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Cultural Issues When Hiring Someone in the Philippines
September 3, 2014, 2 days ago
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virtual communication with employee

Staff.com is a global hiring platform, but many of the staff we have are from the Philippines.

Why do we have so many people in the Philippines? Filipino people have a great combination of English skills and work attitude. Most Filipinos are dedicated, loyal and willing to do a great job.

If it’s your first time working with someone in a different country, you might notice some cultural differences.

If you are working with Filipinos or considering hiring someone in the Philippines, here are some tips on how to make it work successfully.

 
Filipinos are non-confrontational

It’s a personality trait of many Filipinos that they might not want to broach a difficult subject directly. For example if they have a hard time doing a job they may find it difficult to tell you about this. They will keep trying to do it without telling you about their issue. It’s important to create a feeling of trust in your company where they feel they can tell you anything.

One of the things that I do internally is that I actually tell my staff that it is their job to disagree with me, at least sometimes. If they never disagree with me then they are not fully doing their job. This culture of open disagreement is hard to get started but will help immensely in making sure that all issues are openly discussed.

On the flip side, their culture means that Filipinos are often very polite, conscientious, and cooperative which can make them a pleasure to work with.

More positive than negative feedback

This advice does apply to any culture. People love to receive positive feedback. If you are constantly providing negative feedback and never any positive this will cause morale problems in your organization. Try to give 3 times more positive than negative feedback. Preface any negative or corrective statement with something positive.

Documented business systems

It’s essential whenever you start with someone new that you give them exact instructions on what they should be doing. You cannot just say to them “optimize my website” or “promote my business”. This kind of approach is not likely to work unless you have hired a very experienced staff (and even then it’s still best to go into detail on what you expect, no matter how experienced that staff is).

You will need to create systems and processes in your business with precise step-by-step instructions. Your staff can help you to further develop and improve these processes but it’s probably unrealistic to expect them to start creating these processes from scratch.

Training and development

In any employment relationship it takes time for a new employee to learn about the business, how things work and also for them to improve their skills. Spend time on training and development. Specifically, make sure that your new team members are trained on the exact processes they need to follow. Encourage a culture of learning and constant improvement in your business.

Filipino English

There are some English phrases that have caught on in the Philippines that you probably would never encounter in the US or UK. One time they sent me an email with the phrase “more power” which, to me, sounds strange. You can correct these minor mistakes and encourage them to copy U.S. English especially if they are communicating with clients.

Build up their confidence

One of the Filipino traditions in the workplace is to call their superiors “Sir” or “Ma’am”. This is something that we discourage at Staff.com because we want everyone to treat each other as equals. A Filipino staff working for you might not feel completely confident at first, and may call you “Sir”. Chatting with them informally will break this barrier and help build up their confidence in being able to relate with you one-on-one.

Get to know each other on an informal basis

So you’ve hired someone from the other side of the world. It’s important to realize that they are human beings as well, with real human needs. It will make a big difference to your long-term working relationship if you can get to know each other, even virtually. Meeting in person is ideal, but chatting with them regularly on Skype is a great alternative to forming bonds. Share a little about your personal life and make sure that your communication with them is not only about work but also about life.


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