Persuasion – an essential tool in the 21st century workplace by John Hill

Persuasion – an essential tool in the 21st century workplaceThere are some things happening in our world which simply would not have occurred to us ten years ago. Here are three to begin with.

Farmers are now using drones to spray weed killer in places that are difficult to access. It is now possible to use a 3D printer to produce obsolete or spare parts for cars, appliances, and kitchen gadgets. Thousands of people study to gain qualifications by clicking their way through immersive online courses.

What does this mean for the world of work? It means that the work that used to be done by a farmer spraying weedkiller, the engineer who manufactured the spare part for the machine and the teacher who taught the course is now being done by a machine. The world of work is changing irreversibly. Add to that the migration of repetitive, simple jobs overseas to countries where labour is cheaper, and it’s not hard to work out that the work undertaken by those of us, at least in what we call developed countries relies more and more on a different set of skills. It calls on our interpersonal skills, our ability to adapt and innovate and our ability to persuade others.

We have become the ranks of persuaders. And this is not just the professional sales people.

Doctors persuade patients to live healthier lives, personal trainers persuade people to pursue their own fitness, parents persuade children to work hard at their schoolwork and be active, lawyers persuade juries to believe the case they are making, financial professionals persuade people to manage their finances responsibly and invest wisely and police officers persuade people to live safely and responsibly and to keep the laws of the land. Yet none of these people are categorised as salespeople.

As Daniel Pink, former White House staffer and now published author, puts it, ‘We are all in the moving business these days.’ – To Sell is Human, Canongate 2012

In research done with Qualtrics, a research and data analytics company, he discovered that 4!% of all the people surveyed counted convincing and persuading others as part of their job, and what is more they counted this aspect of their work crucial to their professional success.

We don’t just do it to meet some abstract and arbitrary sales figures, but because the work our organisations do strives to add value to the lives and businesses of those we serve, not just to take money from them but to leave them better off in the end.

Now some people are naturally better at these skills than others. We all know them, those of our friends who can get us to do things even when we feel least like it. But these skills can also be learned. And, believe it or not, it comes down to simple things that we can all do. For example, did you know that people are much more likely to listen to you and be prepared to co-operate with you if you are pleasant, if you smile at them, have a sense of humour and are encouraging and positive? Warmth and positivity disarms our automatic nervous system, helps us to relax and be prepare t consider alternatives, rather than retreat into resistance.

Did you know that people are much more likely to tell you what is important to them if you ask them? And then listen to what they have to say? Listen carefully and not just wait to speak your mind or give them your sales pitch. Did you know that people are much more likely to be persuaded if, rather than convince them that you are right or better informed, that you empathise with their point of view and as the late author and business guru, Stephen Covey, puts it ‘to seek first to understand and not to be understood’?

These are an invaluable set of skills, which can be categorised, which can be understood and which can be acquired through self-awareness, sustained effort and practice. Things like empathy, active listening, body language, the art of enquiry and trust building.

As the world of work evolves and continues to do so at ever increasing rates, these skills not only become more valuable and necessary, but they also transfer extremely well from job to job. These skills have become the new skillset of the person who stands out from the crowd, who makes a tangible difference in their workplace and who adds value to their organisation.

Being clever might get you the interview, but these six

soft skills will get you the job!

 

In 2015, a Talent Shortage Survey showed that nearly one in five employers around the world cannot fill job roles because they can’t find people with the correct soft skills. Specifically, companies say candidates were lacking in a few areas. These areas included problem solving, critical observation, teamwork and adaptability.

Although we see these “soft skills” listed towards the end of every single job description, they really are important in the overall scheme of things. Employment experts agree that being a qualified techie will more than likely get you an interview and maybe even the job, but having these six soft skills will help you keep it.

Due to lack of soft skills, these are the Top 10 Hardest Jobs to fill (as of 2015):

  1. Skilled Trade Workers
  2. Drivers
  3. Teachers
  4. Sales Representatives
  5. Administrative Professionals
  6. Management/Executives
  7. Nurses
  8. Technicians
  9. Accounting and Finance Staff
  10. Engineers
web developer

Even Web Developers need soft skills!

Here are six soft skills we believe you should acquire or already have:

  1. Communication Skills

Communication skills you say? We all have these skills, we talk to people all the time don’t we? No, this doesn’t mean just talking to people or being a great writer, it means you have to be good at expressing yourself. Whether that means giving an attention-grabbing presentation, writing a strong memo or trying to sell something convincingly to a customer, it all comes under the expansive umbrella of communication skills.

