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I like the company where I’m now working for more than a year.  The compensation is OK;  I’m single and so it’s adequate.  However, I don’t think I fit and I’m unhappy.  My boss is distant to me and so are the other members of our unit.  I know I do excellent work (modesty aside) and I’m a hard worker but my boss never compliments me.   I don’t know if I have hurt him when I did what he asked us, his team, to do:  to read his report to the management committee before submitting it, to make improvements in it and to give him suggestions.  I made a lot of corrections, using red ink.  Instead of thanking me, he was again silent.  When I had a chance to see his final report, I saw that he incorporated many of my corrections and suggestions.  Is he insecure?

During our weekly unit meetings, when I report or express my opinions when I’m called or when I volunteer, my boss and colleagues don’t say anything.  In fact I see some exchange glances.  I feel I’m just wasting my time during these meetings.  I don’t know what to do.

                                                                                    Mr. Unhappy and Confused


You want recognition from your boss for what you do so that you would know whether you are doing right and if he approves of it; instead, you only get silence.  You want a “pat on the back” for the “excellent work” you do; again, silence.  You want to have a sense of belonging to your team; instead they respond with indifference.

How about reflecting on your attitudes and the actions that they convey to the people with whom you work?  You perceive yourself to be doing excellent work and are a hard worker.  With this self-image, you probably feel superior and show this non-verbally through your facial expression (which you don’t see), your gestures and body language, some of which you are unaware of.  You may think you are hiding your feelings but everybody knows them from your behaviors.  Attitudes of arrogance and resentment that we bring to our work are never under wraps; they are reflected in everything we do or don’t do, in everything we say or don’t say.  They are seen and heard by others who give meaning to them.

Your attitudes (such as “I feel I’m just wasting my time during these meetings.”) are written all over your face, proclaiming to the world what you think and feel about you, about them (your boss and your colleagues), about your and their work contributions.  When someone makes a mistake or something someone does goes wrong, how you react reveals much about you. Attitudes are always seen in everything you do: how you walk and talk, greet or don’t greet others, smile or don’t smile, listen attentively when someone is speaking or not, etc.  These negative attitudes and behaviors will get you ignored at best or fired at worst.  In fact, they will derail your career in the company.

The attitudes of your boss and your colleagues towards you are shown in their silence and in their exchange of glances.  No matter how talented and hard-working you think you are, your attitudes towards and interpersonal relationship with the people you work with play a great part in how you are perceived.  Many of these are rated in your performance appraisal.  Take a look at the performance appraisal form and read the items there.  Evaluate yourself realistically on each item.

I suggest that you take a proactive stance and initiate interactions with your boss and with your colleagues.  Remove from your mind that your boss is “distant” and that he never compliments you. Change your paradigm of him; think of him as someone who is simply busy and that he would make time to see you if you make an appointment since you are a part of his team.

Make an appointment with your boss.  If he asks you for what reason, reply with:  “I want to ask your suggestions, Sir, on how I can further improve my work and my ways.”  Be prepared by looking and reviewing the items in the performance appraisal form. On scheduled appointment, look happy, express your thanks to him for making time for you, express yourself assertively, and attentively listen to him when he speaks.

For an opener, I suggest you say. “I want to ask you, Sir, how I can improve my work so that you can depend on my outputs.” If he did his homework, he’ll tell you many things.  Even if you disagree with his feedback, accept them for that is how he sees you. Take down notes so you won’t forget.  Then summarize his suggestions to you.

As for wanting positive feedback for the work you think you did well but about which you are not getting any compliment, I suggest you do the following proactive ways:

  • Ask how he found your work (example: your report, your presentation, corrections if he invited his team to do this.)  Thank him.
  • If he and your colleagues don’t say anything positive, accept them for what they are.  Feel good about yourself and give yourself “a pat” on your back. Say to yourself, “I feel great for having done/said that”.  This is self-affirmation.
  • Give your colleagues sincere positive feedback when it is their turn to present, to give an opinion, etc.  Express sincere appreciation even if you don’t get any from them.
  • Give your boss sincere positive feedback, such as: “Thank you Sir, for listening to me”, or “Your explanation, Sir, of – - – was very clear to me.  Thank you, Sir.”

Be friendly to your colleagues.  Make a list of friendly responses like: smiling at them, greeting them with a smile, offering to help them, taking snacks with them in the pantry, engaging them in small talk, showing interest in their family (if you see a family picture on their table), etc.  Continue doing these even if initially you don’t get friendly reactions from them.  They are still trying to have paradigm shifts about you.


God bless you.



Josie O.  Santamaria


June 17th, 2012 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

I thought I was in the right career.  I worked hard doing all the things expected of me and enjoyed doing them.  Because of my good performance, I got promoted twice and now at age 34, I’m a supervisor.  But I find that handling my subordinates and motivating them to work as hard as I do is draining me.  So I find myself doing the things that they should be doing and these on top of my work as supervisor.  I find myself drained of energy and zest.  I no longer find enjoyment in my work.  I’m no longer a good mother to two kids who look forward to my arrival at the end of the day so I could help them with their homework and play with them.  I often bring work home which frustrates me no end.

I have only three direct reports.  One of them is older than me and more senior.  He tends to question some of the things I ask him to do.  Sometimes he doesn’t do them at all.  The other one always finishes his work hurriedly so he can do other things that he likes to do such as the internet.  Yet his work does not meet quality standards.  The third subordinate is new and makes mistakes.  But I have no time to develop her as I have many things to do.

I want to change my career to my current strong interest which is to be a chef.  I look forward to weekends when I can prepare delicious meals for my family, read cookbooks and try out new recipes, experiment on new recipes, etc.   The problem is I can not pursue this career because I need my job and the regular pay and the benefits I get.  Changing career will require my time and energy to study culinary arts and gaining mastery to be recognized as a chef.  I can not afford to make this career shift now.

What shall I do in my present job?  Shall I change my career path?

Mrs. Drained Out


You are in the right career but not in the right career path.  You can, however, learn leadership skills for a management career path if only you have the self-motivation.  Withdrawing from your leading role will not help you develop self-confidence and enhance your emotional intelligence.

You are in a management career path which involves delivering your objectives through and with people.  On the other hand, a professional/technical path which you can explore with your superior and with the HR head of your company, requires mastery of skills related to particular tasks in a functional area.  This requires you also to be a coach and mentor by sharing these skills with others in the company or dealing with teams that need your service.   So whether you are in a management or in a professional path, you work or interface with people.

Right now, what you need to do is to develop your assertive communication skills.  Have a one-on-one talk with your senior direct report and ask him what his objection is to doing the tasks you are asking him to do and how he plans to do it, if he has his way.  Be open to his suggestion.  If you like it, let him do it.  If he does it well and delivers it on time, express your appreciation.  Obviously he needs recognition.  As for the second person who hurriedly does his work, you need to call his attention to this habit and tell him that doing the internet during office hours is a no-no.  Give him a list of tasks to be done according to the requirements of his position and the due date of each.  Obviously he is a fast worker and requires more challenging assignments.  Ask him what additional things he can do well.  Give him credit for doing them.  He is a talent that you need to nurture and keep for the company’s talent pool.  As for your third employee who is new, you need to coach her, observe her work performance, give positive feedback for performance according to agreed-on standards, to build her self-confidence and motivation to improve, and give negative feedback to correct wrong work behaviors before she develops bad habits.  By doing this, you make her productive and a contributing member of your team.  You can not just leave her alone, justifying your negligence because you “have many things to do”.  Developing her is your important duty.


