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My responsibly-written point of view on bleisure, branding, career, corporate communications, entertainment, journalism, leadership, management, public relations, social media

How to behave at the office Christmas party

Party time indeed (and the clip above is a party gone so wild!)

When I was editor, the invites during this time of the year abound. But I have been very selective in the parties I go to (I prioritize those that I made good connections with the PR and their client; and with those I need to connect with on behalf of the organization I am part of). On most occasions though, I end up not going because I am still tied up with desk duties.

Whenever I see my friends who are people managers also like me, we cannot help but discuss our woes over the teams we manage, and the things they do and not do during office Christmas parties.

I told my reporters before that it is OK to attend these parties, provided that:

  1. They have already submitted their stories for the day
  2. That there are no other pressers, events that are happening on the same date and time of the party they are attending to
  3. That it is OK to drink, but moderately (the last thing that I want to hear is that my reporter got involved in an altercation, drove under influence, sexually harassed (or harassed someone sexually), among other unpleasant happenings that could have been avoided in the first place)
  4. That we are not allowed to accept Christmas gifts worth half or more than half of our monthly salary (most media companies have such rule, but not strictly followed, except in the company I was business desk editor [consultant] for almost two years)

I  also have heard really ludicrous stories of how employees misbehaved during Christmas parties, and how some also blew up the party budget with no appropriate justification for it.

So here are some tips on how to behave during Christmas parties:

  1. First things first: Unless you really have a good excuse (or you are the boss and can opt not to show up), attend, to recognize the blood, sweat, tears the organizers put in to make this party happen. Also thank them before you leave.
  2. Dress appropriately. It is still an official function after all. If you need to participate in a production number that requires a costume, make sure such is not too lewd for the general audience (as some of the attendees bring their young children with them). Inform your guest as well about the dress code.
  3. Do not get drunk. Enough said.
  4. Eat. Moderately also like drinking.
  5. Be social. That’s the point of attending the party, to socialize, to network, so be careful with your body language that tells others, “I’m bored, what am I doing here anyway?”
  6. Avoid gossiping. Zip that mouth. Again, this is an official function still. And the bosses are most likely in attendance and you might have no idea that they are within ear shot and hear you bad mouth him or her or your colleagues.
  7. Avoid flirting. Especially if under alcoholic influence. The last thing that you want to happen is be sued for sexual harassment or hurt someone’s feelings or proposed a marriage to a lady from another department you only met at that party.
  8. Do not post photos or videos that are, well, how lame the party is, your colleagues drinking or eating way too much, or those engaging in not-so-nice behavior.
  9. Be yourself. But do not make a fool of yourself. Again this is still an official function so behaving appropriately is still the key.

So be merry and enjoy the parties!

Email ma.lynda.corpuz[at]gmail.com for feedback.

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How not to “fire” a team player …

From the Facebook page of Vice President Leni Robredo

…  or  a Vice President in this case.

This shook my world early this week: Vice President Leni Robredo resigning from her post as chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), this after she received a text message from Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco that President Rodrigo Duterte asked her to desist from attending Cabinet meetings starting Monday, December 5.

In her resignation letter, Robredo cited the following:

Of course, the camp of the President scrambled to explain their side. While some are doing damage control as usual, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said that considering Duterte and Robredo’s political differences, he thinks the Vice President was fired.

And that appears to be the case, since the Vice President has been vocal about her criticism of the President’s war on drugs, sexual attacks against women, reviving the death penalty, lowering the age of criminal liability, and most especially, his granting of a hero’s burial to Ferdinand Marcos.

“However, as your duly elected Vice President, I will not allow the Vice Presidency to be stolen. I will not allow the will of the people to be thwarted. I will continue to serve the Filipino family and fulfill their dream for a better life,” she said in a statement.

Unprofessional

The Cabinet is like an organization which also has to observe rules, regulations, protocols. A government run liked a corporation or enterprise (a truly organized corporation or enterprise, headed by a true leader in the person of a CEO) will run well if it learns to embrace differences for the common good. But of course, politics rules.

What irked me the most is how unprofessional the administration is in relaying the desist order to the Vice President—seriously, such serious order to be conveyed only via text message? Text message!

There is such a thing as regular one-on-one meetings between the people manager and the team member, or in this case, the giver of the order (in this case, the President) and the recipient of the message (Vice President) where they could have discuss pressing matters between them.

Both camps cited irreconcilable differences. We thought early on that they could work together since they espouse some causes, like housing. But still, as a real leader, you will do your very best to rally your team behind your vision and mission by understanding where they are coming from, and how you both can compromise or negotiate for a greater interest.

