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Is there a better way to manage performance? PLUS

Money troubles End-of-service gratuities: is it time for a rethink?

All in the mind How to use neuroscience to enhance your business

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Challenging ‘best practice’

Matthew Mee Managing director, CIPD Middle East

We’re already halfway through 2016 and it’s been quite a year so far. We’ve finally seen oil prices recover to around the $50 per barrel mark and, listening to economic commentators, while caution remains, there appear to be shoots of renewed confidence sprouting in a variety of industries. Realistically, we can still expect the next 12 months to be challenging for organisations, and HR teams will continue to focus on tight budget control, with expectations rightly demanding that we deliver value to both our customers and the bottom line. Over the last 18 months, many of you will have been following the contentious debate – some may say hype – on the subject of performance management. Several high-profile companies have publicly shared their plans to ‘disrupt’ their performance management principles and processes, and there is certainly huge merit in HR teams challenging some aspects of traditional ‘HR best practice’ and asking whether their interventions are still fit for purpose. In this edition of People Management Middle East, we partnered with both The Talent Enterprise and Halogen Software in a bid to understand how organisations across the region are approaching this topic.

At the CIPD, we believe in ‘good practice’ as opposed to ‘best practice’. What works well in one organisation won’t necessarily translate effectively into a different culture, industry or geography. I believe HR and business leaders need to work together to ensure their performance management interventions are effective locally – delivering tangible value to the individual, teams and of course the wider business. What is clear from our discussions is that GCC companies are starting to think seriously about how performance management needs to evolve, and the strongest theme emerging has been how organisations improve the frequency and quality of performance conversations. If your business still dreads that ‘time of year’ (the annual appraisal cycle), perhaps this edition will inspire you to think differently.

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Contents Who we are p5 News and analysis p6 Businesses get serious about restructuring Case studies p10 Focus on Global Investment House and Al-Futtaim Debate: end-of-service gratuities p14 Are they still fit for purpose? Performance management 2.0 p16 After the appraisal, what’s next?

Supercharge your business p22 How HR can build a high-performance culture Neuroscience: a beginner’s guide p27 How peering into the brain can benefit business The Knowledge p30 Key workplace skills, with expert commentary The View From Here: Debbie Nicol p34

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Marmalade Fish is a management and learning consultancy with a presence in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia Pacific. We partner with leading businesses to deliver on their organisational ambition. Our vision is to make work better by creating high performance cultures underpinned by values, enabling employees to be at their best, more of the time. How can we help you? PEOPLE CONSULTANT Experts in Learning, Talent, Resourcing, Nationalisation and Organisational Development

TEAM DEVELOPMENT Strategy planning, team effectiveness sessions and off-sites

VALUES AND CULTURE Transforming your business through culture change and values alignment

LEADERSHIP SKILL BUILDING Developing the critical leadership skill to drive high performance

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING Revolutionising learning through discovery, exploration and action

EXECUTIVE COACHING Facilitating personal and professional development to achieve your potential

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People Management is published on behalf of the CIPD by Haymarket Network and Haymarket Business Media, both divisions of Haymarket Media Group Ltd. Registered office: Bridge House, 69 London Road, Twickenham TW1 3SP, UK

Editiorial email: Commercial email: Editor Robert Jeffery Deputy editor Cathryn Newbery Art editor Chris Barker Associate editor Georgi Gyton Production editor Joanna Kelly Designer Richard Walker Digital content coordinator Emily Burt Online editor Mark Williams Picture editor Dominique Campbell Commercial director Cathy McDonagh Global partnerships director Nicola Fulker Senior production controller Alex Wilton Production manager Trevor Simpson Managing director, Haymarket Network Andrew Taplin Editorial director Simon Kanter Creative director Martin Tullett Account director Issie Peate Senior account manager Julia Saunders CIPD Publishing Margaret Marriott Repro by Haymarket Prepress Printed by Stephens & George Print Group

CONTACT THE CIPD Office 3, Ground Floor, Block 2B, Dubai Knowledge Village PO Box 503231, Dubai

COPYRIGHT © All rights reserved. This publication (or any part thereof) may not be reproduced, transmitted or stored in print or electronic format (including, but not limited, to any online service, any database or any part of the internet), or in any other format in any media whatsoever, without the prior written permission of Haymarket Media Group Ltd, which accepts no liability for the accuracy of the contents or any opinions expressed herein.

Be part of a global community When you’re a member of the CIPD, you’re part of an international community of 140,000 members working in HR, learning and development, people management and consulting. The CIPD is the only professional body for HR and L&D in the world that awards Chartered status. It contributes to the development of HR internationally, sets and maintains HR standards, and works with governments, organisations and partners to help fulfil its broader mission of championing better work and working lives. CIPD professional membership is an achievement you can be proud of and will ensure you stand out in the workplace. It will give you status and relevance with employers and an edge over your peers. It’s a badge of your credibility: • It shows that you meet the CIPD’s rigorous standards for good practice and adhere to its Code of Professional Conduct. • It demonstrates your ability to make a difference to your organisation. • It inspires confidence in employers, clients and peers. • It proves a commitment to your continuing professional development. CIPD professional membership is respected by employers and industry, and can help improve career prospects and earning potential. It is available at three levels: Associate Member, Chartered Member and Chartered Fellow. When you gain professional membership, you can use designatory letters after your name to highlight your professional standing within the HR and L&D community.

Associate Member (Assoc CIPD) For professionals providing advice to managers across the business, and supporting the HR or L&D function. Associate membership is the CIPD’s first level of professional membership. It demonstrates that an individual has attained a recognised level of competence as an HR or L&D professional. Chartered Member (Chartered MCIPD) For experienced professionals managing, developing and implementing HR policies that support organisational objectives. Chartered Member is the CIPD’s second level of professional membership. Achieving Chartered Member status demonstrates that the individual has the knowledge and experience to create a real impact in the workplace and make a difference to an organisation’s strategy and people. Chartered Fellow (Chartered FCIPD) Chartered Fellow is the highest level of professional membership and is aimed at experts who are leading the development of strategic HR and L&D plans that drive business performance. A Chartered Fellow is a role model for the profession and part of a select group of senior HR and L&D professionals and business leaders who drive innovative people practices to help deliver strategy. Wherever you are in your career, the CIPD and its members will support and inspire you to achieve your full potential. For more information about professional membership and how to join the CIPD, visit: People Management Middle East


Labour market

HR to the fore as businesses hit ‘reset’

Aramco is undergo ing one of the most dramatic restructu res among GCC firms


Oil price spurs rethink in organisational structures, as companies bid to remain competitive Shaky economic confidence has led to fears for the health of the GCC recruitment market, and sparked layoffs at a number of organisations. But for some HR departments, the falling oil price has ushered in a much-needed opportunity to restructure and refocus. Oil exporting countries in the MENA region lost more than $340bn in revenue during 2015 and, while there are signs of a slowly stabilising market, workforce investment remains low. Organisations are frequently turning to HR to respond. According to Deloitte’s recently published Global Human Capital


