Winding down 2015

Sitting in a family padang restaurant at the Jakarta airport (and enjoying some really spicy beef rendang), I begin to unwind from my last working day of 2015. Today was day two of a Total Rewards Seminar I prepared and delivered for APRIMI, Indonesia’s comp and benefits professional association. About 50 members attended, mainly from the oil and gas industry but with delegates from several other sectors as well. 

Yesterday’s topic was “Managing Performance Without Ratings” which participants were very eager to understand. I shared the results of my firm’s research on Ending the Use of Ratings in Asia, which uncovers the why and the how of dumping performance ratings and bell curves, in the Asia context. Our conclusion: western MNC’s are driving this trend but Indonesian culture and management styles are traditional. Managers are as comfortable playing judge as employees are being judged. That said, participants see the advantages of managers taking ownership of pay decisions and HR doing less (?) work. Review time generally goes away as managers instead have more frequent performance alignment conversations. 

Today’s topic was managing rewards during an industry downturn. Oil prices in the $30’s have resulted in over 250,000 layoffs in the last 12 months. Companies are trimming costs. We talked about several ways of adding more value as HR and reward leaders, such as localising the workforce, good variable pay design, approaching unions or employees about reductions that could save jobs and good communication practices. 

 These two days really inspired me because these professionals are really eager to learn and grow. There is a saying “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” These Indonesians are ready to learn and it was really satisfying to share with them my experiences managing rewards, some going back 30 years and some from last week. 

I made new friends too. As an American there is reason to be careful traveling in an officially muslim country. I am happy to say I felt not only safe but very warmly received. I find Indonesians to be respectful, modest, warm and surprisingly fun. Good natured. I hope to be back often. 

I will post a proper summary of 2015 for Freelance Total Rewards including announcement of some changes entering 2016. 

For now, I will go catch my flight back to Singapore, join my wife and return to the U.S. for Christmas and New Years. No alarm clock. Just some quality bonding time with my family in California. 

Peace and blessing to you this holy-day season. 

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