Florence Acle, 2015
PAHRODF Case Studies
Results Story 22: Human Resource Management
Transforming HRD as a Strategic Partner
Florence Acle, current officer-in-charge of the National Mapping and Resource Information Agency’s (NAMRIA) Human Resource Development Section, is a trusty witness to the transformative growth of her department. Seventeen years with the agency, she saw her section transition from being highly procedural and administrative, to one that is more strategic.
As one of the pioneer scholars of the Australia Awards Scholarships in the Philippines, she recounts how the Philippines Australia Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility (PAHRODF), Australia’s HR and OD Facility in the Philippines, sought out NAMRIA way back in 2007. “They are the ones who looked for NAMRIA,” she recalls. That got the ball rolling. In no time, the facility began to assess the institution and found out that one of the gaps that needed to be addressed was in the area of capacitating human resources. Along this line, Florence was fortunate to have been chosen as one of those sent to pursue further education in Australia. “We are the pioneers for HRODF. We are very lucky because we represent NAMRIA’s non-technical side of the PHRODF brand,” she says.
With a Masters in Human Resource Management at the Griffith University, Florence is effusive in her appreciation of the learnings she gathered from the scholarship as well as the support given by the facility and the university. She says of the facility, “I have had a very good experience. In fact, we have a very strong partnership with PAHRODF, considering that our partnership began back in 2007 and it continues. ”Florence emphasizes how much exposure she has had with the facility, especially because of all the assessments prior to the interventions. To her, aside from being eminently qualified, all the consultants sent their way have all been very accommodating.
Similarly, she only has praises for Griffith University, having experienced their very high educational standards, good facilities and most importantly, mentoring by seasoned professors who are experts in their fields. “We were able to experience world-class education,” she gushes.
Implementing an action plan
According to Florence, “The goal of the scholarship is to gain competency in human resource. Then, I should be able to implement a Re-entry Action Plan (REAP).” REAP as an effective tool, allows scholars like Florence to develop and implement a program applying her learnings. For her REAP, she focused on “Developed and Enhanced Competencies of Human Resource”, which is how she termed it back then. In a nutshell, it is pretty much all about transforming HR from procedural to strategic. She declares, “We wanted to transform HR to assume a more strategic function and we did.”
Florence admits that it did not come without difficulty. Of course, given the amount of work then, plus interventions and consultations happening left and right, it was hard to juggle everything. “There were too many things going on. Time management, I guess. And NAMRIA experienced a lot of changes in terms of organisation development. We had ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) and, then, SPMS (Strategic Performance Management System), rationalisation and so, on top of that, we had to ensure that our REAP was still being implemented,” she shares.
NAMRIA’s full support however guaranteed that her REAP would successfully be accomplished. “We had management support, provisions, resources and logistics, the expert advice of the PAHRODF and the moral support of our direct supervisors,” she says. In fact, as she explains, they were even able to engage the services of a consultant to help them with their competency-based system. They also had a lot of workshops, consultations with experts to establish their core competencies, and undertook profiling as a basis for their HRD plan. All these initiatives seemed to have paid off as she maintains that all their systems have been fully implemented and running smoothly since 2008.
The changing landscape
Looking back at where they were before the facility stepped in and where they are now, Florence can’t help but notice how much has changed. The impact has been considerable, leaving a positively marked effect on NAMRIA’s human resource management, as well as on her.
Florence claims, “Back in 2007, the human resource was very different then. We assumed a very administrative role, very procedural but when PAHRODF came, big changes occurred. We came to take a strategic role. We have partnerships with the line departments and they have seen our contribution towards achieving strategic goals for the organisation. After the grant, we became more responsive. I can say that we have gone through a lot of changes since the grant.”
Florence also details how training their personnel in the use of information technology such as the HRIS (Human Resource Information System) has helped ease some of the manual work that they used to do, with attendance as a case in point. “We were able to acquire HRIS so we have been able to do away with the different kinds of monitoring such as attendance, and so it’s less paperwork.” She happily notes that with this taken cared of, they have been able to attend to more value-added services and strategic programmes instead.
On recruitment and promotion, Florence mentions that before the implementation of the enhanced competency tools, NAMRIA’s was solely based on the civil service criteria, as mandated by the Civil Service Commission. The introduction of the competency-based system (CBS) established a clear blueprint for recruitment, performance evaluation, and career advancement paths that also factored in competency. Florence explains, “Before, we didn’t have criteria. Well, we have the usual civil service criteria but it’s not competency-based. On top of the civil service criteria, we now have the CBS, which makes the decisions of the managers, more or less, objective and more based on competency.”
Likewise, she shares that their programs are more targeted. Although they have developed the CBS manual, she notes that it is a continuing process. “We are integrating or implementing a competency base in human resource management. We are developing CBS tools so we can be more strategic,” she adds.
On Florence’s part, the scholarship has definitely primed her to take on a change agent role through her REAP. Opening up a whole new world for Florence, her scholarship and her exposure to the facility has groomed her to become a more collaborative leader as she shares her acquired skills and know-how.
For HRDS, Florence shares, their strategic direction hasn’t really veered with the passage of time She affirms that what was envisioned before – for competencies in human resource to be developed so they can take on more strategic goals, is essentially still the same. Towards this end, they have continued to pursue more opportunities for training, learning and improvement. “I think we’re on the right path, given the right interventions, the right guidance from PAHRODF because, after the grant, it doesn’t stop there,” she maintains.
Although for Florence, HRDS’ impact is more internal, their efforts definitely form the backbone of the agency, contributing greatly to how NAMRIA benefits the public at large. The value of “people development”, as she puts it, cannot be diminished, with her section now addressing the strategic requirements of the organisation.
Developing experts in global, geospatial, geographic information systems and remote sensing among others, the agency’s influence unmistakeably cuts through modern living without us even knowing it. With PAHRODF helping to change the landscape of NAMRIA, our socio-political-economic landscape changes as well, and that, is clearly a good thing.