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Carlo Atienza

210 posts
Corporate planning professional passionate about personal and professional development for a unique you.

Taming the overly competitive coworker

Carlo Atienza-Sui Generis

LEARNING how to cope with different personalities at work is necessary if you want to succeed in your career. But it becomes especially challenging when you encounter an overly competitive coworker who thinks that everything is a rivalry. These are coworkers who always compare their work with yours but are defensive about their own work. And when they are called out for their substandard performance, they blame everybody and everything else but themselves. These are the coworkers who keep information to themselves and boss everyone when the supervisor is not around.

Developing a good relationship with your manager

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Probably the single most important professional relationship you will ever have is with your manager. I say this because they can influence where your career is headed and they have the power to open opportunities for your career. But this does not mean you kowtow to their every demand because they are also dependent on your work to fulfill their deliverables. Hence, you need each other if you are to succeed in attaining your goals.

Self-evaluations done right

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EVERY year, people struggle to do their annual self-evaluations for so many reasons. Some have difficulty in evaluating themselves because there are no established criteria in the organization to measure how well each one did. And even if it did, there is no added incentive, so employees just accomplish it for compliance. Others do not do a self-evaluation because their evaluations are left to the discretion of their managers. Others simply do not know how to evaluate themselves.

Best gift for yourself

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PEOPLE often confuse giving to the point they forget that the first person they should give to is themselves. As the saying goes, you cannot give out of an empty cup. And in a season where giving is better than receiving, people often get lost in the social obligations to give gifts when they should first be refilling their empty cups.

Shifting gears in midlife

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THERE are people who become dead set on a career path as early as high school, perhaps even earlier. And then there are people who discover their passion and purpose in life at a later time. Maybe that is the reason why some people say that life begins at 40—because at that age you no longer care about what other people would say, and you become focused on what you really want, including what you do for a living.

Performance evaluation done right

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NOT everyone in your team will perform at the same level. Some will slack for a while but will use that time to improve themselves. Others will perform well at the start but will eventually fade into the background. And then there are those who are just coasting. When year-end incentives depend on how people performed during the year and work requirements are continually evolving, how do you evaluate your team’s performance?

Avoid the pitfalls of evaluation biases

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NOW that the year is about to end, a lot of organizations have started their performance evaluations and workplan reviews. There are still companies that lack a tool for evaluating performance, and even when they do, they could have insufficient metrics to objectively evaluate their team’s performance. And then there are people managers who do not know how to effectively evaluate their team members because either they lack training, or even if they were trained well, they would still fall trap to performance evaluation biases.

Standing out at work

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EVER wonder why certain people are ahead more than you even if you have the same or even better qualifications and skills? The fact is, recruiters and hiring managers often evaluate you based on the documents you have submitted. But once you are hired, you need to show that you know how to navigate the organization and fit in, and at the same time stand out by showing you are worth more than what is on your résumé.

Replacing your boss

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WHEN I was interviewing someone for an opening in my team, I asked the applicant a common question that most people are asked in an interview: “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” He replied enthusiastically, “To be in your position.” I was a bit taken aback, so I asked, “What do you mean?” He went on to explain that he hoped to grow professionally and to develop his managing skills so that he can push me up to a higher position. I knew he meant well but it made me a little uncomfortable thinking that he would replace me someday. He eventually got the job, but I did not stay in the organization long enough to see how he did. Last I heard, he was already managing his own team.

How to talk so your team listens

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Some leaders think that just because they have already said something, they assume people will naturally follow. Communication, from a leadership standpoint, is all about influence and persuasion. Effective communication is not just about what you say, but how your words spur people to act in the direction you want them to go.

Communicating in all levels

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ONE of the things people forget is that different levels of the organization require different ways of communicating. You cannot talk to your team in the same way you talk to your manager, or even to other departments in your organization. One of the pitfalls of new managers is thinking that they can talk to others in the same way they do to their colleagues. When you frequently talk to different people from all levels of the organization, you need to understand that who you talk to will significantly affect how you communicate.

Pressure to perform

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I HAVE been in the academe, private corporations, and even government service long enough to understand that not all workplaces are created equal. Some have seasons of hurried activities followed by weeks of placid routine, while others have fast-paced workplaces where work seems to multiply faster than there was that got done. But one thing is certain, there will be times when you will be asked to do more work than usual either for promotion, because of reduced manpower, or as a stretch assignment.