  1. Teamwork and Collaboration

Recruitment scouts and employers desire employees who work and play well with others. They are looking for people who can effectively work with and contribute to a team. Overall this means being a good leader and sometimes even a good follower. You would also be expected to effectively track team members’ progress and make sure deadlines are hit.

This is how an employer would evaluate whether you are a good candidate and hiring you will help achieve the company’s common goal.

  1. Adaptability

This skill is really important for real seasoned professionals to demonstrate, in order to stand a chance of getting the job. One of the main reasons some companies tend not to hire older employees, is the fear that they are already set in their ways. If you are older and going for an interview, it is important to tell the employer on your resume, CV, and in the course of your interview why this is not the case and provide evidence as to why you can easily adapt.

  1. Problem Solving

From personal experience we all know interviews start to become painful when the employer starts asking the ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions. For instance, “Think of a specific example where you solved a tough business problem or participated in the solution?” You need to be able to explain what you did, how you involved everyone, how you approached the task and overall what the outcome was and how you measured the success achieved.

  1. Critical Observation

Unfortunately it just isn’t quite enough to just collect and manipulate data. You really must be able to also interpret and analyze it. What is all this data telling you? Has it raised any questions? Are there multiple ways to interpret all this data? You are being asked these questions as the person interviewing you is wondering whether you are the one that does all of the above, or simply hands them a spreadsheet and moves on. The more detailed the data and its interpretation, the better an employee you are, according to your managers and boss.

  1. Conflict Resolution

In order to ever become a manager, you need to be a good negotiator and persuader and be able to resolve conflicts effectively. Without being respected, knowledgeable, a professional and a good communicator, there is not much chance you will ever get that promotion.

 

So, take these six soft skills on board and develop before your next interview, otherwise you might as well just walk into the interview and when they say, “Where do you see yourself in five years from now…?” Your answer might sound something like, “In the exact same job, with the exact same pay, just lots more responsibility.”

 

We hope these tips help with your next job interview!

Good luck!

ISM Training Dubai

All of us are to some degree influenced by the dramatic turn of events affecting the world economy – especially those businesses in the UAE and around the world which are under considerable pressure to retain cost-conscious customers.

Irrespective of whether you are managing a team, a division or a company, you will be under the gun to do more with less, while at the same time trying to maintain employee motivation and focus.

The Response to Recession

As the economy moves unsteadily on the brink of a recession, inevitably, among the first victims of corporate cutbacks will be the elements most vital to a robust talent management strategy. A few examples of such strategic moves and their impact:

  • Budget Cuts: HSBC cutting budgets on recruitment, entertainment and travel. Derailed by the Chinese slowdown, the giant bank aims for planned cost cuts as an attempt to face poor performance in Asia.

 

  • Lay off employees: British Petroleum announced plans to slash 4,000 jobs in exploration and production due to declining oil prices. To touch on stats, the company plans to shed 10% of the total workforce over three years.

 

  • Spillover effect: Companies in the oil and gas industry in the UAE decreasing their hiring efforts to survive the downturn. This also leads to high concerns that there could be job cuts in other sectors such as retail and hospitality in Dubai.

 

  • Stress-producing event: Financial crisis can negatively affect an employee’s psychological state, health and work performance.

However, such moves will be short sighted because the need for talent has never been greater. Companies that deal with economic slumps by cutting back too drastically on talent may find themselves unprepared for the long term.

The Underlying Issue: Managing Talent

In such trying times, the first, almost instinctive reaction of management is to reduce expenses by cutting salaries and jobs. For that reason, many companies place Talent Officers or HR Managers squarely in the middle of their turnaround plans.

However, the most pressing issue is the lack of talent management during an economic uncertainty or stagnation. In an environment of recession, every difficulty that emerges can demoralize even the best of employees. Their experience, talent and skills might not be enough to face the challenges.

Therefore, it is important to have on board people-sensitive managers who understand the importance of recognising and fully utilising the knowledge and unique skills of each employee. The dire need for motivation in the workplace under such demanding conditions is more important than ever, in order to mitigate potential reduction of productivity and to achieve operational excellence.

Let’s not forget, all carrots don’t look the same – especially during an economic downturn where the concerns are of a different nature: forced early retirement, change in one’s financial situation, the duration of unemployment, decrease level of income and fear of losing one’s job.

Instead of paying lip service to common phrases such as ‘people are our most important asset’, organizations should demonstrate that they are committed to looking after their employees during tough times, by investing in them through implementation of training and development programs, for instance.

