BUSINESS CUSTOMS, ETIQUETTE AND RELATIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES

BUSINESS CUSTOMS IN THE PHILIPPINES

English is the generally the language of commerce in the Philippines. According to laonlaan.blogspot: “The Filipino values of “hiya” and “amor propio” are often the cause of much misunderstanding. Filipinos have a high sense of personal dignity. To a Filipino, dignity and honor is everything, so that the wounding of them, whether real or imaginary, is considered a challenge to his manhood. He respects other people and he expects other people to respect him as well. Often conflicts between a foreign superior and a Filipino subordinate is founded on a disregard on the one hand, and a sacred regard on the other of individual dignity. [Source: laonlaan.blogspot.jp, July 12, 2010 */*]

Go-betweens are also used in business affairs, government transactions and dealing with officialdom. A good though perverse example would be the “fixers” that hangs around in public offices offering assistance for a fee. The Philippine society need for better Smooth Interpersonal Relationship (SlR). The “go-between practice” revolves around “hiya” and “amor-propio”, a matter of the highly sensitive self-esteem. */*

Filipinos are often late for meetings with friends but are usually prompt for business appointments. When conducting business in the Philippines address people by their title, engage in some small talk to get acquainted before getting down to serious matters and direct questions and comments toward senior members. Many businessmen are Chinese and observe Chinese business customs. Business cards are usually exchanged at a first meeting. Gifts such as Scotch are often offered at a first meeting and opened at to celebrate a deal. Women are sometimes not treated with as much respect as men.

Filipinos have reputation of being more easy going than other Asians but at the same time the Philippines has been criticized for "excessive secrecy provisions." If you do business in the Philippines make sure you know the people you are dealing and everything checks out. There are lots of dodgy characters running around especially in the import-export business. It is good to have contacts. Contact the American Chamber of Commerce in Manila or the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce in New York.

Business Relations in the Philippines

In the commercial context, suki relationships (market- exchange partnerships) may develop between two people who agree to become regular customer and supplier. In the marketplace, Filipinos will regularly buy from certain specific suppliers who will give them, in return, reduced prices, good quality, and, often, credit. Suki relationships often apply in other contexts as well. For example, regular patrons of restaurants and small neighborhood retail shops and tailoring shops often receive special treatment in return for their patronage. Suki does more than help develop economic exchange relationships. Because trust is such a vital aspect, it creates a platform for personal relationships that can blossom into genuine friendship between individuals. [Source: Library of Congress *]

Patron-client bonds also are very much a part of prescribed patterns of appropriate behavior. These may be formed between tenant farmers and their landlords or between any patron who provides resources and influence in return for the client's personal services and general support. The reciprocal arrangement typically involves the patron giving a means of earning a living or of help, protection, and influence and the client giving labor and personal favors, ranging from household tasks to political support. These relationships often evolve into ritual kinship ties, as the tenant or worker may ask the landlord to be a child's godparent. Similarly, when favors are extended, they tend to bind patron and client together in a network of mutual obligation or a long-term interdependency. *

These categories--real kinship, ritual kinship, utang na loob relationships, suki relationships, patron-client bonds, and friendship--are not exclusive. They are interrelated components of the Filipino's personal alliance system. Thus two individuals may be cousins, become friends, and then cement their friendship through godparenthood. Each of their social networks will typically include kin (near and far, affinal and consanguineal), ritual kin, one or two patron-client relationships, one or more other close friends (and a larger number of social friends), and a dozen or more market-exchange partners. Utang na loob may infuse any or all of these relationships. One's network of social allies may include some eighty or more people, integrated and interwoven into a personal alliance system. *

Building Business Relationships in the Philippines

In the Philippines it is important to establish a personal relationship with a colleague or a client before getting to business just to break the ice but it is not a "must". What is important is finding appropriate ways to communicate with people at all levels so that aims are explicitly and clearly articulated. However, a good way of establishing a personal relationship is spending time with colleagues or clients during break-time and meal-time. They are "less formal" and more at ease during these occasions. But minimize, if not remove "nightlife" activities during deployment. Foreigners spending their money in nightclubs is often associated with supporting the sex trade. [Source: Canadian Center for Intercultural Learning +++]

Traditional business relationships in the Philippines are heavily dependent on the personal relationships between those engaged in business transactions. The personal ties and relationships are often based on a mix of shared, family, social, class, shared religious communities and beliefs, even ethnic group/language of the places they grow-up in. Such points of correspondence may not be as easy for expatriates newly entering into business or work place transactions to discern.

