paradigms, principles, practices

The following is my column today at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today

People are our only remaining source of competitive advantage as a country. Most of our other natural resources—forests, marine life, minerals, etc.—are either gone or are seriously imperiled due to years, nay, centuries of abuse and neglect. Not only are people our last hope for deliverance, people are also the key to ensuring that our other sources of national competitiveness are regained, nurtured, and restored to tip-top shape, if not for ourselves, then for the sake of the future generations.

Anyone who needs further convincing about the critical and central role of people in the country’s long-term viability need only to picture in his mind a doomsday scenario: Imagine what will happen if all Filipino workers overseas are sent home. They are the so-called new heroes because, to be candid about it, they are the ones propping up the economy and without them this whole country could have gone belly up a long time ago. It is not technology or financial capital that is keeping bankruptcy at bay, it is people— and most of them are underemployed, underpaid and poorly managed.

We’ve known for quite some time now that people will continue to be our main “export,” and yet isn’t it tragic that we still have to come up with an integrated national manpower development plan for our country and our people? One would have thought that a strategic blueprint on how we intend to leverage and harness our seeming inherent gifts as a people should have been implemented by now. But, nope, we insist on focusing our energies and spending more money on projects with dubious significance and value mainly because they enhance the image of the powers-that-be in this country.

For sometime now, people managers in this country, through the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines, have been advocating the need to craft a human resource agenda for the Philippines. It has been a lonely uphill struggle. But some legislators have finally gotten the message and there are now pending bills in both Houses that support the creation of an integrated strategic development plan for the country’s human resources. It’s about time.

This is a relief because the truth is, most of our leaders merely pay lip service to the phrase “people are our best asset.” It sounds good and makes them look good. Unfortunately, we need more than empty statements and false promises. What we need are deliberate and earnest efforts to invest in people management and development, not out of social guilt or for public relations purposes, but because it makes for good business.

There are many successful stories about people management and development practices that have produced certain desired outcomes such as profitability, growth, sustainability and even enhanced image. The problem is that there has been little effort to document these stories in the past.

Well, not anymore. This year, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, PMAP has put together a book featuring 14 success stories in people management and development. The book is entitled People Management in the Philippines: Real Stories of Excellence. The book will be officially launched today, 4 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza, Ortigas Center, immediately after the opening ceremonies of PMAP’s annual conference.

The 14 stories of excellence that are showcased in the book are arranged according to three levels: paradigms, principles and practices.

The first level, paradigms, features three stories, each one anchored on a unique model in people management. All three stories are heartwarming because they prove that putting people at the center of the enterprise works. Bangko Kabayan, a rural bank in Pampanga, validates that spirituality, business objectives, and people management and development can be mutually inclusive concepts. Moog, a multiawarded manufacturing company based in Baguio (they manufacture highly sensitive aviation parts), uses a humanistic model. At Moog, pagkamakatao (value for people) defines the essence of their existence and their business is thus integrated into their employee’s pagkatao or personhood. On the other hand, Pfizer Philippines entrusts the future of their company fully in the hands of their employees, who are empowered to strive for excellence. For Pfizer, being known as an employer of choice, is a critical business strategy.

The stories in the second level, principles, represent a wide range of beliefs and frameworks that drive people management and development in the featured organizations. The stories in this level provide a rich tapestry of experiences, each one bringing a special color, a unique touch, a distinctive philosophy. Together, they prove that engaging hearts and minds of employees is a daunting but truly rewarding passion. And what is more, it produces wonderful results, as the stories show.

The collection of stories include those of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (Community of Learners Brings Success), Del Monte Philippines (Prioritizing Employee Welfare), eTelecare (MbO: Management by Ownership), Globe Telecoms (Empowering Employees), Lafarge (People as Drivers of Performance), Smart Telecommunications (People as Business Partners) and Unilab (Bayanihan).

The third level, practices, showcase four specific examples of successful implementation of human resource technologies. The stories in this section highlight the convergence of both the heart and mind of the human resource management function—that HRM is a science, but in its essence, it is still about people. The success stories of Amkor, Manila Water, Petron and Philips illustrate that successful HRM programs are those that recognize the primacy of people as drivers of business and not the other way around. It is human talent that creates and nurtures the business.

An article by renowned HRM guru Sonny Coloma caps the stories. The book was edited by Gerardo Cabochan Jr. and is a project of PMAP’s 50th anniversary committee chaired by Grace Abella-Zata. The book is available through PMAP.

And while we are talking about people management and development, PMAP’s annual conference opens today and will culminate on Friday with a black-tie gala night to celebrate the association’s golden anniversary.


alden said…
Yes, Bong, its about time! If there is one thing that I can attribute so much whatever success i got now. Its the people management training and the so many trainings that i gained from Intel in 5 years that I work with them. And not only in business but in almost all aspects of my life. More power to your group!
BongA said…
thanks alden!
alden said…

Bong I was thinking that maybe our country would be in a much better situation if the politicans that we elect to all positions has some management or customer orientation training. Woudl it be great if Manny Pangilinan woudl run for president and those junor managers from Amkor or Intel would be elected as congressman. Senior Managers Texas Instruments or Procter and Gamble appointed as Cabinet secretaries or Commisioners or even elected as senators????

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