Recession: an Opportunity

Investing in human capital during a downturn is, in most cases, considered a luxury. Hence, recessions offer the perfect opportunity to reach out.

When financial resources are scarce, the means to advance the company is through employee engagement and commitment. Utilising the maximum potential of one’s employees is an effective way to not only stay afloat but propel the company to gain a competitive advantage.

The effect a recession has on employees cannot be mitigated through one technique alone; rather it requires a combination of tactics. Managers may use various approaches, –   one effective method being Training and Development.

Evidence of Demand

A workforce with low absenteeism and turnover rate is crucial for a successful business, especially during an economic slump or during road to recovery.

  • According to a study of 100 HR managers from ILX Group, an internationally recognized leading provider of professional learning and consulting solutions, 51% reported boost in employee morale as a key reason to conduct training.
  •  Another study by the ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) of over 2,500 companies with well-developed training programs highlights 24% higher profit margins and 218% higher revenue per employee.
training cuts

Do you really want to cut your training budget?
[email protected]

The Importance of Training

Attracting and retaining talented and highly skilled staff is fundamental for those operating in competitive industries such as, Oil and Gas, IT, Pharmaceuticals, Banking and Financial Advisory, and Fashion.

Economic downturns demand fresh thinking, new ideas and innovation, which are most likely to be found outside your industry. What we do know is that those most likely to thrive in the current environment are those with resilience and high levels of self-knowledge and self-worth.

Strategic investments in your talent ensure the company is able to cope with current challenges and while readying itself for the return of better times. This is where corporate training in Dubai significantly contributes to an organization’s talent management efforts.

Companies can benefit from sustained investment in training and development in many ways – because the natural defensive barriers we all carry around at work can be dropped during dire circumstances such as facing a financial crisis.

What can companies do to stretch their Training & Development budgets?

  • Seek out corporate training firms in Dubai who can address multiple topics instead of hiring different trainers for each topic.

 

  • Enjoy free concessions by offering multiple enrollments to corporate training in Dubai. In addition, get better pricing if the sign-ups are higher.

 

  • Make it part of the deal that employees privileged for outsourced training are required to return and share their learning outcomes with their peers and colleagues.

 

  • Seek out not only training you require but perhaps additional needs such as Effective Sales Management, Digital Marketing Essentials, Executive Coaching and so on.

 

  • Ensure that certain avenues of corporate training in Dubai are always outsourced. This way, you are equipped to look outwards in terms of best practice rather than remaining inwards-focused.

 

The Way Forward

Recession or not, talent is more important than ever. As noted, the temptation for management during a recession is to slash training and development budgets. However, it is smarter to do just the opposite although this may sound counter-intuitive during a downturn.

The bottom line is that while the recession will eventually end, the fierce competition for talent is going to be a business challenge for the foreseeable future.

It is two-fold: The organization invests in talent management, such as by implementing training and development programs for employees to boost morale and reinforce positive motivation. In doing so, the effects of an economic downturn on employees as well as the organization along with  positive motivational approaches, have the potential to strengthen organizational performance, even in the face of a major crisis.

If you are looking for corporate training in Dubai to motivate and boost employee morale, ISM Dubai offers a variety of courses to suit your needs and budget. Get in touch with ISM Dubai for more information.

alan Sugar

Are you in the firing line?

Whether you work in Dubai’s buzzing start-up community or a large established international company, bringing out the best in employees is the leader’s mantra. But what do you do with an employee who is difficult to work with, yet does their job brilliantly?

Some people are like vampires, sucking all the joy and life out of an organisation. Whether it’s the constant flow of critical emails, the snide backchat at lunch, or insults thrown around like confetti – the effect is to bring down the morale of people around them.

But some organisations keep difficult employees around because it’s been decided they are too good at what they do. It could be the creative who always delivers winning ideas, the accountant keeping the business afloat, or the engineer effortlessly fixing technology glitches.

Yet, as a leader it’s your job to ensure the whole company is working well. Pandering to the negative whims of one employee could lead to you losing other employees. You’re feeling that one individual is too valuable can rub off on others, making them feel unappreciated, or worthless.

This low morale in other employees can lead to staff handing in their notice. And if they’d rather move to another company, is this one individual worth the time and the money to train up new people?

On the flip side, people may not leave your business, but the negative impact of working with a difficult employee can lead to lower performance. Looking at that lowered performance across the board, and your business is going to suffer.