The most important element of establishing a relationship is the willingness to spend time on developing them. Social occasions, both formal and informal, within or outside the place of business over food or (usually soft) drinks, even the "meriendas" (snacks) that punctuate the work day are all excellent occasions to initiate personal relationships. In the evenings male colleagues (single or married) may well go out for beers (or hard drinks) and "pulutan" (bar snacks) and, sometimes, to other entertainment venues. These occasions also represent opportunities for developing personal relationships, but some care is needed in only taking those up with colleagues or business ties you are sure will not over-step your personal beliefs, values and social comfort zone. If the discussions are leading into more sensitive areas, it is acceptable to excuse yourself and/or leave before others in the party do so, especially if you have family to go home to. An advantage for most expatriates, especially neophytes in the Philippine work or business place, is that they may be more easily forgiven social business gaffes than their Filipino colleagues who should know better.

Corporate Culture in the Philippines

According to ediplomat.com: A personal introduction by a mutual friend or business associate makes business arrangements much smoother. Establishing a personal relationship is important to the success of a business relationship. Trust and loyalty are central to developing relationships. Insincerity is easily detected and can ruin the relationship. Negotiations and business deals move slowly. A third-party go-between may be a good idea to relieve tension or give criticism. Do not allow meetings to go too long. Filipinos love to eat and their enthusiasm wanes when they are hungry.[Source: ediplomat.com, Window on the World, a cross-cultural training and consulting firm. Originally based on material contained in the "Put Your Best Foot Forward" series of books by Mary Murray Bosrock ^*^]

“Filipinos often have a "take it or leave it" attitude when it comes to selling prices. They may also may place less stress on the absolute selling price and place more emphasis on percentages, unit cost or rounded figures. Communication is indirect, truth is diplomatically presented, manner is gentle, and the perception of the recipient is considered in all communications. All communication should be courteous, regardless of its content. The Filipino attempt to please may result in many unfinished projects. ^*^

“Filipinos find it difficult to say "no," disagree, reject or be confrontational, especially when a superior is involved. Expect an ambiguous or indirect answer -- not to deceive, but rather to please and avoid confrontation Face-to-face meetings are preferred. Written communications might not be answered. Communication by mail or telephone is unreliable at best. Small bribes are occasionally used to cut through bureaucracies. This is illegal, but done quietly and often. Participate with caution. ^*^

“Helpful Hints: 1) Speak softly and control your emotions in public. Make requests, not demands. 2) Don't be offended by personal questions. These are asked to show interest. Feel free to ask the same questions in return, especially about family. 3) Verbal assault is a crime for which you can be charged. 4) Never bring shame to a person. This reflects on his family. Personal goals are sacrificed for the good of the family. 5) Never directly criticize anyone, especially in public. Never offer insincere comments or compliments. ^*^

“Especially for Women: 1) Foreign women will have little problem doing business in the Philippines. 2) Men may make comments about women walking on the street. These should be ignored. 3) A foreign woman should not pay a bill for a Filipino businessman. It would embarrass him and might harm the business relationship. ^*^

Business Etiquette in the Philippines

Christina Hamlett wrote in Demand Media, USA Today: “If you come from a culture where you're accustomed to conducting most of your important business by phone or email and making decisions on the spot, you'll need to apply the brakes if negotiations take you to the Philippines. Experts in Filipino culture such as Maida Pineda and Paul Rodell advise that business transactions -- as well as interpersonal relationships -- move at a pace that is both formal and leisurely. Filipinos place a high value on trust and ascribe to the belief that good things come to those who practice patience.[Source: Christina Hamlett, Demand Media, USA Today]