Doing the tasks of your employees is not helping them grow and develop and not helping you either.  You are not developing your leadership skills.  This is the reason why you feel exhausted, burned out and drained because you have added their tasks to yours.  Your heavy work load makes you dissatisfied with your work so that you are now thinking of cop-out by changing your career path and even your career.


Being a good supervisor and enjoying it requires a stewardship mindset in which you see that your important  leadership role is developing and enhancing  the knowledge, capabilities and skills of your employees by coaching them and giving them useful feedback on what they do well and correcting them for errors or below-standard performance.  Being able to do this will also make them respect you.  As you develop their skills and enhance their knowledge, your work load will ease up and you will have time to do the things that only you can do.  You can also have time for your family.


It is important though that you see your supervisory role as a privilege given you to contribute to the success of your company by developing its human assets.  Be open to learn the important leadership tool of coaching your direct reports, learning assertive communication skills, assessing the performance of your direct reports and giving positive reinforcement to maintain productivity at a high level and giving negative feedback to correct behaviors and attitudes.  This can all be learned and when applied on the job consistently, you can see positive results which will enhance your job satisfaction and increase your emotional intelligence as well.


Your inclination towards a career in culinary arts because of your interest, aptitude and skills in cooking and creating recipes, entails substantial time investment which no doubt you have already considered.  With your interest, skills and creativity in cooking, you could be a caterer on week-ends by preparing and marketing your specialty dishes among your neighbors and friends.  As satisfied customers spread your name, your reputation will grow and perhaps this is the time to consider a career change.  But again being a caterer could also be very challenging.  I suggest you interview some caterers and chefs about this possible career option before you seriously consider a career change.


God bless you.



Josie O.  Santamaria


Even before I graduated from college last month with the degree of BSBA major in Marketing, I was already worried about whether I’ll be able to get the right job for me what with thousands of college graduates also looking for jobs.  I know that I should not just get any job but get the right job.  The advertisements for job openings are mostly from call centers but I don’t want to work in a call center company.

How shall I go about looking for the right job?  Please advise me.

Ms. Anxious Job-Seeker


I’m glad that you are aiming to get the right job and not just any job.   Getting the wrong job which is not in line with the course that you took, assuming that marketing is the right career for you, can derail your getting the right job and starting your career.


The right job in your chosen career is one where there is a fit between the requirements of the job on one hand, and your interest, aptitudes, personality and the skills you easily learned and enjoy using, on the other hand.  For example, in marketing the most common entry jobs are market research and sales.   From either of these two entry jobs, your work experience can very well set you off on a marketing career.


To do a successful job hunt, here are my suggestions for you to remove your anxiety and maximize your chance to get the right job:


  1. Develop a network – A network consists of people you know who can furnish you the information you need or refer you to people who can give you the desired information.  Initially, your network consists of your professors in your major subject, your parents, uncles and aunts and their  friends who can refer you  further to their friends and relatives who can give you information on

-           Entry level jobs in your chosen career

-           What these jobs require

-           Where to apply for these jobs i.e., what companies you can apply to and in what industry


Information about the industry is important for you to know the working conditions e.g., working hours, reward system, physical environment, location, etc., which are important for job satisfaction.  Perhaps your dislike to work in a call center is based on information about working conditions.


  1.  Make a list of these entry-level jobs that you gathered from your network, in what companies and industries can these be found.  Scan the advertised job positions that will use the technical skills of your major subject.


  1. Advertise yourself.  Tell people in your network that you are seeking the job positions you have identified.  There may be no job vacancies now but there might be vacancies later as people are moved laterally, resign or are retired.


  1. Look for companies that offer these entry-level jobs.  List down these companies and what industries.  Sources of information: (1) your network,         (2) advertised job vacancies in newspapers, (3) the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) in your city government or municipality, (4) job fairs usually held in shopping malls, (5) the internet such as Jobstreet and the PESO’s Phil-job.net.  You register in the latter when you log on to it and you get a list of vacancies; in what companies in the region, city or municipality have these vacancies and whom to contact.  (6) alumni office of your school, etc.  Both your ears and your eyes must be tuned in to information like these.


  1. Make your 1-page Resumé. Prepare a good and attractive Resumé.

There are tips on how to make a Resumé on-line or borrow a book where you can see a format to copy.  A brief Resumé has the following parts.

-       Your picture in the upper right hand corner

-       At the middle of the page your full name, address and contact number(s)

-       Career objective.  This should state your goal for the next five years specifying the position and function and why.  Ex.: In five years I see myself as a sales supervisor in a consumer company, leading a sales team that contributes to the revenue and profitability of our company.

-       Key achievements in school.  List down the organizations of which you were a member, your position in each, and what contributions you made

-       Key competencies.  List down your skills which you learned from formal classes, laboratory, workshops, apprenticeship, on-the-job training, volunteer work, or summer jobs. Include your computer and communication skills.  Examples:  conducting interviews house-to-house, collating and organizing data, summarizing and making reports; speaking to a group with self-confidence; working well with people; etc.

-       Work experience.  List down your apprenticeships, or on-the-job training, summer jobs, etc.  Cite the company, duration, tasks performed and skills learned.


Since you are applying for entry-level positions, there is no need to vary or to tweak the data in your Resumé to fit a certain company or industry you are applying to.


Make sure that your Resumé is pleasing to the eye.  Invest on good 81/2” x 11” paper with your 2×2 picture.  A good Resumé will not get you a job but it will open the door for an interview.


Have copies of your Resumé to give out to those who ask for it.  Write down the names and contact numbers of those to whom you have given your Resumé and do a follow-up on each of them every week or two.  Do this during their break time and respectfully without intruding into their work or rest.


  1. Prepare yourself for a successful interview.  In fact, when you visit a PESO or go to a job fair, be prepared with your Resumé and for the possibility of being interviewed.  Prepare your answers to frequently-asked-questions (FAQs) such as:
  • “Tell me about yourself”
  • “What are your strengths “
  • “What are your weaknesses”
  • “Why should we hire you.”


You can look up the internet or books that contain tips to give you an idea on how to answer these and other questions likely to be asked.  My workbook, Career Planning Workbook 5th Edition, sold at National Bookstores, contains a chapter on preparing a Resumé and another chapter, for an interview.


Role play with a friend or sibling how you answer this FAQs so that you will gain the skill and self-confidence to answer them when asked.


Wearing a business attire when you go to a PESO or to a job fair is suggested.  A good rule of thumb for a business attire is this:  for males: slacks, leather shoes with socks, short barong or short-sleeved shirt tucked inside your pants.  Females: slacks, blouse with sleeves and medium heeled shoes.  No-no to denims, jeans and rubber shoes.


  1. Take note of other requirements to get the job you want.  In a study done by the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) years ago, recruitment managers cited three factors that led to the failure of college graduates to get entry level positions they applied for.  These are:  (1) lack of, or inadequate, basic entry technical skills; (2) poor impact (i.e., lack of self-confidence as shown in over-all bearing and poise, personality and appearance) and (3) poor communication skills (i.e., difficulty in expressing one’s self in conversational English.


With this in mind, you can boost your employability by practicing and refining your (1) communication skills by speaking and writing in grammatically correct English, reading with comprehension, listening and understanding what the other person is saying, etc; and (2)  computer skills such as Microsoft office (MSWord, Excel, Powerpoint, Publisher, etc.)  Becoming proficient on these skills is your competitive advantage.


