Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Employee empowerment Padang style

I went and had dinner at a Padang restaurant down the road from my hotel in Jayapura tonight and got to talking to one of the staff members. For those who are unfamiliar, Padang food (i.e. food from an area of West Sumatra inhabited by the Padang people) is by far and away Indonesia's most popular cuisine. Wherever you go in Indonesia, from Sabang to Merake, if a town has only one restaurant it's definitely selling Padang food. It's not just that Padang food is tasty (although it is), it's also due to the fact that Padang people are born salespeople. If there's a need, a Padang person will pop up in the most random places ready to fill it. Indonesians are very fond of backronyms and one of the most common is that Padang actually stands for "Pandai Dagang" or "Good at Selling Things" (it's funnier in Indonesian...). But I digress...

I was talking to this guy who had come all the way to Jayapura in West Papua (about the distance from Perth to Brisbane or LA to Washington DC) to work as a waiter in a Padang restaurant. I thought it seemed like a heck of a journey for a job that, I thought, probably didn't pay that well so I asked him whether he had a stake in the restaurant. Given his age (26) and his general lack of a managerial demeanour around the other staff I figured the answer would be no, but I was surprised...

He hadn't put up any equity, but apparently in Padang restaurants across the country the standard system is that the owners get 40% of the profit and the staff split the remaining 60% among themselves. He then launched into a quick economics lesson explaining the relationship between risk and return and the importance of incentivising good staff behaviours.

Empowering your staff like this is a pretty progressive notion; especially in Indonesia where labour practices are uniformly pretty terrible...

Impressive...

1 comment:

johnorford said...

that's interesting!