Sunday, April 10, 2005

VOW and the water engine

I came out of a five-day Values Orientation Workshop last week. VOW is mandated for all government employees. But it is also conducted for private firms by various individuals and groups. Seminars and training have become a flourishing business for many seasoned speakers and facilitators.In our case, our national office, through its in-house training unit, has contracted the services of outside resource speakers for our VOW.

Non-attendance at the VOW, when our turn comes up, will be reflected negatively on our performance evaluation. We were also told that VOW is fun, in fact our officers and the rank-and-file employees who attended were all profuse in their praises for the program. Stick and carrot!

But it was not easy to convince those of us who have not yet attended about the efficacy of the program. A unit manager observed that one particular subordinate of his who graduated from the program has not changed a bit for the better.

I also resisted going to the program which was then offered in Manila. So that my name would not be included in the next schedule I always had several reasons ready. My boss thought I simply do not like travelling to Manila.

So when the next session was scheduled to be held right here in our regional office, he immediatly entered my name on the list of nominees. And the name of two unit heads - the one who did not like the VOW and another who hated travelling to Manila - who have not yet taken the VOW.

We did find the seminar fun. The speaker was terrific. She projected total grasp of how seminars can be made interesting. No wonder for we were the 97th batch in our agency alone. She also does the same program for other government agencies as well as private offices. There was another speaker on the fourth day. And he was good too. I think they worked as a team.

I do not know about others but I resisted going to the program because I believed that at my age my values are already too deep-seated to be changed. If they were wrong from the start then my public service days have all been a waste both for me and the public. A good manager should have been clever enough to see through me or any other like me and prevented the waste to continue. Unfortunately, a manager will be foiled by the security of tenure enjoyed by deadbeats in government.

I found out that she was not there to change our values. The program was about reaffirming our internalized values, already there to begin with, which can make us better public servants.

But VOW can change perception. That unit manager who said his subordinate was not affected by the VOW, confessed that VOW changed him.

I told him, "yes it has changed you. From now on you will be able to deal with your subordinate in a new light. Whereas you expected him to to be a changed man after VOW, now you have changed your expectation. You will not expect too much from your other subordinates as they finished VOW. You will not be frustrated if they remain true to the set of values they started with when they became your subordinates. And it will ease your mind to think that you can live with that".

What about the water engine? I'll take that up in my next posting, promise. It'll be about hoaxes that speakers use in their exhortatory appeals to get the attention of their listeners. And there were one too many at the VOW seminar.