The View From Taft

The performance evaluation has been the traditional way a superior gives feedback to staff. But as I have observed, this evaluation sheet is not the true representation of one’s work. It is either very subjective or objective depending on the situation or on the superior’s opinion. Yes, it is not only a tool to evaluate one’s performance but also a measure of one’s motivation and productivity. However, I find it odd that rank and file employees, even if they worked hard and persevered, may not get the credit for their work. We want to believe that our work speaks for itself. But then, in reality, someone else gets the credit.

Often times, we attribute such behavior to crab mentality. One of the definitions of crab mentality in is that it is a phrase popular among Filipinos, and was first coined by writer Ninotchka Rosca, in reference to the phrase “crabs in a bucket.” It describes a way of thinking best described by the phrase “if I can’t have it, neither can you.” The metaphor refers to a pot of crabs. Individually, the crabs could easily escape from the pot, but instead, they grab at each other in a useless “king of the hill” competition which prevents any from escaping and ensures their collective demise. The analogy in human behavior is that members of a group will attempt to “pull down” any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of envy, conspiracy or competitive feelings.

Crab mentality is common not just in the workplace, but in our everyday lives. There is always someone who treats us as competition and would not like to see us grow in our craft.

But inspite of that, we all should be motivated to improve our performance in the workplace. We should try our best to improve ourselves professionally, to move up. While there are factors that hinder us from performing well, including lack of growth, lack of benefits, low compensation, cultural differences, and poor working environment, I believe that it is in the person’s mindset if these factors will indeed hinder them from moving forward.

I think that a poor working environment, for example, a very bureaucratic or seniority-based system, is the biggest factor that hinders growth. How can we, the millennials, prove that we can also have an idea or a message that can contribute to the growth of our organizations? Often, if we lack seniority, it is very difficult to get our opinions heard. As a result, the traditional performance evaluation with its very general criteria to evaluate the quality of work, does not reflect the value or the results of our work.

My friends reflect the same sentiments. But they don’t think that there is a quick solution to this problem. Senior staff come first, they have more experiences and knowledge about the work. Traditional top-down management styles reinforce this fact in the way decisions are made.

However, if a bottom-up management style is adopted, it can challenge the younger staff to share and collaborate, resulting in higher employee involvement and increased job satisfaction. Because employees are treated as partners who are involved in decision making, their motivation and commitment is increased, ensuring their contribution to the organization’s well-being. Overall, employees feel appreciated.

Management can initiate this bottom-up approach irrespective of organizational size. Being given a voice and being respected for their opinions is important to every employee. It is an important step to eliminating crab mentality. When people are treated fairly, instead of pulling others down, they will, instead, lift each other up, ensuring not just growth for the employees but allowing for the flourishing of the entire organization.


Noellen DelosSantos is an MBA student at De La Salle University’s Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business. This essay was written as part of the requirement in her Strategic Human Resource Management class.