I came across a Business Week article on dilemmas in the workplace. In the article, Greg Cootsoona presents 21 scenarios and provides advice on how to manage it. I was intrigued at the scenarios and I remembered how it was in the Pinoy office. I zeroed in on the areas that where screaming – improve me, improve me. Here are some common situations where Filipinos can do better. You might have come across these familiar situations.
Taking Ownership of Ideas
Scenario: While in a meeting, you bring up a variation on an idea that an officemate had casually mentioned to you in an earlier conversation. Your bosses think it’s brilliant. Do you let your officemate who gave you the idea know?
Why: This builds trust and therefore an efficient and effective team. You’ll be known as the type of person who doesn’t care who gets the credit. You can call this the law of karma, “you sow what you reap,” or “what goes around comes around.” Take your pick.
Typical Pinoy response:
No. Claim the idea is mine and pick the other person’s mind later over San Miguel Beer and pulutan -that’s so wicked. Then I’ll have myself appointed as chief, he’ll be my deputy, and he’ll do the work me.
Deferring to the Boss
Scenario: Your supervisor is plotting a course that, to you, sounds disastrous, and he doesn’t see it. Do you bring up your doubts at your next departmental meeting?
Answer: No, but present your concerns one-on-one.
Why: As Wharton School professor Michael Useem points out in Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both Win, your supervisor will probably not take well to being confronted in front of other staff, but it’s important to give him all the information so that he can succeed.
Typical Pinoy response:
Yes, Bring doubts up in next departmental meeting. Make the boss appear incompetent.
No, Let the boss take a fall. Buntot niya, hila niya. Kamot your own galis.
Admitting to a Mistake
Scenario: You’re the Area Manager and you realize you’ve made a mistake that cost your company sales last quarter. Do you let your key leadership team know?
Why: As management guru Patrick Lencioni has pointed out in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, the basis of a good team is trust, and trust depends on vulnerability. Your vulnerability will foster greater trust in your key leadership team, and trust will make the team function better. One caveat: Be wise. You don’t have to broadcast your mistake to the whole organization.
Typical Pinoy response(s):
No. Blame it on someone or something else – anyone but me. Mahirap ng masisante.
No. Not unless they find out. And if they find out, I will laugh it away. Uncle ko yata ang CEO or malakas ako ke (drop name of big shot).
Scenario: You have heard from another employee that your boss has made an ethical violation. Do you confront your boss directly?
Answer: No. Try an indirect angle of approach: First, ask your boss to clarify this type of breach in your company’s policies and ask the best way to process such a concern.
Why: This way, you maintain your integrity while being wise. First of all, this type of complaint against your boss may lead to his job loss, which could make him feel desperate in this economy–and desperation brings out uncharacteristic behavior. Moreover, “innocent until proven guilty” is a good rubric for accusations. It’s the way you’d want to be treated.
Typical Pinoy Response:
Ba’t siya lang, paano naman ako?
Balato naman bossing.
Scenario: You’re the head of your team, and your week is packed as you’re preparing for next week’s launch of a new software. During a week when you’re all working 10-plus hours a day, do you take time during this busy week to praise your staff?
Answer: Yes. Write some personal “atta-boy” e-mails or call a brief meeting to toast the team’s success.
Why: Gallup surveys of employees and organizations revealed that the key driver for employee productivity is whether they feel cared for by their supervisor and whether they have received recognition or praise during the past seven days.
Typical Pinoy Response(s):
We’ve been toasting since day one, we can wing it. Merienda muna. Here you go.
Oh oh, I forgot about that.
I have to pat their back?
Pinoys need to step up and improve their behavior in the global corporate culture if they want to be competitive and have careers in world-class companies.