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Bridging the gap between an organization’s bottom- and top-level management is often an intricate process that demands a well-developed culture of collaboration and teamwork. To achieve this, organizational teams must practice autonomy by empowering members to self-govern and decide on the most suitable solutions and courses of action using a reliable approach that will streamline an organization’s service delivery.

Here are 5 reasons why Complete Staff Work (CSW) is just what you need:

1. It saves everyone’s time and energy.

We live and thrive in a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) where everybody is expected to think on one’s feet and quickly accomplish their respective responsibilities. For Mr. Kenneth Abante, Managing Director at WeSolve Foundation Inc., Complete Staff Work is the perfect way for decision-makers to spend more time on strategy. 

He defines CSW as “a statement of a problem and presentation of possible solutions” that are “thoroughly analyzed, coordinated with the right people, representing the best possible recommendations, and clear asks.” For Mr. Abante, the efficiency of the said approach is evidenced by his personal experience with his former, high-powered boss. 

“Iisipin pa ba niya kung ano ‘yung proposal for schedules? Magte-text pa ba kami ng napakahaba for 30 minutes na nagbabalik-balikan para lang maka-set ako ng schedule sa kanya where he has more important things to think about?” he said, adding that CSW saves time and energy not just for the decision-maker but also the staff because of reduced back and forth.

2. It improves professional skills.

Not only can CSW optimize time and work, but also help improve professional skills, including problem-solving skills, writing skills, and conciseness in the way that we formulate our recommendations.

“Imagine the power that staff first have in setting and framing the recommendations and options to the principal. It’s such a big responsibility. We are entrusted and empowered as staff to engage and frame these recommendations to our principals, who would end up making the decisions for our team or the country,” Mr. Abante said.

While many believe that CSW is hierarchical, Mr. Abante said that the approach rather allows for the opposite. 

“One critique on CSW, sinasabi nila, ‘Ah, masyadong militar ‘yan. Masyado ‘yang top-down’. But actually, CSW is really bottom-up because recommendations come from staff whose skills are honed in the process,” the management expert said.

We are entrusted and empowered as staff to engage and frame these recommendations to our principals, who would end up making the decisions for our team or the country.
— Mr. Kenneth Abante

3. It improves the quality of decisions.

According to Mr. Abante, CSW protects a team from half-baked ideas, long memos, and poor oral presentation.

“How many times have we encountered really long emails or really long letters or really long memos that are not straight to the point [and] hindi clear kung ano ang asks and gusto natin from the person we’re communicating with?” he said.

Without CSW, employees may have a tendency to be unclear about what options they want. For the staff, CSW says that the asks must only require the approval or disapproval of the principal and must be prepared in the final form of approval. Meanwhile, CSW demands supervisors to provide only clear guidance for their staff. 

4. CSW is a culture.

Supervisors and staff play different roles in creating the CSW culture, which they co-create. While some would argue that CSW is entirely output-driven, Mr. Abante argues that in localizing CSW to the Filipino culture, it is crucial to include positive affect and team dynamics. 

“Excellent work is when we combine CSW practices with a positive team culture, where we are able to work with our team members harmoniously and are able to harness the strengths of one another,” he said. 

Excellent work is when we combine CSW practices with a positive team culture.
— Mr. Kenneth Abante

5. CSW allows for a very important gift: Feedback.

Feedback is the way to connect the roles between a supervisor and the staff. In CSW, supervisors create a safe space for giving and receiving regular feedback, while the staff punctually communicates where they need guidance. 

In giving feedback, Mr. Abante promotes the use of the “Roses, Thorns, and Buds” approach, which symbolizes the questions, “What do I like about this?”, “What are the points for improvement?’, and “What support might the person need to improve this?”, respectively.

“Paano kung may misalignment in what we believe to be ‘complete’? Kaya mahalaga ang pagbibigay ng feedback. Dapat may standard ng completeness. This type of feedback is a gift,” he said. “The best feedback is anchored on empathy, genuine care for colleagues as humans and learners.”


Want to bring out the best recommendations and course of action in your organization? We at ISA offer the Skills Lab, a capacity development program designed to empower organizations by enhancing diverse skills unique to any organization’s needs to achieve long-term sustainability and success. 

“I appreciate how simple, yet very effective the course is through the various activities we had. The practical knowledge I had acquired from the Online Skills Lab on Complete Staff Work is extremely significant to our role as Planning Officers as we need to constantly communicate numerous plans, programs/events to our principals.”
Ms. Jane Villanueva, Governance Commission for GOCCs

“The whole seminar and training was insightful. This would definitely help work deliverables to be delivered seamlessly and efficient in OPAPRU.”
Mr. Kino Pascua, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity

A Skills Lab on Complete Staff Work awaits you this year! For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Kristine Roraldo at kroraldo@isacenter.org.