Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Crush competition by investing in your people

I just remember that traditionally September is declared as the month for Human Resources Management and Development. And the People (formerly Personnel) Management Association of the Philippines is tasked to undertake programs to properly honor our human resources. PMAP does this with an annual conference (concluded yesterday in Cebu City).

Year-round, PMAP honors our workforce by championing Investors in People (IiP) to promote best of class people management practices. IiP uses the framework of Plan (Business Strategy, Learning & Development Strategy, People Management Strategy and Leadership & Management Strategy)—Do (Management Effectiveness, Recognition & Reward, Involvement & Empowerment and Learning & Development—Review (Performance Measurement and Continuous Improvement).

Plan-Do-Review. Organizations who consider their people at the center of good business practice good HR practices such as the following.

Business Strategy: The most successful organizations have a clear business strategy, i.e. they are clear about what they do, where they are going and how they will get there. They share this information with their people and involve them in the planning process in order to ensure that everyone understands how the organization aims to improve its performance and realize its vision.

Learning & Development Strategy: A business strategy alone does not guarantee organizational success. People make the difference and it is vital that organizations ensure they have the capability to deliver the strategy. This involves planning, learning and development activities to equip people to achieve organization's objectives.

People Management Strategy: IiP employers create an environment where everyone feels able to contribute and has the opportunity to learn and develop in order to improve their performance.

Leadership & Management Strategy: Management effectiveness is crucial to any organization wanting to achieve its objectives and improve performance. However, in order to be effective, managers firstly need to understand what is required of them and secondly be supported in developing the required capabilities.

Management Effectiveness: Managers clearly play a vital role in helping people to maximize their contribution to the organization. This means that they need to be effective in the way they lead, manage and develop their people.

Recognition & Rewards: An organization's success largely depends on the time, effort and ideas that its people put into helping it achieve its objectives. To make that kind of effort, people need to feel that what they do makes a difference and is appreciated by their manager.

Involvement & Empowerment: Common characteristics of high performance organizations are effective employee involvement and empowerment that enable people to have a greater role in decision making and given opportunities to contribute to the achievement of business results.

Learning & Development: An organization can only truly learn and develop effectively. This means ensuring that people's learning and development needs are met and that they are given the opportunity to apply their new skills or knowledge in their role.

Performance Measurement: Any business investment needs to see a return. It is no different with investing in people. The ultimate objective of managing and developing people effectively is to improve organizational performance and organization's need to understand their return on investment.

Continuous Improvement: A culture of continuous improvement is at the heart of most successful organizations as people make the biggest difference between success and failure, it is particularly important to continue making improvements to the way an organization manages and develops its people.

You want a successful business venture? The Lopez Group of Companies has embraced both Baldrige Criteria for Business Excellence and Investors in People. FPHC SVP and Asean Eye Institute President Ben Liboro presented the alignment of people and results at the PMAP AC. He says, "Competitiveness is not just the pursuit of profit; its measure goes beyond the financials. Business Excellence, as a tool toward competitiveness, requires unmatched performance in all aspects of the business. An investor in people is investing for competitiveness."


Friday, September 21, 2007

Excellent people deliver excellent business results

As I am finalizing my presentation to the 2007 Summit on Globalization of HR in Taipei, Taiwan, September 28-29, I came across some interesting materials I got from 2007 ASTD Conference & Exposition last June in Atlanta, Georgia.

ASTD President Tony Bingham asserts that there’s never been a better time to be in learning. The knowledge, skills and abilities of organization’s talents are top of the mind for senior executives today. No longer are systems and processes the differentiator for organizations; there are becoming commodities. Today people are THE differential advantage for organization. This is one case where senior executives universally agree. And workplace learning and performance professionals have a huge impact on the learning, and thus the success, of those people.

Tony asks, “so how can we improve the learning function in our organizations? One way to look is at examples of best practices from ASTD’s BEST Award winners.” The award program started in 2003 to recognize organizations that understand and demonstrate the critical connection between employee learning and achieving business results. Since 2003, ASTD has recognized 80 organizations in eight countries with a BEST award. There is no awardee from the Philippines yet.

Tony continues, “Four of ASTD’s 2006 BEST awardees—Computer Sciences Corporation, Equity Residential, QUALCOMM, and Wipro—shared some insights with ASTD about these key messages and how learning impacts results in their organizations. These winners:
• Demonstrate the connection between learning and organizational strategy.
• Can articulate the value of learning and its impact on the bottom line. They
• understand the value of learning and protect the investment, even when times are
• tough.
• Ensure that the company’s leaders are heavily involved in learning, and model
• leaders as teachers.
• Are, in most cases, focused on global development.
• Share a sense of urgency around developing a competitive workforce and having
• enough talent in the pipeline.
• Understand learning’s role to lead talent management – especially in recruitment,
• development, and retention.