So how do you deal with a difficult person?

Firstly, examine the issues being brought to you by the individual’s co-workers. Are they valid? Can they be backed up with facts? With technology being used so frequently for communication, any offensive behaviour committed via email or social media can be readily examined.

Once you’ve established the extent of a person’s unpleasant behaviour, it’s time to have a one-to-one with them. Outline the complaints and work out a way to help modify their behaviour to be less offensive towards others.

One way is to offer them training. Sometimes a course in emotional intelligence, or stress/anger management can have a positive effect. And it’s a more productive way for you to keep an exceptional talent.

You should also remind them of their obligation to abide by company policy – offensive or bullying behaviour cannot be tolerated in any organisation. Some businesses have a three strikes rule. Once a person has transgressed beyond three warnings they are given an official warning, then if the behaviour persists, they are fired.

After the initial meeting, you then have to allow time for your discussion to sink in. Monitor their behaviour at work more closely and see if there is an improvement.

If there is no improvement (and in some cases addressing a problem can make difficult people behaviour worsen) and they are proving toxic to the workplace, as the leader you have to make a tough decision. Keep them and get others to work around their idiosyncrasies, or jettison them from the company. If you’re going to get rid of someone, ensure you’ve lined up a replacement first!

 

 

Whether you’re a start-up in a serviced office in Dubai Marina, or an established business in Al Barsha, hiring great employees demands a well thought out hiring process. Not only do you need the best person for the job, you need to ensure your company is an attractive option for the interviewees that you’re inviting into your offices.

Although most businesses have a hiring process, not all are up-to-date or address cultural changes. So here are four important additions to your hiring strategy.

Embrace Social Media

Social media can be a brilliant place to find new employees, especially Twitter and LinkedIn. Twitter is a great hunting ground for positions that require people who are media savvy. The most well known professional site is LinkedIn (where you can find anyone from a logistics manager to a florist. It’s also worth looking at the more region-specific sites that are gaining popularity, such as Salamworld.

However, do your research as there are now many professional-specific sites cropping up. They can help you narrow down your search even more. As an example, teachers all over the world use the Times Educational Supplement site TSL Education to exchange information and look for work.

Don’t be afraid of the head-hunters

Specialist recruitment firms can make a real difference to the hiring process. Within every industry there are stars and there are also-rans. Head-hunting firms who specialise in specific areas will know who is making a good name for themselves, who is rising, and whose reputation is tarnished by poor judgements and missed targets.

Recruitment agencies will charge you for finding a new employee, but if they are good at what they do, it’s money well spent.

How attractive is your business?

It’s easy to forget that while you are judging a potential employee, they are also judging you. So when hiring, you have to be able to step outside your own business and view it from their position. Would you find your business attractive enough to want to move from your current job?

While some people are motivated purely by the pay packet, others need more. Elements you take for granted may be really attractive to a new employee. Do you offer regional or international travel? Some candidates will value this highly, while others may have personal reasons for needing to stay near home. Do you have corporate membership to a sporting venue? Is your company a lifestyle company? If the candidate is really into diving and your company sells diving equipment – that alone could prove a winner.

How long do you want to keep this person?

Almost all businesses fall for the highly experienced, skilled and personable candidate – the one who ticks all the boxes, and then some. But, you have to ask yourself, how long do you want to keep this employee? True high flyers will always be on the look out for the next big job. Do you want that? Are you looking for someone you can advance in your own company? Are you happy to use their experience while they are with you? Or do you want someone longer term? By understanding what you want before you begin the hiring process you’ll be more successful in finding the right person to fit into your business.

Today’s rapidly changing knowledge economy has caused a seismic shift in career development. No longer can we passively follow pre-destined career paths. We have to become active participants – developing personal, as well as commercial skills outside our original educational sphere.

“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” Helen Keller

Our career choices are often based on childhood experiences. Through growing up in Africa and South America, I wanted to become a Doctor of Tropical Medicine. However, after achieving my bachelors in Microbiology, I went on to obtain a Master’s in Education.

Today I work as a marketing manager. Next year, who knows? With a career spanning 15 years in secondary and adult education, I view a working life as a dynamic, constantly evolving journey; influenced by shifting personal events, and the constantly changing economic environment.

If, like me, you have changed careers, have teenagers that have no idea what to do with their lives, or an employee who lacks direction; you may find yourself nodding in agreement.

Career development is dynamic, whether it meanders or is a clearly defined, linear progression. It concerns the whole person, not just their role, and their concepts of self, as well as changing, external factors.

