MAP InsightsColumn in BUSINESSWORLD
Filipino resilience – our pillar in a highly disruptive futurewritten by Mr. ROLANDO PAULINO “Roland” R. RUIZ - July 18, 2023
There has been a flurry of bad press about the Philippines: the dismal state of our education system, the drop in our global competitiveness ranking, and more recently the decline in Metro Manila’s ranking in a global live-ability index. In addition, international reports, such as those by the World Bank and Federal Reserve Board, clearly show that disruptions are going to be more frequent and severe in the future.
So when I was invited to speak to business leaders about elevating Filipino talent competitiveness at the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) Strategic Human Resource Summit, I had to rethink how best we tackle this issue.
To elevate our competitiveness in an increasingly disruptive business environment, we need to build on what we are uniquely strong at.
In the Global Leadership Forecast (GLF) 2023 — a study by a human resource (HR) consultancy Development Dimensions International (DDI), there is tangible support for what makes us different from the rest of the world — our RESILIENCE.
When HR leaders around the world were asked about their leadership bench-strength, there was a continuing decline from 18% in 2011 to 12% in 2022 — a 33% decrease in leadership bench-strength. However, in the Philippines, the leadership bench-strength in 2022 was at 23% — much higher than the rest of the world — before, during and after the global pandemic.
One big reason for this resilience is that Filipino leaders clearly stand out in terms of finding meaning and purpose in their work. The same DDI 2023 report showed that nearly three out of four (74%) Filipino mid-level leaders find their jobs to be full of meaning and purpose, compared to less than half (47%) for the rest of the world.
And what provides meaning and purpose for Filipinos? In discussions with seasoned leaders and professionals around the country, including members of OD Practitioners Network (ODPN), thanks to Vivien Arnobit — there are three things which resonate most: family, relationships and faith.
For the Filipino, the reason for going to work and persevering is about making a difference in shaping and caring for the well-being and future of their family and loved ones. For business leaders, knowing the individuals who matter most to the Filipino, why, when and how is the first step to making and building that connection.
For the Filipino, joining and fully engaging with an organization happens because they know the time and effort invested in relationships are worth nurturing beyond their time in the organization. This holds true when working long hours online to beat the deadline, or when learning a new skill to be more effective at work.
Filipinos work and learn best as part of a group they trust and depend on. For business leaders, knowing the individuals the Filipino depends on, trusts, and confides in and the bonds that hold the Filipino’s group together will be the building block to accelerating learning, growth and performance.
For the Filipino, beyond the numerous celebrations, rituals and traditions, faith transcends work. The Filipino’s faith is a continuing source of hope, inspiration and strength not only during the most difficult and challenging periods but also when going the extra mile in giving back to the community and building spirituality. For business leaders, understanding the Filipino’s life beyond the day-to-day work success and failures will be key to their engagement and motivation.
Resilience is about showing up and this is half the battle in elevating our competitiveness. But as my respected colleague Jo-ann Tacorda, CAO of PJ Lhuillier, says, having resilient people does not automatically mean you have a fully resilient organization.
For an organization to be truly resilient, it requires: addressing flexibility in supply chains, managing cyberthreats and technology breakdowns, and maintaining business models that are innovative and entrepreneurial. In addition, building and maintaining people’s resilience requires seriously looking at the way companies select, onboard, upskill, recognize and drive performance that is sustainable. Consider the following:
Gerry Plana, chief executive officer of Investors in People Philippines and one of the reactors during the HR Summit, suggested that we should add resilience as part of our recruitment criteria. I have spoken to a number of companies that have invested much time and effort in recruiting leaders with significant international knowledge experience, but unfortunately have no staying power.
When it comes to upskilling, the DDI 2023 report showed that a large majority (82%) of Filipino leaders prefer face-to-face learning, compared to only slightly more than half for the rest of the world. Filipinos tend to be much more social in our learning versus individual — not only gaining knowledge but also meaningful relationships which help buttress and solidify learnings in the workplace, well after the formal sessions are concluded.
Finally, when it comes to managing performance and to drive accountability, the focus is necessarily on individual performance. Knowing Filipinos’ preference for learning and working in groups, providing supplementary emphasis on achieving the group’s performance can get the overall performance message across more effectively.
The “natural” resilience of the Filipino is an under-leveraged strength in an increasingly disruptive local and global environment. However, this natural strength needs to be continually maintained and strengthened through: (1) business leaders who are able to fully and deeply connect with what matters most to the Filipino family, relationships and faith when driving transformation and growth; and (2) HR leaders and professionals who review how the Filipino workforce is selected, upskilled and made to perform well by leaning on long-standing preferences that value relationships, and learning and performing as a group.
This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or MAP.
Rolando Paulino “Roland” R. Ruiz is a member of the MAP Strategic HR Management Committee. He is founder and principal of Workforce & Strategy.