Doing all these will considerably remove or at least minimize your fear of not getting the right job.  The unemployment picture in our country does not really look that grim what with our economy perking up.  The published vacancies on line and in print are just the tip of the iceberg.  There are many more job vacancies to be filled by qualified applicants.  Be optimistic that you will get the right job.  Keep faith in God.


God bless you.



Josie O. Santamaria


April 1st, 2012 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

I hesitated to ask your advice about my problem because it is partly personal.  My husband and I have put up a financial investment consulting service two years ago after we retired from our respective corporate jobs in senior management positions.

We’re both in our late 50s and have two children who are both employed.  We had looked forward to fulfilling our dream and ambition to have our own business in the area of our expertise and enjoy freedom and autonomy from having to report to demanding bosses.  However, we find ourselves clashing on issues ever so often that I am tempted to leave him to our business and go back to corporate life as a consultant.  We both have strong personalities.  Sometimes we have shouting matches in the office and we end up not speaking to each other on our way home and at home.  Our children sense this growing tension in our relationship.  Instead of drawing us closer together, our business relationship is pulling us apart.  Frankly speaking, my last position was higher than that of my husband but we both agreed that he would be president of our company and I the managing director.

Since I learned that you and your husband work together, I hope you can share with us some useful tips on what we can do to strengthen our husband-wife relationship as we work together to grow our business and make it successful.  Please help us.

                                                                                    Distraught Wife


The pressure to survive and grow your own business have put strain and stress in your relationship with your husband that you now want out. Let me assure you that successful husband-wife business partnership and a strong marriage can go together but this can only be achieved through mutual efforts to remove the sources of stress and to be clear about your priority i.e., which is more important  to each of you:  your relationship or your business?


When husband and wife work together for 40 hrs. a week, individual differences become marked and these are bound to produce conflicts unless one is submissive to the partner with a strong personality.   You write that both of you have strong personalities and this leads to competition and conflicts. Since you had a higher position than your husband, this can unconsciously affect your manner of communicating with him through your words, your tone of voice, facial expression and body language.


Twelve years ago, I interviewed six couples who were very successful in their businesses.  All of them went through a rough time making their respective businesses grow and succeed.  At that time, the number of years they worked together in their businesses ranged from 12-23 years.  These couples recounted the many challenges they faced and the struggles they experienced because of the differences in their perceptions, in their decision-making styles and in personality and character.  The interviews I had of them and the experience of my husband and myself were published in a series of articles in the People at Work Section of the Sunday Inquirer in October 2000.  Later, these articles and several others published in the Sunday Inquirer were published in book form with the title, Managing Work and Career by New Day Publishers in 2003.


My husband and I both have strong personalities, too;  we’ve been working together for the past 27 years to continue to grow our HR training and consulting business.  The advice we and the six couples mentioned above, now give you in the form of tips did not come from business books or learned from a business school but from the “school of hard knocks” i.e., from our sweat and tears, laughter and joys to make both business partnership and marriage succeed and grow.    To paraphrase the priest officiating a wedding ceremony as he exhorts a couple contracting marriage – “only love can make things easy; only perfect love can make these a joy”.


When a husband and wife are able to harness their combined strengths and are able to work out their weaknesses, they have what is known as “couple power”.  As one author puts it;  “Joys shared are doubled, problems shared are halved”  when there is a successful union of two persons united in love.


Spouses who work together and share the same vision for the future share common victories that couples who don’t work together don’t experience.  They experience the exhilarating feeling of “We did it together!” when they get a contract signed or have conducted a successful seminar, or the bottom line shows a profitable operation.  They experience a greater sense of oneness and unity.


How to Make H–W Partnership Work and Succeed.   Here are some thoughts for you and your husband to reflect and tips to ponder on:

  1. Be sure that you are in a business which both of you believe in, are passionate about, and can do together.  This business must fully utilize the skills and experience of both of you.  If one has the technical skills, the other should have the skills needed to provide support.  If both of you bring your respective technical skills into your business decide what functional area is each one’s domain.
  2. Delineate your responsibilities.  Agree on the roles of each one.  Who has responsibility for what, and who has the final decision on what matters.  Give each other total responsibility in your respective area of expertise.
  3. Have a shared vision and mission for your business.  Agree on the values that will shape how your business will be conducted and define these values.  Which is priority: profit or customer satisfaction?  Speed or quality?
  4. Always plan together.  Agree on your goal or objective for the year or quarter.  Agree on strategies to achieve your goal and brainstorm on action plans.  This way you are walking along the same direction.
  5. Trust that your spouse is performing his/her role competently.  This promotes professionalism in your business relationship
  6. Open communication.  Openly express your thoughts and feelings.  And listen when the other does the same.  Listening must be done non-judgementally.  Look at the situation from the perspective of the other person.  If you disagree, don’t just keep silent or give your spouse the cold shoulder.  And do not shout, particularly in front of your staff.   This only arouses the defensiveness of the other.  Anger and resentment build up.  Remain calm and cool.  Do deep breathing, drink water or go away for a while then return to resume the communication in a calm manner.
  7. Respecting each other is very important in both marriage and business partnerships.  Love can’t make up for a lack of mutual respect.  Respect each other’s opinions, judgements and decisions.  Respect is shown in the following ways.
  • Attentive listening and putting one’s self in the other spouse’s place.  Listen to understand your spouse.  Avoid making judgements and confronting your spouse.
  • Never disparage or criticize your spouse in front of your staff or your client or supplier
  • Never criticise your spouse’s decision, or change or overrule it.  Support your spouse’s decision even if you don’t agree with it.  Bring up your disagreement in private, and then let your spouse be the one to change the decision he/she had previously made.  If not possible, let it be and learn from the mistakes and grow in wisdom together.
  • When one is working on and focused on something, or having a meeting with an employee or a client, do not just barge into the room or meeting and interrupt to talk with him/her or with the person he/she is talking to.  A good technique is to call the spouse by mobile phone or landline even if you are in the same office, to ask if you can ask/tell him/her something important.
  • Respect your individual differences.  See and be convinced how your differences complement each other.  For example, one makes quick decisions while the other is slow and deliberate.  See how this difference can be beneficial  to a good decision  with a time line.  Allow your spouse to work in his/her own style.
  • Respect your spouse’s need for privacy or to be by him/herself.
  1. Acknowledge your spouse’s expertise in his/her field of experience.  Let your spouse shine in his/her field of competence.  Don’t compete for the limelight.  Give affirmation and recognition to your spouse before your staff and your clients.
  2. Your organization should have only one head even if both of you put up your business together.   If a body has two heads, it will be a monster.  The head makes the final decision, after discussion with and agreement with the other spouse.

Your employees know where the buck ends.  Strive for unity in decision-making.  If there is unity, the direction comes from God.

  1.  Don’t mix your regular dialogue on personal and family concerns and your business meeting.  Do them separately.  Don’t neglect your children.  It is a mistake to make your work, your boss or even your god.   Continue to give your family quality time.  The practice of husband having a night out with their son or the wife with their daughter and focusing the conversation on the child’s interest and concerns is a good bonding practice and enhances family closeness .
  2.  When not attending business lunch or dinner meetings, take your meals together.  Take vacations together just to be by yourselves.  Don’t take the business with you.  Just enjoy.