Many things will influence the path of a career. Gender, family, social class, ethnicity and cultural, as well as changes in macro level policies, environment and economy. A career integrates work as well as the impact of social, familial, technological and political aspects on an individual’s life.

Interlacing between these factors is a series of coping behaviours we adopt during our career journey. The highly regarded career psychologist, Donald Super, deeply influenced the modern day approach to career development. An early proponent of lifelong learning, his behavioural theories (where he moved away from traditional career theories, which fit traits to career and are somewhat static) resonate significantly with today’s fast moving job market.

In Super’s research into young adults he found clearly defined types of behaviour: drifting (just moving with the tides), stagnating (where there’s no internal drive or external circumstances), floundering (lacking a good method to get where we want to be), exploring (having an objective with an idea of how to achieve it), systematic (taking steps to achieve a goal), and stabilising (cementing a career).

In each of our roles in life we may be in any one of these different stages. What’s important is recognising which stage we’re in, and understanding how we can move forward to the next stage.

With the constantly changing advances in technology, even the most rigid roles demand a more diverse range of skills. Employees are not necessarily looking for purely knowledge-based skills either. Literacy is obviously still relevant, but high on the employer’s list are creativity, adaptability, flexibility and an innovative mindset. After all, as a company they have to sustain their business in the future as much as you need to sustain your career and employability. Embrace learning, it’s your friend for life.

The article above appeared on the front page of the Gulf News educational section on July 14th. Since there is no online version I thought you may like to see it here too.

It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day aspects of business and ignore whether people are actually enjoying their work. But when you remember that a happy employee will give their all for your company, it makes sense to take time out to build positive employee morale. Here are ten tried and trusted ways to achieve a happier workplace.

Get a coach in

Career coaching, team coaching, leadership coaching: these are all great ways to boost morale and improve your business at the same time. A business coach is often seen as someone who helps the big boss, but leadership teams can reap huge benefits from coaching as well.

A coach can help you find solutions to long standing problems and give your employees the chance to look at their roles from different angles. It also gives them space to discuss issues they may have felt unable to talk about before. It can be a difficult process, but the results can transform your business as well as individual employees.

Team Building Days

A natural extension of coaching is the team-building day out. This is a staple of building employee morale because it the effects can be long lasting. Taking people out of their normal working routine and putting them in unusual and fun situations can help them bond more closely with their work mates. It also shakes them out of old patterns of thinking.

However, planning is the key. Don’t just arrange a wadi bashing day out without first considering what problems your team is facing in the office. Create a team building day that will reflect the challenges at work. You’ll all reap the benefits of more focused planning at the outset.

Training matters

quilt

Think out of the box about what will make your employees happy...or just ask them !

Nobody likes to feel that they’re falling behind in their skills, so make sure you employees have the opportunity to keep their qualifications and soft skills up to date. Some of the bigger international companies take this a step further and encourage their staff to take language courses, and more esoteric courses like quilting and wood carving.

Training helps people grow as individuals and the benefits to your business is a happier person who feels the company is really interested in them as a person, not just a cog in the wheels of business.

Share your business goals

Knowing where the company is going, and what part they play in that helps employees have a greater understanding of their role in the company. It gives them a real sense of ownership that their work matters and contributes to the overall direction the company is heading in.

Identify an individual’s goals

Understanding what is driving your employees can help them be happier and make  your business more successful. You may discover that someone wants to advance to a management role, or they are simply using the job to pay for a hobby they’re really passionate about. This knowledge can help you design better training, courses, and motivational targets to retain them as happy employees.

Don’t ignore problems

If you see there is a problem brewing between individuals or departments, don’t let it slide. As soon as you become aware of any discord or issues, get the people involved into a meeting and find a way to resolve it. If a problem isn’t dealt with quickly it will fester, impacting on morale and the overall performance of your business.

Employee benefits

For many the pension, free gym membership and healthcare plan are real motivators for staying with a particular company. It’s worth taking some time out to find out what other benefits your employees would like such as vouchers for local restaurants.

Improving employee morale means creating an Employee Morale code for your business. It will take time, but the rewards will make it worthwhile.

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Do you deserve a promotion? Do you find yourself thinking about all the effort you’ve put in over the last year in your Dubai marketing or sales department? Are you wondering if it is enough to get a promotion?

promotions dubai

Are you working your way towards a promotion?

