In my years of working with the family, truth be told, I have often wondered how it would be if I carried a different name. As an employee and a family member, a weekend dinner with the family can feel like a performance appraisal. A casual conversation with a cousin, who also happens to be your boss, can feel like a pop quiz. In my previous job, my mobile number was like an extension of the Meralco call center, and now, it’s like a concierge line for Skycable and a ticketnet number for noontime shows like Showtime or ASAP. But don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining.
To me, the tribulations of a 24/7 job as an employed family member are far outweighed by the sense of fulfillment reaped from the kind of work that we do. I wake up each day steered by values that apply not only to my work, but to everything that I do. As Stephen Covey once said, and I quote, "Personal leadership is a process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with them."
Speaking of Values...Let me share with you some of the values that I have been able to embrace in the last 18 years of my career.
Number 1 on my playlist is Malasakit.
In the 13 years that I served in Meralco, one of the most important values that I’ve learned is the value of Malasakit. This was a value that my own father evangelized throughout the whole company during the entire time that he spent there as its CEO. Malasakit is difficult to explain and yet easy to express. And in spite of how challenging it is to articulate, employees understood and embraced it with the consistency by which it was demonstrated by my father. When our objectives are based on genuine concern for the people that we serve and for the people that we work with, it becomes second nature for us to do everything within our means to ensure that we accomplish what we set out to do.
I witnessed this brand of Malasakit in Meralco when Ondoy hit Metro Manila. The hardest hit areas were Marikina, Pasig and Rizal, the very same places where a majority of its employees reside. The company had two problems, service was down in most areas and the people who needed to work on it were among those who were badly affected. What was so moving was that employees whose own homes were damaged still reported for duty as soon as they secured their families. Linemen who could not work on the lines because of the floods began rescuing people that they could reach with their trucks. Employees who were typhoon victims themselves volunteered in repacking and distributing relief goods.
We don’t have to wait for a disaster to strike to show Malasakit. For people in IT, like myself, it is more than just simply ensuring that systems are available when users need them. It entails immersing ourselves in non-IT roles and doing our best to understand what our internal clients need in order to find the most suitable and timely solutions.
Malasakit is knowing that what we do is not just a job, but a commitment to serve others especially in the most difficult of times. It makes it easy for us to put the needs of others before our own. Interestingly enough, the word malasakit does not translate directly to concern or “pag-aalala” but even has the word “sakit” or pain, probably suggesting that to have this kind of concern means to give until it hurts.
2nd on the playlist is Sense of Purpose.
In Meralco, running the CIO office meant ensuring systems that ultimately provide for electricity was critical to businesses, airports, hospitals and homes. Ngayon, showbiz na ako. In my role with ABS-CBN, I have come to realize the importance of delivering information and entertainment. For OFWs, news porgrams keep them informed and address their need to connect with home. For OFs who may have issues of identity in a foreign land, they find comfort and respite in entertainment programs. Even my parents in Japan are OFWs and they too are dependent on TFC. For many, ABS-CBN teleseryes provide an escape from a depressing reality and find inspiration as stories strive to mirror reality and provide hope through their happy endings. News and public service go hand-in-hand as information educates and aspires to empower those who would otherwise remain voiceless. We, at IT, do not only endeavor to make sure systems work but our purpose is to also regularly enhance and adapt technology advancements to improve the experience of customers as we deliver information and entertainment to the Filipino audience wherever he or she may be.
If we are aware of how our daily efforts will brighten someone’s day, lighten someone’s load or improve someone’s life, our job earns its value beyond our paycheck. Achieving is about doing what needs to be done for our customers and not just doing what our job tells us to do. A sense of purpose turns our accomplishment into fulfillment and that alone should give us enough motivation to perform our duties with excellence every single day.
And finally, Integrity.
Our integrity is most important to the people we serve: our customers and our co-workers. Integrity is not just based on knowing what is right and wrong, it is knowing why doing the right thing is important. We pay our taxes, abide by laws, respect the environment and govern ourselves with a moral compass that is beyond question because doing otherwise will have its consequences that can negatively affect many others.
If we care for the company and the people whose lives depend on it, we would not engage in unscrupulous activities that could result in financial losses and worse, could damage the company reputation.
One low point I experienced in my career was when I discovered that a trusted and highly competent colleague was offered a monetary incentive to influence a decision and favor a third-party, and sadly, this former colleague accepted the offer. It was a difficult situation to confront but a relatively easy decision to make. Once there is loss of trust and a breach of integrity, a cloud of doubt is created and if tolerated, can easily breed a culture of distrust.
Like any other value, Malasakit, Sense of purpose and Integrity only become effective when it is consistently observed and demonstrated. To all of you HR practitioners here today , I hope I can enjoin you to embody these values and help me propagate them across your repective organizations. You cannot have malasakit for the company and none for the employees. You cannot have a sense of purpose only for the projects that puts you in the limelight and you cannot practice integrity only when others are looking. The true test of having these values is when you are in that very amoment when it becomes the single most difficult thing to commit to. With all that said, it is easy to call someone a Kapamilya but the real challenge is to treat them like one. It is also easy to say “In the Service of the Filipino Worldwide” but finding every possible way to reach them wherever they may be is the proof of our commitment.
Whether I carry the Lopez name or any other name, you and I are the same. We wake up each day to face our calling, steered by our Values, we serve our fellow Filipinos through our work and do our best to make a difference.
Maraming salamat mga Kapamilya and have a good afternoon.
HR Summit 2012
November 22, 2012