Most Filipinos speak, read and write some English. However, English is often spoken with an accent influenced by the Malay base language of most mainstream Filipino languages. Much of the spoken and written "English" found widely in public broadcast media and newspapers is actually "Taglish"—a mixture of Tagalog and English. The tendency to drift between one language and the other, even in the middle of a sentence can be very confusing. Use of Spanish words in every day speech and writing is also common and even normal practice for such things as references to time and date. However, it is not wise to use Spanish as a language, even if you are fluent and learnt it elsewhere. While Spanish may be welcomed by the elite and older scholars and well-educated people, it is regarded as a language of oppression and domination. [Source: Canadian Center for Intercultural Learning+++]

Filipinos are relaxed about time. Meetings and appointments often begin late. Foreigners are supposed to be on time however. There is a much more casual approach to times than in the West and even when meetings start on time, social exchanges, snacks and meriendas etc may delay the start of formal business. Particularly in Metro Manila, Filipinos in senior manager positions typically work long hours and often face long commutes to and from home. The difficulties of public transportation, time consuming home obligations e.g. getting children to or from school, require that arrival and departure hours be somewhat variable and that short absences from the office during regular hours also be tolerated. There are major, quite lengthy holiday periods in the Philippines during which it is difficult to get staff at any level to commit themselves fully to office work, if in the office at all. +++

Business Cards, Introductions, Titles and Conversation in the Philippines

Christina Hamlett wrote in Demand Media, USA Today: “If you come from a culture where you're accustomed to conducting most of your important business by phone or email and making decisions on the spot, you'll need to apply the brakes if negotiations take you to the Philippines. Experts in Filipino culture such as Maida Pineda and Paul Rodell advise that business transactions -- as well as interpersonal relationships -- move at a pace that is both formal and leisurely. Filipinos place a high value on trust and ascribe to the belief that good things come to those who practice patience.[Source: Christina Hamlett, Demand Media, USA Today ***]

“If you're the visitor, it's customary to offer your business card first. Be aware, however, that you may not get one in return if your rank isn't comparable to or higher than your Filipino recipient. As with other Asian cultures, business cards are presented face up with both hands. When you receive a card, take a thoughtful moment to study it before pocketing it. Always greet the oldest or highest-ranking person at the meeting first. Firm handshakes are standard protocol in the Filipino community and individuals are addressed by their titles and surnames until such time as familiarity has been established. ***

“The strong emphasis in the Filipino culture on fostering warm relationships with others often leads them to be overly inquisitive when it comes to conversations with strangers. As travel experts Alfredo and Grace Roces point out in their book, "Culture Shock! Philippines: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette," your Filipino colleagues and new acquaintances aren't being aggressively nosy when they ask you about your family history, your marital status, or the names of your children and how they're doing in school. They're simply inquiring about the same things that occupy the center of their own universe. As Paul Rodell discusses in his book, "Culture and Customs of the Philippines," Filipinos are quite well versed on American pop culture and it's not unusual for business meetings to end with 15 to 20 minutes of social chatter about what's new. "Losing face" is shameful in Filipino society; accordingly, they don't like to show anger, raise their voices, engage in debates or get pushed to make hasty decisions. “ ***

There is a formal form of address in Filipino when addressing superiors in the office:— "po" equivalent to "sir" is included in the address (even when the Filipino) is speaking in English "O po"—literally yes sir—will be said in acknowledgment or response when spoken to by a superior. While these linguistic conventions are certainly not required of expatriates, they are usually appreciated. When speaking in Filipino, respect in shown to colleagues of equal rank or superior rank by use of the passive voice. The active voice is only used by superiors talking to staff of lower rank. Expatriates should be careful addressing colleagues and supervisors as English is typically spoken in the active voice. [Source: Canadian Center for Intercultural Learning+++]