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Trends 2016 report, 40 per cent of Middle Eastern businesses are currently engaged in a restructuring exercise, and they are focusing on three key areas: nationalisation, efficiency and budget optimisation. Bharat Gupta, senior director at management consultancy Alvarez & Marsal Middle East, dates this trend to the immediate after-effects of the global financial crisis, when companies looked to expand both product offerings and geographical reach on the back of easy credit and improved business

sentiment. “However, the sharp correction in oil prices since September 2014 has resulted in a domino effect of reduced liquidity and a slowdown in demand,” he says. “As a result, the organisations that overextended themselves are now adjusting their strategy to focus on their core businesses, or segments with better cash return ratios.” Gupta says there have been several notable implications for organisational structures, including the strengthening of certain capabilities – such as hiring mid-tosenior managers and retraining employees – as well as the downsizing of some teams, and the boosting of support functions such as IT, finance and procurement, which may have been overlooked in the past. One area that hasn’t seen much focus so far is middle management, he adds: “Strong and empowered middle managers carry the burden of the organisation – [they] deliver the strategy and free [up] senior management to focus on strategic matters.” Gupta suggests that HR can bring itself to the fore by helping offset the time it takes to develop experienced managers through an

“Strong middle managers carry the burden of the firm”

News and analysis empowerment of more junior managers, as well as investing more in learning and development and other career development practices. The macroeconomic disruption has spread beyond oil and gas to affect hospitality and tourism, as well as retail and manufacturing. Abu Dhabi’s GDP, for example, is likely to fall from 4.4 per cent to 1.7 per cent this year, and successive surveys have shown recruitment remains sluggish. But governments, as well as individual businesses, are refreshing their strategies in response. Saudi Arabia, for example, has unveiled ‘Vision 2030’, which aims to diversify the country’s economy. Deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has said he wants to reduce overall unemployment from 11.6 per cent to 7 per cent by 2030 by expanding the private sector, promoting enterprise and improving education.

News in numbers

5000% Increase in the effectiveness of gamification in learning – in terms of cost and retention – compared with instruction-led learning


Proportion of new CEOs who have been recruited from outside organisations over the past four years


Deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading the Saudi reforms

The plan includes the sale of 5 per cent of Saudi Aramco to create the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, and follows the announcement of broad economic rebalancing strategies from the UAE and Bahrain. Trefor Murphy, managing director for MENA at Morgan McKinley, says such moves – at both a national and organisational level – are leading to pockets of opportunity: “There has been a noticeably huge increase in the demand for consultants and consultancy firms – organisations specialising in lean process improvement or anything that makes a current process more efficient, whether that’s someone with expertise in reducing discrepancies in a retail bank, or bringing new technology to improve the [operational] efficiency of any organisation,” he says.


Amount of investment set to be attracted by the renewable energy sector in MENA, each year, by 2020


Proportion of young women graduating from Education for Employment’s specially targeted programmes in the MENA region SOURCE: PROTIVITI, PWC, INTERNATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY AGENCY, EDUCATION FOR EMPLOYMENT


Sara Khoja, partner at Clyde & Co in Dubai, gives an overview of legislative changes in the GCC that HR professionals need to know about

UAE enforces non-competes Former employees who fail to abide by ‘non compete’ agreements could be refused a work permit, following a new cabinet decision on the regulation of labour in the UAE. Cabinet Decision Number 297 of 2016 was published as an official notice in May and introduces a new Ministry of Labour obligation on Article 127 of what is commonly referred to as the UAE Labour Law. Article 127 provides that an employer may oblige an employee not to compete with the employer’s business following the end of their employment – as long as the employee is 21 years of age; the agreement is in writing; and it is reasonable with regard to the activities it prevents the employee doing, the geographical remit of the restriction and the period for which the restriction applies. It must also go no further than necessary to protect the employer’s lawful interests. The decision means that the Ministry of Labour can refuse to issue a work permit, or can cancel one already issued, to an individual to whom a final judgment has been issued, ruling

that they failed to abide by their non-compete agreement put in place in accordance with Article 127. The period during which the Ministry of Labour should refuse to issue or cancel a work permit is equivalent to the period identified in the court judgment as being the legitimate period of the restriction. The Ministry of Labour is also under a duty to inform the individual of the situation and its refusal before formally refusing or cancelling the work permit.

New rules on Saudi staffing Saudi Arabia plans to implement new regulations on the levels of nationals employed in the private sector, which could have wideranging effects. Proposals on the horizon include the complete Saudisation of the HR and recruitment functions, as well as a weighted ‘Nitaqat’ based on an organisation’s employment of Saudi women (as a percentage of the total workforce), the retention of Saudi nationals continued overleaf People Management Middle East


News and analysis

LEGAL UPDATE continued

for three years or more, and the percentage of Saudi nationals within the top 25 per cent of its highly paid employees. Already, businesses that sell and repair mobile phones must be 50 per cent staffed by Saudi nationals, with the requirement increasing to 100 per cent by 1 Thul Hija. The Ministry of Labour has also published its implementing regulations for amended labour law – its new prescribed employment contract and work regulations. The model work regulations are extensive, and their notable provisions include: • Clarification that a repatriation ticket is not payable by the employer if an employee resigns without reason during the probationary period, if the employee is not capable of performing the role they were recruited for, or if their repatriation stems from the violation of a law and a fine being imposed whether administrative or criminal. • Eligibility criteria for the selection of equal candidates for promotion. • Clarification that nursing breaks following a return from maternity leave are applicable whether the employee’s baby is being breastfed or bottle-fed, and that it is the employee’s duty to provide written notice to the employer requesting the break and when she would like to take it during the working day. • A duty on all employees to follow and adhere to Islamic principles and morals of behaviour, and a duty not to mix with employees of the opposite sex. • A duty on employers to inform employees and instruct them on what is acceptable behaviour in the workplace, and in particular to instruct staff on the prohibition of any form of harassment or action that would undermine dignity and morals or any form of assault or harm of another employee. 8

People Management Middle East

Nurture is needed to create leaders of tomorrow Organisations should not shy away from investing in future talent, finds report Future talent needs to be looked after carefully to develop successful entrepreneurs, according to a new report from an influential mentoring organisation. Nurturing Human Capital: The Missing Piece of MENA’s Entrepreneurship Puzzle – released by the Mowgli Foundation – suggests that potential is being wasted as organisations are not investing enough in the leaders and thinkers of tomorrow. It stresses the particular importance of implementing mentoring programmes. The report says it is significantly harder to be successful as an entrepreneur

in the Middle East, compared to Europe or the US, with loneliness, lack of confidence, nervousness about risktaking and an inability to achieve a work-life balance all cited as potential obstacles. It takes more than money to help these entrepreneurs grow, says the report: “They need to be nurtured within a balanced ecosystem that places equal importance on the development of their core human capacity and the strengthening of their leadership.” Matt Jennison, head of training at BizGroup, suggests the reason for the lack of investment could be

the transient nature of many roles. “Organisations can be reluctant to inject resources into training staff who only plan to stay a few years,” he says. “The idea that you should not expend time and energy on people because they might leave is a short-sighted strategy that will only do harm to your business and its profit margins.” Dr Alia Al Serkal, senior director of talent

Facts at your fingertips The latest CIPD research findings People metrics make a difference A third of employers are failing to disclose key workforcerelated information in their annual reports, according to new research by the CIPD. Reporting Human Capital: Illustrating your company’s true values found that 30 per cent of the largest London-listed firms are withholding information about data breaches, employee turnover and skills challenges. According to media reports, there were three cases of

workplace strikes among these companies in 2015, but only two of the businesses involved mentioned this in their annual reports. Four employees from different firms were also reported to have been involved in insider trading cases, but none of these were recorded in reports. The CIPD says omitting this information – as well as a broader lack of attention to people metrics – creates a risk to investors and others who rely on annual reports.