Above all, make God your partner in your business just as He is a part and parcel of your marriage and family.  Pray before you do your yearly and/or quarterly planning.  Pray together everyday.  Thank God together at the end of the day, regardless of how the day had turned out to be.  Have faith in God, faith in yourself, faith in and deep love for your spouse, and be willing to accept your mistakes and to change accordingly.

God bless you.



Josie O. Santamaria


January 15th, 2012 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

I’m female, 29 years old and still single.  I have never had any serious boyfriend;  this has been my serious concern.  I don’t think I’m plain looking.  It’s just that I have so many things to do;  multitasking is the rule in our office.  I report to three bosses, all of whom have their priorities.  “Rush ‘yan” is all I hear.  One of them requires me to put on my cell phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  As a result of my busyness, I’m seen by my officemates as unfriendly and a loner and that I don’t want to socialize.  So they don’t invite me to join them.  I have no time to go to the beauty parlor to have a new hairstyle or to see a dermatologist for a few acne on my face.  I have no time to fix myself in the office.  I even munch a sandwhich while working during lunch time.  My officemates who are also multi-tasked, are able to spend time in cafes and bistros on Friday nights to have fun and to unwind.  I just have so many things to do that I go home late and exhausted.  I want to look good and change my image this new year.  What shall I do?

Miss Harassed


The answer to your problem of no time lies in your hands.  You allow external stressors such as the rush demands of your bosses to stress you so much you have become a slave to work.  You do have time if only you make the right choice of a response in a situation and practice assertiveness.


Multi-tasking is a fact of corporate life that employees of all levels need to accept.  However, employees like yourself, must learn to “work smart” i.e., to be creative and resourceful so that they are able to do things that need doing at a given time.   Even though you have bosses, you can still manage a stressful situation so you don’t get unnecessarily harassed.  Complaining to yourself and to others how stressed you are with so much work will only add to your stress.  Chronically stressed employee become ineffective; they may accomplish the tasks given to them but they become irritable and impatient with employees of lower status and even with external customers.  So the antidote to this is to accept the situation and feel grateful that you are needed by your three bosses and that you have a job.  This will make you happy. This will make you smile.


Here are five suggestions to help you develop a new image in the office and elsewhere:


First;  Be assertive with your bosses.  By assertiveness is meant that you ask respectfully for what you want.  List down all the rush jobs your bosses give you.  Show these to them and request them to prioritize them for you.  In this way, you remove the stress of  you  having to make the decision on what to do first yourself.  Make sure that you come to the office on time.  Request if you can stop your work by 7 pm or thereabouts so that you can go home and join your family for meals on weekdays, and on Friday evenings to join your office mates to unwind and relax.  However, you tell them that if the task can’t wait until the following day, you are willing to finish it.  When you say these things, look at them in the eye with a smile on your face.


Do not assume that your assertiveness will make your bosses angry at you.  Think positive.  Assume that they will be reasonable, that they will understand that you, just like them, have your own personal needs and wants, and that you satisfy these on your personal time.


Second, take the much needed breaks, no matter what your work load is.  Take the 15-minute morning break by getting away from your desk. Perhaps you can go to the pantry or to the office library and take a breather as you drink coffee/tea.  Do the same for the 15-minute afternoon break.  Take a 15-minute break again at 5:30 pm before you start your overtime (which may be paid or unpaid).  You have one hour for lunch.  Use it for lunch time with your officemates.  Don’t use lunch time for work.  If your bosses give you work to do during lunch time, ask, “May I do it after lunch?”  And smile.


Third, you do have time on week-ends to go to the beauty parlor or visit a good dermatologist.  Invest on a new hairstyle and have yourself made-up that is appropriate for office.  Buy a make-up set that looks good on you and that you can use daily.  Wake up 30 minutes earlier so you can fix your face and hair.  Invest on a new and attractive office wardrobe.  There are so many affordable and smart office attire that you can get off the rack.  There is absolutely no reason for any woman nowadays not to look good.  There are many beauty aids and beauty experts to help you bring out the beauty in you that God has given you when He created you.  Looking good will make you feel good.  This is part of what you wear every day.


Fourth;   Do not wait for your officemates to invite you to join them at meal times or to go out jamming.  Take the initiative to invite yourself.  When having conversations with them during mealtimes or during night outs, show genuine interest by listening to them when they speak.  Share your own experiences, your thoughts and opinions on the topic at hand.   Don’t think of work when it is unwinding and relaxing time.  Don’t feel guilty.  Your bosses should be the one to feel guilty if they deprive you of your private time to do work that may not be really urgent and can wait for the next day.

Fifth, know the birthdays and anniversaries of people you know ¾ relatives, officemates and friends.  Send text messages of greetings.  If it is your birthday, invest in finger food you can afford such as ensaymada or pizza, to treat your office mates.


In summary, the ONLY way   to change your image to your officemates is to change your attitudes and behaviors.  Look friendly;  be friendly.


There are other things you can do to improve your physical appearance,  your personality and your character.


Buy women’s magazines to give you tips on how to improve your face, body, posture, wearing of clothes, etc.  Get yourself also a time management book or research in the internet on this topic.


Read self-help books on how to improve your personality and character.  Invest one hour a day to read a chapter from such classics as Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, and Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” for a start.


May 2012 bring out real efforts on your part, not half-hearted ones, to be positively different, to look and feel good, to appreciate and love yourself because this is what God wants of you.  The new you may just make you attractive to someone who can be a serious boyfriend.


God bless you.



Josie O. Santamaria


December 4th, 2011 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

I graduated magna cum laude with an engineering degree from a good university and was immediately recruited as management trainee by a multi-national company.  Together with several others, also honor graduates of their respective schools, we underwent rigorous training and enculturation.  I’ve been working as assistant manager to a department head in our plant for almost three years now and I’m wondering how I am really doing  and when will I finally be promoted.  Most of my batchmates have been promoted to full managerial positions and even to executive level.  My immediate boss keeps telling me to be patient because I’d have my promotion “soon”.   The big problem is when is this “soon”? It seems I’m stuck now.  I’m so frustrated to the point of being demoralized and desperate.  What shall I do?

 Mr. When


Your impatience for promotion is brought about by the promotion of your batchmates to higher positions in the organization and your perception that your boss is not doing anything to help you in this regard.


The one who can help you assess if you are ready now for promotion is your immediate superior.  I suggest you set an appointment with him/her and ask:

  • how you have improved since your last performance appraisal
  • what are your chances for promotion or career advancement
  • why you have not been promoted.
  • how he assesses your promotability to the next level in the plant organization
  • does he/she think you are ready now


Suggested Steps To Take. However, before you have a career discussion with your boss, I suggest that you do the following:


First, be clear about your career goal.  Be able to state it in a clear, specific, measurable and achievable manner and with a time line.  Ex.  “At the end of two more years, I am promoted to department head and in another three years to Assistant Plant Manager.  My long-term goal is to be Vice President for Manufacturing.”  Do you want to remain in your current department as a possible successor to your boss?  Into what other department in the plant do you want to work?  As management trainee, you had an opportunity to work in the various functional areas in your organization, not just in your field of specialization so you would know which one matches your skills, aptitudes and career interests.

Second, as a result of your performance appraisal, ask yourself if you have addressed the areas for improvement cited by your immediate supervisor.  Have you followed up on these with him/her?   Have you improved on these areas according to his/her standards?


