dtac accelerates its digital transformation with strengths-based

dtac has announced the implementation of a new strengths-based development program for its employees. The system encourages managers to coach employees on their strengths, and supports the company’s digital transformation to a more project-based way of work. The new system aims to produce higher engagement and self-motivation among employees.

Strengths-based development represents a radical departure from traditional annual reviews, which rate employees based on key performance indicators (KPIs), and remain the most commonly used performance management system in Thailand’s large corporations.

“dtac is a leader in redefining performance management. For a company of our size to drop traditional annual performance reviews based on KPIs is very new in Thailand. And I think most of our employees are cheering the end of the old ‘meets, below, exceeds’ performance ratings,” said Chief People Group Officer Nardrerdee Arj-harnwongse.

“dtac’s new strengths-based development is much better suited to an agile, digital and cross-functional workplace.”

Strengths-based development enables ongoing, 360-degree feedback from every level of the organization. It also focuses on finding and developing employee strengths rather than the KPI model which divides employees into three arbitrary buckets: below, meets and exceeds expectations.

“Strengths-based development allows us to focus on how each employee can add more value to the company. It’s forward looking and it’s positive. We’re looking for what’s right, not what’s wrong, in our employees,” said Nardrerdee. “The feedback has been really good. It makes the conversation between managers and employees easier and more constructive.”

Strengths-based development:
  • Focuses on individual employees’ rather than ranking them against one another.
  • Promotes ongoing feedback and coaching that can be provided quickly.
  • Provides a 360-degree view, not just the opinion of one manager.
  • Focuses on growing in the future, rather than dwelling on how employees behaved in the past.

“Of course, we still review employee performance when determining compensation and promotions. But that view will now be based on regular feedback from a number of people, rather than a one-off assessment by a single person,” said Nardredree. “It’s fairer, and it’s more motivating.”

The dtac strengths-based development system launched in early 2018.
  • Over 2,000 employees including over 500 line managers have received training on dtac’s new performance management system.
  • Over 3,600 employees also underwent training to identify their strengths.

The new system is part of a wider transformation effort undergone by dtac. In 2017, the company introduced its employees to “agile” workflows through the Flip It Challenge, a competition for disruptive ideas to remove customer and employee pain points by using digital tools.

In 2018, employees were given a new objective, the “40-hour Challenge,” to encourage them to grow their digital skills via the learning resources at their disposal, such as dtac Academy and Telenor Campus.

KPIs have existed in various forms since the beginning of the industrial era. In 1992, the Balance Scorecard became the golden standard of performance management.

But the acceleration of change and the emergence of new work models, such as “agile teams,” is making KPI-driven performance reviews obsolete. Google has used OKRs (objectives and key results, also in use at Twitter and Linkedin) for nearly 20 years.

The trend is now spreading beyond tech companies. In 2015, major consulting firms Accenture and Deloitte joined Microsoft, Adobe, Gap, Medtronic and others in abandoning their old review systems.

Large local offices of global organizations in Thailand have not yet followed suit, meaning KPIs are still the standard in the country’s leading companies.

“Strengths-based development is a key enabler of digital transformation,” said Nardredree. “It’s good both for dtac and for our employees, who can continuously grow in their careers despite the industry’s rapid changes.”