On a more positive note, the report reveals that the quality and quantity of reporting on human capital issues saw general improvement between 2013 and 2015. ✶

Digital future should prompt L&D rethink Half of L&D leaders believe their fellow professionals lack the required technological expertise for the digitised future of work, according to research from the CIPD and Towards Maturity.

Big thinkers

Many MENA companies are unwilling to invest in staff who will only stay a few years


The latest round-up of inspiring ideas for HR professionals

Preparing for the Future of Learning also found only 23 per cent of leaders feel their teams have the right skills to exploit technology that could help improve business performance. On average, 19 per cent of a training budget is spent on technology; however, while the report suggests there is a mismatch between investment in these tools and the skills staff have to use them, it also found that many leaders are looking to address the skills gaps. ✶


management at telecoms giant Du, says: “Keeping in mind the economic situation that the world is facing at the moment, organisations have to rethink how they manage their human capital. “Our challenge is making sure we have the right career plans for our nationals and the right opportunities for them to challenge themselves, so they stay with our company for the long term.”

It won’t be long before we are working into our eighties, with the traditional idea of a ‘three-stage life’ replaced with up to five or six stages, and people dipping in and out of employment, self-employment and extended sabbaticals. In their new book, The 100-Year Life, respected academics Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott set out a manifesto for longer working lives. With life expectancy everincreasing, they believe HR departments can lead the way in designing fulfilling and flexible work that gets the best out of employees at all stages of life. While some believe that Ramadan leads to a slowdown in workplace productivity, pragmatic business leaders can ensure that the shorter working weeks actually add value to their organisations. In a recent article in the Dubai Chronicle, Professor William Scott-Jackson, chairman of Oxford Strategic Consulting and an expert on HR practice in the GCC, says: “A great leader helps their team work effectively and happily to make the most of every hour.” A good night’s sleep, healthy food and regular exercise can not only help prevent illness but can ward off the damaging effects of rudeness and bullying in the workplace, according to Christine Porath, associate professor of management at Georgetown University in the US. In her forthcoming book, Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace, Porath

analyses the effects of today’s “epidemic” of bad behaviour and suggests how organisations can tackle the issue and create healthier working environments. Workplaces are falling prey to adherents of “functional stupidity”, explain Mats Alvesson and André Spicer in their new book, The Stupidity Paradox. Despite society’s technological advances and soaring collective intelligence, most jobs don’t require us to think critically, or even to think at all, which the authors put down to the rise of ‘knowledge work’ and over-education. Being more negative and cynical at work, as well as encouraging clandestine groups to counter the corporate literature, will help, they say. “Emotional intelligence (EI) is very important for success,” says Abu Dhabi academic Dr P Sethu Madhavan Puravangara. He argues that by incorporating individual assessment and feedback tools, and “emotional competence” – the social skills that are based on EI – into HR processes, such as recruitment and training, “organisations can institutionalise positive behaviour and a healthy working culture over a period of time”. Puravangara says EI is important in the Middle East, where individuals might be dealing with colleagues from as many as 50 countries in one company. believes Lynda Gratton ll soon be longer, working lives wi ople dipping in pe and will involve ment oy pl em of t ou d an

Global Investment House, Kuwait

“We give people the freedom to work” A commitment to developing relationships with every staff member is paying dividends at a Kuwaiti financial powerhouse



hen a group of Kuwaiti entrepreneurs decided to launch a new national financial institution in 1998, they went against the grain in at least one respect – by deciding people were going to be their core asset. Even more surprisingly, 10

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considering the challenging business environment faced by GCC finance firms both during the global economic crisis and today, this desire to create a people-focused environment continues to underpin Kuwait’s Global Investment House. One of the company’s founders, and the trailblazer for the employee-centric approach, is Khawla B Al Roomi, a lawyer by trade who was lured into HR 32 years ago because of

a natural affinity for people and problemsolving. The executive vice president for HR, administration and marketing says that, 18 years ago, she and her peers were convinced that putting talent first would be critical to their proposition. “We wanted to be different from others already established in the market,” says Al Roomi. “To achieve our target, we had to trust our staff. We had to sponsor them. We had to select the best human capital to work with us – those who want to learn, gain experience and add value to themselves, the organisation, clients and investors.”

Case studies

implemented, was more flexible working hours. There are parameters in place, but staff can start any time between 8 and 9am, and finish eight hours later. Global holds an ‘open day’ every month, on which employees are free to lose the suits and dress down. A complaint box is available for anonymous comments, and social activities are encouraged. Al Roomi says the firm has a large training budget, with investment in improving people’s skills and knowledge a top priority. As well as traditional programmes and procedures, however, one of the most successful routes is via mentoring, she says. “We have an induction programme for all new employees; we assign a staff member to guide the new person in everything – policies, procedures, where to go and how to go. We really take care of our people and give them everything they need to work well. When someone joins Global, they feel part of this within six months.” She says the approach has numerous benefits: “Mentorship is part of our culture. When Global was first established, we wanted to have an open-door policy to ensure good work attributes are always wellpromoted and transferred to the next line. “This has resulted in enhancing the sense of belonging, the loyalty to the company and exposure for employees. It has created an

innovative thinking culture and improved teamwork with aligned goals and objectives.” With such a commitment to making staff part of the family of more than 140 people, there is a lot of pressure on getting recruitment right, and candidates have to reach Al Roomi’s exacting standards: “If someone doesn’t have the skills, I don’t have to hire them. We recruit those who are ready to add value, and add value for both sides. Our culture means those who are lazy are already behind and have to leave. Our hiring always depends on selecting the right people.” Currently, though, hiring is not a priority; instead, plans have had to be slashed in line with the impact of what Al Roomi – who also acts as vice chair of the Arab Leadership Academy – describes as a “financial crisis” caused by wider economic issues. The manpower plan was cut back in October 2015 and reassessed in January, when it became “really hard to hire the required number of staff”. The most important skill in such circumstances is communication, and Al Roomi’s efforts have centred around ensuring department heads understand why forecast headcount is being reduced, and working with them to establish how existing employees can shoulder the responsibilities, bringing her right back to the reason she entered HR – dealing with people and solving problems. “When resignations happen, we have to discuss with the manager if we cannot replace [that person] and instead hire within Global or spread the responsibilities between the existing staff in the same department,” says Al Roomi. “I don’t think it has a bad impact [on motivation]. We are always a family; we all belong to the company, so we have to support it in different situations. We appreciate the managers’ feedback and support and everything is running smoothly. I think we’ve succeed at working with the available staff.” And this is where Global’s investment in managing a people-powered business seems to have paid off – just as it is loyal to its staff, so too are the employees to the company.

