This is the 2nd email in a series of 5 about why OFS sometimes do mindless work.

If you’ve never heard about Hofstede’s Power distance Index, it’s worth looking up.  You’ll understand the mindlessness a lot better.

The Philippines has a very high power-distance index. They respect authority.

If they don’t have a clear picture of who is in authority, they’ll often assume others are in authority and they’re below other people. This makes them less likely to question things they see wrong. Less likely to fix mistakes. Less likely to try hard when someone in authority has already worked on it or is going to work on it.

Here are quotes from my team:

  • “What was on my mind at those times was… “you are my boss; why would I question or correct you?””
  • This is so telling about their behavior –> “We trust “professionals” and are afraid to point out the mistakes of these professionals (graphic designer, writer, editor, ect) because we are afraid that maybe we are the ones who made a mistake. And we don’t want to “embarrass” ourselves.
  • It takes me around 4 drafts just to show [team member] a mistake. Should I start with “Sorry to correct you?” or “Hi [name], I might be wrong but”, or “This might be because you didn’t see this, but…””
  • “As children, we are taught “huwag sumagot sa nakaka tanda” which more or less means we cannot defend ourselves or argue against elders. This ingrains the Filipino habit of never talking back to authority, even if we know they’re wrong.”

What this comes down to is if you (or someone else they see as being in authority) asks them to do something, they’re unlikely to correct a mistake you make, even if it’s obvious to them that you’re wrong or left something out.

Go back and read through the previous Fear newsletter.  You’ll see evidence of the power-distance built-in to their fear.

You can use this to your advantage sometimes.

Give someone authority.  Spell out their authority.  Give them a job title and specific responsibilities. Tie those responsibilities to outcomes.   Because they are now the ones with authority and power, they take the responsibilities seriously.

On Thursday we’ll talk about quantity over quality.

John

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