If you have been asking yourself this question, it is time to find out if your company feels the same way as you do. Seeing other people promoted before us can be demotivating – one of the main reasons people give for leaving a company is because they don’t feel their work has been recognised by their managers.

So it’s time to compile a list of everything you know you’ve done for the company, and how it has helped your company. Did you set up a meeting six months ago that led to a big deal being signed recently? Have your skills at forecasting the market meant your company is leaner and more flexible than your competitors? These are the questions you need to be asking yourself.

Don’t be afraid of asking for a meeting with your immediate superior and human resource department. If you really feel that you deserve a promotion, act straight away. Don’t let your feelings fester.

For a meeting this important, don’t go in empty handed – the conversation won’t go well if you are unprepared. Go back to your list and add any letters or emails of congratulation so you can show what people think about your work.

Having this conversation with your company can yield interesting results. Although they may not have a position for you straight away, there could be an interesting sideward promotion. It may not be exactly what you would like to do, yet the experience gained here could provide you with a better shot at a promotion to your dream job next time round. It entirely depends on what your career goals are.

And talking of goals, you need another list to outline what your career goals actually are. You don’t have to divulge everything on this list to your company, but you do need to be clear in your own mind. If your ultimate aim is to be the marketing director at Dubai’s leading pharmaceutical company, you need to start looking at the kinds of positions that will get you your dream job. They may not necessarily be what the company wants to offer you, in which case, getting the promotion you want may mean leaving your company.

If all this seems daunting, you should investigate courses that are aimed at giving you the right skills to develop your negotiation abilities. Coaching is an invaluable tool to help you reach your target career. And from a business perspective, coaching is a very good way to retain highly motivated staff. If you have a person on your team who shows they want to step up a level in their career, but you feel they are not quite there yet, business coaching will help you both. They may find your organisation can provide training that another marketing company in Dubai cannot. It’s far better to retain talented staff than to lose them because you didn’t listen to their desires for a promotion.

When people aren’t happy in their workplace, the workflow is interrupted and the ripples run through the entire team. Conflict arises from many different sources: a misleading claim for a successful advertising concept at your Dubai marketing meeting, a team fragmenting during a stressful point in a project, or a simple gripe over missing food in the office fridge.

Finding the best way to resolve conflict in the office means knowing how to effectively implement your company’s human resource guidelines. Just as you wouldn’t sue your neighbour the first time their child chucks a ball over the fence, you wouldn’t go straight for formal warnings when tensions rise in the workplace – well not unless the tensions had resulted in some seriously criminal behaviour.

Avengers team

Can you get them to work together as a team?

Initially your job as manager of a team of people is to diffuse the situation when it becomes a problem to the overall running of the team. This may mean pulling the main protagonists to one side and giving them the chance to air their views. At this stage it’s not about finding out which one of them is wrong, it’s more about allowing them to talk in a reasonable manner, in a safe place. This is essential to achieving an early resolution. Let a situation go too far and they may not even wish to sit in the same room to talk it through.

What you are aiming for is a position where all parties get to air their views equally. Some conflict may arise out of one person receiving a promotion that another person feels unfairly missed them. Or there may be serious disagreements over the right way to structure a bid. You may not wish to take out time during a busy period, but an hour taken out to help people can prevent hours and hours of poorly done work down the line.

At the initial stage, do keep a note of all the dealings with the conflict. This will help you if there are more problems down the line. If they haven’t listened to each other, you can at least show them your thoughts on the meeting and how it was concluded.

Allow each person equal time to put forward their side of the problem, but bear in mind that each person is seeing it solely from their point of view. It is your job to keep a sense of perspective and not be drawn yourself into the argument.

Try and find a point on which everyone agrees and build a solution around it. If you cannot find resolution, the next step could be mediation. This is a more formal meeting and you should talk to someone in human resources beforehand. They will have more experience dealing with conflict and may be able to offer a solution you hadn’t thought of.

But don’t forget, not all conflict is necessarily bad. There are times when two people do not see eye to eye on how to deliver a new product. In these situations, the win/win scenario can be made to fit. Even though neither of them can be completely right, a seasoned well trained manager of a Dubai company will know how to solve the problem: look at both methods and take the very best ideas from both camps.

 

 

Weekends are a precious space to take a breather from the office. Yet when you have just slogged through the commute back to your Dubai home, the bad vibes in your office can blow away any peace you might have had left.

