The Power of Purpose: UNDP Malaysia’s offsite provides platform to Reflect, Reconnect and Recalibrate

February 29, 2024

In a bid to elevate the Malaysia country office (CO)’s work as well as the support for the people that drive it, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Malaysia organised an offsite retreat from February 26th to February 28th, 2024. Over the three days, #MyUNDP colleagues convened to uncover personal truths, discover setbacks, and find solutions to move forward better.

Mapping their personal values, core strengths, and unique callings to that of UNDP’s, participants also explored cross-cutting themes to identify ideas and processes that could drive them closer towards achieving their goals.

Nestled in the picturesque DoubleTree Damai Laut Resort, against the backdrop of the Straits of Malacca, the retreat aimed to achieve three primary objectives:

1. Strengthen resilience, commitment to a results-oriented culture
2. Reflect and recalibrate on past performance
3. Renew motivation and rejuvenate spirits

Led by an internal staff committee, the retreat was meticulously designed with several impactful activities. These included breakout sessions and workshops designed to encourage diversity of thought, promote mental and physical wellness, as well as cross-functional learning of the CO’s on-going and pipeline projects/operational activities.

Through mapping and knowledge sessions, colleagues were empowered to strengthen their knowledge of the CO's on-going/pipeline projects and activities, as well as map out constructive solutions for identified challenges.

UNDP Malaysia

Ms. Manon Bernier, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, viewing the eco-cloth handicraft in Lumut, Perak.

UNDP Malaysia
Project site visit for Sustainable Tourism

Prior to arriving at the offsite location, the CO departed for Laman Karya Lumut (LAKAR), an art/event space in Lumut, where beneficiaries of the UNDP Sustainable Tourism programme were ready to present their projects. The aim of the pit-stop was to familiarise the whole office with the project and promote some of the sustainable products brought about through the project.

The programme here began with a briefing on the project by Norhafiza Shafie, UNDP Malaysia Development Economist, who shared a breakdown of the project’s key thrusts. Following this, staff were divided into three groups that circulated three parallel presentations conducted by local NGOs involved in the project. The presentations/products coincided with three distinct target areas under the project, namely: Arts (LAKAR); Culture (Persatuan Kutien Manjung); and Environment (KUASA – Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam, or Friends of Nature Activists Society).

Fostering a 'Whole-of-CO' approach through cross-functional teams and operational excellence

Upon arrival at the offsite location, the first activity, titled ‘Connecting to the CO Compact’, was conducted by internal facilitators Ling Lee, Management and Oversight Lead, and Ashvinder Singh, Head of Governance at UNDP Malaysia.

Staff were divided into four groups and participated in two breakout sessions: CO Compact Island Hopping’ and ‘Whole-of-CO Speed Solving’. The first session helped participants to better understand the CO’s work through its four distinct portfolios: Social Protection; Sustainable Value Chain; Climate Resilience & Nature Systems; and Governance & Financing as Key Enablers. The second session was led by performance heads, to help colleagues identify various aspects of operational excellence: Financial; Management & Sustainability; Staff Engagement; Accountability & Risk; and Programme & Policy.

The session aimed to fulfil the foremost objective of the retreat: to strengthen UNDP Malaysia’s commitment to a results-oriented culture by improving communications as well as coordination strategies between teams. This aimed to ensure a more effective, happier working environment that would lead to impactful results.

This was additionally an opportunity for staff to reflect on team and organisational performance in the preceding year of 2023, helping colleagues recalibrate resources and strategies for the upcoming year as well as promote a ‘Whole-of-CO’ approach to co-creation and co-delivery.

Deep-diving into personal purpose

As colleagues embarked on their journey of reflection and reinvigoration, the second day provided a platform for team members to come together, share experiences, and envision the path forward. Facilitated by Alvin Ung, renowned author, top team facilitator and Fellow at Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the agenda was thoughtfully curated to help staff discern their core values, design life-giving goals, and discover their personal purpose that could further align with UNDP’s mandate.

Celebrating collaboration and continuity

Finally, the last day brought about opportunities for reflection, as staff shared their personal observations and ideas for moving forward more effectively. The office were brought through a collective breakout session where ideas for improving how we work were identified. From monthly employee recognitions and knowledge-sharing hubs, to ‘care corners’ and improved centrality, the session gleaned several creative solutions that the CO would be implementing in the coming months to improve office productivity and culture.

As the retreat concluded, participants departed with a renewed sense of purpose and a shared vision for the future. Armed with fresh perspectives and actionable strategies, UNDP Malaysia is poised to leverage its strengths to drive sustainable development in Malaysia and beyond.