One of the hottest topics in the profession today is talent management. Tamar Elkeles, vice president of learning and organization development for QUALCOMM, a two-time BEST Award winner, notes that it’s important for companies to create a learning brand—something that no one else has—to attract and retain talent in an organization. She notes that providing great training and development is top reason employees join organizations.
Azim Premji, Wipro Limited Chair, a three-time BEST Award winner, explains that learning is an integral part of the company’s strategic direction. He notes that because Wipro is in the hi-tech industry, their people need to be refreshed and challenged all of the time to participate and contribute to customers’ requirements in determining and applying solutions, which is the heart of their business.

The ability to recruit, develop, and retain talent is and will continue to be one of the biggest and most important challenges in the learning field.

Almost every CEO talks about the importance of leadership development. They understand that developing more effective leaders means a more effective staff. Highly effective leaders and staff result in happy customers who want to do business with their companies.

Another aspect of talent management is the skills gap. Some of the BEST Award winners are focused on creating career paths and developing emerging skill sets in new technologies. Premji notes that it is important to thoroughly select the right workforce and constantly teach that workforce. Wipro’s multi-month learning programs connect closely to the company’s career growth paths and competency training systems.

Demonstrating value for learning is how they link learning to organizational results. Tony Pusateri, Equity Residential SVP, one of only three organizations to have won a BEST Award every year since the program’s inception in 2003, notes that because of Equity’s dedication to training, the company has realized results, including happier customers and more financial success. Elkeles asserts that companies must understand that people are the largest asset they have, and investing in and developing people—even during tough times—is critically important.

With these best practices of BEST Award winners, what can we learn from their expertise?
• Create a learning culture and a learning brand. Leverage this brand to help recruit, develop, and retain your staff.
• If you’re not dealing with the skills gap, it’s time. To fill the skills gap, learning professionals must understand the current and future business needs and identify the skills required to address those needs.
• Get your leaders teaching to engage your staff and your leaders. BEST organization employs the “leaders as teachers” model.
• Become a business partner. The fastest way to demonstrate that the learning function belongs at the leadership table is by linking learning to the organization’s key metrics and/or key strategies.

Learning must be aligned to business results to be considered relevant and successful. There’s never been a better time to be in the learning profession. People are the competitive advantage for organizations throughout the world, and, senior management knows it. And, people development is the core competency of learning professionals. With the attention of senior management, now is the time to clearly demonstrate that your work is aligned with your organizations’ initiatives and helping to drive organizational success. No other business function can better impact its people than learning!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cut flower farming is good business

Last column we discussed earning from your hobby farm planted to vegetables. This time, we will share with you another entrepreneurial farming hobby.

Johnny Advincula owns one such profitable venture devoted to cut flower farming. It is so generous of Johnny to share with us his business secret:

"Cut flowers is considered one of the best income generating business today. Yes, there are indeed beautiful varieties in shapes, forms and colors of cut flowers, however I choose Malaysian mums. Though sensitive in nature because of the present changing climate, simplified care and attention can result to a good production.

"Generally, the whole system in producing such is not as expensive as first-timer farmers would fear.

"All one needs is an area for a mother plant, a place for a rooting bed and a bigger enclosed place which is called the green house.

"A mother plant is the source of your materials for rooting bed and production. Here you cut the young stem and with the application of a rooting powder to the cut portion of the plant it is then planted in the rooting bed. When roots develop in 10 to 15 days after which your plant is now ready to be transferred to the production area.

"Certainly, soil preparation like clearing, cultivation and application of urea to the production area is done earlier to help the faster growth of the plant. Weeds and grasses will sprout more quickly than you can pull them out so you need to be very vigilant.

Proper schedule of watering, lighting, blacking out are necessary during the process of growth. If you want dark colored flowers, you need to deprive the plants of light. If you want them to grow tall, you need to give them lots of light. You can grow the flowers big, brightly colored, long stemmed or whatever depending on how you take care of them.

"A production area of 500sqm can have three (3) bays of four (4) plots totaling to twelve (12) plots. Each plot can produce 3,000 plants or equivalent to 250 dozens. You can produce 36,000 plants or 3,000 dozens of Malaysian mums for a period of three (3) months in an area of 500sqm."

Malaysian mums sell at Php180 per dozen at Dangwa and Php300 per arrangement of three at Holland Tulips. Less expenses on wages for helpers, water, electricity, fertilizer, pesticides, green house and others. Buyers will pick up the flowers from your farm. Do the Math. Still, that's better than your monthly salary you draw from employment. The bonus is that you have full control of your time and resources. And you don't have to jump at the whim of a boss. You are the boss.

Johnny now commutes as he pleases between his Metro Manila residence and his John's Farm in Tagaytay and another one in Baguio. On the side, Johnny also grows coffee for personal consumption and vegetables like lettuce and eggplant for extra income while waiting for the flowers to bloom.

But Johnny's passion, though, is singing and he is happiest when he is singing with his band, The Bedroom Boys, every Thursday at Chef & Brewer, Emerald Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig. Catch him there and ask him more questions about his cut flower farm.