When I had an opportunity to lead a team, and faced with the challenge of uniting them, especially understanding the defiance, indifference from my second-in-command, I exercised everything in my power to relay to the person how we must work together. That it is OK that we agree to disagree, but we must act together for the benefit of the team, for us to deliver results. When the one-on-one meetings and necessary interventions did not work, I had to stand firm, heavily, and talked to the person with the presence of an HR officer to clear things, and documented the meeting and laid down a a set of deliverables the person must accomplish within a specified period of time (I chose not to have a “formal” performance improvement plan since it would not really look good on the employee’s 201 file). And if these were not met, the option then was to let the person go.

Those mouthpieces of the administration, please, get your act together if you want the President to really look good. But some mouthpieces of the administration have a point in saying that the Vice President, and other Cabinet officials for that matter, is the President’s alter ego. That they should have set aside their differences for the sake of the country. That she could have positioned her opposition in a manner that would not be antagonistic, or defiant of the Chief Executive (well, it is a matter of perspective, to view it as antagonistic or defiant).

Or that she could have waited for a little while to truly speak her mind. But the Vice President has her own mind. And it did not help that the position she is holding now was, and still being groomed for the President’s bet, Bongbong Marcos, who lost the vice presidency to Robredo and still contesting it.

 

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, in a text message, quoted the President as saying: “It is with a heavy heart that I accept the resignation of Vice President Leni Robredo.” Granted this is true, but as a leader of the nation, he could have done better in working with the Vice President. And the Vice President as well.

I met so-called leaders who could not face me or their employees and instead sent their second-in-command to relay the message. This is why I have not wasted, and will not waste an opportunity to lead because I was at the receiving end of this ill treatment from these apparent leaders. Because people will work with you if you really do your very best to work with them. You may have differing beliefs or personal differences, but you can agree to work together for a common cause.

Duterte assured Robredo that she will be able to finish her term as Vice President. We will see then.

And let this be a lesson in leadership for us all.

Email ma.lynda.corpuz[at]gmail.com for feedback.

How to be WWW (Wonder Woman at Work)

SNOBBY? Yes, sometimes, but mostly, when I work, I really work, as evident from this screenshot from a televised Asia-Pacific Economic Conference presser in 2015.

I vowed to have a new blog post every Monday.

The past three weeks though were chaotic. And all for the good reasons. That my blogging is not on schedule.

Yours truly is working with three clients at the moment for four projects (I have two projects with one client).

The following are my current roles:

  • I am media consultant for a  universal bank’s corporate responsibility initiatives in the country
  • I am also consulting editor for a multinational professional services firm’s foreign-funded project in the Philippines
  • I am project / manager and executive editor for a book project of one of the country’s fast rising entrepreneurs
  • I am communications consultant for personal branding and social media management of that same entrepreneur

I am very thankful for the trust of these clients. My years of work as a business editor was the main reason why I have these opportunities now (for one, I applied for the consulting editor position and my editorial experience proved valuable for the role).

Networking also proves valuable. (I got the book project and the communications job through my former columnist, who happens to be a friend of this entrepreneur. And I would not know about it if I did not show up in this columnist’s event where my Italian friend’s company is one of the major sponsors. And the Italian invited me to be there. I e-introduced the columnist and the Italian early this year.)

My social media presence also helped me to stay in touch with my connections even if I have been out of the media job for four months now. I got the bank project because one of its officials reached out to me via LinkedIn, and asked me if I would be interested (and approvals needed to be secured for this to happen).

Thus as their consultant, I see to it to be on top of their needs. They have different needs that require my expertise. A balancing act on my part indeed.

Consultant vs Freelancer

First, the definitions.

When I was younger and starting to make a name as a business journalist / editor, I was freelancing (of course, with knowledge of my bosses then from my full-time jobs), mainly working on a story or press release basis, until the next similar assignment comes along. These are mostly non-competing with my companies or not similar with what I was doing as a full-time writer / editor.

But over the years, I have accumulated experience across media (from print to online); branding, corporate communications, marketing, sales support (through IBM); social media management (through Rappler.com and entrepreneur.com.ph). I, with help of course, learned what works and what not. I have learned to identify what a client needs versus his / her wants in line with his / her communication requirements.

