Thursday, April 12, 2007


One of the peculiarities of the Jollibee culture that I noticed when I first joined the company was its strange way of using the title "Sir" or "Ma'am."

Having worked in organizations where I was used to being called by my first name, I felt uneasy being called Sir Ted,not only by people lower than me in rank, but also by my peers and even by my superiors!

Oh yes, even the owners themselves would sometimes refer to me as S' Ted if I was being referrred to in the third person in front of everybody else.

I was curious as to the origin of this practice so I asked "Sir Ato,"our Executive Vice-President and one of the Tan brothers,about it.

He said that in the early days of Jollibee,they started promoting employees from the ranks to supervisory positions as the company grew. They noticed though that these newly promoted supervisors did not seem to get the respect of their former peers.

To get around this problem,the Tans themselves decided to start addressing these new supervisors as "Sirs" or "Ma'ams," even though they were technically their subordinates. When the members of the rank and file noticed the owners setting an example, they somehow felt ashamed about doing otherwise. From that time on the supervisors were given the respect they deserved.

The practice has stuck up to now, and is one of the trademarks of the Jollibee way. It may seem funny or strange for some,but once they realize that it is one way by which the Tans fostered a culture of respect in the organization,then the smirks are immediately replaced by nods of appreciation.

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