SGHR 2007. You still have time to sign up for the upcoming Summit on Globalization of Human Resources this September 28-30 in Taipei International Convention Center, Taiwan. For details, please go to or email Ms. Bronte Hsiao at or

Just in: "This is Vincens Cheng with Losang Precision Mold Co., Ltd. I am writing to explore possible cooperation.

"Losang Precision Mold Co., Ltd. belongs to Long Group and we specialize in plastic injection mold. Our sister company Losang Plastic Products Co, Ltd also undertakes injection molding and the secondary processes such as dust-free spraying, silk screen printing, hot stamping, ultrasonic welding, assembling and etc."

I don't know him or his company, but check them out. If you are interested, do visit Vincens' website or email him at

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Earn from your hobby farm

I am very much an inner city girl having been born and lived all my life in Sta. Mesa, Manila, center point of Metro Manila. Daily, I contend with all kinds of noises, hustle and bustle of 24-hour non-stop activity around, pollution, masses of people passing by my window, floods and others that I welcome every opportunity to get to the suburbs or the province as a big treat.

When the members of Institute of Management Consultants of the Philippines (IMPhil) decided to visit the Villegas Organic & Hobby Farm of Meganomics Specialist International's Pabs Villegas in San Pedro, Malvar, Batangas, I immediately joined them.

Pabs' farm consists of 3 hectares for the whole complex which he has subdivided into nine farm modules, each with a farm land area of 3,000 m2, while Pabs retains 5000m2. Pabs is now selling those farm lots (0917-8211548). Pabs confides that he bought his farm from his retirement pay as vice president of Land Bank of the Philippines in 1991.

Pabs enthuses that each farm module has a provision for potable and irrigation water, road system, parking spaces, techno-managerial and marketing assistance and logistical support, readily available technologists and farm workers, access to a greenhouse, nursery and demonstration farm technologies, pay amenities and natural fencing hedge rows amidst the cool and balmy weather of Lipa-Malvar. "The farm has been topographically-mapped and soil-tested to provide contour information and suitability indicators on a variety of farm enterprises. Farm enterprises could range from mixed lettuce crop and herb production to the breeding and raising of naturally-grown and free ranged colored chickens, ducks and goats as well as fish. This includes organic fertilizer production, vermi-composting, post-harvest handling, food processing, and natural and indigenous food gourmet demonstrations. The naturally fertile and long fallowed farm has huge deposits of humus and earthworm castings. The already developed farmlots have existing fruit bearing mangoes, coconut, santol, jackfruit, bananas, mahogany, narra and gmelina trees which serve as a value added asset for each farm module.

"The farm seeks to establish a community of sustainable and ecological agribusiness and recreational, cottage and homeland (SEARCH) ventures set in the heart of Batangas. The complex is accessible via SLEX and STAR Highways or old Sto. Tomas-Batangas City Laurel Highway. An organic farming community will evolve within this landscape of naturally grown farm products amidst the ambience and rhythm of the clement weather and naturally balanced ecosystems. It offers a wide array of technological and market possibilities for the establishment of naturally-grown crops, herbal, culinary and medicinal plants, livestock and fishery enterprises within the techno-demonstration farms and each micro-farming module.

"Set apart and atypical from the rest of other "leisure" farms, it seeks to set-up prototype sustainable and ecologically friendly farming systems. Each farm will be distinctly characterized by a standard traditional bahay kubo that is landscaped with indigenous food crops, culinary and medicinal herbs, fruit trees and ornamentals. The farm also features nursery sites and a provision for technological demonstrations and training for the development of a viable and profitable smallholder commercial farm.

"With the passion to go on from pesticide-free and natural production process to a full-pledged organic farming venture, the farm adheres to the strict use of biological (natural) crop nutrition and protection system to aid healthier lifestyle. Hedge rows will delineate its borders and flowers and ornamental plants will bloom season to season thereby providing the aesthetic beauty and bounty of a natural land ecosystem blending well with a sustainable and ecological agriculture.

"It will maintain a mini-market (pick and pay) for organic food products and in future a mini-restaurant serving natural and indigenous foods, where timely and much needed innovations for the growing and expanding interest for wellness and healthy lifestyle will be promoted. Through its SAGE Learning Center, it will reach out to children and youth in school as well as health care institutions to pursue the culture of sustainable farming and wellness lifestyle.

"Serving as training ground for farming and healthy lifestyle enthusiasts, smallholders, professionals and agribusiness companies who share the same vision as the farm, it has a greenhouse, for high-value and off-season crops, nursery and techno-demonstration facilities."

Congratulations to Engr. Robert C. Rubina, the newly elected president of National association for Scrabble in the Philippines (NASCAP). To join scrabble tournaments, call Robin (0917-505-1304) or email ( or Other members his new Board are: Chair Nene Lambino, Sec Susan Carag, VP Gener Camiling, Treas Mildred Santos, Willy Padua and Francis Mallari.