PAHRODF Case Studies

Results Story 13:  Enhancing Performance Management within the Legal Service

Empowered to Level Up

Empowerment, efficiency and effectiveness – these remain as corporate rhetoric if not put into action.  Seeing how these need to be strengthened in her department, Atty. Gina V. Wenceslao’s goal is to help bring these to the fore.  As assistant division chief of the Legal and Legislative Liaison Services Department at the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government), she enthuses, “I’m excited about the fact that in my own small way, in my own humble way, I can contribute something for the movement of the legal service in the Department.”

Atty. Wenceslao, the first recipient of Australia Awards Scholarships in her department, believes that the competencies she displayed and her potential for leadership earned her the recommendation for scholarship.  Wanting to further her knowledge, she also envisioned making a difference in her workplace. As she explains, “My intention is to help my employees, my colleagues - to empower them and then give them a perspective of what their particular roles are in relation to the entire mission and vision of the Department.”

Having been with DILG since 2010, Atty. Wenceslao returned in September 2013, armed with a Master in Public Policy and Management from the Carnegie Mellon University in Adelaide, Australia. Like many other recipients of the Australia Awards Scholarships, Atty. Wenceslao has been able to develop both personally and professionally as a result of her studies abroad. “The Australian Government through PAHRODF (Philippine Australia Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility) is a key agency that helps scholars from the government or private sector so that they return with better competencies from foreign education that can help their respective offices and, eventually, the country,” she stresses.

Proudly, Atty. Wenceslao declares, “Each one of us is a better version of our former selves. I learned competencies which help me now cope with my current position and having staff of my own - how to reinforce leadership, working with my colleagues, my superiors, and higher management.  I learned how to be cooperative without actually jeopardizing the correct principles that one wants to impart for the further development of the legal service in the department.” Atty. Wenceslao has herself become the model of what she hopes to instill in her department - empowered, efficient and effective.

A work in progress

Atty. Wenceslao is more than eager to share her gained knowledge. Since Atty. Wenceslao’s return a year back, however, her Re-entry Action Plan or REAP, a plan designed to apply her learnings to address organisational gaps, has only gotten off the ground just recently. As she candidly puts it, “My REAP is actually a work in progress.”

While her REAP focuses on enhancing their existing performance management routing scheme, she has also now included the development of a balance score card system to measure efficiency and effectivity of performance that she refers to as “Balance Work Hard”.

Atty. Wenceslao narrates that when she got back, she was caught in the middle of a change in leadership. Hence, she purposely held off working on her REAP until the incoming head had firmly established her governance.  “I did not start on it until the legal service had a new leader or head, and that was in March of this year.  The previous director who was my mentor resigned some time October 2013 and that was a challenge on my part because I had to re-do or revise the REAP altogether to give way of course to the new leadership,” she shares.

Since then, she has had to “expand” the coverage of her REAP.  Her original REAP, approved by the previous head, dealt with the refinement of their existing performance management routing scheme.  Although it was high time to revisit the system which was created four years ago, Atty. Wenceslao also realised that it was not enough to just work on that.

While being a very good tool to determine output, it did not allow room for employee empowerment and had no focus on work efficiency, thus giving birth to “Balance Work Hard”.  “I saw the need for the legal service to have the balance score card as a means for empowering the employees and stressing the emphasis of efficiency.  While the old REAP was a refinement or re-tuning of the performance management or routing scheme with the legal service, the new REAP also includes that, plus the ‘Balance Work Hard’,” she clarifies.

“Balance Work Hard”, according to Atty. Wenceslao, is a planning and performance management tool that addresses efficiency and effectivity of performance.  It uses a balance score card that covers 4 aspects that the legal service hopes to improve on – employee empowerment, management relations, work output of the entire legal service and synchronization of vision among units within the Department. She explains, “There’s no “Balance Work Hard” within our office.”

Getting it off the ground

Aiming to launch the system by September2015, she is currently in talks with consultants who can help develop the balance score card and eventually, assist them in its implementation.  “My intention is to establish it before September 2015 and then make a yearly evaluation of the scorecard to determine if we are achieving the identified targets,” she adds.

Atty. Wenceslao’s major challenge now is to find the budget to implement her REAP.  Naturally, there are significant costs involved in the design and creation of the balance score card, not to mention the work required on the existing performance management scheme.  “I know that would be quite a substantial cost considering that would include of course, team building or a 3-day seminar or conference on establishing or developing a balance score card. Plus, the refining or re-tuning of the current performance management routing scheme.”

Nevertheless, Atty. Wenceslao is undaunted. The new leader of DILG’s Legal and Legislative Liaison Service has been highly supportive of her efforts at employee development and empowerment.  Likewise, she is heartened by her division chief’s and co-workers’ enthusiastic reactions to her REAP.  Encouraged by this, she remains positive.

Present and future gains

Although too early to tell how her REAP will affect the strategic direction of her department, Atty. Wenceslao believes that once in place, its effects would be far reaching.   An effective and more efficient legal service resulting from her new REAP on performance management would not only benefit their main client - the Office of the Secretary, but would also redound to other stakeholders, especially the general public.  “A better and improved legal service would mean a marked improvement in the service of the department to the other stakeholders, which includes the local government units, the employees, and the public.”  When her REAP sees fruition, she says “it will be the first in the legal service.” And though her REAP has yet to take flight and its impact still unrealised, what is certain and what matters is that she is actually now applying the gains from her scholarship.

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