What it means to lead like a woman

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WHEN I started writing this article, I realized that I have always had female leaders. It is no surprise that most of my people management skills have been learned from extraordinary and accomplished women who have taught me that the most important skill a leader needs to have is influence. Today, influence is no longer based on diplomas or position, but on how effective you are in persuading people to follow you. Today, more and more women are showing that they are better than their male counterparts.

Improving your digital fluency

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IN a previous organization, my team was asked to study how we can make learning more engaging by incorporating Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) materials for training. After research and several discussions with my team, we realized that use cases of those platforms have not yet evolved enough to cater to our training needs, especially since we were developing soft skills programs. In addition, our Internet bandwidth and infrastructure would not have been able to support the massive data needed to make the platforms work, nor was there an available artificial intelligence software that can mimic the complaints of a customer. We recommended not pursuing VR and AR as learning modalities.

Reducing redundancies

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IN a previous organization, I attended a meeting for all managers of the different departments and offices, and we were required to report updates on our respective projects. One department was reporting their accomplishments when another manager inquired whether their project was connected to what they were currently doing. After a few discussions, they discovered that they were working on the same parts of the overall project. This resulted in wastage of manpower and resources.

Handling feedback like a pro

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I USED to be part of an organization where feedback was expected and comments on my work was essential to ensuring the team delivered as expected. When I moved into a more conservative organization, I noticed that people gave feedback as if walking on eggshells and worded it in such a way as to make it sound like an afterthought rather than a well-considered point for improvement. The recipient, on the other hand, wilted in embarrassment as if they had never done anything right. I realized that just as much as people need to know how to provide feedback, they also need to know how to handle feedback to take full advantage of it.

Transitioning from manager to leader

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IF you have just started leading people, you are expected to ensure that your team will consistently hit their targets. Your focus as a first-time manager is to ensure that your team’s output meets expectations. Managing people effectively starts with a combination of having the right skills, tools and attitude to ensure your team performs as expected. But it should not stop there.

Don’t ignore the importance of offboarding

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AFTER being part of several organizations, I noticed that one of the most neglected aspects of the entire employee experience is offboarding. Offboarding is the process of ensuring that an employee leaving has turned over documents, equipment, and even processes used while they were employed. Whether the employee is terminated, resigning, or retiring, this is an important process that should not be skipped if you want to ensure continuity in your team’s processes.

Benefits of flexible working arrangements

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THE pandemic has taught many employers that it is possible to work from almost anywhere and deliver the same outputs, with some organizations even achieving above expected results. The pandemic was the catalyst in helping organizations to understand that the future of work is not confined to an office with an 8 am to 5 pm schedule. The future of work is flexible work arrangements.

Is your team leaving you?

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ONE of the common challenges that organizations face is retaining their top talents. When this happens, some organizations instinctively focus on gimmicks and programs to stop their people from resigning, but these employees eventually leave. These organizations fail to effectively identify why their talents leave, or rely heavily on engagement tactics that do not work at all because these do not address the workplace issues their employees face. When it comes to something as complex as maintaining workforce engagement, you need to look at all the indicators that point to whether your team is in it for the long haul, or are they packing their bags to leave.

Quiet quitting and how to avoid it

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IN one of the peer group sessions I attended recently, we talked about work-life balance, and the idea of doing the bare minimum at work came up. Because of the pandemic and online collaboration apps, some people found it hard to delineate work from their personal lives. Now that people are trickling back to the office, some people still find it difficult to go back to leaving work at the office and enjoying their time at home. And to top it all off, there is no additional compensation for overtime work.

The highs and lows of stacking

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IN a previous organization, I was asked to stack rank my team, and I thought it was only natural to do so because we needed to know our top performers. Our head then explained that by identifying what made them perform well, we could learn how to duplicate those knowledge and skills to the underachievers to help them perform better. However, he also cautioned us not to tell our teams that we were doing it because it might cause conflict. Later, we discovered that the exercise was meant not just to see how our team members were doing, but also how well we knew our team.