Third, how is you impatient attitude showing?  Sometimes our impatience is shown in complaining, griping and other verbal aggression, isolation, sulking and the like.  These never fail to reach the knowledge of upper management and work against you.  Check out your blind spot, i.e., your weaknesses that are apparent to others but not to you.


Factors to Consider for Career Advancement.  People who are promotable are not only those who have technical competencies but, equally important, they must have leadership ability (or the ability to influence others), have interpersonal skills based on respect for others, sensitivity to the needs of others,  subordinating your need to the needs of your organization, etc.  Reading books on leadership and management will be very useful to you. Do you share your knowledge and skills with those reporting to you and with your peers?   How have you coached your direct reports?   These are matters for you to consider seriously.


In addition I suggest you do the following:

  1. Read good books on personal mastery and personal leadership such as:
  • “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
  • “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John Maxwell
  • “Seven Basic Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey


Reflect on these, and apply them in your life.  These will require changing your negative habits and acquiring positive habits of effectiveness.


  1. Enroll in short courses to develop your personality and your assertive communication skills.  Check out the following in the internet:
  • Dale Carnegie Institute of the Philippines
  • The Toastmasters Club


You must be open and willing to change yourself from the inside (your attitudes, paradigms and values) and out (your appearance, grooming, poise and your behaviors.


As you keep sharpening your personal and interpersonal effectiveness, I suggest you keep your options open.  Look up jobs/careers in other organizations that may be right for you.  But keep this job hunting to yourself.  Your efforts to improve yourself will work well wherever you work.


God bless you.



Josie O. Santamaria


October 30th, 2011 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

Is it possible for a person to change his/her personality and character?  I am unhappy with myself because my subordinates do not approach me voluntarily.  My peers and their subordinates have an open communication and they seem to enjoy their interactions.  How can I change my image to my subordinates and in the company for that matter?  I don’t want to lose some of my subordinates who are talented and high potential.  Because of the serious expression of my face (I don’t have a smiling countenance), my keeping to myself, and speaking to my employees only when the topic is related to their tasks and in a business like manner, they are distant to me.  I even eat my lunch on my desk alone.  They are also formal with me and don’t come to me except when I call them.  I want to change myself to have a good relationship with my subordinates, particularly with those I want to keep.  How can I begin to change?

                                                                                    Mr. Formal Looking


Yes, you can change your personality and your character.  Your personality predisposes you to certain behaviors.  For example, your being an introvert predisposes you to want to be by yourself and to prefer to work alone.  This you can change by changing your mindset about yourself and about people i.e., you want to interact with them, and they with you, during break time instead of being by yourself.  Take your cup of coffee with you and go around saying “hello” to each of your subordinates and smiling as you do so.


Your character is the totality of your being such as being patient, kind, generous, tolerant, etc.  When you start to see people as your subordinates, as having value in the eyes of God and that the Lord expects you to love and respect them, you’ll have a different perspective.  What behaviors show respect, kindness and consideration to people?  Do these repeatedly.  Repetition of positive behavior makes this a habit.  This leads to change in your being, in your character.  “Watch your thoughts, they become your words./ Watch your words, they become your actions./ Watch your actions they become your habits./ Watch your habits they become your character./ Watch your character, it will shape your destiny.” by Frank Outlaw.  True, isn’t it?


The image people have of you depends on what they see you do and say, repeatedly.  To change the image, you have to change your behavior and do this consistently.


Steps in the Change Process:  It is easy for you to change because this is a DOY, that is, it depends on you.  The change process consists of 3 steps:  First, having a strong motivation to change.  This you now have.  Second, translate motivation into action.  Third, give yourself a pat on the back each time you do it.


For Step 2, look at yourself in the mirror and have a smiling countenance in your eyes and lips.  Practice this.  Upon waking up in the morning have a grateful heart.  Thank God that you have a job in a good company, that you have a good position and that you have people working with and for you.  A grateful disposition makes you happy.  Show this happiness in your smiling countenance.  Resolve to put on this smiling countenance the minute you enter your company.  Greet the security guard, the receptionist and then your staff.  Make sure that you look at them and that you are smiling when you greet them.  When you are able to do this, give yourself an “I did it!” smile of approval.


Instead of asking a subordinate to come to your office, go to his work area, and take a seat beside him.  Then say, “Hello, can I have a word with you?”  Then proceed to deliver your message.  Then ask, “Did I explain that clear enough?” instead of “Do you understand?” or “Is that clear?”  Then thank him for listening.  Smile when you do this.  You will feel awkward the first time you do this because this is not your usual mode of communication.  Expect also that your employees will look at each other, raise their eyebrow, and/or talk with each other about what you’ve “eaten” (“Ano kaya ang nakain?” is the usual remark.) to make you change your ways.  Be happy that they notice the changes in your behavior.


Continue to do these behaviors until they become habits with you, always congratulating yourself and feeling good about yourself that you have managed to change your ways.


Ways of Motivating and Keeping Your Employees.  The best ways of making your employees motivated and keeping all of them, not just the talented and high potentials, are the following:


  1. If you like what they did, give them a positive feedback immediately, using the I-message formula:  I + your feeling + for their behavior/their work.  Ex. “I like the way you did your report.  The data are well presented and well organized.”  Make sure that you have eye contact and are smiling while saying this.


  1. If there are errors, point them out in private.  Use also the I-message, this time looking serious.  “I’m disappointed at the late submission of your report, despite our agreement that it should be submitted on Tuesday since I need your data to make my own report that is due on Thursday morning.  I know that if you write this down in your “To Do” list for Monday, you’ll be able to submit it as agreed upon.  Then both of us will be happy.”  End the interaction on a positive note by a positive message and smiling.


For more on feedback that makes a difference.  I wrote a series of articles published in the Sunday Inquirer, Job Market Section, dated July 24-30, 2011, July 31- August 6, 2011, September 4-10, 2011 and September 11-17, 2011.  Let me know if you want these emailed to you.


  1.  Coach your subordinate to do something new, or to follow a new procedure or a new technology, or to improve on what he is doing.  Demonstrate how it should be done.  Then ask them to repeat the instruction or the procedure.  “Do you think you can show me how it’s done?”   When he is doing this, look at the person with a smile on your face and nodding your head in approval.


Then when you see improvement in his performance, give an immediate positive feedback with a smiling face.  When you don’t see any improvement, call him in private, and ask what the difficulty is.  Listen attentively.  Then repeat what you have coached him.  Then smile again.


When you do coaching, you not only develop your team member; you empower him to do some of the tasks you do, thereby minimizing your stress.


More importantly, coaching contributes to the development and strengthening of positive relationships between the leader and team members.  You gain their respect.  You enhance your self-esteem.


  1. Tell them how important their work is and how it contributes to your section’s output and goal.  Tell them how your section’s output and goal contribute to the achievement of the department’s goal, etc.  It’s important for them to see the impact of their work on the over-all goal of the company.  Recognition of their work and of their worth is a powerful motivator, and one of the important factors to work engagement.


  1. As much as possible, take your lunch break with them.  If they eat in the pantry, eat there, too.  Engage them in conversation about current events that you read about in the newspapers or see on TV.  Don’t talk about work.   Make the atmosphere relaxed.


As you do these, you will see improvements in yourself, in your subordinates’ interactions with you and in your relationships.  You have overcome the weaknesses of your character and personality.  This gives you a sense of achievement, and makes you happy.  And smiling has become a habit with you as well.


God bless you.



