Chutarat Natongbaw, Bangkok Life

Bangkok Life Assurance PCL took home the Bronze award for Excellence in Leadership Development at the inaugural HR Excellence Awards 2021, Thailand.

In this interview, Chutarat Natongbaw, SVP Human Resources, Bangkok Life Assurance Public Company Limited, shares the secrets behind this win – which includes effective communication whilst operating under change management conditions.  

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

Our successful HR strategy is leadership development, which is a key business priority and is part of our five-year HR strategic plan, defined as corporate KPIs and HR KPIs. The HR strategy, organisation’s goal, and leadership development together are key purposes to drive sustainable business growth.

We started by laying the HR foundation in core HR functions, followed by developing people’s skills and knowledge through individual development plans (IDP) based on competency gaps, such as in core, functional, and leadership competencies. We designed leadership criteria to develop the group of middle management, talent, and critical positions that the organisation takes as priority to get them ready for higher-level roles in the future.

The successful plan and execution received great support from management and employees.

This contributed to making a strong improvement in people leadership skills to reach sustainability in accordance with the vision and goals of the organisation.

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?

The leadership development strategy is considered as the starting point and the foundation of organisational development because human resources is an essential element that can develop the organisation to be successful in business growth.

An important role of a leader in making this strategy successful is to focus on the development of personnel seriously and continually through clear communication of policies and directions of work.

Developing leadership potential requires many elements including forming goals and managing the environment for self-improvement. Learning to practice this in the right way can eliminate obstacles, and help to include continuous development as part of the higher-level agenda at all times.

The most important thing for development are incentives to encourage people to increase their capacity and develop skills that contribute to their superior performance. These not only help people grow to their potential but, more importantly, increase their potential as well. 

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?

The key challenge we faced was effective communication whilst operating under change management conditions, whereby team members wanted to know about their career path and individual development plan provided by the company. It was important to have clear communication on the company’s direction, performance, and competency assessment tools, so as to engage collaboration with employees and the HR project smoothly.

The unpredictable external obstacles we faced were the pandemic conditions from COVID-19, which needed adjustments in plans and schedules from the target.

This includes the development model moving from classroom learning to online platforms, whereby it became necessary to consider new tools and learning systems to prepare for the hybrid workplace of the near future while technology rapidly kept changing.

We keep thinking that where there is a challenge, there is an opportunity, and the more effective system is provided, the more team members can learn and drive business success.

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?

Our achievement of honour is a project borne out of creative ideas by team members that the company then developed into real business improvement. We even looked to extend this to producing another new project in some departments.

We believe that internal talent and nominated successors are identified as human assets for the company. They should be developed by studying the right competency gaps, based on the scheme designed for succession plan linkage to promotion or replacement in positions as well as backed by the compensation package.

The implementation of plans and strategies in leadership development has created benefits and value across three key dimensions:

  • Employee dimension,
  • Departmental dimension,
  • Organisational dimension.

Leaders should keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date in order to gain better performance across departments and organisational KPIs. In addition, leaders are the key people who need effective management skills and coaching to mentor their people further.

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?

Nowadays, the CHRO has become a crucial role in an organisation. Apart from aligning business strategy with organisational strategy, talent management, succession planning, performance management, training and development, and compensation management, the CHRO also acts as a bridge between the needs of human capital and executives focusing on talent management - given that talent is the ultimate differentiator between companies, products, and services.

The CHRO, therefore, becomes the protector of the talent group to keep them working in the company as long as possible.

As digital transformation is a top priority for all businesses, the CHRO should have good knowledge in HR transformation, including HR competency skills and attributes in strong critical thinking, excellent creativity, and strong leadership skills to build talent organisations that can move at the pace of today’s business.


Photo / Provided

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

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!