PAHRODF Case Studies

Results Story 2:  PRIME HRM

Quality Recruits, Quality Public Servants

For the longest time, HR practitioners in government agencies, have always had the notion that their role is merely of compliance – filling in positions, receiving documents to meet requirements, shuffling paperwork, record-keeping, dispensation of benefits.  In line with the Civil Service Commission’s crystal clear vision however, “To be Asia’s leading centre for HROD excellence in 2030”, perspectives are changing.

Committed to empower its personnel to achieve this vision, the commission’s movers are pump primed to reach this goal.  Jing Deco, Director II of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) National Capital Region, in charge of the Quezon City and University of the Philippines field office, puts it this way, “From the onset, they’ve been really pushing us to course qualify and also try to go through a scholarship that would help us achieve the mandate.” With the help of the Philippines Australia Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility (PAHRODF) or the facility, deserving individuals are given full scholarships to enable them to carry this mandate through. “In my case, what I took up was Master’s in Human Resource Management.  It would really prepare us for meeting our mandate, which is to be Asia’s leading centre for strategic HROD in 2030.  As much as possible, we should really master the craft of HROD,” she adds.

Becoming a scholar

Initially, Director Deco applied because she was just curious to find out if she could indeed make the cut. Upon further scrutiny of the programme though, her interest was aroused by the fact that the course offerings were actually aligned with what she was doing, further enhancing her role at the commission. Hurdling the application process, she then received her Australia awards scholarship grant to the University of Newcastle for a one year masteral programme in human resource management from January –December 2013.

What Director Deco did not anticipate was the challenge that living in a foreign land, away from her family for a whole year would entail.  Thankfully, the facility provided the much-needed support for her to adjust and cope with her newfound surroundings.  She explains, “I really felt their presence throughout the process and until we left for Australia. Even there, some representatives from the facility visited us to check on how we were.  Their support actually means a lot. Somehow it keeps your eye on the goal.  There were times when you would really have some difficult moments, especially adjusting to a different culture, a new country.”

Similarly, Director Deco only has praises for the university and her mentors. “I’m just happy that I went to the University of Newcastle. They really have an open door policy when it comes to scholars.  If you have any questions, anything that you might need, there are really point persons there that can guide you,” she relates.

Bringing back the learnings

After the scholarship, Director Deco felt she was all the more equipped to contribute to the commission’s strategic plans.  With the commission’s programmes in place, she then became an active player in putting them in motion.  “It wasn’t difficult to adjust and bring back what I learned because actually, the programmes of the commission have already pipelined what we learned in Australia,” she adds.  In fact, since there were several CSC scholars from all over the Philippines that also zeroed in on human resource management, a collective and singular Re-Entry Action Plan (REAP) - meant to apply learnings from the scholarship to address organisational gaps, was mounted.  This joint REAP was to fully maximize its impact throughout the country and create the desired change in a more concerted way.

One of the flagship programmes, the programme to institutionalise meritocracy and excellence in human resource management (PRIME HRM) is a case in point.  Cutting through different aspects of the HR mechanism, this is deemed highly important as it seeks to increase the level of maturity of agencies in four (4) areas: recruitment and selection, performance management, rewards and recognition and learning and development.  Director Deco narrates, “Our Re-Entry Action Plan actually covers the PRIME HRM, which is the flagship program of the commission now. The reason for this is that it would cover the entire country since our scholars in the CSC come from the different regions. The facility would want us to have a programme that would really impact the majority of agencies identified with the programme.  It would really be more effective that way.”

Facing challenges

She admits though that rolling out the programme, with the Department of Education (DepEd) as the pilot agency, has not been that easy.  As with anything new, there is always some resistance as it puts target recipients on the defensive. The challenge, according to Director Deco was to make them understand that the aim of the programme is to push their HR systems to higher ground. She laments, “We formally had an assessment scheme involving an instrument that would generate a score card for every level of HR system.   I guess for every new programme, there would be some difficulty or challenge involving the target agency because it tends to put them on defence mode.  Nevertheless, once they see that we’re here to help them achieve a higher level, then that’s the time they would really cooperate and show their support.”

Thus, breaking this barrier to get their buy in, meant a lot of interaction.  They had to introduce the programme, acquaint them with its merits and address the agency’s concerns.  This interaction came in the form of a launching activity which allowed the DepEd officials a first-hand look at actual materials to be used and address their concerns. Meeting with the different division offices under their cluster also allowed them to guide DepEd personnel with the process before actual audit dates were scheduled.  “I guess that prepared them for the assessment,” she explains.

In addition, having been able to touch base with her mentors from university also helped her deal with whatever adversity. “I’m able to overcome challenges while implementing programmes of the commission by still keeping in touch with one of my mentors in Australia. I still get in touch with her through e-mail. Sometimes I chat with her. We get to discuss some concerns like resistance of some stakeholders when it comes to some programmes of the commission. So she steers me back to the problem-based learning that she has instilled.”

Translating to better HRM

On the overall, it seems that the global exposure that Director Deco has received, puts her role and that of others in her field in the proper context.  No longer content with haphazard programmes that merely ask agencies to comply, she now sees the importance of these initiatives that aim to transform business processes towards the creation of a better bureaucracy.  As she points out, “We’re trying to rid ourselves of the compliance approach.  Rather, there should be ownership for these agencies to really embrace what we are offering them.”

Happily, she notes that she now senses a shifting view among HR practitioners who also seem to be pushing themselves further. She adds, “I believe that we’re not alone in gaining such knowledge from the scholarship.  I believe everyone is really making an effort to make a difference.” In her opinion, HRMOs are slowly gearing up for their more active role, outgrowing the long-held belief that they are there just to manage paperwork, documents or employee benefits.

At the end of the day, the commission’s goal is to see these agencies’ HR systems improve to “level 4”, or to a more strategic HR mechanism.  This, she believes, will eventually only redound to better services.  “When you do top quality recruitment and even performance, definitely it translates to better services,” she confidently declares.

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