employees, rather than just issuing orders, top management can obtain feedback to make improvements to the rail system where staff can propose useful suggestions.
To this end, I propose that the management of SMRT and the LTA organises monthly breakfast sessions with their employees where a free flow of ideas can come naturally. Such dialogue sessions in a friendly setting will also help to improve relations with top management and fellow colleagues. As friends we tend to be more giving and we would want to help one another. That’s the culture that ought to be created.
Team work is vital for productivity. Another way to help resolve issues the SMRT and the LTA is facing is to encourage their staff to actively participate in the staff suggestion scheme where employees from different departments can team up to identify problems and then propose useful suggestions where some rewards can be given.
Such communication tools will shift the focus from a top-down distribution of directions and information to a more comfortable bottom-up exchange of ideas. At the end of the day, open communication can manifest in various ways – gaining trust, listening well, being receptive to good ideas and providing a more personalised culture.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO