November 24, 2004 (STAR) EVERYBODY KNOWS By Abigail K. Yap - Active business solutions inc.

The recently held Management Association of the Philippines’ Third International CEO Conference, through speakers of different backgrounds and disciplines, focused, at one point or another, on a common thread essential to the success of any organization: the human factor. Whether in times of crisis or in need of an organizational change, whether in startup mode or operational expansion, it’s still people, people, people.

I do not profess to be an expert in the human resource practice nor do I claim to be an active practitioner of Filipino traditions. However, my experience in working with peers and managing organizations lead me into believing that our innate Filipino culture and values remain largely untapped.

Dr. Richard Wellins, senior vice president of Development Dimensions International (USA), talked about "engaging the workforce" as a business imperative. As intangible assets, engaged employees are motivated to be more productive, and are more driven to achieve beyond expectations. In challenging economic times, it is critical for an organization to have a highly engaged workforce to increase productivity, customer loyalty and profitability.

Paul Bernthal, manager of DDI’s Center for Applied Behavioral Research (Caber), describes employees as being engaged "when they find personal meaning and motivation in their work, receive positive interpersonal support, and operate in an efficient work environment." Filipino values like pakikisama (getting along with others), utang na loob (reciprocal gratitude) and pananalig (faith) cement people in the organization to each other in difficult times.

In the IT industry where barriers to entry are low, poaching is rampant and competition is fierce, and we see these Filipino values make that much-needed distinct difference. Small players survive, and even thrive, because damayan and pakikisama create ownership and accountability of the organization’s success or failure. A sense of camaraderie and a strong support group channel positive energy within the organization. In Susan Jeffers’ "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway," she comments that "it is amazingly empowering to have the support of a strong, motivated and inspirational group of people." DDI studies have shown that the Philippines has one of the highest percentages of highly engaged workforce relative to neighboring continents. Engaging the workforce requires a passionate leader; pakikisama and utang na loob effectively reinforces and sustains that level of engagement from the workforce.

Franco del Rosario, in his article "Survive and excel in turbulent times," comments that "we must have unwavering faith. There is no crisis beyond the capacity of the Filipino people to solve, no challenge is too great!" "Say yes to your universe…Whatever happens to you… just nod your head, up and down, instead of shaking it, side to side. Just say yes instead of no," says Jeffers. Saying yes requires faith. It takes a great leader to lead an organization to success through difficult times, but it takes an even greater follower to keep the faith and follow. In a culture with deep religious roots, faith underpins the belief that no matter what, we will see things through. In organizations where people believe in the company and its leaders, their faith sustains their level of commitment no matter what.

With all the books and lectures, seminars and conferences, different principles and theories explain how to increase the engagement of your people, how to better leverage your intangible assets. Taking that one step further, let us not forget what makes us Filipinos, even in the workplace. In our highly emotional culture, it is our hearts that motivate us and our soul that reaffirms faith. In a highly competitive environment and challenging economic situations, we must look at harnessing our resources. If nurtured properly, we may just see greatness from the Filipino – still a diamond in the rough.

(With references to the Management Association of the Philippines’ Third MAP International CEO Conference sessions, speakers and distributed materials)

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Abigail K. Yap is CEO of Active Business Solutions Inc. /a/b/s/ (, the software and solutions company of the Yapster e-Conglomerate group of companies. You may contact her via e-mail at

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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