“We are a family; we all belong to the firm, so we have to support it in different situations”

Khawla B Al Roomi says mentorship is an intrinsic part of Global’s culture

Today, Global has assets of $3.5bn under management through its portfolios, and invests in listed equities, private equity and real estate, among others. By ‘sponsoring’ employees, Al Roomi says the company has an overall approach to learning that prioritises mentorship and inclusion. “We give everyone we hire a feeling that they are partners in Global. We trust them to be innovative and creative and share their ideas. We give them the freedom to work; that’s what makes us different from others and a preferred employer in the market,” she says. One example is a programme that encourages employees to submit ideas to management on anything from HR to business strategy. One suggestion, now

Global Kwun Tong Promenade

Global Investment House Kai Tak Cruise Terminal


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Al-Futtaim Group, Dubai

“We needed a new way of leading” Why all 46,000 employees at a family-owned conglomerate had to understand what it means to be a leader WORDS KIRSTY TUXFORD PHOTOGRAPHY SIDDHARTH SIVA


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t started four years ago: a new HR strategy that included leadership development as one of the core components. Borne out of conversations with group directors, Al-Futtaim’s HR and L&D departments were considering how HR could support the vast conglomerate’s business goals. Chief HR officer John Harker admits that, when he joined the company four years ago, it lacked a coherent human capital strategy to help grow the business into the future, and didn’t seem to have the right people in the right place

who were equipped to do the job. That’s a huge people management challenge in an organisation comprised of more than 200 businesses, across 30 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia, with more than 46,000 employees. Al-Futtaim operates in several sectors – retail, financial services, real estate and automotive – and holds the franchise and distribution rights to some of the world’s leading brands, including Ikea, Toyota and InterContinental Dubai Festival City. One aspect of the solution to the group’s human capital needs was a leadership

Case studies John Harker and Debbie Chatten want leaders to navigate complexity

Al-Futtaim Dubai

Al-Futtaim Festival Waterfront Centre Dubai Creek

development programme. Together with Hay Group, L&D consulted on what success and leadership should look like, and put in place a ‘leadership success profile’ made up of different competencies. All leaders across the organisation experience a nine-month development journey, helping them realise who they are as a leader. It includes a ‘workplace challenge’, where teams of employees are presented with key organisational challenges from the vice chairman and group directors. Each team leader then has the opportunity to make recommendations to the company heads on what could be improved. “We’ve had 1,013 leaders come through the programme in two years,” says Debbie Chatten, chief learning officer. “There’s one project [originated by workplace challenge teams] around sustainability that would actually pay for the leadership programme for every leader who has attended so far. It’s not been implemented yet, but we’re confident it will bring us savings. More importantly, it has helped us identify leaders who are using a broad range of styles and developing their people.” Workplace challenge teams have also been active in helping directors figure out how to better incorporate newly acquired businesses into the Al-Futtaim group – proving that

those lower in the organisational hierarchy are listened to at the top. So what kind of leaders does Al-Futtaim value? “The ones who partner with their peers, or their customers,” says Chatten. “Also, the leaders who manage to navigate organisational complexities and are contributing to the greater good of the company. A good leader creates the right environment for learning.” Leadership development is just one aspect of how HR is helping drive business – the bigger picture began with a significant culture change for Al-Futtaim. The human capital strategy is now more business-centred. “We’re creating a group of leaders who are thinking and acting like Al-Futtaim, which we have never really had before,” says Harker. “The strategy is called ‘talent for growth’ – it’s based around diversification and growth. HR’s task was to develop an integrated plan that would ensure we were able to reach our growth agendas by nurturing the right capital, and so we created this agenda we call ‘capital growth’ – it’s a multi-layer programme, which comes as a range of initiatives including how to attract, retain, develop and engage people. It’s quite broad. We’ve run a pretty ambitious set of projects over the past four years.” Training and development is not just for leaders – the group has worked hard to ensure all staff feel engaged. There’s a learning centre that supports the whole of the organisation, offering support around core interpersonal and technical skills, plus online learning for all employees. More broadly, HR is doing a good job of retaining staff despite the transient nature of workers in the GCC. Four years ago, the average length of service at Al-Futtaim was four years, but it’s now getting close to five. Previously, only about 12 per cent of positions were filled internally. “As a result of changing a number of our policies and processes we now fill 26 per cent internally,” says Harker. “We used to have fixed-term contracts, so expats were only working three or four years and going somewhere else. We’ve changed that, and now people can stay here as long as they wish, as long as they’re performing.” Although Al-Futtaim does not operate in an industry with a quota for nationals, attracting and retaining national talent

is firmly on the organisation’s agenda. But it has had to work to understand what drives nationals’ career goals. “One reason is the sense of pride in your nation, and working for the government is a manifestation of that,” explains Harker. “The public sector has generous benefits and working hours are shorter than in the private sector. The private sector attracts people who are more entrepreneurial – those who want to see themselves advance based on merit. We need to try and identify those people.” Al-Futtaim is currently sponsoring a new public-private initiative, and working with the government to create a “more level playing field”, making it easier for locals to join private companies. “We have an owner who is passionate about playing our part in employing and developing national talent,” says Harker. “Through his sponsorship, we’ve done a pretty good job. The other side of the coin is that we have hired more nationals, but I’m not sure the quality has always been up to scratch. So now we focus more on that, and ensure the people we recruit are the best fit for the role.” Generally, UAE employment law can be difficult to keep up with, and Al-Futtaim has worked hard to stay one step ahead. “The policies that we have adopted go above and beyond what the legislation demands,” says Harker. “For example, when they outlawed the keeping of passports, we had stopped it long before. We work very closely with the regulator on these issues.” The group’s policies also ensure female employees gain equal access to leadership and development training, he says. Al-Futtaim employs 106 nationalities, and operates in multiple sectors with a workforce scattered around the world. Aligning them, and maintaining common standards across the organisation, are issues for HR on a macro level. But Harker is confident the group is negotiating the challenges: “I wouldn’t say that we are yet at the level of the most developed companies in the western world, but we are in a really good space.”

“We are creating leaders who can think and act like Al-Futtaim”

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The debate

Is it time to rethink end of service benefits? Many GCC employers simply do not put enough aside to cover their liabilities when staff leave. The experts mull the alternatives INTERVIEWS KIRSTY TUXFORD

Dr Yehya (M) Al Marzooqi Executive director, project management, Tawazun Holding

We must give employees a choice The whole concept of the end-ofservice gratuity (EOSG) needs to be looked at and alternatives considered. The EOSG is realised when people leave the company, but often it will depreciate if it is not put aside in an investment. Businesses should either invest it in a low-risk fund, or stop requiring it to be used at the end of the employee’s service.

There should be some kind of choice for workers. Give them the gratuity and let them be in charge of whether they want to invest it or not. Imagine an expat reaching 60 – with three years to go until retirement, if they can get some of their gratuity before leaving the organisation they can buy land and build a house, and when they retire they will have an asset and a place to stay. But with a gratuity only paid after termination, they may take the money to their home country.

