Making the Best From a Lose-Lose Situation.

In philippines business by Michael Michelini2 Comments

Been holding back on this blog post, but seems now is the time to really “let it out” and tell everyone this one burning issue I’ve had the past couple weeks, as I felt the world falling down on top of me….my customer service trusted scholarship recipient had been missing since before Marie had her early baby delivery….the business was basically running out of control….and she only was text messaging Joel (Shadstone’s trusted bookkeeper and budget guru in Manila) that she had a death in the family, per the email I received:

Hi Mike,

Joel sent me this email telling me she needs to take an emergency leave starting today to assist her dying relative. I do not know how long will it be.

Hi Joel,

Thanks for this email. Please remind Darlene to send us a scanned copy of the hospital certification with regards to dying relative along with the details of hospital check in and check out.

Thanks,
Marie

Date: Mon, Aug 22, 2011 at 8:25 PM
Subject: text message from Darlene

“Joel emergency lang pakisabi kay Marie leave na ko. sya muna place order ngayon kasi punta kami hospital dinala na yung dying relative ko”

I was really wondering what this meant, and days went by….and then 2 days later Marie’s water broke and was rushed to the hospital….I was waiting / hoping Darlene would be back from her death in the family trip, or at least checking emails…..

There had been rumors in the neighborhood (all the staff that work on my team are in Quezon City, Manila, Philippines) that Darlene was pregnant…and that rumor had been going around since my june trip to the Philippines ….and I met her for lunch w/ Marie’s brother Roc Roc….. she came in her school univerity uniform (that I financed) and was rather “bundled up”. It was a rainy day, and I didn’t see it in her face that she could be pregnant. I asked her…and she told me she was not pregnant…and that her studies were on track. I had the scholarship agreement ready to print, she agreed to everything (she was saying that the monthly allowance was low….but accepted it)….

I almost wanted to cry. It has felt good to feel that I was sending someone to get an education. I had taken her under my wing….so many people told me I was crazy/stupid to keep her when I realized we needed to get her more experienced and better english in order to continue to add value to the business….I was told by friends and mentors not to waste time with sending her to school and let her go and hire someone new.

But I thought it would be giving her a chance after almost a year of loyal work, to send her to university and start a regular Philippines scholarship fund

….well…tonight we had Joel go to her house and check on her…..and this is his report (sent to me just an hour or 2 ago):

Email Subject: Thursday visit Darlene’s House

from Joel Sy
to Michael Michelini
cc: Marie Balaan
date Fri, Sep 9, 2011 at 12:02 AM
subject Thursday visit Darlene’s House

hide details 12:02 AM (1 hour ago)

visited her place Thursday afternoon, I called her why she is not here to meet me but she said the cellphone signal is not good so just text her my message.

– She chose the date of our meeting. Her text message reply – “She is sorry for not meeting me and she having her eye checkup and texted me to visit her tomorrow, “She is having eye problems after the delivery, a friend will visit her later to fix the laptop”.

I asked a person in her house – what is their landline number and text Darlene that she text me what time we can talk via landline phone.

-After few hours she texted me a different landline no. , called the number and the line is busy.

Called the landline number I got earlier.

– She answered the phone and said “this phone is working”.

I asked her what do you plan for your work and your school.

– “She is waiting for her parents to come to help her here in Manila”.
– “She will stop the 1st semester school and if she can still work for Shadstone she will work full time, the part time monthly allowance is not enough for her daily needs and for the 2nd semester she will work part time”

I asked her to chat with Mike to properly report her plans.

– “She has an eye problem , cannot open a computer”, She plans to chat with Mike next week.

I asked for the business cards.

– “ ok she will look for the business cards”.

Unreal….I mean, the business is back on track and operational…had to train 2 new staff (thanks Ecky and Czar!) under pressure, while this shenzhen bootup weekend was going on…..

So here is my thought process:

    Reasons To Keep Her:

  • I have already started to make the investment – Its hard to say you made a bad decision….but its also a waste to put good money after bad…seems this will only get more difficult….she is lying to me.
  • She is young and scared – yes, she is just 18 years old and to work from her home when her parents went away was a bad thing. And then she got pregnant, scared to lose her scholarship, her job, and to let me down. Maybe this lie got exploded bigger and bigger.
  • We spent time training her – A sad fact…..but yea, I’m used to training and having turnover…so not a big reason.
  • This was not done as an attack on my business – Marie said how do we know she won’t do this again, and this could have bankrupted the company,…… But I feel if we let this one work out she should be super loyal in the future, right?
  • I still believe she is a good person and worker – I still remember the day I interviewed, she had her cover sheet custom prepared for my company, and a list of questions about the business…how it operates, the flow, cashflow….really intelligent questions. This is compared to the majority I interviewed that didn’t even know the name of my business.
  • Reasons She Cannot Stay:

  • She lied to me to my face – I met with her in Technohub in Quezon City…and asked her to her face if she was pregnant and she said no.
  • How will this affect my image as a boss to current and future Filipino staff – Does this make me look like a pushover if I let her stay? Or kind and others will want to work for me?
  • I’m not her father, brother, etc – I’m running a business…..I need to separate business and personal.
  • Things I do not know:

  • Did she really have a baby? – I think its 99% sure now after Joel’s visit.
  • How are her school grades? – Is it possible she kept her school grades in good standing?

I always think and wonder how to make this a win-win…..but really, it seems like a lose lose….

….if I keep her, then how will the others look at me as a boss/ manager? And will she do this again?

…if I let her go, she will become another single mom in the philippines without a job and not finishing her education. Or maybe she’ll find a way without me.

I’m also considering maybe taking her out of working part time, and keeping it a pure scholarship program….as she will have to take care of her newborn as well now.

But this is just highlighting another issue in the Philippines….and why a few other friends of mine have moved their businesses out of there…..

Again, managing people is also managing cultures….and in the Philippines, I am not alone in dealing with this family and personal trauma.

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Yankee in Manila
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Yankee in Manila

Got to this blog late, while Googleing “Oportunities for SIngle Mothers in Philippines”   Wow…  You are to be commended for your efforts.  I hope you kept her on, and used this as a teaching tool, to provide her mentoring on being truthful, and quite frankly, on how to prevent pregnancy.  You know as well as I do, her options as a single mother in Manila are few and far between, and she may be another of the professional girls working the bars in the city. 

Please tell me you kept her.

Michael Michelini
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she disappeared for months