Last week, we talked about how to effectively manage your Filipino staff. Today, we’ll talk about something very similar.
Thanks to globalization and technology, even SME’s can partner with their counterparts abroad. Hence, some Australian businesses who decide to explore ventures with Filipino companies, for instance, often do so with great results.
However, as with anything that involves working alongside a different culture, certain aspects might prove baffling. So, if you’re currently doing business in the Philippines or are considering a partnership of sorts with a Filipino company, read on for a brief overview of what makes them tick.
East Meets West
While the Philippines is right smack within the boundaries of Southeast Asia, more than three centuries of colonization have left their mark on its culture. Thus, there are strong Spanish and American influences in the country, and the Catholic church still has a veritable hold on society.
If you are a foreigner, this can mean a host of seemingly conflicting characteristics. For instance, English remains to be the predominant language in many offices. However, Asian traditions, such as deferring to a person’s seniority or age regardless of one’s rank, still prevail.
Secondly, while many companies have adopted Western management practices, organizational structures are far from flat. In the typical Filipino workplace, a strict hierarchy often still applies.
An Emphasis on Hierarchy
Local employees look to a strong hierarchy for cues. Those at the top usually have the last say in everything, so trying to influence people lower down the ladder can be futile.
Furthermore, the higher up a person’s position is, the less accessible they tend to be. In Western cultures, most employees can go up to their department heads without much trouble. In contrast, those who want an audience with Filipino counterparts tend to go through a cordon sanitaire of assistants and secretaries first.
Senior-level contacts may also find it insulting if you ask them to receive lower-ranking executives.
However, it can be very helpful to cultivate contacts at all levels of a Filipino organization. Top contacts can influence decision-making in your favor. On the other hand, those lower down can pave the way for smoother and easier project implementation.
“Yes” Doesn’t Always Mean “Yes:” High-Context Culture
This is perhaps the biggest adjustment for Westerners dealing with the Filipino style of management. As with many Asian countries, communication here relies on a lot of nuances and isn’t quite so straightforward. Context can make all the difference.
For instance, if you ask a subordinate to work overtime, s/he might agree to it even if they don’t really want to. While it’s not forbidden, turning down a superior is frowned upon and some employees agree to additional work to keep the peace.
How can you tell if someone’s “yes” actually means “yes,” and not “okay, but you’re a jerk for making me do this?” Well, you’ve got to look and listen carefully. Their tone of voice, body language, and facial expression will reveal a whole lot more than their actual answer.
Working with a company from another country can be quite daunting. But if you simply need assistance in testing the waters by hiring remote Filipino talent, Remote Staff is here to bridge the gap. Get in touch with us today for straightforward solutions to all your outsourcing needs.