Initially, formal titles may be given when addressing colleagues in the office. The Filipinos are particular sensitive about acknowledging academic rank. However, once colleagues get to know you, Filipinos quickly revert to first names and nicknames. There is such wide spread use of nicknames that there may be a collective search for a nickname, often only indirectly related to your own name or some characteristic. +++

Clothing and Punctuality in Philippine Business

Work styles differ between workplaces. Many workplaces allow "flexi-time" (work earlier or later and leave earlier or later) as long as the job is done. Reliability is highly-valued. It is common to work overtime to meet a deadline. The workdays are from Monday to Friday, although employees and workers in manufacturing companies go to work on Saturdays, normally in the morning until noon. Office hours are 8-5 or 9-6 with one hour lunch break from 12 noon to 1 pm. Workers in Manufacturing companies (which operate 24 hours a day) work in shifts (morning, afternoon and evening). [Source: Canadian Center for Intercultural Learning+++]

Even if it is quite common for Filipino activities (parties, etc.) to rarely start on time, it is different in corporate life. Timeliness is emphasized to avoid creating a bad impression on clients. To be on the safe side though, if you plan to start a meeting at 10 am, announce it as starting at 9:30 am.

Filipinos are regarded as among the smartest dressers in Asia. Dress well for most occasions. Men should wear a jacket and tie for initial meetings. Women should wear western dresses, skirts and blouses. It is important for Filipinos to be clean and neat in appearance. Even if the weather is hot, dress conservatively (no mini skirts or plunging necklines for women). Dress in the business work place is relatively informal, especially for men. In many work places quite senior officials will be in polo T-shirt and casual slacks. A business suit and tie is very uncomfortable for much of the year because of the high temperature and humidity. Most offices take the lead from their senior executive/ officer in charge or office supervisor. Ladies tend to be well dressed but again formal business suits are not usually required. In some offices the female staff may agree to wear the same "uniform" dress or other attire. There may well be different "uniform" attire for different days of the week. Although dress is relatively casual, most Filipinos dress well: they spend higher proportions of their disposable income on clothing than in Canada. +++

In meetings, slightly more formal attire is appropriate. However, only in air conditioned offices will a full business suit be required. Many quite formal meetings will be held with the participants in either shirt and tie or a simple (non-embroidered form of barong Tagalog, national dress for men worn over black pants and shoes). At very formal occasions such as cultural events, banquets and other formal public and business gatherings, barong Tagalog or formal suit may be required. Women may be in traditional "Maria Clara’s"—hand- embroidered dresses of fine materials, with high butterfly wing shoulders. However there will usually more women in formal western style "evening dress". At family social occasions, even those with large numbers of invited guests, the dress is likely to be very casual.

Business Meetings in the Philippines

Christina Hamlett wrote in Demand Media, USA Today: “ If you're scheduling a meeting with associates in the Philippines, it's not uncommon to make arrangements as far as a month ahead of time. As a professional courtesy, always confirm the date by phone a few days prior and provide advance copies of whatever materials are necessary to clarify and enhance the objectives of the meeting. According to Asiatype, Inc.'s "Doing Business in the Philippines 2008," even if your company has had a longstanding relationship with a Filipino business, you'll be treated like a newcomer if it's the first time they've met you in person. This occurs, for instance, if you're replacing someone or have just been hired. Punctuality is paramount in getting meetings underway even though actual negotiations may move at a snail's pace. [Source: Christina Hamlett, Demand Media, USA Today]

At business meetings, the key people sit in the middle, flanked on either side in descending order by their aides, with the least important people sitting at the ends of the table farthest from the middle, and closest to the door; the arrangement is mirrored on the other side, because the rules of hierarchy demand that everyone must be able to speak with their opposite peers and those who rank below, but those below cannot speak with those above.) Because many tables are round, a curious situation often develops: the least important person from one side ends up sitting next to the host or most important person on the other side. (This is usually not an issue at business meetings, where tables are more often rectangular.) If women are present, they will probably be given the honored positions first, although practically speaking there will be far fewer women. [Source: etiquettescholar.com <*>]