There is some debate around the fact that companies can keep EOSGs in their own accounts and use it as working capital – if the money is given to the employee and they put it in their bank account in their home country, the authorities will look at it and want tax paid on it. That’s a consideration, of course, but without doubt the current system needs to be managed differently.

Abdulaziz Al Ali Executive vice president of HR, Emirates Group

It’s possible to offer something more The arguments over whether a pension scheme, a trust fund or the traditional EOSG is the best option go much further than just the HR perspective, as they impact on company cashflow and other corporate financing considerations. At Emirates, we wanted a way to introduce a securely funded retirement arrangement for staff, with the intention of providing


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greater benefits than the statutory EOSG. The provident scheme we offer provides a cash lump sum on leaving, as opposed to an annuity pensiontype income. It enables members to invest and hold monies in a range of funds and currencies. The levels of contributions paid by the company to the scheme are higher than the equivalent annual EOSG accruals for each staff member. This mitigates any material risk of poor investment returns that would result in the EOSG underpin actually kicking in. There are valid arguments against businesses offering pension schemes:

employees may only work in the GCC for a limited time, and don’t want to wait until they retire in another country to receive their pension, while funds invested in the stock market may depreciate in value. But both these points can be addressed with a well-designed vesting schedule and a wellbalanced range of fund choices. For employees to get the full benefit of the company contributions, they must remain with us for seven years – this helps us retain high-quality talent and helps staff ride out investment market fluctuations. If they leave before they have fully vested, they still have their entitlement to the EOSG.

Sarmad Tiwana Group head of HR, Gulftainer

The gratuity remains pragmatic and valuable The EOSG is a valuable benefit that serves as a savings plan to the majority of the expat workforce, many of whom end up living and working here for about 20-30 years. And it’s important to remember that saving is a very different concept for each person depending on where they come from. An unskilled worker or manual labourer – for whom every penny of his earnings is crucial to live on

– places his faith in the future prosperity of the EOSG, and any shift away from it towards a trust requires an element of education to change people’s perceptions and mindsets. Companies should never use the EOSG as working capital, especially smaller firms or those in financial difficulties, because, at any given time, a long-serving employee may decide to leave at short notice and it may be difficult to arrange the payout. Implementing a proper regulation protocol and keeping the money in a trusted reserve, with staff able to see their money grow, is a much better approach. At the same time, there should be a simplified system to encourage people working at different job

levels to participate. With an inhouse corporate saving plan, you can also allow your employees to choose the duration of investments and the level of risk they are willing to undertake. Given the diversity of the workforce and the unknown duration that people will stay in the country, the EOSG is a very pragmatic benefit. Ultimately, what matters is not how much you earn, but how much you save. And although retirement plans are not yet very popular, offering realistic saving schemes for long-term residents is something we will see more of.

Simon Fielder Managing director, Ryland Gray

Pensions aren’t going to be the answer Gratuities are old-fashioned and difficult to fund. They’ve become an increasing burden on employers. Robert Maxwell [former Mirror Group proprietor] raided his employees’ pension pots to fund his lifestyle and support his businesses, and until recently there has been no legislation to say that firms in the GCC have to segregate the liability or even take account of workers’ gratuities on their balance sheet. Companies can get away with using

their employees’ assets as their working capital. There are numerous dangers attached to the gratuity: in the UAE, if your employer goes bust, you can only get Dhs2,000 from the Labour Department, and staff have all their EOSG assets invested in their employer, which means there’s no diversity or risk assessment. An alternative is that companies segregate the gratuity and put it into a trust. This is a more secure structure and, depending on the investments used, with associated diversity, will probably offer greater returns once the employee leaves service. There are many offshore regulated regimes that offer trustee services as well as funds. Pension schemes will remain too complex until the authorities

change the law but, in any case, a pension is very difficult to administer and police because of the transient population. There are a number of drivers for a government-led pension scheme, including economic necessity (the UAE in particular wants to move away from old-fashioned methods of employment law) and stock market performance. If a pension industry can be built, it could support local stock markets, but there is still the problem of the transient population – how do you do this when the payments you will be making might be to someone in Bangalore or Melbourne?

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d l u o w w o H r o f r e p e t a r e m e g a n a m COVER STORY

u o y d e c n a m r ? t n e

Leading businesses are ditching appraisals in their droves. But that’s only the first step in reinventing the way you evaluate and manage your employees WORDS ROBERT JEFFERY


ack Welch is widely remembered as the dynamic CEO who transformed the financial performance of General Electric during a decade-long reign in charge of the world’s most iconic industrial conglomerate. Today, however, most people have forgotten the specifics of Welch’s deal-making and the zeal he brought to the firm’s marketing initiatives. Welch’s real legacy is in performance management. Each year, the notoriously ruthless leader would fire the bottom 10 per cent of his managers, regardless of how poorly they had actually managed over the previous 12 months. Building an evidence base for such a widespread cull meant a huge, data-driven performance management machine comprising appraisals, objective measures of success and managers’ observation. It came to be known as the ‘rank and yank’ system, and it was certainly successful at reducing headcount and controlling costs. Those who have studied Welch’s reign at GE, however, are less convinced

it was in the company’s long-term interests. They believe managers were incentivised to cut corners to get results, and that teamwork took a back seat in an environment where the person you were collaborating with could be in direct competition with you tomorrow. For his part, Welch continues to defend his system. He hates the ‘rank and yank’ term and claims GE enjoyed a high-performance culture, not a climate of fear. “I’ve spoken to more than 500,000 people around the world and I always ask audiences: ‘How many of you know where you stand in your organisation?’” he has said. “Typically, no more than 10 per cent raise their hands. That’s criminal.” But over the past few years, plenty of companies have decided that forced ranking – whether it’s of the Welch variety, the ‘stacked ranking’ system once employed by Microsoft or ideas that rely on distribution curves – is not conducive to the sort of environment they want to create. In many cases, the entire formalised appraisal system has been questioned or

even discarded. For HR professionals, who must administrate, design and arbitrate on performance, it is an exciting but often confused conversation. And it leads us back to one central question: do we even know what performance management is supposed to measure any more? It would, of course, be easy to overstate the scale of the revolt. Most organisations still have formal performance management systems in place to at least some degree, and many – particularly in the public sector, or in areas such as financial services where a culture of reporting permeates front-line activities – use it as the basis for all business-critical decisions. But inspired by Silicon Valley firms such as Netflix, which have rethought the employee relationship, there has been a groundswell of businesses announcing that traditional performance management no longer works for them. Accenture and Deloitte have been followed by most management consultancies in ending the appraisal system. Adobe and Google have dropped them, as has Microsoft, whose actions People Management Middle East



