Inspiring Progress

An inspired and motivated workforce is essential for any business that hopes to stay ahead of the competition. But just how do you motivate people?

(Originally published on May 29,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Cora Llamas


The very term evokes a sense of awe, elicits images of an authoritative figure who can inspire action, get the job done and still continue to have a heart that is predisposed to seeing the people under her grow and spread their wings as well. Think Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Corazon Aquino, Mother Theresa, and you get the picture. These ladies did more than just issue orders or run an organization (or a nation)—they lit the inner flame inside the people they were responsible for to lift their eyes to a greater picture where they can make a significant contribution, and in so doing, create better lives for themselves as well.

Leaders turn things around, create a noticeable positive difference, and leave a legacy. That is what differentiates them from the atypical manager who, regardless of the loftiness of his title, simply handles the day-to-day operations in order to fulfill set objectives. Leaders are a cut above the rest.

The Art of Creating Leaders

Take the early steps of Racquel Cagurangan, now general manager of lifestyle portal, when she first started work in a multi-national telecom company in a contractual telemarketing position that veered slightly from her mass communications background: “It was a sales and marketing job that required teaching people in the Philippines to use the International Toll Free calls to the US back in the early ’90s,” she shares. “At that time, people were still used to payphones and landlines and were always conscious of making phone calls both domestic and international because of the high rates imposed by local telephone service providers, including those in the provinces.

“Being exposed in a multinational environment allows one to work independently yet still be part of a team. My first job was not even an entry level position; it was contractual.

But I came to work every day acting like it was an entry-level permanent position. And note that I did not have a sales and marketing background. But I asserted myself and acted like I belonged. I came to work earlier than everyone else and left work later than everyone else. I was of the mindset that, no matter how small my role was, I was going to make it happen.

“Leaders thrive on challenges,” she points out. Soon enough, her colleagues and superiors noticed, especially when Cagurangan thought of solutions that nobody else did, one of which increased the company revenues to 186 percent.

Being Right for the Part

Francia Sales, general manager in Teleperformance (EDSA), also had a rapid rise up the ranks, starting in the call center industry as an agent manning the phones eight years ago. The visibility of that success is important to others who would follow the same path: “If your employee sees you as someone that they can respect as a role model, they will tend to follow you and listen to your demands,” she says.

Still, the path to growth may not necessarily be predictable. Cagurangan is eager to see that same drive and initiative in the people she mentors, even if it means shaking things up a bit and jostling them out of their comfort zone. She narrates the following examples during her time as a senior manager in a top Philippine telco: “This 52-year-old lady who had been a comptroller in the company all her life was placed in a position that she had to report to me—and I was 32 years old then. But I saw that she could do other things beyond finance and took a chance on her.

“At that time, no one in the telcos was looking at providing infrastructure for new buildings, which made it hard for these telcos to create landlines for condos that have already been set up. We thought of creating the landlines while these buildings were still being erected; the service would be there by day one. The lady started to develop that, and it’s still a very viable organization up to now.”

In another case, she had another lady exec who was also with the finance department handle employee relations and facilitate discussions and interactions with the support groups. This lady added another skill outside her usual to her belt, a combination she built on to eventually land a position in World Bank.

In the dynamic world of the BPO, where clients, systems, and procedures frequently change, Sales takes time to “explain the bigger picture [to my staff] the benefits of this new move, and what we will get out of it. Some employees are mature, while others don’t understand and accept change. If they don’t have a clear understanding, they will just whine about it and allow negative thoughts to run in their mind.”


This article appeared on HIPP Magazine’s February 2010 issue.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)


Posted on August 20, 2011, in Work Life. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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