Business Entertaining and Gifts in the Philippines

Christina Hamlett wrote in Demand Media, USA Today: Social occasions and events are often set with long time frames, with many arriving very late. If food is served at such gatherings (as is usually the case), then the host/hostess will expect to serve food right up to the end of the event or party. Light refreshments are often served at business meetings; never offend your host by declining, even if you've just had a big breakfast or lunch before you arrived. In restaurants as well as private homes, always follow the lead of your host and wait to be instructed where to sit and -- if it's a buffet -- when to start helping yourself to the food. While many Asian cultures believe that leaving a small portion of food on your plate at the end of the meal is a show of respect, Filipinos really don't mind if you show your appreciation by finishing every last bite. Always follow up with a written thank-you for being invited. [Source: Christina Hamlett, Demand Media, USA Today]

According to ediplomat.com: “1) Most business entertaining is done in restaurants or clubs, preferably a good restaurant in an international hotel. During business entertaining, you may be asked to sing. Try to join in. 2) A dinner invitation to counterparts and their spouses is appreciated before you leave the country. Don't bring your spouse to a business lunch. Lunches are generally for business discussions. 4) Filipinos may view a dinner/party invitation as just a passing thought. They may answer "yes," but not take an invitation seriously. Phone to re-invite and remind. An R.S.V.P. may not be answered. It must be reiterated to be taken seriously. Don't accept an invitation unless repeated at least three times. [Source: ediplomat.com, Window on the World, a cross-cultural training and consulting firm. Originally based on material contained in the "Put Your Best Foot Forward" series of books by Mary Murray Bosrock ^*^]

4) People who have not been invited may turn up at dinner. They should be included graciously. 5) Punctuality is appreciated but not demanded when attending social affairs. 6) Getting drunk is considered greedy and rude. 7) Toasts are common in the Philippines, especially at business meetings. Usually the host or lead of the visiting party initiates a toast. 8) It is polite to decline the first offer of seating, food, drink, etc. Accept the second offer. 9) Keep your hands above the table during dinner. 10) Leave a small amount of food on your plate when you are finished eating. When finished eating, place your fork and spoon on your plate. 11) The person who invites pays the bill.” ^*^

Gifts are not expected, but are appreciated. You may want to bring a small gift to your first meeting. Gifts are not opened in the giver's presence. Thank the giver and set it aside. Christina Hamlett wrote in Demand Media, USA Today: “If you're going to give a gift to a Filipino colleague, keep in mind that a lot of weight is given to how beautifully it is packaged. This is a direct reflection of the amount of thought and time you have put into the gesture. In other words, don't just stick your present in a paper bag and say, "Here." Because there are no color prohibitions in terms of wrapping papers and ribbons, the more festive the better. Just don't be disappointed when your gift isn't unwrapped until after you've left. Outside the family circle, Filipinos consider gift-giving a private affair and don't want to hurt the feelings of those present who aren't getting anything. Gifts such as books, small electronics and items unique to your own country are appropriate business gifts. If you're invited to a colleague's home, flowers (with the exception of lilies and chrysanthemums) are always appreciated. As far as edible gifts, stick to candy. To bring anything other than that will be construed as an insult that you think the household is poor. [Source: Christina Hamlett, Demand Media, USA Today]

Filipino Work Culture

In a group-oriented society, such as the Philippines, group work results in greater work-satisfaction and efficiency; workers encourage each other to perform well to protect the group’s interest, and a worker feels embarrassed or hiya (shamed), if he lets his group down. Likewise, in the Philippines, choosing not to go along with the group, or dissenting may be tolerated in discussing technical matters, but not in matters affecting interpersonal relationships. [Source: Philippines Australia Business Council]

Foreign managers must be familiar with utang na loob (debt of gratitude) for it is a binding force in Filipino groups. A manager may want to fire an employee who is less skilled at his work and does not appear to be conscientious. However, this person may have built up a bank of utang na loob among his many friends and relatives in government positions and among business clients. In fact, he may be very effective and to fire the fellow may be serious error. Related to this is the person who is malakas (strong), who has influence with the powers that be. SIR (smoother interpersonal relations) must be used when interacting with someone who is malakas. This indicates respect and preserves his galang (dignity).

