The 81st season of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) officially opened recently.
The glories and pains of student athletes will once again unfold before our very eyes.
As part of my personal advocacy, I have been privileged to be closely associated with team sports due to my pro-bono work.
I facilitate motivational sessions for the Far Eastern University Men’s Volleyball Team (FEU MVT) a.k.a. the FEU Tamaraw Spikers.
I give a short pep talk to motivate the players a day before a big game and in the dug-out before each game.
Win or lose, I share my thoughts in the dug out right after the game. This opportunity has allowed me to witness the highs and lows of these players up close and personal.
The business world has certainly learned a lot from the world of sports through the years. Human Resource (HR) will definitely learn best practices from the way the FEU MVT is being operated.
Most of the players are recruited to play for the team. They mostly came from the provinces and did not even dream of studying in college, all the more at a university in the nation’s capital.
Coaches are continuously on the lookout for talent and scout from the juniors’ division of major leagues.
Rei Diaz, the head coach of the FEU MVT, does not miss the Palarong Pambansa to ensure he would have first crack on the promising talents these nationwide sports events offer.
As a result, the current FEU MVT players are from different provinces. Some are standouts of the UAAP and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) juniors league, making the team diverse.
Coach Rei has already established good relationship with the coaches of provinces competing in Palarong Pambansa and junior leagues to ensure he has steady supply of talent.
Once a talent fits his competency requirements, Coach Rei or one of the other three coaches will talk with the prospect to find out more about him.
If the prospect’s dreams and aspirations align with what the team can offer, the coaching staff will go ahead and meet with the prospect’s parents to get to know them better and to assure them that their son will be in good hands.
The prospect will then be asked to live in and train with the team for two weeks to ensure a good fit before giving the formal offer. This measure ensures that the player can blend with the rest of the team and that the player’s diverse background can work well with the team’s culture.
These practices exemplify best practices in sourcing, competency-based recruiting, diversity and inclusion, university or academe linkages, recruitment process, hiring, and onboarding.
A successful recruit is offered a full scholarship for any course offered by FEU. The recruit is allowed to stay free of charge in the university’s athletes’ dormitory.
A monthly stipend or allowance is also given at a very competitive amount (the UAAP has a cap on monthly allowances so as not to give undue advantage to wealthy universities).
Free meals are also provided. Each player has health and insurance coverage. An internal player of the game during major leagues is picked and given tokens, such as movie tickets for two.
During the FEU Athletes Christmas party, a player is awarded Player of the Year. The team travels for team building, recreation & relaxation, and other minor league competitions.
Team bonding such as movie nights, visits to theme parks, water parks and spas, and nights out are also done at appropriate times.
Weekends at home are also granted during off season to allow players to return home and to spend time with their families.
Players are permitted to go on vacation during holidays, especially during Christmas season.
The FEU MVT rewards scheme is designed to cover financial and non-financial components, including recognition, work life effectiveness, and development.
Learning and development
When players are recruited, they essentially have the basic competency requirement to become a successful player, but still lack the technical aspects of volleyball.
A rigorous training program is put in place to ensure that the player reaches his peak at the time when it is needed.
The team trains twice a day: at 5 a.m. and at 4 p.m. for an average of two hours per training session. In between the two training sessions for the day, players attend classes.
The team attends bible study twice a week for their spiritual development. From time to time, sessions on leadership, teamwork, bouncing back, believing in oneself, confidence, the power of vision, and other topics are conducted, which I facilitate.
The same holistic and total development approach is what HR practitioners wish to achieve for all employees.
After each game, the game statistics and broadcast recording are reviewed to discuss what went wrong and what went right.
Areas for improvement are identified, and the coaches focus on these areas in the next training session.
This review session happens at the individual and team levels.
Constant feedback, midway correction, and performance coaching are the same things employees expect from their immediate superior in the corporate world.
Corporate social responsibility
To raise the standards of competitive volleyball in the Philippines, the players are allowed to share whatever new skills or technical know-how they have learned with their old high school teams.
Most players conduct training sessions with their high school teams when they go back to their respective provinces.
This is the kind of giving back we want our employees to emulate.
A player has a maximum of five playing years for the UAAP. Talent is continuously replenished to ensure the team’s ability to win championships.
Each player is given specific roles to perform for the team, such as outside hitter, opposite hitter, setter, middle blocker, libero, defensive specialist, service specialist, and utility.
Senior players are called “kuya” (big brother). It is inherent in the roles of senior players to train the junior players in their specified roles.
Training ensures that the junior player is ready to assume the role when it is time for the senior player to leave the team.
This is an epitome of how succession planning should be like in any organization.
If the player has consumed his five years of playing eligibility but has not yet completed his college degree, FEU continues to provide a full scholarship until the player graduates.
If the player is still capable of playing upon graduation, he moves to the commercial league or plays for the Philippine Army, Air Force, or Navy.
If the player no longer has an appetite for playing, he will move on to coach a volleyball team or enter the corporate world.
All throughout this journey, the coaching staff provides assistance every step of the way.
Ideally, this is how we take care of people who have dedicated their lives to our cause.
We should see them through their retirement age.
The FEU MVT program clearly exemplify HR practices worthy of emulation.
Obet Cruz is a Senior Managing Consultant of Advisory Services. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 900 staff members.
As Published in The Manila Times dated 19 September 2018