And such, in a nutshell, makes me now qualified as a consultant because the clients look for detailed guidance on a particular area, which I may have the expertise they need. The projects are more extensive and there could be “mini-projects” within these projects. And a consultancy could be long-term  or an ongoing commitment, again, depending on the client’s need. In some cases, a consultancy could lead to a more permanent employment.

Balancing act

Now, how do I attend to all the requirements of my clients? These three are my basics:

Be honest

They know that I am looking for something temporary where I can contribute my expertise, as I am still looking forward to return to a more regular corporate, executive-level job. They know as well that they are not my only client. As a personal rule and out of decency of course, I do not take in a client that has a similar or competing interest with my current clients.

Prioritize 

At the onset of a new week, I start a weekly email thread with each of my clients (except for one which has no need for this). I detail in the thread what are the pending tasks on my end from the previous week; follow up on tasks or deliverables from their end.

I also inform them as well what is my schedule for the week (there are clients who are quick to set a meeting with me, and the likes). Thus, the remaining client/s, unfortunately or not for them, have to do with whatever schedule I am free.

If they need to get in touch with me urgently, I also advise them of my soonest available time to take their call (as on most days, I am in meetings and traveling from one client office to another).

There were occasions as well that a client would cancel at a short notice and would want to meet ASAP (they probably forgot that I already informed them of my schedule for the week). So I have to gently remind them that this is my week’s schedule so far, and if they are OK, meet instead on a weekend (but as much as possible, we confine the work on weekdays).

Eat the ugliest frog

There are clients who have very urgent and important tasks, meaning, a matter of life and death for them. So I will review it ASAP (I have become a pro in using my iPhone 6S for emails and documents), and work on it as soon as I can.

I attend to such tasks from each clients depending on which is needed soonest or which is the most difficult thing to do — a time management hack of eating the ugliest frog first (in real life, I do not like frogs though).

Still normal

Overall, there are days that are relatively normal. There are days that are crazy. But work is work and I have been known to be a professional and a task master so I deliver quality outputs by always going an extra mile.

Thank heavens not only for these opportunities, but also for heaven-sent people (family, friends) who understand the demands of my job (way back when I was an editor).

I am blessed as well that I have a very patient date, who in the past days was cool to wait for me until I am done; who understands that for my caliber, work is work; and truly understands my work and my lifestyle because he has busier work and lifestyle than I am. That when we are done with our work for the day, we treasure and spend our time together really well.

So, if I can do all these, so can you. We can all be wonder women and men if we know what matters to us, to the people we work with, and to those who are for us and with us no matter what.

Email ma.lynda.corpuz[a]gmail.com for feedback.

(UPDATED) CEO defined

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

 

(UPDATED) A Facebook connection shared an article early this week from a national daily about a telecommunications chairman’s “non-negotiables” in his company’s search for a chief executive officer (CEO). He temporarily assumed the CEO role about a year ago.

Citing that 2016 has been an annus horribilis (a year of disaster or misfortune) for the company, thus the next CEO should be “ready to die” for  the company, he said.

He has to be ready to die for the job, give up his family. Those are my strictures. Work over family. Period. If I could see that in that person, you’re it. You know, there is always a price you pay for the life you choose,” he said.

The reactions on the article my Facebook connection found the famous Philippine corporate leader’s remarks appalling, in light of efforts of more and more companies to strive for work-life balance or holistic employee life, in the hopes such efforts would lead to employee happiness.

As long as you say yes to a major responsibility, it is given that on occasions, the family or other things that matter to you take second or last priority. To say such in public is a turn off to those interested for the job. On top of the company’s reputation, the behavior of its leaders / managers were suddenly put on the spotlight.

At the same time, I see this Chairman / CEO’s point that indeed, there is always “a price you pay for the life you choose.” And he would not be considered successful, a maverick in his field, if not for the things he had to give up to deliver business results.

I can relate to such when I became an Editor in Chief (an executive level role in the company): the pressure was unbelievable; there were occasions I was going home when it was already early morning the next day accomplishing not only editorial tasks but also social media management, among other things; there was a lot of catching up in terms of hitting the week, the month’s targets; on top of making a team work as a team.

But I did not do it alone. My lean team helped. So the success I achieved as an executive is the success of the team as well. It was a teamwork.

A CEO, while calling the major shots, will not be as effective as he / she should be if his / her team is not behind the CEO. On top of making his / her company successful, the CEO must also look after himself / herself.

Thus, the CEO is always pressured to strike a balance between delivering business results and looking after his / her people’s welfare. Addressing such welfare concerns of his / her employees would result in their valued support to the CEO.