were considered particularly significant. Its UK HR director, Theresa McHenry, said: “[The appraisal system] was having a negative impact on collaboration, risk-taking and innovation… It wasn’t particularly motivating, reward options were too rigid and it didn’t feel great because people heard a rating and were labelled.” David Jones, founder of consultancy The Talent Enterprise and author of Game Changers, which considers the rise of female talent in the Arab workplace, adds: “The well-worn phrase ‘best practice’ is definitely something that needs to be questioned, because the old system – call it performance management 1.0 – was sold as a best practice approach where you cascade objectives and have a development plan, quarterly reviews and an end-of-year performance rating, calibrated in some way. “That has been best practice for decades. It’s only recently that it has it been questioned and performance management 2.0 proposed. It’s about being more confident as an organisation, asking what it is we want performance management to do and not do, and making sure it’s not just a way to annoy people once a year. That way, we actually get some value out of it.” Ramakrishna Movva, head of strategic HR and organisational capabilities at Emirates NBD, goes further, suggesting that much of traditional performance management is entirely counter-productive: “Lots of these historically unquestioned practices… what are we trying to achieve by rating an employee’s performance with a statistical system, trying to distil a year’s performance into one number so you can be done with the discussion in half an hour? What kind of motivation and empowerment does that give the employee?” HR professionals seem to know better than anyone that performance management is often ineffective. One of the largest studies on the topic, carried out by the Brandon Hall Group in 2014, found that most of those charged with implementing performance management systems believed they were average at best (only 26 per cent placed them ‘above average’), and a majority felt practices

such as forced distribution and annual performance discussions were ineffective. A study of more than 150 GCC HR professionals, carried out by the CIPD and The Talent Enterprise in April 2016, reached similar conclusions. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) were planning ‘significant shifts’ in the way they manage performance over the next couple of years, and 21 per cent said they had already started the process of change. When it comes to delivering value, enhancing fairness or meeting organisational goals, there was only lukewarm enthusiasm – only half actively agreed that their current performance management process was effective at differentiating high performers, for example (see page 20). What’s replacing appraisals, ratings and tick-box exercises varies by organisation. Some favour regular ‘check ins’ where managers speak to employees about their progress and report back in a less formal way. This might be supplemented by 360-degree feedback, itself a popular mechanism offering a more holistic view of performance. Others are initiating ‘continuous conversations’, while Google empowers its employees to monitor their own ‘objectives and key results’. For Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, this taps into wider shifts in the way we engage employees. He points out that many staff today may work remotely, be managed by different people at different times, or not have a formal ‘manager’ at all. It is increasingly difficult to judge them in a linear way using a scorecard or system. Jones says the education system is leading a shift in attitudes. Many classrooms


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“It’s not about more frequent meetings – it’s about the philosophy behind them”

are now ‘flipped’ so that children are encouraged to lead the conversation and the teacher is more of a facilitator. Younger recruits carry such expectations into the workplace. Technology has had an effect too, he adds: “It used to be that as a manager I would decide when information was released. I had time to set the agenda and present it. Now, my team comes to me with a device in their hands saying: ‘Have you seen what’s happened? What are you going to do about this?’” In such a situation, he says, a directive leadership style isn’t that helpful.

Individual performance management cannot be practised in isolation from the business, says Maha Al Mansouri of Masdar City

The Masdar City organisation, which is building and operating emerging renewable energy infrastructure and education projects in Abu Dhabi, is indicative of such shifts. Around 60 per cent of the business has management responsibilities, says Maha Al Mansouri, director of Emiratisation and human capital. While the organisation has a “performance culture”, she says, it can’t be delivered through a single appraisal at the end of the year. “We don’t do individual performance management in isolation from the business,” says Al Mansouri. “It all

starts from the top. We have a strong leadership team that understands people, and it is important to us to have strong people managers too.” KPIs exist at a business level and team level, as well as for individuals, and managers are specifically coached on how to have constant, supportive conversations about performance rather than rely on appraisals. The key, she adds, is that managers are aware they can only achieve their own objectives if they are also developing and encouraging those who report to them – and vice versa.

Whichever form of performance management you want to shift toward, says Jones, there is an element of collaboration and education that needs to take place at all levels of the organisation. Leaders must discuss what performance really means to them, what they hope to achieve and what fairness will look like. Employees must understand the ground that will and won’t be covered – for example, reward structures – as part of a new system. Through it all, as in so many areas of organisational life, managers are crucial. When the CIPD held a roundtable on People Management Middle East


Jack Welch’s brutal form of performance management had its adherents – but many believe it’s now time for a more compassionate regime

Is performance management working for you?








performance management in Dubai in March, attended by HR directors from a range of leading businesses, the managerial role formed a large strand of the conversation. Managers, the assembled experts and practitioners concluded, must be encouraged to have day-to-day discussions with their staff as part of a broader emphasis on the ‘people’ aspects of performance, and a recognition that the needs of individuals at varying stages of their careers will be very different. And if organisations are serious about reinventing performance management, 20

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Our overall performance management process effectively differentiates high performers

the shift to a people-first, rather than a metrics-first, focus must be reflected in managers’ KPIs. The CIPD’s subsequent survey found that 71 per cent of respondents were focusing on upskilling and engaging managers. This is often easier said than done, of course. Managers are among the busiest people in a company, with pressure arriving from all directions, and the fear of additional bureaucracy or time away from the front line causing them to fear and dread performance management processes. But does ‘better’ performance management have to add to anyone’s






Our overall performance management process drives a culture of fairness and meritocracy for all employees


Our individual performance management process impacts on our overall organisational performance

workload? The crux of most new models is more frequent and varied conversations about performance, reflecting the reality that feedback is best given (and received) in the moment – at work, as in life. A football coach tells his players to change tactics while the game is going on in the hope of influencing the result. A teacher marks a student’s work when it is handed in so they have an immediate idea of where they can improve, rather than saving the feedback for the end of the year. More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of those surveyed by the CIPD said they were


Our overall performance management process delivers exceptional value






What’s next?



