agility, collaboration, winning secrets

Mobile operating firm dtac took home the Silver award for Excellence in Learning & Development at the inaugural HR Excellence Awards 2021, Thailand.

In this interview, Nardrerdee Arj-harnwongse, Chief People Officer, dtac, shares the strategy behind this win – and how it helped break down silos, enhance cross-functional collaboration, increase customer-centricity, improve engagement with key stakeholders, and more.

Q What is your organisation’s winning HR strategy, and what are some milestones you’ve accomplished along this journey?

For HR, the strategic vision is to enable dtac to be an organisation that is a 'challenger for customers', in that we're a future-ready organisation, a place to learn and grow, and one that provides a unique & meaningful work experience. This is achieved through the four pillars of HR strategic initiatives including:

  1. Talent and leadership,
  2. Organisation efficiency,
  3. Culture, and
  4.  Employee experience.

Capability building is one of HR's key priorities to support our business ambition of a modernisation agenda. Our sales capability building initiative has addressed the talent and leadership pillar, where sales leadership capability has been uplifted to turn around the business, increase revenue, and better respond to a more dynamic environment.

The programme was successfully implemented with high satisfaction from leaders and participants. Regular follow-ups were in place to ensure progress on development and improved business performance.

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Q How has this strategy helped you achieve your HR priorities, and what role has the leadership played in helping make this initiative a reality?

Our ‘Sales Capability Building Initiative’ was introduced to 127 sales leaders in branded retail, the most critical customer-facing roles which generate the organisation’s highest revenue proportion among all sales channels.

The initiative's objective was aligned with dtac’s 2019 strategy to turn the business around, increase revenue, and uplift leadership capabilities.

Our ambition was to tackle the challenges of a complacency mindset, from "this is good enough" to "I can achieve something better" and on skill sets in response to higher customer expectations.

Our CxO leaders played an important role in sponsoring the initiative, which was kicked off by the CEO and CSO in a sales townhall where the objective and expectations were clearly communicated to the target audience and related parties.

The working team also held bi-weekly iteration meetings to engage with our CxOs, to present progress updates and receive regular feedback.

Q Unexpected roadblocks are part and parcel of executing any initiative. What were some of the barriers that you and your team experienced while rolling this out, and how did you successfully get past them? 

a cross-functional team was set up, comprising members from HR and sales, with a clear end in mind on what problems we were trying to solve. The team had adopted an agile way of working throughout the project duration. 

After the project's kick-off, the team's first reflection was that an agile way of working was a big challenge at the beginning as they needed time for adjustments and breaking old habits on a silo-ed mentality and conventional way of work. The team had to try hard to get out of its comfort zone and try new ways of work for better and different results.

Upon the project's completion, the team their seven-month agile journey and agreed the mission was extremely challenging and overly ambitious yet rewarding for their learning.

The agile way of working had helped the team break down silos, enhance cross-functional collaboration, be more customer-centric, consistently engage with key stakeholders, and hold themselves accountable for project goals.

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Q As evidenced by the win, this initiative clearly delivered some amazing results. What was your gameplan for measuring ROI? What are some proud achievements you can share with us on this front?

The initiative had a significant impact on three dimensions:

i) Capability development:

The assessment and training bootcamp was executed with 100% completion and 81% of all 127 participants were highly satisfied with the programme.

A follow-up session was conducted for participants to present on their development progress with concrete action plans on initiatives implemented, and the impact made in the sales region they were responsible for.

ii) Business performance:

As a result, dtac had a successful turnaround with a strong performance in 2019. The service revenue increased by 3.1% y-o-y in Q4 2019 in terms of subscriber base growth, for the first time since 2016.

Revenue also grew three quarters in a row, from Q2 to Q4, with y-o-y growth in Q3 and Q4 and a 7.5% increase to THB81,228mn in 2019 vs 2018.

iii) Engagement:

Employee engagement in the sales team increased by 3% to 94% in 2019, with the highest score for improvement relating to ‘opportunities for development are available to everyone’, which has increased significantly to 94% in 2019.

Q We’re now seeing HR manage portfolios that were previously considered far from their job description. In your view, what are the top three skills and attributes of today’s successful CHRO

Critical skills needed for HR leaders are agility, customer centricity, and data analytics.

Being agile is more important than being perfect, especially during a pandemic which requires HR to promptly respond to the evolving situation.

HR leaders should embrace an agile way of work, pivot, seek faster feedback, and have ongoing assessments in order to improve themselves.

Additionally, a customer-centric mindset and approach is required to engage with employees and enhance the employee experience by focusing on doing only what matters most to employees.

Last, insightful data analytics can turn into insights which help HR make better people-related decisions.

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Images / Provided

Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section!

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