Josie O. Santamaria

I was helped by your 2-part article on “Feedback that Makes a Difference” (Inquirer, July 24 and July 31, 2011) because I did try to practice what you advised.  I was one supervisor who was quick to criticize but never gave any praise.  You were right that this was due to my failure to get the required stroke quota because my boss is so busy with meetings that I never receive any affirmation for my excellent work, which I know I perform.  My parents also were never given to praising us their children.  I tried giving positive feedback to a subordinate who submitted a good report.  I knew I did not give her the advised smile that you prescribed.  However, I did get a happy smile from her and it made me happy.  My daily objective now is to give at least one positive feedback to each one of my four subordinates.   I have also changed the way I give negative feedback, thanks to your advice.

 My question is:  If I always give positive feedback to every positive behavior, won’t there be satiation, such that it will no longer achieve its purpose.  As they say, “Too much of a good thing is not good.”  Thank you.

                                                                                               Mr. Trying Hard


Thank you for your positive feedback that my 2-part article has helped you.  It made me very happy.  Congratulations for your humility to accept your deficiency and for your successful efforts to apply what you have learned.  Continue to do the feedback behaviors until this becomes habitual with you and until your employees’ positive behaviors become positive habits.  Reward yourself with an “I did it!” feeling and really feeling good about yourself.  This is your intrinsic positive reinforcement since no one is likely to give you the extrinsic “pat on the back”.


I’m glad you asked about the possibility of satiation or an overdose of positive feedback.  You need to vary the recognition you give.  Recognition that becomes rote no longer motivates.  You could alternate the verbal with the non-verbal and with a written feedback.


Examples of verbal:

  • “This is a good point you made.”
  • “I like the way you put it.”
  • “This is great.”
  • “I agree with it.”


But always give the affirmation with a smile and eye contact.


For example:  If an employee who habitually comes late in reporting to work, comes before 8 a.m., you can tell her, “I see that you came in at 7:50 a.m. today.  What brought this about?” while looking at her with a smile on your face.  The next day, she comes at 7:45 a.m., you can say, “I took note of your arrival at 7:45.  I’m happy about this.” The next day she arrives at 7:55 a.m., you say to her, “OK, Jinky!

Examples of non-verbal:

  • Nod of approval given with a smile
  • Attentive listening while looking with interest at the person talking
  • Showing enthusiasm at the person’s suggestion


Examples of written feedback.  Written work submitted by an employee can also get a written commendation, such as the use of the following symbols:

ü  (check)

«  (star)





Paste a gold star on the report.


or writing on the report:

“Good!” “Great!”


“One of the best reports you’ve submitted.”


A very powerful positive reinforcement is giving a letter or e-mail of commendation for noteworthy achievement, such as a medical representative getting a prescription from a doctor who had long prescribed a competitive product.  Make sure that your boss and your boss’ boss are forwarded copies.  And, as important, the memo is in the employee’s 201 File.


My suggestions are those that can be given freely by a supervisor/manager without cost to organization.  There is of course formal recognition to celebrate milestones such as when

  • an employee earns a graduate degree
  • a sales person earns the annual award for top performance
  • a team exceeds the super target
  • etc

This article does not include such milestones that require plaques, trophies, cash rewards, trip abroad, etc.


Shift from Continuous to Intermittent Reinforcement.  When you want your employee to develop a positive habit, give him positive feedback every time he does a positive behavior.  This is continuous reinforcement.  When this positive behavior is done regularly,   switch to intermittent reinforcement or giving positive feedback at irregular intervals. This means that you give positive feedback on the third, then fifth, then eight, then back again to second, sixth, etc. that the behavior is performed.   Research by behavioral psychologists showed this method to be effective in maintaining positive behaviors and habits.


Other Types of Reinforcements

 In addition to the above one-on-one praising or verbal/non-verbal positive reinforcements, employees may be motivated by other types of reinforcements for good performance.  Examples are:

  • Making him feel he is contributing to something bigger than  his work, in fact, to the over-all mission and goal of the company.  Ex. hotel laundry workers do not just wash sheets but play a vital role in guest’ over-all hotel experience satisfaction
  • Being given an opportunity to become visible to top management such as being brought to attend a management meeting
  • Being exposed to a different function related to employee’s interest
  • Being chosen to attend a company (in-house) training event, or to attend a conference or convention without his attendance/participation being constantly interrupted by calls from his boss (you)
  • Giving him opportunity to attend public training programs to acquire/ be updated on a new technology and having him attend without being called to the office to attend to an urgent matter
  • Being consulted on specific problems in which the employee has experience or in which he has special competence
  • Involving the employee in making a decision that affects his work or his team or in matters where he has relevant expertise.
  • Giving employee participation in setting unit/team goals/objectives
  • Enabling him to be part of task forces or ad hoc committees
  • Having the employee represent the team, unit or department in a meeting
  • Being delegated certain tasks and trusting him to do them well

And don’t forget to remember to greet them on their birthdays and wedding anniversaries.  Giving a balloon or a flower on these important events can boost their self-esteem.  Surprise a star salesperson by having champagne in her room the next time she bags a big sale.  She deserves it!


Be creative in giving positive reinforcement.  If one reinforcer doesn’t work, try another.  The best way to find out which reinforcement is meaningful to him is to ask him directly “What will make you happy after doing a good performance?” and then listen to his answer.  As he talks, listen for values, needs and interest.


Shaping Positive Behaviors.  When an employee has difficulty acquiring a new behavior or performing a certain standard of performance it is important for the boss to clearly define the behavior or standard in observable terms.  Example:  Objective: to make six successful sales calls in a day following the itinerary without backtracking.  “Successful sales call” is defined as calling on the right target client and closing the sale.  The boss recognizes the right actions and corrects the wrong ones so that these are not repeated.  This is especially true for new employees or employees learning new skills or new technology.  As the employee makes progress, the boss gives immediate positive feedback.


Giving sincere positive feedback or positive reinforcement is very important to foster a strong and positive relationship between the boss and his employee.  It is the key to maintaining productivity in the workplace. Make the giving of recognition a habit.  It doesn’t cost you anything.  But it does a lot of good to a person’s morale and boosts his productivity.  And it makes you feel great!



Josie O. Santamaria


July 24th, 2011 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

I’m a newly promoted supervisor with seven people reporting to me. I have no problem with my position description.  There is one thing, however, that I find difficult to do.  This is giving feedback to my direct reports. I find it difficult even to give a deserved praise.  I feel strange and uncomfortable praising a person.  I’ve tried it but I ended up regretting my attempts.    I agonize about giving a deserved criticism.  I know both of them are important to improve performance but I find it difficult to express in words what I think and feel.  Can you give me some useful tips that will work.

                                                                                    Mr. Fearful of Giving Feedback


You’re not the only supervisor who finds difficulty in giving feedback, both positive and negative.  In my 27 years of conducting supervisory and management development programs, most participants acknowledge frequently this area as their weakness and area for growth.  Lack of recognition is an area most often complained about by subordinates, of all levels, of their superiors, of all levels.  This can be seen in 360o feedback results in which the giving of recognition is an area of great need.

Even if you didn’t mention it in your email, I can surmise that you have not received a sufficient amount of positive feedback yourself, which is why you find it difficult to give what you don’t have.  Dr. Virginia Satyr, a famous psychologist, used the term “daily stroke quota” to refer to the minimum amount of affirmation—verbal and non-verbal, that we need to feel good about ourselves and to feel good about others.  When a person does not regularly get his “daily stroke quota,” his personality changes.  He withdraws from the people who frustrate him, or engages in aggressive behaviors to fill up his attention deficit.