21% 16% “fostering more frequent 15% performance management 12% discussions”. These could be weekly or monthly ‘check ins’, a variety of 360-degree We are trying to We know we We have a fair We know exactly We have understand what need to change, idea about the what we need already started mechanisms, a culture of other companies but we are overall changes to do the process instant feedback and coaching are doing at the unsure of where we need of change – or a combination of all three. moment to start to make The aim is to avoid ‘storing up’ feedback so it becomes a surprise to the recipient, or the temptation arises for a leader promotions of people whose names they remotely), the annual appraisal may be the to simply avoid a tough conversation. “If might not even know… We will need to only time they feel truly listened to. And you have the conversation in the moment, trust the judgement of people down the if we remove the theoretically objective it’s easier to be honest,” says Cheese. “You line, and learn to delegate.” practice of ratings from reward and can say: ‘Why did you just say that?’ You’ve He is confident the change will gain progression decisions, we could allow got all the context there.” traction. But he is realistic about how far cronyism or favouritism to flourish in By contrast, formal situations raise the things can shift in a banking environment their place. stress levels, he adds. “Everyone thinks: ‘I where regulation is hard-wired into “Organisations are falling into a trap of don’t know what to expect because the day-to-day operations. There’s also the saying: ‘Let’s change this, let’s strip that manager has said nothing to me. Maybe issue of how reward relates to performance. out,’” says Movva. “But what you need is we’ll have a big argument.’ It’s stressful. In an ideal world, it would be possible a culture change rather than a process And guess what neuroscience tells us? In to entirely decouple the two, not least change. If you really look at it from a that context, you’re unable to learn.” because decades of studies tell us pay rises business point of view, performance Movva admits the idea that more frequent offer only a short-term, illusory kick-start management is a vehicle to manage feedback should be supplemented by an to our motivation. the business and manage end-of-year session “is probably simplifying But we react poorly to being performance. the solution. It’s not about having more paid less than others, or to being “The biggest benefit of frequent meetings, it’s about the philosophy paid less than we were before. a focus on performance behind those meetings.” The fairest answer is to see management is bringing into At Emirates NBD, there has been a financial reward as a ‘hygiene question how we manage desire – driven by the most senior ranks factor’ and to seek more holistic people inside organisations, of the organisation – to explore how and non-monetary ways to rather than simply looking at performance management might shift away recognise good performance. the processes.” from a tick-box process to something more But whole industries, including Jones agrees, and urges transformational. That has begun with a banking, are structured to companies to focus on new ‘user friendly’ brand for the process support performance-related ensuring “people know what that enables it to accommodate feedback pay systems. they’re supposed to achieve from a broader range of stakeholders and “Performance management is – what their priorities are”. Altering might encompass new technology. synonymous with bonuses,” says Movva. performance management is in itself a But Movva says the next part of this shift “The moment you say ‘performance’ they’re journey of continuous improvement rather will be to create an “emotional experience” thinking about how that will translate into than a means to end, he says. But at its best, that will force managers in particular to money. But what people get at the end of it is a chance to reframe the workplace as confront what performance management the year is not going to drive what they do somewhere people feel truly empowered. really means to them, and what it could look the rest of the year. We need a different And that might begin not with a like in future. This could be enabled by a philosophy on motivating people.” profound shift but with something as certified programmed that explores more For many businesses, this will require simple as the language we use, says Jones: empowering styles of leadership. And it will baby steps. To an extent, any shift towards “‘Appraise’ sounds like something you do be accompanied by a broader shift to a more a more conversational performance culture to an antique. ‘Compensation’ sounds like democratic style of decision-making, says is a positive. And there is a danger in something we’re giving you because of Movva: “At the moment, lots of decisions moving too far, too fast away from your suffering. Change those things and have been centralised – they are taken by traditional measures of performance. For maybe you start to make that old cliché leaders very high up in the hierarchy, who individuals who have little contact with a about people being your greatest asset are making decisions on bonuses and manager (perhaps because they work more of a reality.”

“The moment you talk about ‘performance’ people start thinking about bonuses”

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out ab t n’ is re u lt cu ce n a rm fo er -p h Creating a hig . Could ip sh er ad le ry a on si vi or s se u n hefty bo empowering people be the key? WORDS STUART MATTHE



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do to get the new company through its first year. With HR’s house in order, Parsons felt it was time to make the Doha-headquartered business look and feel like one operation without ‘distracting’ employees. The executive team was involved heavily from the outset, especially in benefit alignment work and grading. Monthly meetings reviewed everything from medical insurance to leave requirements, as well as reward, looking at the data the organisation held and taking on board leaders’ views on what kind of business WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff would be. This culminated in the launch of an integrated benefits and grading system in 2016. From the outset, the broader aim was to create a high-trust, low-process culture to get the best from highly skilled employees and, among other things, reduce the number of approvals individuals felt they needed for a particular decision. “We trust our employees,” says Parsons. “Sometimes it might not work, but most of the time people will do the right thing – if you respect them enough to allow them to do the right thing.”



hen global professional services firm WSP completed its purchase of Parsons Brinckerhoff in October 2014 for around $1.3bn, the hard work had just begun. The new business was modelled on the best of both parties. And that meant the new company’s HR team had a rare, and daunting, opportunity: starting with a clean slate. The integration work that followed was full of technical challenges, of course. But there was a desire too to create something that went further than the sum of its parts. “In integration terms, we consciously went quite quickly,” says Caroline Parsons, HR director for Middle East at WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff. “The organisation we wanted to build was the best of both, plus some bits that didn’t exist in either. It was a great opportunity for us to look and say ‘why do we do that?’” One of the earliest steps was a full HR team workshop – something neither of the businesses had previously undertaken – where staff throughout the GCC reviewed their experiences and debated what they needed to

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“They are really connected to the company – with their heads, hearts and feet”


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and staff,” she says. “Building trust so that, no matter what happens, the staff know they will stay in the organisation because they are cared for.” Logistics giant DHL regularly tops polls of the best regional workplaces, and also saw 2015 revenue growth in its Express business of 12.4 per cent in the Middle East and Africa. Henry Fares, the company’s vice president of HR for MENA, says both can be attributed to making people the first ‘pillar’ of the firm’s strategy. “The motivated people pillar is everything and is our stepping stone for the success of DHL,” he says. “Everything is based around having motivated people and engaged employees.” Fares talks about engagement as a twostep process – one that addresses both the rational and emotional. He believes it is easy for people to make a decision, but the commitment required to stick with it requires greater engagement: “This is why DHL keeps on reinforcing an emotional engagement, rather than simply the cognitive one.” Fares advocates the power of open communication with colleagues, which helps each employee understand the value of what they do for the customer and lets them know they have access to leadership. A comprehensive reward and recognition programme also flags up when staff have performed well. “We don’t underestimate the power of recognition,” says Fares. “You want things to recur? Reinforce them; reward them.” Add in programmes for continuous improvement and employee training, plus detailed measurement along the way, and DHL is able to track the impact of each initiative, act of engagement or development scheme. The deceptively simple explanation Fares offers for success is to do more of what gets you closer to your targets. But, of course, to do that you have to know what the targets are, and have a strategy to achieve them. “High-performance cultures really start from the top,” says Thom Janssen, practice leader at Willis Towers Watson. “You need a strategy and a culture that supports that strategy and, most pivotally, to use leadership at various levels to drive that culture and align it with the strategy.” Janssen suggests that high-performing companies set themselves apart by having a clear focus on the market, understanding and responding to market changes, and putting the customer first. Internally, high-performance cultures look at clearly identified employee value propositions. From that grounding, he says, they go on to create sustainable engagement in the workforce. “Certain employees are not only happy but are really connected to the business – with

Is your office making you less productive? Though it seems eminently logical that the physical space in which we work has a massive impact on our performance, the science of office design is relatively new. But employers that want to foster a culture of high performance should think carefully about function, style and how the specifics of the place you work meet the needs of the people who work there. That doesn’t mean breaking out the beanbags and office slides. “If we are to get clever with layouts to get our workforce to be more productive, we have to get the basics right,” says Chris Seymour, regional development director at Mott MacDonald and co-chair of the Middle East Council for Offices. “The basics relate to what you can conveniently see in Maslow [the hierarchy of needs] – what some workspace experts call ‘hygiene factors’ – and these are around feeling safe, the temperature being correct, lighting and noise. Unless you get those things right, anything clever you try to do with the layout will be lost.”