Belonging to a group and not standing out from the crowd is very important to Filipinos. A foreign manager who rewards creativity and efficiency by promotion, may only find that the person is rejected by his co-workers. Creativity and efficiency is considered a threat to the image of other group members in promoted before those with longer service, or who feel more entitled to promotion because of age. In the Philippines, a good manager has pakikisama, overlooks minor faults in subordinates, is accommodating and understanding, sometimes gives gifts, and provides and occasional ‘blow-up’ (party).

On the other hand, let it not be said that the Filipino has to be treated with kid gloves or pampered as a spoiled child. A Filipino manager explains: A manager must maintain a tight ship. He certainly must earn the trust of his organization but he must also reinforce its confidence in his decisions. In this latter effort, he needs to maintain discipline among his personnel, and therefore must have options for redirecting organizationally disfunctional behavior, in the myriad forms which Filipinos find to manifest this human foible.

The cultural values of hiya and amor propio are the main venues for disciplinary action, pakikisama in milder reprimands. Hiya is used when extreme measures, such as termination for cause, become necessary: ‘Mahiya ka sa ginawa mong iyan!’ (Shame on you!) Or, ‘Matitiis mo ba kung masama ang pagtingin sa iyo nang mga namamahala sa iyo?’ (Can you stay where your superiors think poorly of you?) In the milder reprimand, it would be ‘gayon ang kailangan ng pagawaan upang mapayapa ang ating samahan’ (This is the way to keep our company a pleasant place).

A superior that is clearly perceived to be taking care of his subordinates can still depend on their loyalty to take care of the functional responsibilities of their work group, division or company. While this is probably true in almost any culture, the environment in which we live continues to place high value on this behavior, a valuable tool for management of organizations. SIR is essential, though its lack may be tolerated from foreigners or from a person in high authority. ‘Be firm, be true; but like the bamboo, be flexible’ may be good advice for management, whatever the country.

There is widespread moonlighting. In Manila and other large urban areas, many employees cannot afford to live in the same neighbourhoods as their work, so must take long and arduous public transportation commutes to get to and from work. Also, petty theft, skimming or unauthorised use of business assets and consumption of inputs by employees, even by employees that are considered and consider themselves as loyal to the company or business, are not unusual. There is some tolerance for such practices. [Source: Canadian Center for Intercultural Learning]

Hierarchy and Decision-Making in the Philippines

Generally, discussions about important organizational issues are made collectively so that everybody is responsible for the outcome of decisions made. It is acceptable though to go to an immediate superior for answers to questions or concerns and feedback. [Source: Canadian Center for Intercultural Learning +++]

Decision-making in the work place differs substantially by the type and size of business and whether the work place has been unionized. In the case of commercial enterprises controlled or owned by Chinese-Filipino businessmen, typically the owner or whomever he/she designates as the person in charge decides and employees are not encouraged to offer their ideas. Agricultural and production enterprises owned by traditional elites are more likely to be hands-off and hire one or more "katiawalas"—field or floor managers—to run the day-to-day affairs. This person may even have discretionary powers to innovate, hire and fire, even to earn discretionary income from management. +++

Large production companies and commercial enterprises are much more likely to follow decision-making procedures similar to North American companies. The open nature of decision-making and opportunities to have their ideas considered and acted on is attractive to many Filipino employees and middle level managers of such companies. However, the aggressive, competitive nature of many such enterprises and real possibility of loss of job due to sub-par performance makes people reluctant to stand out. +++

Preferred Managerial Qualities in the Philippines

Formal education is always given high importance in the Philippines, especially if the qualifications are earned overseas. As a consequence, expatriate managers are often given more respect for their formal qualifications than is truly warranted. At least in traditional enterprises and companies, much respect is given to age and seniority, at times equated with "experience". In larger, more recently formed companies built on the "Western" model, performance and results may be more important than experience. [Source: Canadian Center for Intercultural Learning +++]

Leadership and management that makes it clear as to what is expected of employees and is willing to stand up for employees is much appreciated. Open and personable managers may well be able to impart a sense of belonging and thus reduce insecurities of employees to whom job-loss would be a social as well as financial disaster. In the traditional management style and companies, especially in small towns these employer-employee relationships may constitute a form of paternalism rather than mutual interest and respect.

