Building an HR Organization Centred on People
The following is an excerpt from The 50: HR Leaders Reimagining the Filipino Organization. Authored by Emee Dy, this chapter is titled, “Building an HR Organization Centred on People.” In it, Marithel Blando, the Assistant Vice President of HR of MEC Networks , is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in empowering their employees.
“Before anything, I invest in the emotions of the employees. I’m a people person,” said
Marithel Blando, the Assistant Vice President of HR at MEC Networks.
Throughout her 25 years in HR, Blando has always prioritized investing in the emotions of employees. She was fueled by her desire to mentor and coach individuals on how to positively contribute to organizations. Such a mindset has driven her to remain loyal to a single company for decades. That said, Blando believed in joining organizations that align with your values and goals; where one can grow as an individual, and also help the organization grow as well.
In fact, MEC Networks consisted of around 70 employees when she joined them 12 years ago. Blando’s mindset led her to build an HR organization from scratch. Blando truly started HR in the organization - today, MEC Networks boasts close to 300 employees.
As a company that operated in the technology industry, one might wrongfully assume that all there is to the MEC Networks’ team were technical skills. But that simply wasn’t the case.
“I always made sure to talk to the employees, even those who aren’t my direct employees. I believe that as a leader in HR, an open-door policy is a must. HR must always be approachable, such that others will want to get in touch with you and get advice from you,” Blando said.
To successfully build a people-centered culture, it began with hiring the right individuals. That said, she noted that MEC Networks doesn’t look for a degree specifically in HR or Psychology - so long as they were open-minded, willing to learn, ready to adapt, and had a strong drive to succeed and grow with the company. Both the technical side (expertise) and the character of the applicant were also taken into consideration.
“No matter how skilled an employee is at something, without character, he or she will not be able to contribute to the synergy of the team,” Blando said.
An organization centered on people also meant placing equal emphasis on the direction of management. For example, Blando always gets in touch with the president of MEC Networks. Together, they discuss the direction to which the company is headed. She believed that it was important to work closely with the “brain of the company” and align their objectives.
She recalled her first year with the company. She approached the president and voiced that she believed that they needed to have a training structure. Blando strongly believed that training would build the character of MEC Networks' employees, which was essential to building a strong company culture within the organization.
Because the organization hires individuals who are in various stages of their lives - whether a fresh graduate or an experienced professional - all new hires needed to be trained accordingly.
The training a new hire received depended on their prior experiences and the skills they need to perform best at a technical company like MEC Networks.
Once an employee is trained, members of the HR department make sure to follow through. They made sure that the skills employees have developed from training will enhance their performance. Supervisors made periodic evaluations in order to identify employees who may need to be retrained internally, or even externally trained.
Blando also wanted to point out, however, that while training may be divided based on experience - they wanted to grow as a team. “We embody an inclusive philosophy. We don’t just focus on top performers, but we also look at performers who need improvement. Although challenging, we conduct a training needs analysis,” Blando said.
Training needs analysis included directly asking employees what their needs were. Blando and her team sent questionnaires every year asking employees what skills they seek to develop. They also empowered supervisors to look into team members who may need a bit of a push.
With such an emphasis on people, Blando said that had her objectives failed to align with that of the president, she would have left the company a long time ago. The reason why she has been with MEC Networks for years was that she found joy in her daily work.
In the eyes of Blando, employees were the leadership team’s partners in innovation. The leaders at MEC Networks' mentored employees well and highlighted concepts like adapting to change, the emphasis being on customer experience, and leadership.
Beyond their skills, MEC Networks’ provided a work environment where employees can thrive. At the office, there are numerous breakout rooms where employees can brainstorm ideas, a lounge stocked with coffee, and a good pantry. Even the dress code was more casual than the typical enterprise company. These aspects of the organization highlighted that an employee who was happy with his work will also demonstrate great performance.
“Always have the heart in whatever field or endeavor you’re in. If you put your heart in whatever task that’s given to you, you will not notice how much time has passed. I don’t keep track of the number of years I’ve spent at the company. Instead, I measure how much I’ve grown and how happy I am doing what I’m doing,” Blando said.
To get more insights from other HR leaders like Marithel Blando, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
The 50 - and other business books about the Philippines and Asia Pacific - will soon be streaming on Audiophile, our platform for exclusive Filipino audiobooks.