Managing Your Image – Anonymity on the Blog… For Now

While it is my intention to stand behind every word on this blog, it is a necessary step to remain anonymous while actively employed in the Philippines. The articles here may leave many unanswered questions in the reader’s mind, and while I do hope that this leads to some thoughtful discussion in the comments below this may not always be the case. It can be a natural response for individuals to fill in gaps in their understanding with their own assumptions, or to interpret the words from a different angle than what is intended.

Many of the topics here I would love to discuss openly with my colleagues at work, but the fact is not everyone is accepting of other’s opinions. What is intended to be an open minded discussion could be perceived as personal bias influencing decisions made in the workplace. I see this as an unnecessary risk for the purposes of this website.

I am not an authority on any of the topics discussed. They are merely opinions I have formed from my experiences living and working in the Philippines for a number of years. I hope that this will serve as a starting point for a broader discussion for both expats and Filipino’s alike. Both will have unique insights and there is much to be learned from each other.

Some may think that this stance is being overly cautious. However, when managing an operation consisting of hundreds of staff it is essential to manage the perception others have of you. All decisions and actions are scrutinized by many, and discussed by groups at all levels within the business.

A logical and factual basis at the core of all decisions will create a perception of fairness, reliability and consistency. It will also make you a predictable manager. This will promote a sense of stability in the workplace, and equal opportunity for all. Acting on opinion leads uncertainty. While every manager will have their opinions influence decisions, these opinions should be held close to their chest and not the sole basis for any decision that cannot be explained in a logical and factual way.

Managing your image is not a responsibility held only by those in charge. Everyone has a professional reputation that will influence their working lives. How hard do you work? How well do you dress? Who are your friends? How do you treat others? What are your opinions on religion, politics, and workplace issues? Your co-workers are making judgments about you every day, and making assumptions about what kind of person you are based on their perceptions. The collective perceptions of those around is your professional reputation, and if you do not manage this then there can be limitations to what you can achieve in your chosen career. The reality of who you are only matters if you people can get to know you personally. This is a difficult task in a large organization.

Professional reputation as a manager takes on greater importance in the Philippines for two key reasons. The first is that any staff member with a reasonable level of competence will not have difficulty getting a job elsewhere. If trust is lost in your leadership then staff may leave before you realize there is a problem. The second is that office gossip, or chismis, could be considered a national sport. What can start as a small issue can snow ball into a major problem as a story morphs its way through the grapevine. This can lead to your credibility being questioned, and the trust placed in you by your staff put at risk.

I will be exploring all of these issues and many more in detail in the future. For now I hope that I have shed some light onto why I am maintaining my anonymity. With this aside, I do hope that this will become a source of information and meaningful discussion for the challenges facing expats in the Philippines both in and out of the workplace.

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