Thinking for yourself

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IN an age where misinformation abounds, critical thinking skills are necessary to solidify your own stand on issues by differentiating between fact and opinion. Especially now when public figures are accorded attention by how loud a noise they can create, or how much money they are paid to become the mouthpiece of disinformation.

How to like yourself more

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DO you like yourself? This is probably one of the questions people would shy away from, or would not know how to answer. While there are some who would confidently say they like themselves, others would admit they have not outgrown their self-consciousness, or still carry within themselves the critical voices of their parents and friends.

How to be more likable

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WORKING with others entails sustaining a good working relationship even if you do not like the other person. In a work environment, professional relationships are maintained if you do your work well and everybody accords one another a certain degree of respect and mutual advantage. However, to expand your network and ensure you have key people you can tap when you need help, you first need to establish good working relations with them. And it all begins with being likable.

Taming Mr. Hyde

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I WAS in the middle of my hiring manager’s interview when someone knocked, and a lanky woman awkwardly came in. Things were going well, and I was feeling hopeful that they would hire me. But then, my interviewer started aggressively berating the new arrival and ended her verbal barrage by summarily dismissing her. I was terrified. Especially when she turned back to me as if nothing happened. Needless to say, I did not accept the job offer. This happened some time ago.

Barriers to work-life balance

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BE it reporting to the office or working from home, people continue to struggle with juggling their personal lives with their work deliverables. And while we look for the right balance between the two, we need to be mindful of several barriers to achieving the right compromise of work efficiency and personal motivations.

Work like it is your own

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One lesson my mother always taught us was to work on something as if it was our own. Be it doing the dishes or cleaning our room, she would expect us to do it the best way we know how because in the end, it will always be to our benefit. I carried that lesson when I left our province for college and even when I started working. When I became a manager, one of the first lessons my senior manager taught me was to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. When I asked her more about it, I realized it was similar to the lesson my mother taught me.

Delegating effectively

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I USED to work for someone who would give us last-minute tasks which he expected us to finish within the day. This went on for a while until several of my colleagues quit and their main reason was the workload. We found out later that he resigned for the same reason. When management talked to us, we discovered that our manager was hoarding all the work and did not delegate enough tasks for us because he felt he was passing on work that he should be doing. And we also realized that we could have done some parts of the projects if only we had been asked. Our resigned manager did not know how to delegate.

Booting bootlickers

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BEING a people manager entails not just overseeing a group of people but also dealing with different employee personalities and tendencies. One tendency your team members have, whether they are aware of it or not, is to try to impress you with things other than doing their work well, like complimenting your outfit or agreeing with your ideas all the time. This is more frequent for new members of the team who are still trying to understand what kind of leader you are and what will impress you.

Miserable at work

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THERE are days when work needs to be jolted with a cup of coffee or two to get you going. But when your workday is no different from the one yesterday, or even weeks or months before that, you might want to think hard if you really are where you want to be. Some people are fine doing the same thing every day for the rest of their lives. But if you find yourself constantly dissatisfied at the end of your workday, you need to seriously consider what is causing your misery.

Midyear pitstop

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AND just like that, we are already in the middle of the year. I was talking to my manager a few days back and we realized there were so many things that have happened in the past six months, and even the recent election has invariably influenced our activities. But despite the uncertain circumstances, organizations need to find a way to adapt and thrive in the face of these changes.

Boosting your team’s morale

Carlo Atienza-Sui Generis

WITH the continuing threat of the different variants of the Covid-19 virus plus the rising cost of fuel, organizations have adopted either a hybrid or a work-from-home setup. But whether you ask your team to work from home or to report to the office, it has now become increasingly more difficult to boost their morale considering that interactions can more often become more transactional than conversational. And with that, several organizations have reported employees leaving the organization for companies offering flexible and adaptive work setups.

It should have been an e-mail

Carlo Atienza-Sui Generis

WITH the proliferation of apps for team collaboration, it is ironic that we are constantly bogged down with meetings which could have easily been an e-mail. In our desire for connectivity and instant results, we often forget that not all work needs to be discussed by the entire team. Your role as a people manager is to ensure everyone has visibility on what other people on your team are doing; at the same time, it is incumbent on you to check that the right people are given the right tasks. Poor resource management often results in endless meetings, confused members, and inequalities in work distribution.

