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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Recommendations for Building a Strong Filipino Team

Aside from the fact that I am a Filipino working in a Filipino setting, I observed that Filipinos are different in many ways from people in the west and even from neighboring countries. This is of course not to say that we are totally different. It is the concoction of similarities and differences that we need to take good look at and build on as we establish a completely engaged team. Here are my recommendations:

Equip Managers to Lead Teams
Many Filipino Managers are young, lacking in proper leadership training and inexperienced in leadership. Many of the new managers I've encountered are mostly task managers concerned mostly with getting things done. They have a very vague concept of teamwork, much less the dynamics that go with it. Many companies go to team building workshops without addressing a key ingredient to making teams work-- Leadership.

A Team Leadership workshop should address important team leadership issues as understanding the difference between management and leadership, the role they play in team development, what can get in the way of teamwork and what they can do about it. It should also offer coaching tools in large servings.

Train Your Employees To be Assertive

Filipinos are some of the least assertive people in the world. A research made on Power Distance Index
place us one of the countries with the highest tendency to defer to authority. What does this mean? It means that most Filipinos are unlikely to challenge a wrong decision coming from a boss. Let me go further by saying that we are mostly non confrontational. We will hesitate to call the attention of a fellow worker whose doing a poor job for fear of ruining the personal relationship. we can do this to the point of damaging the performance of the whole operation. When this happen, we tend to be less engaged because we don't like the fact that the boss is not seeing or not addressing the performance issues.

An assertiveness training will help team members assert themselves when they need to speak up to the boss or to their team mates. This will allow the team to have more available information, quality decision making, and more engaged team members. Training them however is one thing, encouraging them is another. I have always find it a challenge to get team members to speak up to me about issues and I'm trying. What more those who discourage it?

Build Norms around trust, communication, goals, behaviors and results.

This one is universal.I think all teams in all over the world need this. I'm coming from a book written by Patrick Lencioni on the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. If you've been reading me from sometime, you'd know how I feel about this thing. My teambuilding workshops uses a lot of Patrick Lencioni's proposal on how to build cohesive teams. Let me know if you want to hear more from me about this.

Establish Opportunities for Teamwork

Give your employees a venue to practice teamwork. Equip them with tools. Things that come to mind are quality circles, six sigma teams, business process improvement exercises, etc. You can give them training on problem solving and decision making and other process improvement based tools that go with the programs I mentioned. Institutionalize process improvement. I've seen a lot of process improvement training that went for naught because of lack of a program to sustain it.

You probably know that I am very passionate about this I have created a complete team culture building solution that focuses on the things I've mentioned here. If you are serious with building a team culture for your company and I do think you should, please call me at (639)18-939-9294 or email me at

Addendum I recently put together a new holistic team building program inspired by the proposal I wrote here. If you want to see it, just click this link:


  1. I had worked more for younger bosses who still have to earn years of experience managing teams - locally. That's really a big difference to those older bosses who seemed relaxed and cool in managing their own departments.

    I think the present generation of 20ish workers are more assertive to their bosses than the older workers.

    By the way, I just shared this over several different social networks. Interesting note!

  2. Thank you for sharing this post with others Gem, I appreciate it very much. I must agree with you that the younger batch of professionals specially the knowledge workers are getting more assertive. I've met a lot of independent and outspoken young professionals in the IT industry. However, outside IT and some BPO companies where open communication is encouraged, passiveness is more the norm. I believe this needs to change in order to harness the talent and knowledge of the new Filipino workers who are more informed due to their ability to access information in various ways.


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