Filipinos often distinguish themselves among different cultures in different places, including the workplace. They’re known for being resourceful and resilient but also collectivist and non-confrontational. As employers or managers, you should learn to adapt to these cultural traits if you have a remote Filipino workforce. It could help you build relationships and provide feedback more efficiently.
Here’s an in-depth guide about the Filipino management style, with tips on how to adopt it to lead your Filipino offshore teams better.
The Roots of the Filipino Management Style
According to anthropologist and author Dr. F. Landa Jocano, the Filipino management style is based on three dominant aspects of the Filipino culture.
Familism is a traditional social structure in the Philippines—and most Asian countries, for that matter—where the needs of the family precede the needs of an individual member. Filipinos consider family as the most important social unit in society, so much so that they extend familism to informal kinships such as friend groups or barkadas in the workplace.
This social structure is also evident in the Filipino corporate world when employees refer relatives or friends for certain positions at work and take responsibility for them. The success of one is the success of their entire family. Conversely, the wrongdoing of one can discredit the whole group.
Filipinos strongly desire to belong and relate to their peers because of a cultural trait called personalism. For example, it’s common among Filipinos to ask each other personal questions such as their age, occupation, hometown, and marital status to build deep, positive connections.
In the corporate world, personalism can be seen in managers learning about their staff’s private lives. Because the line between their professional and personal lives is blurred, Filipino workers often take things or want to be taken personally. However, this doesn’t necessarily lead to adverse outcomes.
Supportive leadership has proven to foster positive employee relationships, breed loyalty in the workplace, and generate unique solutions to complex problems.
Most Filipinos are deemed sensitive because of how they were raised. Many Filipino families are conservative and avoid discussing controversial topics or responding too directly if they believe doing so can ruin their relationships with each other or people outside their homes.
Thus, they have an indirect communication style. For instance, most Filipinos would likely say “maybe” or “I’ll try” when invited to an event they don’t want to or cannot attend to avoid being rude.
The same can happen in the corporate world. A subordinate would likely accept a task from their manager to appease them, or a manager would give vague constructive feedback to avoid offending their employee.
How to Incorporate the Filipino Management Style Into Your Office Culture
Non-Asians may find adapting to these cultural traits challenging, but it’s essential if you often work with Filipino employees. If you’re offshoring or outsourcing staff from the Philippines, it’s in your best interest to incorporate the Filipino management style to better communicate with your employees and boost their workflows.
Favoritism is often the bane of many organizations as it lessens employee morale and often leads to having less than ideal employees. With familism prevalent among Filipino employees, favoritism may also happen among your offshore staff. Avoid favoring one or a few employees over the others, as doing so can destroy the social fabric in the workplace.
You should also keep a close eye on Filipino employees who have a degree of authority within your team, as they may also practice favoritism, even without knowing it. Remind them that they have equally important roles in your organization, so they can better focus on their work and avoid personal conflicts with their colleagues.
Encourage friendly personal relationships in the workplace
Allow your remote Filipino workers to practice the positive sides of familism and personalism by promoting constructive interpersonal relationships among them. Whether in person or the digital space, let them regularly collaborate and interact to establish trust and camaraderie. Better yet, why not join in on the fun?
Several studies have shown that positive interactions in the workplace improve job satisfaction, influence staff turnover, and boost employee productivity. With morale up, you can expect more efficient workflows among your offshore staff, which can drive your organization to success.
Be quick to acknowledge and reward great work
Recognizing the efforts of employees is great for morale and staff retention. This is even more important for Filipino employees as they treat work as a personal endeavor; hence, being personally recognized for their efforts goes a long way to keep morale up.
While material rewards like bonuses and promotions are undoubtedly the best ways to acknowledge great work, words of affirmation, trophies, and simple letters can also be effective in letting your employees know that you see and appreciate their work.
Avoid directly confronting employees
Due to personalism and emotionalism, Filipinos may feel personally attacked when confronted, even with constructive feedback.
Embody a competent leadership style by giving employees clear feedback and instructions about their work. Take a person-oriented approach when confronting them. This means listening to their concerns and treating them respectfully, so they feel that the discussion is a two-way street.
Not only do these approaches help lessen their stress, but they can also resolve your organization’s problems and improve collaboration and cooperation among employees.
Always extend an olive branch
Similar to other Asian countries, the Philippines follows the “face” culture or the concept of hiya. This is evident when Filipinos try to avoid conflicts or embarrassing situations to save their dignity.
For example, an employee can lose face when receiving harsh comments from a superior in front of their colleagues. Meanwhile, they gain face when they give gifts to their managers or treat them to dinner.
When your remote Filipino employees are losing face, consider giving them space to process their emotions and develop logical and professional solutions to their problems. If you need to confront them about their work, do so privately through a one-on-one meeting so they won’t feel embarrassed in front of their colleagues.
Lead Your Filipino Offshore Teams to Success
Remotely managing a Filipino team can be challenging, especially if you’re unaware of their cultural nuances towards work. With the tips above, you can better manage and communicate with your Filipino employees and boost their productivity. You can also save face as a leader by showing that you can adjust to your workers’ culture to drive both them and your organization forward.
If you need help finding and managing remote and offshore workers, you can approach a reliable recruitment agency in the Philippines like Manila Recruitment. We take a data- and business-driven approach to recruitment to help all types of organizations maximize top talents. Contact us today to learn more!