Nothing ruins you mood, and sometimes your commitment to your job, faster than office politics. And it isn’t just a small annoyance, chat to anyone in HR and they’ll readily tell you the overall effect of someone, or a group of people. Playing office politics is detrimental in terms of a department’s performance: it lowers productivity and leads to higher staff turnover.

camel milk

A switch to camel milk might just stop the milk thief in their tracks !

There are, of course, levels of office politics ranging from simple ignoring a colleague to specifically targeting an individual and making their life a misery. However you look at it, it’s going to cause trouble. An ignored colleague is either going to feel ostracised and perform badly, or feel a lack of support and seek employment elsewhere.

On the other end of the scale where someone is specifically targeted, this goes beyond office politics and into bullying territory. In a culture where not passing on important information to an individual is accepted, it has ramifications for the business as well as the individual.

Not only could a person be made to look stupid at a group meeting, it might even cause them to lose a client. Neither is good. Losing a client hurts the entire company. The individual meanwhile is thoroughly demotivated and will either quit or under perform.

So how do you combat this happiness, time and productivity sucker? If you are a manager of a the group and can see the office politics being played out in front of you, it is part of your job to sort it out. Let’s face it, any detrimental activities going on during your watch is going to have a negative impact on your promotion prospects.

If you are the person feeling the brunt of the office politics, getting it off your chest may be difficult, but if you want to stay within the company rather than trying for a new job, you have to find the right person in the organisation to talk to.

In both cases you have to prepare yourself beforehand. To get a successful resolution you need to think of all the possible angles the other person is going to take. It may be that there is a little bit of tit for tat going on where no one person started it, but the whole department is suffering as a consequence. It’s possible that your manager is actually in on the game of politics – perhaps taking credit for your ideas and hard graft. It may be that you need to find an advocate in HR.

As with most difficult conversations in life, first of all think about what result you are looking for from the conversation. Without an end goal, the drive of the conversation can easily be taken away from you. Practicing your opening comments is key. Knowing exactly what you want to say will help you get over the hurdle of broaching the subject with the other person. Get yourself into a calm place as well: ranting doesn’t help your cause. Listen to the response, remember they have a right to their point of view, yet keep in mind your goal.

Tough as it is to confront a problem in the office, your daily commute through Deira will be significantly easier if you tackle it. And don’t wait until Thursday to do it. Make the commitment at the beginning of the week so you can all work through the after effects together.

Many of the traditional roles of Human Resources are becoming automated or ‘self-serviced ‘and as this happens many HR managers in Dubai are seeing a shift in their roles from administrative to a more strategic one. Successful companies recognise that HR professionals have a very relevant role to play in today’s knowledge economy as stewards of a business’s most important asset- their human potential. The best HR talent in the region will (if they already aren’t) be positioning themselves as talent evaluators/analysers, performance coaches and linking their departments firmly to organisational strategy. Challenges in today’s fast paced market mean that companies have to innovate and respond quickly to change in order to be sustainable. Building employee competence, to achieve organisational objectives is a mainstay of competitive advantage and HR has a primary role in championing the fulfilment of a company’s human assets.

No longer reactive to staff issues they must proactively make sure they understand the links between employee motivation and organisational performance. A key factor in employee motivation is development of talent through informal and formal training, providing opportunities for cross-training in other roles, challenging employees with new responsibilities and creating a culture of learning within the organisation. While ensuring that there is access and funding to  industry specific training and soft skills, 21st century imperatives in training such as building creativity and technological skills cannot be ignored. Mentoring, coaching or team teaching are possible in-house solutions.HR is also responsible for ensuring this training is followed up with opportunities to practice and that it is quantitatively evaluated for effectiveness. Although the choice of training is aligned to company strategy, employees that can select their own developmental direction embrace the opportunity to become self-managers and are  more engaged, active learners – an asset for any company.

Corporate Social responsibility or CSR has become integrated into many business models in the region. ISO26000 is the recognised international standard and the goal of CSR is for companies to accept responsibility for their public impact through supporting activities that promote community development, ethical practices, and offset environmental effects. The growth of CSR has increased with the growing ethical consumerism movement. Whilst critics may argue that some companies pay lip service to  CSR or that it detracts from the core business, other companies are finding that it creates shared value between their business and society, gaining them competitive advantage.

For CSR to succeed there has to be a link to your corporate strategy and business sector. Analysis of the positive and negative effects of your company can help to expose the most effective areas opportunities for proactively approaching and coordinating social, community and environmental responsibilities. In the UAE the Muslim practice of Zakat or private donations to those in need should be separated from a more public statement about your company CSR initiatives. Positive public reception of your company brand through your meaningful support of CSR can provide consumers with an ethical choice in a region that still has much work to do in protecting vulnerable communities.