Managing your anxiety

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NOT everyone copes with bad news the same way. I observed that last week after the election results were known, when colleagues took the day off or left home in the middle of the day to take a breather and find their balance, while others found it best to vent on social media. As for me, my coping mechanism has always been to focus on my work and do it the best way I could. But like what Carl Jung said: “What you resist, persists.” And it did. So when anxious thoughts got the better of me, I knew I had to do something.

Whatever happened to wanting to become a scientist? A doctor? A lawyer?

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WHEN I was young, I was asked repeatedly what I would like to be when I grew up. I almost always told everyone I wanted to be a scientist because some days I also wanted to be a pilot or an astronaut. My sister wanted to be a doctor, but she discovered that the medical field was not for her, so she pursued becoming a lawyer. It was challenging for her to finish law school, but it was all rewarded when she passed the recent bar examinations. And no one could have been prouder than our whole family.

Silencing Marites

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ASIDE from eating, one of the favorite pantry pastimes in the workplace is talking about other people. So much so that gossipmongers today are called Marites, short for “Mare, narinig mo na ba ang latest?” And while there is nothing diabolically wrong with talking about other people, it becomes destructive when taken to the extremes, like making up stories about another person or making assumptions about other people’s work.

Benefits of team building

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ONE of the effective tools that people managers can use to enhance their team’s working relationship is to hold a team building activity. The primary goal of team building is to enhance the current working environment and ensure that there is a smooth working relationship among your team members. It becomes necessary when the team is new, your team is reorganized, or most issues arise because of team members.

Finding opportunities for improvement

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ONE of my pet peeves is hearing the phrase “That is how it has always been done,” especially when there are already better ways of going about it. But even if people have heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder” multiple times, some people have a hard time applying it to their work.

Developing your charisma

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, and the heads of Poland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, plus European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen all visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a show of support to Ukraine after more than a month of brutal Russia’s aggression. While the world looked on, these leaders bravely met Zelenskyy face to face to meet the man the world has come to greatly admire not just for fighting for his country’s freedom, but for his courage and charisma.

Lessons from Volodymyr Zelenskyy

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WHEN the entire world was still trying to shake off the effects of the pandemic, Russia went off and invaded Ukraine with ferocity. While some countries avoided becoming entangled, many others provided support the best way they could, exhausting diplomatic channels to convince the Russian despot, Vladimir Putin, to cease in his aggression. Now, as the world looks on, the more they wish they had the president of Ukraine as their own.

Overcoming the impostor syndrome

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THERE are days when I feel like all of my accomplishments are a result of a series of serendipitous events. When I was promoted to subject coordinator when I was still a teacher, I said to myself that the current one needed to focus on personal issues and I was their second option. When I was a content developer, my manager offered to make me a manager and the first thing I said was, “Why me?”—which she countered with, “Why not?”

Increasing your personal multipliers

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HAVE you ever wondered how some people could do the same amount of work you do but they do it better and faster? Austrian-American management consultant, educator and author Peter Drucker once said that “efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” If you take a closer look at your daily tasks, which ones should you be doing and, among those, are you doing them the best way possible?

A better way of doing things

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ONE of the most overlooked potential in an organization are the lessons learned by their departments in using common tools and processes within the organization. To capitalize on this, most organizations share best practices to improve the performance of one unit of the organization by learning from the processes and experiences of other departments. When organizations document best practices and make them readily available to all, it increases employees’ overall productivity and efficiency.

Stepping up to the task and more

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PEOPLE who are self-driven will always find ways to improve themselves, either in the way they do work, or how they do work with their colleagues. There will be times when you will be called to step up and do more than what is required of your position—either because your manager trusts that you can do the work, or they are testing if you are willing to take up the challenge. But even before it comes to that, if you are passionate about your work, you will find ways to initiate improvements in the same.

Ripe for the picking

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A FORMER colleague used to complain that he was never considered for a promotion even though he worked as hard, if not more, than his peers. During promotion deliberations, he kept getting glossed over or ignored completely. When he asked me why he was not promoted despite his hard work, I realized he was banking on his tenure and doing what was required of his position. I had to explain to him that promotion is not based on tenure but on the skills for the higher position, among other things. So, I asked him the following questions:

Your employees, your brand

THE best people who can promote your business are your employees. Often, organization leaders spend so much on hiring personalities and so-called influencers that they forget the best people to talk about their organization are their employees. If word-of-mouth is the best way of promoting a product or service, some organizations might not be leveraging their most valuable promotional asset—their people.

