Maricar Aquino, 2015
PAHRODF Case Studies
Results Story 1: Strengthening the CSI, Learning and Development
Realising the Commission’s Vision - CSI as the Catalyst
From the onset, the Civil Service Commission’s vision was clear: “To become Asia’s leading centre for strategic Human Resources and Organisation Development (HR/OD) by 2030.” With the Civil Service Institute (CSI), the Commission’s training and research arm tagged as the key organisation to propel the Commission towards this vision, turning this into reality was daunting.
“We already knew what we wanted to do, we knew where we wanted to go, but we needed some help from other organisations and people.” This was the honest admission of Maricar Aquino, Director III of CSI. Director Aquino adds, “Right from the start it was clear to us, our mandate and what we were supposed to do to help realise the vision of the Commission. Admittedly, we were not that prepared, the people were not that competent. There were a lot of things that needed to be done. We needed help.”
Timely help came when the Philippines Australia Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility (PAHRODF) got involved. With what seemed like a “meeting of the minds” between the Commission and PAHRODF, two fully-funded intervention programmes were conducted by the latter: 1) Strengthening the CSI in February 2012-January 2013 and 2) Learning and development from early 2013 - June 2014. According to Director Aquino, “It’s a blessing that PAHRODF came into the picture … little by little, the things that we’ve dreamt of were given to us, were provided for us by the intervention.”
Grateful to PAHRODF for the opportunities provided to her and the entire CSI organisation, Director Aquino senses the deep concern that PAHRODF has for the Commission. Sharing the same vision for the Commission, she sees how PAHRODF wants more than anything to see this come to fruition.
Referring to the relationship with PAHRODF as a “healthy partnership”, she singles out the HR Symposia that was held in 2013 and repeated last April as among the notable collaborative efforts in partnership with PAHRODF. With this, she foresees many more beneficial projects that can be undertaken by the Commission with the assistance of PAHRODF.
Director Aquino also has kind words to say about the Learning Service Provider (LSP), whom she credits as being knowledgeable, having guiding them all throughout, with only the success of the project in mind. She gladly shares that dealing with both organisations was easy as the people behind them were all friendly and accommodating. Undeniably, the all-out support from PAHRODF and the LSP created a conducive atmosphere for learning.
As a result, she mentions that participants were highly engaged, enthusiastic and open to learn. From the onset, it was stressed that this was for the good of everyone and that success will be measured by the improvements each will project.
With the entire CSI staff, from the executive directors, directors, division chiefs, and technical support staff as participants, the outcome was eagerly embraced by the entire CSI organisation. Enthused Director Aquino, “No one was excluded. Everyone was involved. Everyone was consulted so the output of the project is shall I call, owned by all of us.”
On to a better CSI
The first intervention helped CSI develop a business model that allowed the organisation to be self-sustaining and profitable, focusing on its value propositions: scholar management, the conduct of learning events, general HR and OD training services, leadership and foundational programmes. As Director Aquino puts it, “A new business model complemented by an interim structure - the business model is composed of the new value propositions of CSI and in the end, make it a business enterprise.”
The need to have their own distinct branding also became real to the CSI team. With the LSP’s help and the seminar on branding that their entire organisation attended, the “CSI brand” was born. This meant that even before cultivating their training programme offerings, it touched on the most basic level, their identity. The CSI look, their colour, logo, the tagline, were all developed.
“Basically you can see and feel the brand of the CSI from the logo. ‘Orange’ speaks of who we are. We are brilliant. We are bustling with energy, with brightness. We want to implement the quality programmes that we have designed for the development of the entire bureaucracy. The tagline speaks of our advocacy: to shape the servant hero towards public service excellence. We were the ones who minted that. That we believe is what we wanted to do - to shape the servant hero towards public service excellence and that is through the civil service,” proudly declares Director Aquino.
Building on that first intervention, the second programme on learning and development helped the organisation zero in further on their area of training competence. From the simplest to the complex, the programme covered the entirety of the training cycle - from the training needs assessment (TNA) to design to delivery to post evaluation to performance consulting.
Specifically in the area of training design, Director Aquino shares that they lacked the expertise. They had very little knowledge on designing. To the few who knew how to design, they did not do it the scientific way. Through the intervention, they were given specific training on the right process, the right way of designing a programme – from the crafting of the performance objectives, the designing of the methodologies, and the assigning of modules. According to Director Aquino, this has definitely helped them move forward in the area of customising training programmes and providing training solutions for other government agencies.
The intervention also offered them a chance to benchmark against other training institutions, both public and private. This gave the CSI a fresh perspective on best practices that they could adapt. Director Aquino narrates, “We went to different training institutions where we also got to see their practices; how they do things, especially in the arena of training. We learned so much from that benchmarking. I would like to think that the output of the entire project was because of all that we learned from this exposure.”
After the intervention, Director Aquino then worked on their Re-entry Action Plan (REAP). The REAP is an integral part of the intervention, meant to utilise participants’ learnings to address organisational gaps. Director Aquino’s REAP focused on the sustainability of the CSI brand. “Apart from giving quality training programmes, there’s got to be something that should stick to the minds of the stakeholders, and that’s the brand. That’s the essence of our Re-entry Action Plan – to maintain the CSI brand which includes not only the logo, the tagline but everything that goes with the training. Beginning from the training collaterals to how the training programmes are conducted, from training administration to training design to training delivery up to evaluation. All these comprise the total brand of the CSI.”
Director Aquino also shares that although competing concerns in the organisation may have somewhat slowed down the implementation of their REAP, they are slowly but surely working on it. A case in point is the launch of the CSI website. Considering the amount of information and preparation to create this site for it to be comprehensive and reflective of CSI’s quality image, this needed careful scrutiny and effort.
They believe that the CSI website will be the summation of all these things - in preserving or sustaining the CSI brand. However, since CSI is not equipped to launch such a site, they have had to engage an external provider and consult with other offices such as Integrated Records Management (in charge of the Commission’s website) for assistance. Adds Director Aquino, “We’re up to the challenge. Challenges will always be there. As long as our vision is clear, as long as our mandate is clear, I think we will be able to get there.”
Indeed, the dual intervention provided by PAHRODF has truly helped CSI come closer to the attainment of the Commission’s vision. “We are grateful that we had this intervention, not only one but as I’ve said, strengthening the CSI and programme for learning and development that really, really helped us to be where we’re supposed to be,” shared Director Aquino.
Aside from garnering excellent feedback from their training programme participants, this also paved the way for CSI to eventually be (ISO) certified. A testament to the CSI brand’s commitment to the highest quality and standards in its external training services, Director Aquino directly attributes this to the learnings gained from the two interventions. She ends, “The intervention provided everything that we needed to get that ISO certification. The training, the learnings were all transferred into the things that we are doing now that are in consonance with the standards of ISO.”