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  • Writer's pictureNanang Chalid

First, the Heart, then the Mind.

Updated: Dec 11, 2021

There is one basic principle that anyone needs to know when it comes to leading people and organizations in Indonesia (which from my limited experience of working in the region also relevant for Southeast Asia). That principle is: engage people's hearts first, then their minds. Most Indonesians perceive their work and profession as an integrated part of their life. It's in the nation's culture to abdicate yourself for a cause -- hence, either an Indonesian will give you their 100% efforts for their work, or they don't. There is no middle ground. It is not ingrained in Indonesia's frame of being that professional life is separated from personal life. This is why (which I will discuss in a separate essay), giving and receiving feedback is not easy for Indonesians, because, by default, we take things personally. This is the primary reason also, why leading Indonesians need to start from the heart, before even going for their mind. Because any Indonesians will simply ask you a question: why should I be led by you? do you care enough about me as a person?.

Due to the above cultural fact, I personally always look for the opportunity to bring together a team into a modified Tuckman's team development journey of "forming-storming-norming-performing" with intense life immersions of a team member. From an outsider to the culture, the session looks like a 'waste-of-time' heart-to-heart sharing on one's life journey to another. But the twist is this: in that particular moment when the team listens to one another stories, and empathizes both with the moment of joys or sorrows, and appreciates how unique each individual is, the trusts are created and the hearts are engaged. This was the starting point of any Indonesian team that I saw came through hurdles, and work wholeheartedly as one team.

With that, the role of any HR business partner is to facilitate such team-development sessions. Of course, the journey is not finished through just a "life-line" sharing, there are steps to then be made to ensure upon the trust that is built, the team has a safe environment to speak, sharing and build one another ideas, equally giving recognition and critical feedback for the better, and in collaboration working toward One Goal for One Achievement. For this follow-through, you can use various models available such as Lencioni's Cohesive Team, or using the likes of Insight Discovery Team Norms model. Your choice.

For more information about Team Development and how to facilitate it, read through more blog posts I had.

Team Development session using Insight Discovery in the forming stage of Tuckman's development model.

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