Benefits of Feedback: Everyone needs stroking, affirmation, pats on the back.  The one who protests that he doesn’t need positive feedback is one who is fearful of not getting it.  His protestation becomes a defense mechanism.  “I don’t need what I don’t/can’t get,” is the actual message.

Our feedback to another person enables them to see themselves as we see them, thus expanding their self-awareness.  It enables the person to know how their behavior/performance affects us.  It provides them the opportunity to receive a deserved praise or a needed correction.  Addressing the area of correction provides the impetus for growth and development.

Feedback can be verbal or non-verbal.  Verbal takes the form of words of praise, compliment or affirmation. Non-verbal can be in the form of listening attentively to understand, nods of approval, smiling, giving a pat on the back, acknowledging an employee’s ideas and suggestions, etc.  Combining both the verbal and the non-verbal is a powerful tool that boosts one’s morale, self-esteem and productivity.

Positive feedback is likened to psychological oxygen that makes a person “grow, glow and go.”   It motivates the receiver to continue what he/she is doing, and maintains and improves productive behaviors.  Receiving sincere positive feedback and other forms of recognition are one of the factors that contribute to an employee’s work engagement and retention.  This is one of the findings of the Hewitt Associates research on Best Employers in Asia in 2004.  Among corporations in the Philippines studied by Hewitt Associates, employees ranked recognition as the # 1 driver of work engagement followed by pay, opportunities for advancement and HR practices beneficial to employees.  Highly engaged employees were found to be those who stay long and build their careers in the company, who deliver consistently high performance and say positive things about the company to customers and to the public.

Feedback vs. Reinforcement.   Feedback can be given on the being and doing of a person. It can refer to the qualities of a person or to the behaviors of a person that one likes.  On the other hand, reinforcement is a kind of feedback that is focused on the behavior of the person, i.e., his doing.   We give positive reinforcement to the positive behavior of a person and this makes him more likely to repeat the same positive behaviors.  We give negative reinforcement to the negative behavior of a person and this makes him less likely to repeat the same negative behaviors.

At times, however, we may give positive reinforcement to a negative behavior making it more likely for the person to repeat the negative behavior.  An example:  we start a meeting at 9:15 a.m. because we wait for the latecomers to arrive when everyone concerned had agreed to the schedule of 8:30 a.m.  We thus delivered a positive reinforcement to the latecoming behaviors and negative reinforcement to the positive behaviors of those who came early.   You can be sure that if you do this often, those who came early will come late at the succeeding meetings.

What Do We Give Positive Reinforcement To?  There are two things that a leader can give positive reinforcement to:  positive behaviors and the results of these positive behaviors.

When an employee is new to the job, needs to learn the tasks, and needs self-confidence to do them, the leader observes closely how he performs a task and notes the positive behaviors that the employee displays. An example of this:   a new Sales Rep has asked the right kind of questions and was able to handle the customer’s objection.  The Supervisor tells him, after the sales call, and as soon as possible when they are alone:   “Roy, I like the way you handled Mr. Santos’ objections. You made good use of probing to extract information from him on his reason for refusing to stock up on our new product. You were able to show the advantage of having stocks available to avoid bouncing prescriptions and lost sale.  That was really well done, Roy!”  Say this while smiling at him and nodding your head in approval.

The Supervisor also gives positive reinforcement when outside conditions prevent, for example, the Sales Rep from attaining his quota, even though he is making regular quality calls.

For example:  A Sales Rep regularly calls on his drugstore outlets and he is well liked by drugstore owners.  Unfortunately, however, inspite of his efforts, his sales is low because of low demand for the products, and the company has tightened its credit terms.   In this situation, the Sales Supervisor tells his Sales Rep: “Sammy, I noticed that your call frequency is high and that you’re calling on four potential outlets regularly. But overall sales in your territory is low.  I know that it’s sometimes difficult to stay motivated during tough situations like this when demand has slowed down due to the prevalence of cheap generic substitutes, and our company is also implementing strictly our credit policies.  But you’re doing a very good job, Sammy.  Keep up the good work.  As soon as things stabilize, I’m sure you’ll reap the benefits of all the good work you’re doing now to build and maintain good relations with your customers.”  If the Sales Supervisor has not said this to Sammy, think of how demoralized and demotivated Sammy would be.  The supervisor recognized two positive behaviors of Sammy e.g., regular calls on potential outlets, and building and maintaining good relations with customers.

Another situation when positive reinforcement is given to positive behaviors is when there is a long time lag between the desired behavior and the desired results. An example is when a Sales Rep is calling on a high-potential account that is difficult to crack.  The Sales Supervisor can give a sincere encouragement by telling his Sales Rep:  “Roy, I know you haven’t opened the ACES account yet, but the tenacity and persistence you’re showing will pay off, not only on this account, but on others as well.”  The supervisor is giving recognition to the sales rep’s persistence and tenacity, which are winning qualities of a sales rep.

In each of these situations, a specific behavior or set of behaviors is reinforced.  This increases the probability that these behaviors will continue, even though the individual has not yet experienced the satisfaction of seeing his particular task completed or his goal accomplished. This situation is also known as shaping behavior.

On the other hand, the Sales Supervisor reinforces results when everything is running smoothly. As an example:  A Sales Rep has been doing a good job of maintaining his quota. The Sales Supervisor can tell him “Mike, I see that you are able to maintain and even exceed your quota.        Keep up the good work. I appreciate all your efforts to achieve your targets consistently. I’m very proud of you.” The supervisor also reinforces consistent improvement in meeting of targets.  As an example, he tells his Sales Rep: “Gloria, your territory has been improving every month for the last four months.  Keep calling on your Key Accounts and doing regular stock checks and merchandising, as well as PR activities to further improve your sales.”

In each of these situations, the individual had done the right things (engaged in the right behaviors) and obtained the desired results.  The emphasis in reinforcement is thus placed upon those results.  Chances are that the recipient of the reinforcement probably will continue to practice those behaviors that led to positive results.  Quite often the performance of a high performer dives down because of lack of positive feedback.

When you give a sincere positive feedback to your subordinate, watch the physical change in his face;  watch his smile, although it may be an embarrassed smile very common among those who are not used to receive compliments, and the glow on his face.  Observe the improvements in his performance.  Very often he does not only repeat the positive behavior; the positive feedback affects other aspects of his performance as well.  An example of this :  when a supervisor gives a positive feedback to his employee for the latter’s initiative in his customer retention campaign, observe how his attendance and punctuality improve as well.  This is known as the ripple effect.

Effect of Silence.  Some supervisors find it difficult to give a deserved positive reinforcement or a negative reinforcement directly to the person.

The common reaction to a difficult situation is withdrawal; in this case, withdrawal takes the form of silence.  What does silence on the part of the boss convey or communicate to his employee?  If the subordinate does a positive behavior or accomplishes something, and the boss says nothing about it, the positive behavior goes through a process of extinction until it disappears.  If the subordinate does a negative behavior, such as coming one hour late for work, or making an incorrect but deliberate entry in his/her expense report, etc. and the boss says nothing about it, silence is a positive reinforcement to the negative behavior.  You can be sure that the negative behavior will be repeated again and again until it becomes a habit.  This is how we contribute to the development of bad habits and vices of others.  We say nothing when they do it, making them feel we approve of it.

