First Name Culture (1)

Cover Story

A culture of dropping titles, breaking barriers

Hedcor CorpComm Team | January 31, 2018

Hedcor, being the pioneer run-of-river hydropower operator in the Philippines, has journeyed towards “a better future” for both its business and communities. For a better future to be achieved, change is driven not only in its operations, but also within the company’s culture.

2018 was a year of change for the organization. One of the biggest shifts the company had to go through was the appointment of Carlos Aboitiz as the new COO. His leadership leaned towards breaking company hierarchy and establishing a friendlier work environment, which led to the birth of the First Name Culture.

 

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A year after the First Name Culture was launched, let’s take a look at the journey of Hedcor towards open communication for better collaboration.

 

hedcor first name wall signs

 

The program concept was simple: employees should drop the “ma’am” and “sir” when addressing their team leaders. And while it is easy to understand how it works, employees found it difficult to adopt because emphasis on titles has always been the Filipinos’ way of showing respect.

To reinforce the program, signages were posted around the workplace with the phrase, “First name basis: Open communication, better collaboration”. Each signage does not only encourage co-workers to address each other by their first names but also serves as a personal reminder that such program pushes a greater purpose: better team and inter-department collaborations.

 

FIRST THINGS FIRST. When Carlos Aboitiz stepped in as president and COO of Hedcor, one of his directives was to "break" company hierarchy by encouraging everyone to call each other by their first names, with the aim of fostering more open communication and better collaboration among between individuals and teams.
FIRST THINGS FIRST. When Carlos Aboitiz stepped in as president and COO of Hedcor, one of his directives was to “break” company hierarchy by encouraging everyone to call each other by their first names, with the aim of fostering more open communication and better collaboration among between individuals and teams.

 

Another initiative is the ‘First Name Culture’ shirt, which bears a similar message to those on the signage: dropping the titles and calling each other by their first name. The t-shirts were mobile mediums that remind team members of the campaign even when they are outside the office. This initiative also helps promote the First Name Culture to Hedcor’s stakeholders and other business units of AboitizPower as well.

 

 

For fun, a small piso (one peso) penalty was imposed on team members who address fellow team members using their titles. Money collected through this initiative are then allocated to activities organized by the Labor Management Cooperation (LMC).

 

hedcor first name piso jar

 

These initiatives, thanks to the strong support from both team members and team leaders, gradually improved the implementation of First Name culture throughout the past year. The program first achieved full compliance in email communication and other online activities.

By standard belief, it takes around two years to change culture, and with over a year of implementation, with a few “slips” along the way. However, proactive Hedcor Kabisigs have been the greatest factor in improving team and inter-department collaboration for the campaign in record time. Above all, they discovered for themselves that respect can be shown in more ways than just titles.