Winning Secrets: Developing team members is a core competency expected of all leaders and managers at MHA

Winning Secrets: Developing team members is a core competency expected of all leaders and managers at MHA

In fact, this competency is assessed as part of their performance appraisal, says Shirlyn Ng, Senior Director, Human Resource Division, Ministry of Home Affairs, Headquarters (MHQ).

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) consists of MHA Headquarters, seven Home Team departments and three statutory boards, and is known collectively as the Home Team. Its Home Team officers work tirelessly to keep Singapore safe and secure amidst an increasingly complex operating landscape, and the team is constantly innovating to serve the public better.

At the third annual edition of Employee Experience Awards - Singapore in 2023, Ministry of Home Affairs, Headquarters (MHQ) won the gold award for 'Best Management Training Programme'. 

To celebrate this milestone, we catch up with Shirlyn Ng, Senior Director, Human Resource Division, Ministry of Home Affairs, Headquarters (MHQ) on the everyday role of leaders and managers of facilitating their team members’ career development and growth.

Q How do you ensure your employee experience initiatives are aligned with your business objectives?

MHA has a critical mission, which is to keep Singapore safe and secure. To do that well, we need good staff at all levels, including leaders with the right skills and values.

We introduced the 'Home Team Leaders-in-Development Programme' (HT LDP), a management trainee type of programme, to identify and develop promising young employees in both our uniformed and civilian workforce early in their career. We systematically and purposefully provide opportunities, training, and exposure to hone their leadership skills. We do so to strengthen our leadership pipeline.

Beyond this, we work towards creating a positive and fulfilling work environment for all our employees, by understanding their career aspirations and encouraging continued training and learning.

Q Can you provide examples of how the organisation has invested in the employee experience?

We provide our employees with a suite of initiatives for well-rounded development. One example is the flagship five-day milestone programme for employees on the HT LDP. In the programme, the participants gain insights into their leadership strengths and development areas, and identify suitable interventions to enhance their capabilities. They also acquire a deeper understanding and appreciation of the emerging trends which are shaping MHA’s operating environment. The programme brings together employees from across MHA, facilitating the formation of a strong support network to learn, share and collaborate.

To challenge employees and expose them to areas beyond their day-to-day work, they are offered stretch assignments. For example, they could lead or be on the organising committees of major events, or drive projects on critical issues that cut across various Home Team departments. Such assignments allow them to learn from peers and other leaders in the Home Team.

Q What are some of the key challenges that you faced in implementing your EX initiatives, and how did you overcome them?

We recognise that every employee is motivated differently. Their learning and career aspirations differ, depending on where they are in their career and their life experiences.

It is thus important that we regularly engage our HT LDP officers to understand their aspirations and development needs, and assess how best HR and the organisation can support them.

We recently started a series of focus group discussions to hear from our employees on the HT LDP, on their experiences and expectations of being on this programme. We hope to use these insights to co-create new developmental initiatives and improve existing programmes, with them, for them.

Q Do you have processes to measure the effectiveness of your EX initiatives, and what metrics do you use to evaluate success?

We partner our senior leaders, line supervisors, and HR colleagues from the Home Team Departments to get a good understanding of the staff’s views on talent development. Talent discussions and succession planning sessions are held annually, where the leadership bench strength is evaluated. We have seen positive results since the HT LDP was launched.

Q Finally, what role do leaders and managers play in driving a beautiful employee experience, and how are they held accountable for the success of these initiatives?

At the core of talent development is strong leadership support. We need leaders and managers to play the everyday role of facilitating their team members’ career development and growth.

Developing team members is a core competency that we expect of all our leaders and managers, and they are assessed on this as part of performance appraisal. We also conduct regular employee engagement surveys that include feedback on supervisory practices, and 360-degree feedback with coaching interventions to provide our leaders with data on areas that they have done well as well as areas for improvement.

Leadership in the Home Team does not consist solely of driving work outcomes. Every leader is responsible for grooming the next generation of leaders. Good leaders develop good future leaders, and this is important to allow MHA to continually have a strong and capable workforce that is able to keep Singapore safe and secure.

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

All photos / Provided by MHA

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