It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or from where you graduated. You cannot build a successful business on your own. You may attain a level of distinction single handedly. However, to grow a business, you have to achieve scale, which requires people.
I’ve been working for 24 years. I’ve been on both sides of the fence as a regular 9-to-5 employee and as an employer. My experience covers various industries: finance, market research, food retail, manpower recruitment, information technology or IT, and currently, business process outsourcing or BPO. I’ve had the opportunity to work with people who had varying degrees of experience and who came from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.
Just like most of you, I’ve had my run-ins and share of conflicts with people. That’s the interesting aspect of human interaction, that is, having to deal with the emotional component of relationships on a daily basis.
For the most part, the experience has been enlightening and enriching. Through it all, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, I’ve come to a conclusion that regularly induces an “eye roll” from my contemporaries:
People are the most overlooked asset in any organization; however, they are the most valuable component in ensuring the success of a business.
If I were to make an educated guess on popular public opinion, I would say managers maintain a cautionary stance when it comes to dealing with human resource.
The fear of people is not confined in the Philippines. When I had the opportunity to work in Boston, management shared its reservations with labor. Clients I have from Canada shared labor unions, which were an issue several years ago but were methodically and strategically managed until these are no longer a concern.
The issue of labor relations in the Philippines and in other countries in South East Asia is deeply rooted because this region has a history of colonization. The citizens in this region throughout history have been subjected to tumultuous regimes, thereby reaching a point that the need to protect and preserve basic rights appears to be ingrained in our DNA. In Thailand for example, there have been a total of 12 military uprisings since 1932. The Philippines has had its own share of popular revolt, for example, the EDSA Revolution of 1986, which brought down the regime of President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Since my days as a regular office employee up to my current occupation in BPO, managers have frowned on regularization for fear of being unionized or infiltrated. As an employee, it was normal for coworkers to share their grievances about management during coffee breaks or after office hours over drinks. Some of these grievances had merit but not to the point it would necessitate establishing a union in the workplace.
As an employer, I heard the usual rumblings of disgruntlement from employees particularly on the matter of salary increases and benefits. Those who tended to gripe about compensation were those who felt increases were mandatory regardless of performance. It didn’t matter to them whether the company hit its revenue targets. For them, once the fiscal year is over, increases should be in order.
Despite the misgivings of managers, one cannot deny the value of people in achieving business growth and sustainable success.
People are the most valuable asset in an organization because they are the only ones who can foresee and adapt to change. In this time of global economic uncertainty where even the mightiest nations have fallen into recession, longstanding political and societal structures have come down, and new markets of growth are rising in the most unlikely of regions. Moreover, organizations, now more than ever, need to develop leaders who can navigate corporations through turbulent waters.
To develop leaders, we need to look into our own people.
However, the task of developing leaders is rooted in the most basic question involving the human asset:
Who do we hire?
It would be unfair of me to characterize or generalize how human resources or HR structures its processes in recruiting and hiring people. Thus, I would like to make it explicitly clear that the observations expressed are purely based on my experiences. I have handled HR responsibilities during my time in food retail, manpower recruitment, and BPO.
In my opinion, the biggest problem with HR is that it overemphasizes technical and fundamental competencies. The criterion for selecting personnel is heavily focused on CV or curriculum vitae, which includes educational attainment, work experience, references, tests on basic skills, and analogies.
There are obvious reasons to support qualifying technical and fundamental competencies. However, in placing great emphasis on these, HR managers have overlooked a component of employment that is perhaps significantly important, crucial, and definitive in determining the best candidate for the company:
How often have you come across a coworker with the experience and pedigree that could rival those of upper management yet routinely underperforms or fails to deliver? How many candidates have CVs that are punctuated with certifications, licenses, and references yet lag behind the rest in terms of performance and attainment of prescribed metrics?