Dealing with whiners, complainers and blamers

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Don’t you just hate it when you are quietly doing your work and then one of your coworkers comes up to you and tells you everything is not going well. And then they complain they are given more work than they could handle. And then they start questioning new processes and lament why everything has to change. And then they talk about every other little inconvenience they encounter while they do their work.

Give back to your employees

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I used to work in a company where there was no performance bonus, nor an annual salary increase. In one town hall, the CEO said the management was looking at the company’s financial books and studying if there was a possibility of giving out either a performance bonus or a salary increase. He said it all depended on the company’s profits. One of my team members asked me, “So, for all the years I have been here, they have never made a profit?” She resigned after a month.

Helping your team learn

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Part of your work as a people manager is to ensure that tools and processes are updated so your team can do their work, and at the same time adapt to changes so they can succeed. And a big aspect of that is helping them learn as fast as they can. Part of helping them learn is understanding their learning gaps so that your mentoring can be effective. Knowing what is stopping them from using new tools or implementing new processes can greatly help in bridging the gap between a hesitant employee and an engaged team player.

Retaining talent: What drives your team members? Part 1

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With the changing work environment due to the pandemic, and the availability of technological resources to allow remote work setup, people managers do all they can to retain their talent lest they be taken by a competitor who can provide better working conditions—in this case, working remotely. International organizations have taken advantage of this by hiring local talent while paying them in dollars. Other organizations have adapted by providing flexible working conditions that provide employees complete autonomy over their time and where to work. With all these new conveniences pulling your team members away, how do you retain them?

Celebrating the small wins

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Whatever your goals were the past year, you would have come up with new ones by now. I am also sure that some items from the previous year have been carried over to your new list. But before you castigate yourself for not achieving those goals, why not celebrate the progress that you have accomplished now? Some people are so obsessed with accomplishments that everything is either a win or a failure, when in fact life is a journey and not a destination.

Lessons of 2021

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WHILE the pandemic continues to disrupt how we work and relate with others, the year has been replete with realizations and lessons that can help us live our lives better in the coming year. As the year comes to a close, these are the lessons I have learned while navigating my way around the pandemic.

Rebuilding workplace culture

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Whether all your employees work from home, report to the office daily, or a combination of both, your organizational culture will determine whether your employees will be productive and efficient, or find ways to avoid doing work altogether. What has been effective pre-pandemic might not be as useful now that your employees have experienced how it is to work from home. Given these changes in the workplace, how do you rebuild the culture you envision for your organization?

Hit the ground running

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Whether you are promoted, given a new role to lead a team, or new to managing people entirely, there are several things you can do to ease into the work without losing your rhythm. There will be many changes in the way you work but these should not stop you from doing your work well.

Changing career lanes

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DURING the pandemic, many people were laid off and had to take odd jobs here and there just to make ends meet. Others put their focus and energies on their hobbies, consequently making a decent, if not better, source of income for themselves. And with the possibility of a fully remote work force, some have started to consider looking for better work opportunities outside the familiarity of their industries.

Leaving a legacy

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THEY say first impressions last. But when it comes to work, what you leave behind matters more because the quality of your work and how you relate with others will say more about who you really are. And when you leave the company, your legacy will be what people talk about you long after you have gone. Your legacy is your impact, not only to your team but to your entire industry. 

People, process and tools

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WHEN I became a manager, one of the important things that my director taught me was that whenever I was reviewing existing workflows or thinking of future products or services, I always needed to look at three areas—people, process and tools. Focusing my attention on these three areas has always helped me in improving my team’s performance, and in ensuring they have everything they need to fulfill their commitments. It also serves as a quick guide to help me troubleshoot areas where they need help, and identify the main issues when their performance is subpar.

Reducing OTTY (Overtime Thank You)

THE last time I worked overtime was when I had to complete a presentation for the executive board last July. It was warranted because as a team, we had to put our best foot forward and that was one of the things I could do to make sure our team’s work and recommendations were well-received. But on any other given workday, we would end promptly when the clock hits 5 pm.

