WORK IN SINGAPORE: EXELENCE IN WORK CULTURE IS THE KEY TO ACCELERATE CAREER
Based the Global Competitiveness Report 2011 – 2012 by the World Economic forum, Singapore is considered to be the best place to work in Asia. According to the report, this country is also ranked top 5 of the world for most business conducive labour regulations, which illustrates the high working quality conditions. Singapore is definitely a place to consider for a relocation.
When finding new job in Singapore, one will need to prepare himself to perform well and to interact effectively with Singaporean clients and colleagues. Knowing the Singaporean culture will be one of the most important asset while working there.
All countries have a different business culture. Singapore work culture is a unique blend of Asian and Western cultural influences. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”; therefore it is crucial to understand its work culture that has been summarized below in three categories.
Hierarchy and Collectivism
Chinese make up more than 74% of the Singaporean population , therefore the local firms have a strong Chinese influence when it comes to traditional values (http://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/statistics/Health_Facts_Singapore/Population_And_Vital_Statistics.html). This translates into a culture with very high respect of the authority. In such a hierarchical society or workplace, juniors do not openly argue with seniors or superiors.
In a traditional Western work culture, people seeking for personal achievement and individual performance is highly valued. In contrast, Singaporeans appreciate the collectivism. Group harmony and collectivism play an important role in the work culture. At the workplace, teamwork and cooperation are seen as the main means of achieving company goals. People tend to work together and share their rewards rather than strive for individual recognition.
In summary, every new middle or top manager starting a new career path in Singapore should show their goodwill cooperation instead of individual ability.
Multiple Ethnicities, Multiple Cultures
Since a lot of Chinese, Indians, Malaysians and British have been settling in Singapore for decades, the country has 4 official languages: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Singapore). However, English is the common language for business.
The large multinationals are mostly influenced by the Western culture when it comes to operating whereas their local counterparts and the government organizations have a more traditional Asian style. The Singaporean workplace is often compared to Hong Kong or Tokyo in term of diversity.
Some Singaporeans looks like Westernized and they might not wholly practice the traditional values or respect hierarchical relationships. But it is good for foreigners to learn and understand the behavior of the Chinese, Indians and Malays to fully integrate themselves into the culture.
Business and Meetings
Singaporeans are normally punctual for their appointments and expects the same from their partners. Everyone has to be well prepared for the meetings and hope for the same organized behavior from other managers. Besides, it is important to maintain the group harmony during meetings. Bearing in mind that the quality of the relationship is the key determinant of success is crucial in Singapore.
Giving a gift is a common way of being grateful. However, it is possibly better to give one gift to the group as a whole. Similarly with other Asian countries, gifts should be packed and are not to be opened in front of the giver.
To sum up, it is important to remember unwritten formalities above when working with Singaporean colleagues to have a better working relations. When an individual lands a new job in Singapore, it might be a determinant step in his career. New position, new experiences!