Fran O'Sullivan: NZ chiefs lag world peers in key drivers of success

NZ CEOs are more engaged on changing overall workplace culture and behaviours (72 per cent versus 42 per cent globally). Photo / iStock
NZ CEOs are more engaged on changing overall workplace culture and behaviours (72 per cent versus 42 per cent globally). Photo / iStock

No CEO worth his or her salt will get far without confidence in their own (and their company's) ability to deliver on its business plans. The nature of the global economy and the local business environment are obviously critical.

But it's the chief executives' mindset and the corporate culture which decides the winners from the rest of the pack.

What's interesting about PwC's latest annual NZ CEO Survey is the inklings of a sea change at C-suite level.

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The 2016 report notes that globally and in New Zealand about one-third of respondents strongly agree that business success in the 21st century will be defined by more than profit and loss statements - whether it's the impact on their communities, the environment or the workforce.

Then drill down into the mini-interviews of the nine chief executives who agreed to deep dives. It is instructive that these chief executives are looking at ways to make their organisations more relevant to their staffers and communities.

Z Energy's Mike Bennetts says bluntly that increasingly employees will choose to work for companies that have a "decent purpose" to them, rather than simply to pay off a student loan or advance their careers.

"You see that a lot in the US particularly [in] the tech sector - everyone is there to solve the world's problems."

When it comes to female millennials, typically 90 per cent of those surveyed say an employer's policy on diversity, equality and inclusion is an important factor in hiring decisions.

But when it comes to changing talent strategies to make the greatest impact on attracting and retaining and engaging people to stay relevant, only 17 per cent of NZ chief executives, compared to 35 per cent globally, plan for diversity.

NZ CEOs are more engaged on changing overall workplace culture and behaviours (72 per cent versus 42 per cent globally). But when it come to building a pipeline of future leaders they lag their global peers (43 per cent versus 49 per cent).

They also lag when it comes to dishing out incentives and benefits to retain employees and implementing effective performance management measures.

And sharp millennials are not going to put up with this for long.

Bruce Hassall - chief executive and senior partner at PwC NZ - warns that in a disruptive world, chief executives need to tune into what drives their employees - particularly those that will fill future job pipelines. They also need to recognise the importance of social media.

On the plus side, increasingly more chief executives are starting to focus on this.

But the survey shows the NZ chief executives also display more of a short-term focus than their international peers.

So while NZ confidence levels are high there are signs CEOs are behind in some major areas that will underpin success further into the future. Time to act.

- NZ Herald

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Head of Business for NZME

Fran O'Sullivan has written a weekly column for the Business Herald since its inception in April 1997. In her early journalistic career she was a political journalist in Wellington and subsequently an investigative journalist who broke many major business stories including the first articles that led to the Winebox Inquiry in both NBR and the Sydney Morning Herald. She has specific expertise in relation to China where she has been a frequent visitor since the late 1990s. She is a former Editor of the National Business Review; has twice been awarded Qantas Journalist of the Year and is a multiple winner of the Westpac Financial Journalism Supreme Award.

Read more by Fran O'Sullivan

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