How powerful are you?

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EVER notice that there is always this one person in your barkada who is not necessarily the leader, but who everybody follows? In the workplace, it is the same. There are people who are not in executive roles but when people want an opinion, they would go to this person. You see, not everyone in position is the most influential leader in an organization. It takes more than position to influence others. Why is this so?

What is SOP?

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WHEN I talk to friends about how they are doing in their work, there would always be a story or two about how one of their coworkers did not follow a certain process, and how they lost time and resources because of it. Too often, there are standard operating procedures (SOP), or protocols, in departments or groups within their organization that are not documented. It is up to the new employee to learn them on their own, especially in a big organization where SOPs are established between departments over time among different people.

Competitive advantage: a good manager

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ONE of the things I am grateful for in my entire working life is that I have always had good managers. Do not get me wrong because they are far from perfect, but somehow their idiosyncrasies helped me ground my expectations and forced me to take the best of their people management skills. And I realized when I began handling my own team that I was using the lessons I learned from them in managing my own.

Handling pandemic burnout

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TALK to any recruiter and they would tell you that more and more applicants are asking if their organization has work-from-home arrangements. This pandemic has shown that organizations can really adopt alternative working arrangements, especially for parts of the business which do not necessitate being in the office. But working from home also comes with its own disadvantages, one of which is burnout.

The dangers of collaboration

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WHEN two or more people work together on a project for the benefit of the organization, collaboration can become the catalyst for driving it forward. Collaborative efforts help in giving employees an overview of the entire organization, create a better appreciation for their role in the group, and encourage others to contribute their expertise for the success of the team.

Should I pursue a graduate degree?

GETTING that graduate degree or any other distinctions at the end of your name can truly be rewarding. But do these distinctions carry the same importance and value as they used to? There are more and more organizations that have started to look beyond what is listed as an individual’s educational attainment, especially if a person has a proven track record of accomplishments and handling people.

Artificial intelligence?

IN an age where everything is digital, is it possible that everything we learn online is just artificial? With the lack of hands-on training and organizations moving toward digitalization, are we adequately training our future work force with the necessary skills and behavior to perform efficiently and productively? The increase in online courses proves that there is an urgent need to train employees. But how about new graduates who may be partially or wholly trained online?

Head in the clouds—pitfalls of eLearning

WITH the extension of alternative work arrangements and the majority of employees working from home, most organizations have invested, or are planning to invest, in a learning management system (LMS) to meet the training needs of its work force. These classrooms in the cloud provide efficient on-demand content which organizations are hoping will alleviate the dearth in training and development. While it is a good idea, not everything can be converted into online content.

Handling exit interviews

I HAVE always been puzzled by exit interviews. I was of the opinion that a resignation letter should be enough to indicate the reasons an employee leaves an organization. It was only when the global head of human resources (HR) from a former organization met with my team that I understood its significance. She was proposing that instead of an exit interview to understand why people leave, why not ask the same in the initial interview so that the organization can have a list of reasons why people leave and do something about it before employees leave. That helped me realize that exit interviews are the organization’s way of not only improving their ways of working, but also getting a sense of how well they are taking care of their employees.

Confronting your manager

I HAVE always skirted around confrontations with my manager. My thinking is that since they are in position, I need to follow whatever they ask me to do because at the end of the day, they will be the one evaluating me. Of course, there will be instances when they already trust you to tell them honestly what they need to hear. But until that time comes, you need to be very careful in dealing with your manager.

Increase your social intelligence

I WAS painfully shy as a kid. I would always go to my room whenever we had visitors, or decline invitations for going out with classmates. I can even remember a time when an entire group went to our house to fetch me to go out, but I told my mom I did not want to go, so she lied for me and said I was not in the house. It was only when I went to college, away from my family, that I started to come out of my shell and tried to be more friendly. It was both awkward and liberating.

Leading technical teams

AS you move up in managing people, you will notice that your people skills increase while your technical know-how declines. This is natural since your focus is more on managing people and their development than on the technical requirements. This is because as you grow your leadership skills and influence, you will have more people doing things for you and your job is to get things done through people.

