Employees are not Productions Tools

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INDAR ATMANTO is an established figure in the telecommunications industry, having decided upon graduation from the Bandung Institute of Technology in 1986 that he would build a career in telecommunications. His career started in 1990 when he was employed by Indosat, a leading telecommunications corporation, as an ordinary staff member.

Due to his diligence in acquiring knowledge and skill, all of which added to his education in the technical field, Indar did not find the work hard. His achievements became so obvious that in 1999 he was promoted to general marketing manager.

“My principle is that work is a responsibility that is entrusted to me and has to be carried out seriously. That way, if someone works well, they will automatically be rewarded by management,” said the Jakarta-born man who holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Miami.  

Since then there has been no stopping him in his career. In July 2001, he was named Indosat’s marketing and product development manager. His work scope covered technical matters as well as public relations, which he obviously did well at because he was then named corporate secretary manager from 2002 until 2004.  

Finally, in June 2006, he became president director of PT Indosat Mega Media (IM2). What is unique about his career is that he reached the top position after starting out from the very bottom. It is a career path that not many can travel. It is not surprising, therefore, that many directors and managers often refer to Indar as the purest Indosat employee who is dexterous in management matters as well as an excellent motivator for employees in creating a conducive work atmosphere.

“At the beginning of my career I was simply an ordinary employee, so I know very well the demands and needs of employees on every rung of the ladder,” he said.

Years of experience have enabled him to understand employees’ problems better, and to manage employees and find solutions to problems that arise. This is the kind of understanding that helped him along the way to the top management position.  

To create harmonious relations with employees, he said, a conducive work environment is imperative and a leader should be able to create it. Only with strong commitment and employee motivation can a company’s targets be reached. Indar believes there are at least three important ways to motivate them.  

First, treat your employees like human beings. “Employees are humans, not tools or production machines,” stressed Indar. An employee in many ways is similar to a leader as he or she also has a soul, conscience, feelings or emotions and values. Although position-wise there is a difference, basically both parties are the same. Viewing employees and treating them like humans has a greater impact rather than treating them like tools or machines.

“This way, employees feel appreciated and that they are considered part of the family in the company, so they are deeply motivated to give their best to the company,” said Indar, who likes reading management books by Robert Kiyosaki and Jack Well.  

Second, high-achieving employees should be appreciated and rewarded, while slap-dash ones should be punished. Punishment, however, would mostly be in the form of reminders so that the same mistakes were not repeated. “So, the sanction is more like shock therapy than real punishment,” he said.  

An employee’s job description should be based on his or her ability, talent, experience and knowledge or frame of reference. This way an employee will be able to contribute the utmost in his or her work. Entrusting an employee with tasks that are beyond their ability would be disastrous for a company. “This is the role of management, that is, placing employees in the right positions as per competence. Such a vital role will result in attaining the company’s targets,” said Indar.  

Third, relations with employees should be built on mutual need in order to create a strong bond. There should be no distance between the leader or the management and the employees, so there will be two-way communication that is harmonious. The management should openly receive employees’ aspirations, so that policies and regulations will be obeyed by the employees.

“I always emphasize to the employees and my colleagues that we are one team. A company can only succeed if the teamwork is good. That way the company does not depend on me alone,” said Indar, who is an avid reader.  

As a result of his management style, Indosat M2 has gained profits and its annual growth rate is 15 percent. The company, which has 400 employees, at the beginning of the year launched an innovative product called IndosatNet, which is a prepaid Internet service. There are many ways to explain a company’s target to employees and Indar has his own unique method. A company’s target, he explains, is like apples on a tree that one wishes to pick. His employees are quite familiar with this illustration.

For example, when he says that the company wants to pick eight apples then they understand that the targeted profit is Rp 800 billion, as one apple is equal to one billion. “This is easier to understand compared with the mentioning of billions. Picturing apples in one’s mind is tastier, isn’t it?” he said jokingly.  

However, there is obsession beneath all his success and achievements. “I want everyone here to be connected to the Internet so that they can access knowledge easily for the sake of the nation’s progress,” said Indar. (Burhan Abe)  

The Jakarta Post, August 20, 2008

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