communication

Constantly communicating what the organisation is doing can actually help employees grasp the breadth and depth of their employer’s actions for them, affirms Adhika Widya  Sena, Senior HR Manager, P&G Indonesia, in conversation with Lester Tan. Look forward to  more  insights on: 

  • Why and how to develop emotional intelligence of future leaders; 
  • Perspectives on over-commercialisation and over-communication, and 
  • HR leading role in re-engineering the workforce, workspace, and the way to work.

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Industry Insider: Adhika Widya  Sena, Senior HR Manager, P&G Indonesia 
Sector spotlight:  FMCG 
Based in:  Jakarta,  Indonesia 

The number one talent  challenge  this sector is facing? 

The first emerging issue with our current talent pipeline is emotional intelligence, particularly considering our nature as an FMCG company with sales as our main activity which requires a high level of human-to-human interactions.

Typically, the P&G way is to hire bright young talent to be groomed as future leaders. What we have observed is that this brightness in mind may sometimes leave untapped potentials in heart. This may not be a barrier in other emerging industries, but in an FMCG where we are a people business, emotional intelligence plays a pivotal role.

To focus on grooming our future leaders’ emotional intelligence, we have a global umbrella campaign called Lead with Love: our determination to Lead with Love and to make 2021 the year we all come together to do more and do better for communities, equality, and our planet.

Could you share some key developments (internal/external) that are intensifying this challenge? 

Internally, like in any other company, we strive to excel, to be extremely effective, and to create tremendous value for the business and community we serve. This leads to inertia to do what is proven to work, which may place disproportionate focus on tangible behaviours (e.g., strategic thinking, effective writing, and selling skills) versus intangible ones (e.g., engaging others, empathetic al listening, creating a win-win-win, and seeking to understand).

Externally, the pandemic and work-from-home (WFH) setting has dissolved almost all informal avenues for us to train our interpersonal prowess and our empathy. This has somehow gotten us to relearn the way to socialise and contribute to others on a daily basis.

How are you tackling this challenge? Do share some strategies that have worked, and how they have helped! 

We are re-establishing our mentorship programme to allow people to invest on their self-development and talk to others about them, their wellbeing, and beyond work. In this way, they get to know others’ perspectives more intentionally, and voice out their previously unspoken concerns.

We hope this will be an effective way to identify potential issues early on. Mentors can also provide meaningful insights and do reverse coaching to the employee’s manager. This helps the managers to self-reflect on how they can connect better with their teams, and build a more trusting relationship with them. 

On top of that, one strategy which we believe in is: over-communication and over-commercialisation, as excessive as it may sound, works. In this current setting, every employee receives hundreds of information every day. Telling them something via email might only get us as far as the ‘Deleted Items’ folder on their Outlook. Therefore, we need to overly communicate and commercialise internally as well as externally about our commitments, efforts, and even small wins. This would get employees exposed with multiple communication venues, one or two may be the ones they do not simply skip or ignore. This may be the only effective way for our employees to really grasp the breadth and depth of our actions eventually.

Going forward, what should be the next big priority for HR professionals in this sector? 

HR professionals must definitely play a leading role in re-engineering three key aspects of work:

  • The workforce;
  • The workspace, and
  • The way to work itself. 

We have transcended beyond expecting the old normal per se, but not as far as transforming completely towards a distant reality beyond on-the-screen collaboration only. HR professionals will need to analyse and experiment with the sweet spots, which may differ across population groups, functions, or even business units.

In doing so, HR professionals must step up to be bigger leaders, partnering with a wider spectrum of business leaders, internally, and externally.

Finally, how are these challenges affecting your role - how are you proactively preparing for the future workplace?

As HR, I realise that my previous intermittent efforts to explore and learn externally were key to greater collaboration within the industry and beyond, versus just competing.

We have thrived in the pandemic, lockdown, industrial area closure, and mobility limitations through a shadow nationwide HR network, perhaps even regional or global. The HR groups on WhatsApp groups might have actually saved some organisations through the sharing of early COVID-19 handling best practices which you could immediately reapply to your organisations. Further, you could leverage the network to understand the fast-changing regulations, and implement them to the business, while embracing the new emerging skills and landscape of work. To further bring your external learnings to live in your organisations, you could also immediately share and discuss with your HR team during weekly connects.

In my opinion, it is the sense of camaraderie amongst HR professionals and eagerness to be lifetime learners which will help us enable our organisation and architect the future of work together. 


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