Concepcio Bringas, 2015
PAHRODF Case Studies
Results Story 18: Leadership Strengthening and Competency Building
Enhancing Service Delivery Outcomes and Technical Competencies
Concepcion Bringas, has a wide appreciation of how intervention programmes have transformed her organisation, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority’s (NAMRIA). Currently chief administration officer of Staff Support Services, she has personally witnessed how the Australian Government through the Philippines Australia Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility (PAHRODF) has helped NAMRIA in the last 7 years.
With 37 years as a civil servant, Ms. Bringas beams with pride as she talks about the agency and how PAHRODF has steered it towards innovation, growth and strategic alignment. She boasts, “My agency is open to change. It is becoming dynamic. We are a work in progress and embracing development.”
Equally proud of the long-standing human resources and organisational development (HR/OD) alliance between the agency and PAHRODF, she says, “I really have high regard for the facility. It is a champion in organisational and human resource development. The facility is very effective in assisting agencies in their needs in those areas. The local service providers (LSP), they are experts in their subjects. I can call them chief agents because they were able to facilitate us and bring us in the same direction.”
Ms. Bringas cites a Leadership Strengthening Intervention that she attended while still with the HR Information Services handling training. Held for her and 45 other senior managers, this was aimed at enhancing their service delivery outcomes. As she points out, “There was an increasing need for support of the mapping requirements of the country. The intervention was to capacitate - to improve the capacity of the senior managers and develop leadership skills.”
After this program, Ms. Bringas describes her Re-entry Action Plan (REAP), a plan to apply her learnings to address organisational gaps, as focused on providing client satisfaction. This, she hoped to establish by building and fostering partnerships with external key stakeholders, as well as disseminating continuous information about NAMRIA, its functions, and its services. Four units of the HR department were involved and in large part, they had to conduct effective surveys to determine the extent of their agency’s reach. Initially, she shares that they had to be coached by the facility consultants. Eventually though, they learned how to conduct these on their own.
With survey forms designed to determine how well their map making services satisfied agency and stakeholder requirements, they distribute them through their map sales offices, and send them to clients. From the feedback, the findings are then integrated and the results, encapsulated in a report. As Ms. Bringas points out, “The opinion of our external key stakeholders about us and our services is considered because that’s a reflection of how we perform. The goal is to get feedback on how we are doing in our services.”
Response data as key
Ms. Bringas shares that despite a clear-cut survey and feedback-gathering process in place, one big obstacle is the poor response rate. As she laments, “It’s very challenging getting the clients’ feedback and conducting the right survey because we do not control the response rate. We send survey tools, the survey forms. But we don’t know if they are going to return it to us.” Ideally, she says, they should be getting at least 30% of the total number of survey forms back, but the returns are nowhere near that figure.
This inadequacy of response data has prompted them to look for other solutions to get around it. Aside from offering incentives to entice survey participation, they have tapped into other feedback channels. Ms. Bringas states, “We just deal with the data and complement it with what is existing from over-the counter data. We have also increased the number of respondents. To complement the survey, we do it during focus group discussions (FGD). At the end of the FGD, we hand out the surveys. They are our captured respondents so we try to make it a point to distribute survey forms during NAMRIA FGDs.”
Ms. Bringas shares that the support they have received from their organisation in terms of manpower and budget, have helped ease the burden. With management also highly involved - checking on their timelines and being on hand to offer assistance when needed, they feel the value of their work. She relates, “During management reviews, the management has expressed how they like the significance of the data that we gather. It helps them in terms of crafting policy on client satisfaction and on improving it.” One such improvement that they are pursuing is in information dissemination. “It showed that we don’t reach out to the public to inform them about what we do, the significant contributions we have made to the programmes and projects of the government”, Ms. Bringas admits. Thus, the agency is now trying to address this as a result of the surveys.
Wearing a different hat
Moving on to her current role, Ms. Bringas shares how the facility has also provided technical assistance after their initial diagnosis showed gaps in the human resource development plan. She says, “Technical competency needs to be addressed because it is our people who will implement the strategic plan, the operational plan of the agency.” In line with this, improving organisational capacity and competencies became her REAP.
With an assessment system and different competency levels in place, they needed to take it further and see how they could bring employee skills up to par. “Our curriculum should guide us on how to do that. Let’s say we have a geodetic engineer 1. We should have training programmes before he becomes geodetic engineer 2,” she explains. This she says is still in the works, and the long range view for her is to see a career plan for employees in the future as well.
Although she notes that managing change is not easy, the available communication tools have helped them effectively convey what they are trying to achieve. Also, with efforts aligned towards being competency based - learning and development, recruitment, selection, placement and eventually, performance management, she points out that mind sets and behavioural changes are now becoming evident.
It keeps getting better
Ms. Bringas shares that her learnings from the interventions are quite significant. On a personal level, she believes these have helped her become a more effective leader - leading by example and setting expectations that her subordinates fully understand to exact the output. On an organisational level, she has realised the value of teamwork and belongingness. “Team building is a very, very big factor because of the importance of the relationships among employees and superiors,” she emphasises. As she sees it, no matter how difficult the work may be, it can be done easily if the team dynamics are good. On a societal level, she views client satisfaction as a direct by product of engaged employees who are happy with what they are doing.
According to her, there will surely be more areas that the agency may need help on. But trusting in the facility’s role as a catalyst for change, she is confident that there will be more interventions coming their way. “They are very supportive once you have identified a particular need. They can provide,” she says of the facility. Certainly, after seeing how the agency has developed and improved remarkably as a result of these interventions, it is quite understandable why she is already looking forward to the next one. This, she hopes will be on sustainability, and the reason for this is clear. For Ms. Bringas who has clocked in almost four decades in NAMRIA, it can only get better.