Despite such remark, this company will surely find its CEO: he / she must really want the job to do so, and pay the price of a life he / she will get into.

Until next week for a new post. Email ma.lynda.corpuz[a]gmail.com for feedback.

WTF happened?

 

It has been a week since the majority of the world got shocked with the turn of events in the November 8 US presidential election.

All right, both candidates are despicable. Flawed. But one is more despicable over the other. More flawed over the other.

Yet, the electoral votes were for now President-elect Donald Trump. But as of this writing, Hillary Clinton is still amassing the popular votes.

Why the result of the US election matters to me? Why it matters to a Filipino like me who has never been to US yet?

Because the election is one of the most anticipated, if not highly-anticipated happening in the world, with US as an ally, as a “friend” to most nations of the world, the Philippines included.

Because the campaign promises of Trump threaten immigrants (“the Filipino immigrant population is the third largest foreign-born population from Asia, after India and China”). And I have friends, relatives in the US who are working hard there, living decently.

Because I worked in an outsourcing/offshoring industry (at American iconic company IBM), and I have family members and friends who are still working in the industry (and these are American companies also). And they fear that Trump’s pronouncements of keeping the jobs in America would mean a massive job loss for us, and other countries whose outsourcing/offshoring industry highly contribute to their overall economic growth.

Because I am a woman. And I am working my a** off to break that glass ceiling. And a woman championing women’s welfare, causes, is a dream most women (at least in my network) thought with Clinton becoming the first female US president.

So I am appalled to read a remark of a personal financial guru who said, to paraphrase, “his two cents’ worth,” that he has no opinion about Trump winning the election because he is a Filipino, not American, and Trump is America’s president-elect, not here.

But whoever won the US election, his or her administration’s policies would certainly impact countries that it has ties with. The Philippines included. Of course, our government officials now are doing their very best to allay such fears related with the Trump presidency and what it means for our country.

Anyhow, there are a lot of reasons why #ImWithHer. And many voters also are for Clinton (considering the popular votes, plus the global sentiment toward her acing this election). But it did not happen for Clinton.

But I understand as well why Trump won the elections; why there are those who voted for him.

So she conceded. And her speech (video above) was the most gracious, real you can hear after a vile campaign season. But she wished Trump well, and “offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans.”

And when she said sorry that they did not win the election, I got teary-eyed.

And to admit that her defeat is painful, filled buckets of tears from all over. “I know how disappointed you feel, because I feel it too. And so do tens of millions of Americans who invested their hopes and dreams in this effort. This is painful, and it will be for a long time. But I want you to remember this: Our campaign was never about one person or even one election. It was about the country we love—and about building an America that’s hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted.”

But as her critics commend her as well, Clinton is a woman of steel. She will bounce back sooner than we think. “And to all the young people in particular, I want you to hear this. I’ve spent my entire adult life fighting for what I believe in. I’ve had successes and I’ve had setbacks—sometimes really painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your careers. You will have successes and setbacks, too.”

“This loss hurts. But please, please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it. And we need you keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives,” we hear you, HRC.

But as what she asked Americans, and a conciliatory statement sent to the world who watched this election, “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”

OK, President-elect. Do a damn good job.

Until next week for a new post. Email ma.lynda.corpuz[a]gmail.com for feedback.

Tuesday’s big news

Image from the Facebook page of Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang - Carmma

Image from the Facebook page of Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang – Carmma

 

Pardon the 1-day late post. Yours truly have been sickly over the weekend.

And while I was checking my Facebook last weekend, I saw posts from my former editor colleagues, saying Tuesday, November 8, will be a very, very crazy day in the newsroom because of the following:

The Philippines’ Supreme Court decision on the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani 

“Voting 9-5, the high court dismissed the petition filed by human rights groups and victims of martial law.”

The debut column of Mocha Uson (the staunch digital influencer and supporter of the Duterte administration) in the opinion section of The Philippine Star

Mocha Uson’s new job as a Philippine Star columnist didn’t sit well with one of the kin of its founder. Regine Belmonte, the daughter of Miguel Belmonte (president of Philippine Star), took to Twitter on November 6, to express her thoughts on Uson after she found out that the former sexy singer will be joining the broadsheet as one of its columnists.”

The US presidential election (Wednesday, November 9 Philippine Standard Time)

Well, at least, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump made amends after a vile election campaign season (oh, their impersonators Alec Baldwin [Trump] and Kate McKinnon [Clinton] did on Saturday Night Live)

These witticisms from Overheard in the Newsroom over the election made me laughed out loud:

 

 

Going back to the Philippines, it is the third anniversary of the SuperTyphoon Haiyan (Yolanda) and “[President Rodrigo] Duterte said he was disappointed with the insufficient housing assistance even three years after the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall in history hit Eastern and Central Visayas.”

