How Agoda is developing leadership excellence

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Last week I shared how Peter L. Allen was changing the face of HR in Agoda, today we are going to look at how leaders are developed in their organization.

According to the article Peter Allen wrote for McKinsey’s Insights, he describes that Agoda is building leadership development from inside the organization rather than out. In his experience he notes that while many companies are focused on leadership development, they are approaching it in a counter-effective way.

One prime example is how companies are outsourcing leadership development to external consultancy providers which is actually quite risky as you are not controlling a vital function of the organization from within. Another example, Allen cited on counter-productive methods for developing leaders is how a multinational company evaluated every level of employee development on a different set of leadership criteria. Needless to say this created confusion about what mattered for success and this was highly apparent in their high-potential pool which varied by as much as 40% from year to year because the assessment was so subjective. While HR kept telling this pool that they were destined for greater things, senior management filled up vacancies from outside the organization because they couldn’t see the value of their high potential pool. And understandably, many left the organization.

Drawing from such experiences this is what Allen did in Agoda to build leadership excellence:
#1 Clarified the leadership characteristics that were important in Agoda

#2 Identified the qualities that made people successful at Agoda

#3 Defined the behavior and principles that make these qualities grow

#4 Focused on behavior that could be observed now instead of relying on evaluations for leadership
potential

#5 Defined leadership in ways that mattered for Agoda

#6 Applied the same leadership principles to every stage of the employee life cycle

#7 Used these leadership principles to guide hiring decisions, taught them in new-hire orientation       sessions, rate them in semiannual performance evaluations and used them to assess an employee’s readiness for promotion.

Ultimately, what Agoda now has through this approach is a set of criteria for the skills and behavior managers should live by and employees should believe in. Basically leadership excellence at Agoda is what is truly suited to the company.

They expect leadership out of all their employees, whether or not they have people-management responsibilities or direct reports. According to Allen, the relevant leadership skills are taught during the orientation to new hires to ensure that their values are clear from the very beginning. To ensure that the style of leadership that they teach is truly their own, they involve managers in assessing the needs of the company, designing and building curricula and teaching. They support managers by teaching them teaching skills and co-facilitate where necessary.

In a nutshell, Agoda makes it crystal clear that their leadership values are specific to their company and that they are rules that they live by.

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