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In Search of Solutions: Highlights from our Skills Lab on Complete Staff Work

Identifying problems and coming up with the best possible solutions in an organization is not an easy task. Building a culture of excellence for a better team performance requires clear communication and collaboration between the staff and management. To help partner organizations to achieve these, the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) conducted a Skills Lab on Complete Staff Work last November 29, 2022. This whole-day workshop convened 22 participants from various public institutions.

This Skills Lab course was facilitated by Mr. Kenneth Abante, Managing Director for Practice and Partnerships at WeSolve Foundation Inc., a social purpose organization that supports collective action movements towards sustainable impact.

The session kicked off with an activity which assessed the participants’ initial knowledge of Complete Staff Work, where they shared their thoughts on resolving issues by communicating the best possible solutions. In order to attain Complete Staff Work, Mr. Abante said that organizations must state problems and present thoroughly analyzed solutions, coordinate with the right people, and represent the best possible recommendations. He also emphasized that Complete Staff Work is a give-and-take situation between the management and the staff.

“For the staff, your recommendation should only require approval or disapproval para yung supervisor. Sasabihin na lang niya kung yes or no. Hindi lang puro sa staff yung responsibilidad. May responsibilidad din yung supervisors sa CSW. Dapat may clear na guidance for the staff,” he said.

To give the participants a richer understanding of the concept, Mr. Abante discussed the origin of Complete Staff Work. The communication format was attributed to a military memo during the Second World War, which aided armies in creating the best strategies to win battles. Through the years, Complete Staff Work became a popular practice.

“Over time, Complete Staff Work is useable by any team not only in the military but in businesses, government, and civil societies,” he added.

During the discussion, the lecturer also listed the benefits of Complete Staff Work, one of which is saving everyone time and energy, allowing decision-makers to focus more on strategy. Due to its bottom-up nature, Mr. Abante said, this concept also allows the staff to hone their professional skills as they formulate recommendations. Furthermore, Complete Staff Work will protect the organization from half-baked ideas, poor oral presentation, and long memos, improving the quality of decisions in the team.

In order to identify the needs of the organization, Mr. Abante zeroed in on the value of feedback, calling it a gift extremely vital in fostering Complete Staff Work in an organization.

“As employees, we can co-create the culture of Complete Staff Work. Supervisors and staff play different roles in creating the culture. Feedback is the way to connect those roles,” he said.

After the lecture, the participants were tasked to give their feedback on a sample executive brief using the “Roses, Thorns, and Buds” approach, which symbolize the questions: “What do I like about this?”, “What are points for improvement?”, and “What support might the person need to improve this?”, respectively. This activity allowed the delegates to grasp and understand the value of feedback on a deeper level.

Mr. Abante capped off the workshop by reminding the participants that giving feedback entails having empathy when relaying messages to team members to ensure smooth and clear communication and attain Complete Staff Work in your organization.

“This exercise is important for receiving and giving feedback. You start with what you like and you share your suggestions in a kind way – in a way that I would welcome if I were the one receiving feedback.”

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