Warning: bad manager

WHILE waiting for the elevator recently, I heard a woman shouting at the head of security because, apparently, he did not recognize her. It turns out she was an executive and she was already late for a meeting, and she created a scene in the reception area where there were applicants and clients. Later that day, I saw her laughing and joking with the rest of the management team. She really had a reputation for throwing her weight around, especially those below her. Needless to say, I have discovered, people do not stay with her for more than a year—they either transfer or resign.

Improving your learning curve

WHEN I was still a teacher, and even up to now, I always believed there is no such thing as a stupid student. Only lazy ones. Students have different intelligence ratios and have different learning opportunities. Some have steeper learning curves and thus exert more effort in learning new things. Others have an accelerated learning curve where they listen to something for the first time and they understand it right away. Same with some adults—some quickly learn new skills while others quickly forget even something they had just been told.

Motivating tenured employees

WHEN the majority of tenured employees leave an organization, it indicates changes in the management’s direction. It is possible that management deems some positions redundant, there are necessary changes in organizational culture, or the organization is cost-cutting because tenured employees are more expensive to keep. But when employees who have been with the organization for more than 10 years leave the company, they bring with them the wealth of knowledge from working with different units in the company.

Back to the province

MY mom would tell me stories of life when we were still living in Manila, but I could not recall any of them. I have always thought I grew up in La Union. What was memorable was the time I had to travel to Manila by myself for university. I remember acting brave even after the bus rolled out onto the highway, but I could not help crying after seeing my mom shrink off into the horizon. Since then, I have spent most of my adult life in Manila.

Keep it professional

I WAS handling a program for new managers recently and part of their training was submitting their proposals for their process improvement projects. One trainee was too busy to get his reviewed proposal, so I took it upon myself to go to his unit to give it to him and also as a way for me to take a break. I saw him from a window outside his unit, waved at him, and proceeded inside to give his document.

Return-to-work considerations

ONE of the effects of the pandemic is the accelerated developments in remote working tools and applications, resulting in the fast-tracked digitalization of the work force. Some organizations who were hesitant to allow remote working consider it now a necessity to maintain their operations. And while technology now offers multiple possibilities for the work force, post-pandemic realities have presented several challenges for the work force.

Managing mass resignations

There are resignations that are expected, and even organized by management especially when the organization undergoes unexpected or necessary changes. But when several team members leave the organization one after the other, it can become more than disruptive. Organizations who ignore these mass resignations set themselves up for brain drain, or, worse, provide valuable talent to their competitors.

Stop overthinking

Have you ever accidentally unmuted yourself during a meeting and said something so embarrassing that you just wanted to disappear? Or, do you remember something you did years before and said to yourself that you could have done better, and now you find yourself thinking you will not succeed in anything at all? There are days when reflecting and thinking of the past can help you with the needed motivation to push forward. But what do you do when you get stuck with destructive thoughts and confusing emotions?

Thriving, not languishing

MORE than a year of disrupted work and limited social interactions will take a toll on our mental health. While a privileged few have the capacity and means to amuse themselves while in quarantine, a great majority are stuck in their homes or forced to go out to work, fully aware of the risks to their health. These conditions will eventually wear us out and make us feel like we are just going with what is happening, seemingly unable to find the motivation to get up and work. That feeling is called languishing.

Evaluating counteroffers

I resigned after three years in a previous organization. I felt my professional career was not going anywhere and I wanted to do more than what was assigned to me. When I talked to my manager, she said they had started making plans of making me a supervisor, and that I would oversee my colleagues in the different branches. She asked me to think about it and I ended up staying another four years. While my experience taught me that counteroffers can be good for my professional career, these can also be disastrous for others.

When you have a bulldozer boss

Being in the academy and in the learning and development team for most of my professional life, almost all of my managers had a growth mindset and instilled in me the value of always continuing to learn—because the more I learn, the more I realize I do not know everything.

Giving feedback to your manager

“What do you think?” my manager asks me after we have finished the presentation. On the one hand, I was honored that she asked me what I thought of our presentation. At the same time, I also felt out of place because I am not used to having my manager ask me for feedback. But then I realized, she was asking because she really wanted to improve herself and because whatever she did reflected on the whole team. She understood that if she really wanted to represent the entire team, she needed to make sure she was at the top of her game.