Quite often, we praise an employee to another employee, or complain about our employee to another employee rather than direct the feedback to the employee concerned.  Performance evaluation could be an occasion to give effective feedback on performance.  Unfortunately, performance appraisal is usually done hurriedly, doing away with the one-on-one feedback session that could have been helpful in strengthening relationship.

Some Guidelines In Giving Negative Feedback.  The giving of both positive and negative feedback is a very useful tool in performance management and in coaching. A leader  can not be effective without the use of feedback skills.

Negative feedback, if done and given correctly, and immediately, corrects negative behaviors and eliminates unproductive behaviors.   Here are some useful guidelines in giving negative feedback.

  1. Describe the specific behavior or incident.  A basic formula for feedback giving uses the I-message i.e., I ( I speak for myself) + feeling (what I feel) + your behavior + consequence.  Ex:  “I am very disappointed that for the third time this month, you submitted your report 1-2 days late.  I had spoken to you about this matter twice already and the consequence of late submission of this report to me and to the person who needs my report.”
  2.   Choose an appropriate time and a private place when nobody can see or hear you when you give negative feedback. Do this one-on-one.
  3. 3.     Describe the context. Ex: “I’d like to talk to you about what happened in our meeting this morning.”
  4. 4.     Speak for yourself, not for others.  Describe your reactions and reasons. Ex:  “I was distracted by your side conversations with Dave and couldn’t follow what others were saying.”
  5. 5.     Ask for the change you like to see.  Ex: “You often have good points to make and I would prefer it if you would share them with the whole group rather than talk about it with another person.”
    1.   Allow or give time for the other person to respond.  Wait in silence as you look at the person.

Some Don’ts in Giving Negative Feedback:

  1. Don’t use labels or judgments. Such as “When you are irresponsible”, or “It’s obvious you’re not a team player because you don’t participate during our meetings.”
  2. Don’t exaggerate.  Ex: Instead of, “You build a wall around yourself and don’t work as a team player,” say “When you don’t speak up.  I’m not sure what you’re thinking about.
  3. After giving a negative feedback, communicate your expectation of the person to change.  When he acknowledges his mistake and apologizes, never say “OK lang” because this negates your message.

Use High Quality Assertive Communication.  By this is meant that our non-verbal (facial expression, tone of voice and body language) must be consistent with the content of our message.

When giving positive feedback, face the person, smile and the tone of our voice conveys happiness.  When giving negative feedback, our face and tone of voice must convey seriousness. Do not smile when giving negative feedback. Never apologize for giving negative feedback.  Example:  “I’m sorry that I have to tell you this.” This confuses the employee.

And never use your cellphone while giving feedback.  This violates high quality assertiveness, does not show respect for the other person and does not speak well of you.

In conclusion:  Forgetting to stroke, to affirm, to pat a person’s back when this is deserved, is a sin of omission.  How many persons in the workplace go through their worklife feeling unloved and unappreciated.  They don’t grow fast enough or worse, not all, because of the lack of impetus to growth which a positive feedback gives.

You asked me to give you “some useful tips that will work.”   These tips that I have shared with you will only work if you use them with an open mind i.e., you have a positive attitude about their usefulness.  Do not immediately say “It’s difficult” without trying with the attitude that they will work.  If you won’t start doing it now, when will you ever do it?  Practice giving feedback by:

  1. writing down a positive feedback script and a negative feedback script for each of your subordinates.
  2. imagining yourself talking to each one in a high quality assertive way

Practicing by yourself will remove the discomfort you feel when you actually deliver it.

How About You?  I started my advice with a diagnosis that perhaps you don’t get your daily stroke quota which is why you find it difficult to affirm another person even if deserved.  Here are some positive and proactive ways you can do to fill your daily quota:

  1. Do a great job. Exceed expectations
  2. Help people do their work better through coaching.
  3. 3.      If they still don’t affirm you, ask them.  “How did you find my work?”  “How did you like my report?”  “How did you find my presentation?” etc.
  4. If still you don’t get the affirmation you deserve, “shake the dust off your feet”, as Jesus advised His apostles on mission.  This means “Don’t bother about them.”
  5. Continue to be good, to do good, to feel good. This is your own built-in positive reinforcement.


God bless you.



Josie O. Santamaria


June 26th, 2011 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

My boss likes me so much that he wants to keep me so that I’ll continue to be of value to him.  In so doing, I’m not able to develop myself and to advance in my career.  I graduated with honors from a good school and had no problem getting a job in my present company which I joined five years ago as a management trainee.  After one year with my current boss, he promoted me to be his executive assistant, a position I’ve held for four years now.  He lavishes compliments on me for the work I do and gives me high performance appraisal ratings.  I receive performance bonuses.  So I have no problem with him re: receiving appreciation, recognition and financial rewards.  My big problem is: he wants to keep me as his executive assistant and in his department because he considers me “my right hand whom I trust completely.”  Meanwhile, one of my two batchmates had gone far in their career:  one has been promoted to department manager – the same level as my boss, and the other one has risen to a senior technical position in the company.


I want to be considered for higher positions and to advance in my career but my being a valued employee of my boss has become a stumbling block.  What shall I do?

Mr. Career Stuck


What’s stopping you from opening up to your boss and telling him what you want in your career and seeking his help in getting what you want?


Have a Career Plan First.  Before you approach him, be clear about where you want to go in your career and in your life.  This way, you will not be merely reacting to the promotion to department head of your batchmate.  Your career plan includes being clear about your career goal and plotting your career path to achieve this goal.  Your career goal should take into consideration:


(1)   Knowing yourself: your skills/competencies which you enjoy using; and a clear vision of your ideal job/career because this will reflect your interests, needs and values;

(2)   Knowing what positions and in what department in your company will enable you to achieve this goal;

(3)   Knowing the competencies of each position, and comparing these with what you currently possess so that you can see the gap that you must address through training and development efforts and relevant work experience, which is not in your current job.


Contents of Your Career Plan.  Your career plan must contain the following items:


  1. Career Goal.  This must be stated in a SMART way, i.e., specific, measurable, attainable, relevant (to your values and needs) and time bound.  Example:  To occupy a marketing manager position in this company or in some other company by end of 2014.
  2. Career Path.  Sequence of positions to be held to achieve your career goal.
  3. Competencies required for each position.
  4. Training and development and work experience required to gain these competencies.  In addition to training (for short courses), cross-posting, job rotation, getting a graduate degree, etc. are sources of your professional development.
  5. Action Plans and when you will do each of them.  Action plans include doing research on the positions in the company that are relevant to your career goal, the competencies required, making an appointment with your boss, etc., and the dates to do these.


Be Assertive.  The reason why you are stuck in your current work situation is because you have allowed your boss to manage your career by being your non-assertive.  When you go and see him, you must be clear about your career plan and your career path so that you can be assertive in expressing what you want and the help you will request from him.  Then, request your boss to recommend you to the head of the department that you want to join in line with your career goal.


In case he will not recommend you, ask him if you can get the help of your HR Head to facilitate your transfer.   Another option is for you to apply directly to the department head.  Be prepared to get an entry level job in the new department and from there work your way up.


I don’t know what your corporate culture is regarding interdepartment transfers.  If the culture is one that believes in putting the right person in the right career to benefit both the company and the person, then you’ll have no problem.  Companies nowadays value their talented and high producing employees and would do everything to keep them rather than to lose them to other companies.


God bless you.



Josie O. Santamaria