Any big news I missed?

I understand why my former editors and colleagues are frantic over today’s happenings. But I know they are dedicated journalists who can handle the job very well and such rush in today’s newsrooms only add fuel to their passion to serve the country through responsible reporting.

Having been out of mainstream media for 10 months now did not make me care less about what is going on in my country, in the world.

It is simply that I chose not to deal with trolls who are simply out here in the online space ready to attack in case you have said something they saw as a potential goldmine in favor to their candidate or any party they are supporting. I myself have done social media management, and oh boys and girls, some of you can really get nasty. And some of you are paid to do so.

Thus, I only chose to keep my opinions mostly to myself, and to my close circle of friends. And doing my very best to share empowering, enabling posts across my social media platforms. To add to the toxicity in today’s vile online and offline world is not really helpful.

I am sharing these pieces of news to you in case you missed them (and the links I shared are those I saw immediately per my search).

So, there …. I myself cannot do much about these developments or have not given much thought about what to do yet (particularly those happening in my country). But I can choose to be a responsible Filipino citizen, of the world, one day at a time, one act of kindness at a time.

Tuesday, November 8 is still on, and there might be bigger news breaking anytime now.

(And Prince Harry just confirmed he is dating Meghan Markle.)

So, the world awaits.

Until next week for a new post. Email ma.lynda.corpuz[a]gmail.com for feedback.

Take care of yourself

JOURNAL. "Journal about your fears and worries. Then process what you wrote, and put an action plan together about how you will cope with these emotions," an Inc. March 2016 article suggests.

JOURNAL. “Journal about your fears and worries. Then process what you wrote, and put an action plan together about how you will cope with these emotions,” an Inc. March 2016 article suggests.

It is a long weekend here in the Philippines because of Halloween, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day.

As a predominantly Roman Catholic country, these holidays are about remembering our dearly departed.

For some, they squeeze in some vacation time — which becomes stressful when they get stuck in monstrous traffic or their flight got delayed because of the influx of passengers these holidays.

Indeed, such happening is stressful. And we thought this is a long weekend. A break we were looking forward to before we head back to work by mid-week.

So I know some, like me, who chose to have a staycation, catch up on unfinished activities (yours truly will finish some readings, update my journals, plus complete household chores like changing the curtains and cleaning the room).

Not all are equipped to cope with stress. Some eventually succumb to burnout, or as Merriam-Webster defines, “the exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.”

Different companies in different countries are putting in place health and wellness programs to ensure the well-being of their employees.

However, such is not enough. Attitude also gets in the way if we stress over things that are beyond our control, which eventually would take its toll on us.

Don’t ignore the signs

So you want to know if you are experiencing burnout?

If you are exhausted, unmotivated, frustrated, cynical, and unleashing all the negative energy, then these are signs you are about to crash.

If you are starting to neglect yourself, that is also a sign of burnout.

If you are always online, responding to (or have no choice but to respond to) work emails or simply cannot put your smartphones down, then watch out.

And if you are dissatisfied with your job “in your 20s and 30s, [that] can lead to overall health issues just 10 or 20 years down the line, according to a new study from the American Sociological Association,” a September 2016 Huffington Post article noted.

What matters most

In Japan, there are reported cases of employees dying from karoshi or death caused by overwork or job-related exhaustion.

It does not have to be that way.

Your health matters.

Your life matters.

You matter to your loved ones.

And the path to death due to overwork or exhaustion can be avoided.

There are many ways to look after yourself.

For one, try to de-stress even at work. I remember me and my fellow IBMers would finish our lunch early so we can take a walk at a nearby mall and its mini-park for us to unwind, to recharge.

I also found journaling to be very helpful in managing my work-related anxieties; in acknowledging the signs that I was overextending myself.

Talking to my trusted circle of friends about what I was going through also helped.

At first, I was passively listening and I was choosing to go deep into my troubles.

It helped that some of my friends really are honest enough to point my wrongdoings; they gave me that kind of kick that helped me, and still helping me to stay above my demons.

So when you are feeling some of the signs mentioned, do not ignore them.

There is no shame to seek help.

And I hope you enjoy the rest of the long weekend.

Until next week for a new post. Email ma.lynda.corpuz[a]gmail.com for feedback.

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