Cultivating Human Relationships

By Hyma Haridas

In large organisations with a diverse workforce, building good relationships is key to succeeding in your career, shares Cheryl Yoon of RHB.

I learned that with such diversity, one can only thrive by building good relationships. One simply has to assimilate, be able to speak different ‘languages’, understand (each other) and be patient with each other.

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell.

For Cheryl Yoon, Head of Performance Management & Organisational Design (PMOD) at RHB, this saying seems to ring true.

The 36-year-old was recently appointed to lead the dynamic young PMOD team which sits within the organisation’s Human Resources (HR) division. But working in Kuala Lumpur was not really part of her original plan.

A psychology graduate from the University of Melbourne, Cheryl is a registered psychologist in Australia and had initially planned to work in her chosen field of study there.

However, as fate would have it, she had to make a decision to return home due to unforeseen family circumstances. Upon learning that the scope for psychologists in Malaysia was fairly limited, Cheryl decided that she would branch out of her field of study, subsequently taking on a position in the HR department of a local bank.

Then in 2011, she leapt at the chance to work in RHB, a bigger organisation with brighter career prospects; a move she has not regretted.

When her former team leader moved on to a different role last year, the opportunity opened up for Cheryl to fill her shoes – a role she took on with enthusiasm and optimism.

Although managing two distinct portfolios – Performance Management and Organisational Design – is no easy task, Cheryl says that having great mentors, both official and unofficial, throughout her career to guide her has helped her tremendously to prepare for her current role.

But working with a large organisation comes with its own set of challenges, particularly when every department is made up of large and diverse groups of people. Cheryl admits that one of the biggest lessons she has learned since joining the organisation has been in the importance of relationship-building.

“On my first day when I was introduced to my HR department, what stood out is how diversified the team was (and still is). There were staff who joined the bank more than 30 years ago, alongside fresh graduates with less than a year’s experience. Inadvertently the age group also spanned across the spectrum from Gen X to Gen Y. I learned that with such diversity, one can only thrive by building good relationships. One simply has to assimilate, be able to speak different ‘languages’, understand (each other) and be patient with each other.”

Being selected to attend RHB’s special leadership programmes such as the LEAP Program (Learning Experience Action Program.) and the Leadership Program with Melbourne Business School have also contributed towards her growth in the organisation. Not only did these programmes hone her leadership skills, but also her ability to think outside the box and cultivate the sense of camaraderie with her colleagues from different divisions and branches.

“Any relationship between the organisation and employee is symbiotic. I believe in the saying, ‘You get what you give’. If I’m half-hearted in my job, I shouldn’t and wouldn’t expect Management to reward me or grant me certain extra benefits. On the other hand, when I give 110% I also expect the Management to reciprocate accordingly. This is why I enjoy working in a performance-driven environment like RHB that recognises and rewards performance.”

In the seven years since she joined RHB as an individual contributor in the PMOD department, Cheryl has also learned the value of helping others succeed in order for her to succeed in her role.

“Today, as a Manager of a team, there is a responsibility to ensure that every single one of my team members is thriving. Their success is mine, and of course their failure is also mine. So, I have learned that to progress in one’s career, one has to help others succeed as well. It’s definitely been a paradigm shift for me and makes me work much harder to be a better leader each day.”

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