Learning & Innovation – September 20, 2008
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Engaged and connected workforce and citizenry
Do you notice that a lot of us have become disengaged and self-centered (makasarili)? We are thinking of I, me and myself most of the time. We think that the world, the country (government), the general public, their employer, our family and friends owe us.
Worse is that we seem to think that we are not accountable for anything.
Last week the Rotary Club of Mandaluyong North led by President Jong Vina and the People Management Association of the Philippines' CSR Committee headed by Norilyn Fogata of Ever Bilena conducted a one-day career and employment planning program for graduating college students at the Rizal Technological University. In all schools this program is given (for free), after all the discussions on life planning, career planning, entrepreneurship, preparing resumes and gearing up for job interviews and other topics, the one big question from the students is "How much is the pay?"
Speakers and hard-working committee members Virgie Mendoza, Serely Alcazar, Barbie Atienza, Ernie Cecilia, Rex Ressurreccion and Merly Manaloto with Rotarians Lina Aseneta, Manny Sy-peng, Jack Sia, Bert Lomibao, Romy Jaranilla, Ronnie Almestas and Cesar Regala could only shake their heads and observe that the students don't ask about how best they could contribute, they are only interested in how much they could earn.
Very soon these students would join the multitude of individuals that just float through their jobs on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month basis, not feeling connected to their work or committed to their organization.
This is just one example of how much disengaged we have become. Casey Wilson, author of "The Cornerstone of Engaging Leadership" defines engagement as having passion, connectedness, motivation, and a willingness to give your best in order to benefit yourself and your organization. Engagement creates connections with and for others. Engaging leaders actively and intentionally create an engaging environment by connecting people to their work in meaningful ways.
Thomas Alva Edison once said, "If we all did the things we were capable of, we could literally astound ourselves."
So how do we shift our focus from our personal and material gains to becoming engaging persons, engaging leaders?
First, Ms. Wilson writes, we need engaged leaders who could raise expectations about the work, the meaning it creates for the workforce (everybody in the organization, at all levels), their sense of connection to it and the harmony it creates in their lives. People will become engaged when they are rewarded with the ability to contribute and influence.
Ms. Wilson continues, "As part of the evolving landscape of leadership in the 21st century, it is important to realize that the traditional command-oriented style of leadership is not engaging today's workforce. While in some organizations this style brings greater efficiency and consistency, it also marginalizes and shapes the contributions that individuals are willing to make. People do not perceive this style of leadership as mutually beneficial. Instead of inciting passion, innovation, creativity and excitement, this approach has leaders trying to mold and shape everyone to be the same, which results in a group of employees acting more like inefficient machines than passionate, involved individuals."
So we have leaders like President Gloria Arroyo who, instead of leading and inspiring our people, has reduced them to mendicancy with programs like Php500 dole-outs, free this and that (after you line up for hours under the punishing heat of the sun). We have parents who, instead of spending quality time with their children, would rather just give them juicy allowances and pamper them with material things. The business world is inundated with task-focused leaders, but are not held accountable for cynical, disengaged workers.
The prevailing world situation, that could turn dimmer in the near future, needs leaders who have vested interest in creating actively engaged individuals and teams who will provide the competitive advantage for our country and our business organizations.
We'll have more next column. Meanwhile, I am here in Davao enjoying its beauty and bounty. Will tell you about that, too.