What do you go for—position or salary?

I recently came across a social media discussion on starting salaries. A certain applicant who happens to be a fresh graduate rejected a sizable starting package and demanded for an amount that was almost double. While knowing what we want and deserve may be good, when does one know if what they are asking equates reasonably to the credentials they carry?

Giving back to the community

THE last time I joined an outreach program was when I participated in a clean-up drive to clean a portion of the Pasig river, and making mud balls which we threw later in the river that supposedly would help improve the water quality. We never went back to the community again, leaving me to wonder whether our actions had any impact at all.

The dotted line

THE first time I saw a dotted line in an organizational chart a few years back, my manager explained that aside from their direct supervisor, the person also reports to someone else in the organization for a specific deliverable which affects a business need. I asked my manager: Isn’t that confusing? She said that there is a possibility for it to be confusing, especially if the managers they report to do not agree with each other.

Meet, call, e-mail, or instant message?

EVEN when people were still working in traditional offices, there have been countless times when an e-mail could have been answered expediently with a phone call, or times when people endured a meeting which could have just been an e-mail. But in a work-from-home setup, this problem is exacerbated by new communication technologies which allow people to shoot an instant message rather than call or e-mail or meet when it could have been settled by an instant message.

The power of powerful stories

I SPOKE one time at a church, and I talked about a man who carried water from a well to their house in broken pots, and how the side of the road where the water had dripped produced a row of flowers after some time. I explained how even in our brokenness, we can do good work, and hopefully that work could help others find inspiration. A few months later, a nine-year-old girl came up to me and told me she still remembered that story. It was a minor point in my talk, but I was surprised she remembered.

Meet, call, e-mail, or instant message?

EVEN when people were still working in traditional offices, there have been countless times when an e-mail could have been answered expediently with a phone call, or times when people endured a meeting which could have just been an e-mail. But in a work-from-home setup, this problem is exacerbated by new communication technologies which allow people to shoot an instant message rather than call or e-mail or meet when it could have been settled by an instant message.

The power of powerful stories

I SPOKE one time at a church, and I talked about a man who carried water from a well to their house in broken pots, and how the side of the road where the water had dripped produced a row of flowers after some time. I explained how even in our brokenness, we can do good work, and hopefully that work could help others find inspiration. A few months later, a nine-year-old girl came up to me and told me she still remembered that story. It was a minor point in my talk, but I was surprised she remembered.

Coping with disappointment

I FOUND myself extremely disappointed when it was declared that we will be under ECQ again. There are so many people to blame and several who should be held accountable for mishandling the Covid-19 pandemic. But I am left to look at the fractured image of responsible and dependable leaders against the stark reality of the ineptitude of people who could have done something more but chose to put themselves first before others. I have been disappointed many times before but this one takes the cake.

Managing a toxic boss

HE leaves the meeting even before it finishes. But when he does stay, he finds reasons to dismiss your ideas and insists on his own. In meetings with your group head, he shoots down your ideas even if he has already approved these beforehand. He thinks he can do your work even if it took you years to develop the skill level you have right now, and insists on decisions which go against everything you believe in. He assigns you to projects you have no background in, and it seems he is always setting you up to fail. That is not bad luck. You have a toxic boss.

Reverse mentoring

IT was my son’s play time when I saw him dabbling with programming codes. I got curious and stood beside him, asking what he was doing. He said he was making a blaster of some sort commissioned by a playmate and when he had finished and delivered the blaster, he would get paid in the currency used in the game. I could not do that. I asked him to teach me and he said with a laugh, “Sure.” Now imagine an executive member of your leadership team coming up to a junior employee with the same predicament, only this time it is about a new software program. This is what is called reverse mentoring.

The perks of overcoming being a wallflower

I WAS painfully shy in my early teens. Even during family gatherings, I would be in some corner, twisting the ends of my shirt while nervously darting short glances at everyone. They told me it was normal, and I guess it was. But the issue persisted well into my high school days.

Working out at home

I HAVE not been to the gym for a year already. And it shows. This morning, I had a hard time putting on my socks and my usual walk from the parking to the office has left me panting (a bit) and a bit lightheaded (or maybe it was the mask and shield). At any rate, as much as I would like to go to the gym, I am still anxious about the pandemic.