Westerners sometimes upset Filipinos because they are generally direct and to the point. This indicates to an Westerner that he is sincere and not devious, but may clash with the Filipino desire to maintain SIR. A Filipino may move to a lesser paying job, or even risk unemployment to protect his amor-propio (self-esteem) should a manager offend this. Honour and dignity take precedence over job security. Even giving a repeated instruction to a worker may be taken as insulting and degrading and may offend his amor-propio. [Source: Philippines Australia Business Council ^^]

Workplace Relations and Conflicts in the Philippines

Filipinos prefer to save "face" (self-pride) rather than feel shame ("hiya") for a sudden act or a wrong decision. So it is better to discuss privately with a colleague "strategies for better implementation of work" (use this phrase instead of work-related problems). It is difficult to know if a colleague is having problems with you because Filipinos do not like to assert themselves or appear aggressive. [Source: Canadian Center for Intercultural Learning +++]

Dealing with inter-personal problems in the work place is quite challenging because in many Filipino work environments these issues are not handled well or not handled at all. The preference is often to allow the superficial camaraderie to gloss over personal differences. Confronting a colleague in public or in the work place in public, even if done politely, will generate considerable loss of face for the other person. It may also generate some mistrust of you among other colleagues. Approaching your colleague in private would be the most appropriate course of action. +++

Although there may no overt indication that you have offended one of your colleagues, you may get some inkling that he is offended by his/her reduced interaction with you, absence from social occasions in the work place or his/her apparent unwillingness initiate informal communications with you. Once you have established yourself in the work place and have personal relationships with a number of your colleagues, you are likely to learn more indirectly from them about what specific colleagues think of you. Much information may be in the form of innuendo and gossip. Enlisting the opinion of a close colleague in finding out how someone else regards you or communicating a problem you have with a colleague can be productive, as long you feel you can trust the colleague to hold confidence and act discreetly on your behalf. +++

To motivate Filipinos, recognize and praise work well done because they are very sensitive about their honour or reputation. Job satisfaction, competitive salary and good working conditions (including good interpersonal relationship among colleagues, and emphatic and approachable superior) are other important factors that motivate local colleagues to perform well on the job. +++

Traditional companies and enterprises, depend heavily on (extended) family members for staff and family connections are likely to be important in securing a job in such enterprises. Not surprisingly, family loyalty is a strong motivating factor in such companies. While nepotism is indeed common and some of the problems of motivation of nepotistic appointments sometimes apparent, "family" employees are just as likely to be motivated by a sense of responsibility to not let the family down. +++

Fear of failure is a stronger motivating factor than is the case in the West, because the consequences of failure, particularly job loss, are more serious. However, this fear may make colleagues cautious and conservative with respect to taking initiatives or taking on responsibilities that either expose them to risk or single them out from their colleagues. Also, there is considerable loyalty among colleagues, especially female employees. In relatively secure work environments, this can generate successful teamwork and thus high job satisfaction.

Amongst most wage employees and the middle management level, monetary compensation is more important than job satisfaction or working conditions. For all but those from the most affluent families, levels of monetary compensation are a critical concern. Even if their own and immediate family needs are covered, wider extended family obligations are likely to expand along with expectations of compensation. Fringe benefits, especially health and disability and other insurance benefits and especially transportation provided by the office are also major incentives that generate both loyalty and good performance. There are few government provided health or social benefits, so these fringe benefits reduce the risk of failure through factors that are beyond the employee’s control. As many employees cannot afford to live close to the major business districts and congestion is very bad and parking often difficult, a vehicle with a driver is a highly prized "perk", especially if they can be used to get children to and from school.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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