Harmony House children supported by many Dubai children, parents, individuals and businesses

Lucy Bruce recipient of the Emirates Woman of the Year Award 2010 in the Humanitarian Category, founder of Harmony House ( Delhi) and co-founder of  Homegrown Nursery (Dubai) spoke about  CSR :-

At Homegrown Nursery we have our own charitable and community initiative called Harmony House. Harmony House is a full time community centre in Delhi which provides education, food and medical facilities for women and children living in nearby slum areas. The parents that send their children to Homegrown Nursery share our values and are increasingly conscientious about teaching their children to give back to society, which is why we have incorporated this into a curriculum which values respect and awareness for themselves, others and our planet. For each child that attends our nursery a portion of their school fee is helping to sponsor a child at Harmony House creating a perfect synergy between our philosophy and company values. There are links to Harmony House beyond the sponsorship; parents as well as the Dubai community regularly lend their professional expertise to further enriching the Harmony House community. In addition to this Homegrown Nursery supports many other charitable organisations and initiatives within the UAE.

Companies should base their core CSR initiatives on those with the greatest shared value: those which will increase their own competitive effectiveness as well as have the greatest benefit to their community. Successful companies recognise that they need a healthy society and this will in turn sustain and create additional demand for their business.

“ When a well-run business applies its vast resources, expertise, and management talent to problems that it understands and in which it has a stake, it can have a greater impact on social good than any other institution or philanthropic organization( Porter & Kramer, 2006, p.14 ). “

References

Porter, M.E., & Kramer, M.R. ( 2006, December). Strategy and Society:The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved November 3, 2011, fromwww.salesforcefoundation.org/files/HBR-CompetiveAdvAndCSR.pdf

Larry Crowne

Are you up for going back to school?

Training is important and can potentially be life changing. Just ask Tom Hanks character Larry Crowne in the film of the same title. There are very real benefits to training:-

  • Staff learn new skills
  • Increases motivation, retention, confidence and job satisfaction
  • Staff refresh skills and keep up to date with new information
  • Can improve ‘soft skills ‘ such as leadership and communication
  • Customers benefit from better service
  • A comprehensive professional development strategy helps recruit top candidates
  • Increases efficiency, time management and productivity
  • Public courses also allow them to network and hear best practice from their own and  other sectors

As a return on investment (ROI) ongoing training has an impact on productivity and consequently bottom line. In Dubai many companies understand the value of training and their training departments work hard to present options that meet their specific needs. For a better ROI they need to source training providers that:-

  • Meet their employee and organisational needs.
  • Have courses that cover the skills required (take time to read course objectives).
  • Can customize their training and apply it to their industry.
  • Can provide the training when you need it.
  • Demonstrate good value.
  • Offer ongoing support.
  • Have a good market reputation.
  • Have quality trainers experienced in the local Gulf market.
  • Can help identify the ‘skills gap’ your employees might have. Do you know what they don’t know?

One of the major objections to training “I don’t have time” is actually indicative of the need for training. If well supported by management, training initiatives would not be the cause of employees breaking out in a rash thinking about all the work they are missing whilst on a training course. The importance of scheduling training in advance is a solution to this and most providers will have a yearly training calendar at least for their public courses and would only be too delighted to meet to discuss tailored programs.  Booking in advance can also give employees the time they need to plan/arrange/delegate while they are in the training room.   Most employees will want to engage in further training, especially if they are able to gain approval for courses they wish to attend.

Michelle Lewis-Smith the lead training adviser for ISM training recognizes this as a common objection she receives and added,

I can honestly say that getting my clients to attend their 2nd course with ISM is a matter of ‘when can I register’ rather than ‘I don’t have time’. It’s always great to see our clients progression in their career too, over the years you slowly watch their job title change from Sales Executive to Sales Manager to Sales Director to General Manager etc….. These are people that are not afraid to admit that they need a little help/guidance in their development and of course these people act on it rather than worry about it.

Now whilst that may be banging our own drum,  it is true that the individuals that engage in lifelong learning do have an outlook that can keep pace and adapt to the many changes we all experience in our workplace . The staff that know the value of investing time in training will be amongst the most innovative, motivational , able employees with strong performance records and increased company loyalty.

The big question is how to keep your business sustainable and marginalizing the impact training can provide is terminal. If you aren’t constantly developing your own or your staff’s skills you can bet that your competitors are.