What WSP is really in search of is that elusive quality that turns a good company into a great one. It is perhaps the critical determinant of business success. While an exalted few thrive on the quality of their breakthrough ideas – think Facebook, Amazon or (further back in time) the Ford Motor Company – for most firms, beating the market means unleashing discretionary effort, offering superior customer service or just being better, faster and smarter than the opposition. What those businesses all have in common is empowered staff. There are plenty of measures of employee satisfaction, from engagement surveys to Glassdoor and numerous award and certification schemes. But scratch deeper and you’ll find that those who score well on such measures also invariably outperform the market financially. The two go hand in hand; for example, a study from the UK’s University of Warwick in 2015 found that engaged employees were 12 per cent more productive, while 94 per cent of the companies voted the world’s most admired believe their performance can be attributed in large part to engagement, according to the Hay Group. The Great Place to Work index claims to rank the most engaged workplaces in the Middle East. They are also all highly successful in financial terms. “The common trait in the organisations on our list is that leadership and managers spend time talking and listening to their staff,” says Maha Zaatari, managing director of Great Place to Work in the UAE. “They give them the time to understand their challenges, offer feedback on their performance, sit down and connect with them, and care for them as individuals. “What makes company ‘A’ a great workplace does not necessarily make company ‘B’ one. They invest time in analysing the issue first, and they make sure they ask their staff: ‘What is it that you need to make you happier?’ Then they address it.” Zaatari is critical of what might be called a “PlayStations and pool tables” approach to creating a high-performance workplace, noting that staff feedback from companies where such ‘cherries on top’ are introduced without the groundwork being in place finds communication between employees and managers lacking. “What you need to focus more on, to become a great workplace, is fixing the relationship between managers

Unless you’ve tackled the basics in office comfort, slides will have little effect on employee engagment

Research released in May by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed that all is not well in Middle East offices. A majority of respondents (67 per cent) felt their productivity was being negatively affected by at least one aspect of their office environment, and more than 75 per cent said they needed more flexibility in their workspace. Typical complaints, usually stemming from open-plan offices, were noise disturbance and interruption, while a lack of environmental control left 37 per cent of people feeling out in the cold. Unless you’re in the top job, the days of having your own office are on the way out, but the research pointed to a possible and increasingly popular solution: activity-based work spaces. While these flexible environments were found to be rare in the GCC, they were the most desired layout among respondents if they couldn’t have a space of their own. “Activity-based working is when the office is laid out in a manner that relates to the activity being undertaken,” says Seymour. “That might be collaborative or creative, or it might be about learning. The theory is that you move around these areas depending on what you’re doing.” It is a mode of working that research says particularly suits generation Y, the children of the 80s and 90s who form an increasing proportion of the workforce. “It’s known to make people feel happier and more productive,” says Seymour. “What we found is that while generation Ys were saying ‘this is our preference’, you didn’t find people outside that generation saying they didn’t like it.”

their heads, their hearts and their feet,” says Janssen. “They believe in the organisation, its goals and objectives, they’re proud of the organisation and they go the extra mile to make sure it is successful.” Such a level of engagement usually means businesses enable their employees – not just motivating them, but really giving them the tools and resources to perform to a consistently high degree, as well as looking after their wellbeing. While GCC companies generally have made progress in successfully communicating where they are going and how they will get there, as well as having line managers who can create effective teams, Janssen believes there is more to be done. High performers are also prepared to offer autonomy, ditching the old parentchild model of management in favour of something more collaborative. At WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, that meant turfing out a two-page dress code and scrapping the need for a doctor’s note after just a couple of days’ sick leave. Other tangible signs of the new culture included a shift to open-plan offices with hot desks. The visibility and availability of the leadership team in this environment was noticed and featured positively in feedback from independent assessments. As a result, says Parsons, transparency has become normal and information about the business is readily available to employees. Appraisal systems were changed too. Annual reviews weren’t doing the job in an organisation whose cycles follow client projects. Instead, the new normal is to have regular check-ins with line managers. “It’s going back to basics and connecting with each other,” says Parsons. “We’re encouraging people to check in more, but not in a way that is restrictive. We asked people to enrol in a briefing about it and 80 per cent of the workforce came along.” Janssen adds: “We see that the most successful organisations are those that listen to their employees frequently – not just once a year – and really try and take the pulse of employee sentiment on management effectiveness and keep driving that agenda. We see more issues around empowerment, driving personal accountability and encouraging people to give their best.” In a high-performing business, that partly comes down to recruiting the right people in the first place, and helping them reach their potential. To achieve this, hires need to show both rational and emotional engagement, says Mohamed Farid, managing director for the Middle East at talent consultancy CEB. It’s a distinction lost on many, and one that leads to a key personnel issue: mistakenly choosing the high-performing staff of today as the high

DHL says keeping staff motivated is its most important goal

potentials of tomorrow. “Only 15 per cent of high performers are high potentials,” says Farid. “What makes you good at your level does not make you good at the next level.” CEB’s global research points to a combination of aspiration, ability and engagement as critical to getting highpotential individuals to develop successfully. But another stumbling block to their progress is the decision-making ability of their leadership, with only 25 per cent of senior business leaders globally using HR analytics for key talent decisions. “Actually, 70 per cent of any P&L, of any company, is in the human capital, but we don’t use any data to analyse what’s happening there,” says Farid. CEB research suggests that subsequent results for high-potential development are patchy at best. Almost two-thirds of people identified as high potential are unhappy with their development experience, and half of the world’s HR professionals lack confidence in their organisation’s highpotential programme. Despite this, the rewards for getting it right are significant and companies that do so display common characteristics, Farid points out. “If you have a strong talent management strategy and talent management frameworks in place, you find people are engaged and you get high results,” he says. “You also find very collaborative environments and people supporting each other. On the flip side, if you don’t have all those things in place, people just sort of come and go; they don’t connect to the business. You have to take care of them; you have to identify them; you have to develop them.” Organisations that get all the ingredients right, from creating engagement, delivering effective communication and empowering their employees through both development and a high degree of trust, stand a better chance of hanging on to their talent. But not every firm, by definition, can be a high performer. If you’re not there yet, there’s no time to lose. People Management Middle East


Develop your career in HR with an internationally recognised qualification from the CIPD As employer demand for excellence in HR and people development grows, more individuals around the world are studying a CIPD qualification. Achieving a CIPD qualification will help you: • gain or advance your knowledge in HR and people development • get the skills sought by employers • achieve CIPD professional membership – a badge of your professionalism • help you to stand out from the crowd in a competitive job market.

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We know more than ever about what makes the brain tick. But can that give us a competitive advantage in the workplace? People Management Middle East




t’s the question everyone wants an answer to: what is the future of work going to look like? Will sophisticated computer applications remove the need for human operatives? Will robot foremen direct robot staff? In fact, despite the breakneck advances in technology, it seems more likely that the future of work – as the CIPD and various other organisations have increasingly come to realise – will be human. And that means that a better understanding of the science of human behaviour has never been more essential for HR professionals looking to ready their business for the future. Key to a grasp on how human potential can be harnessed is neuroscience – the study of the brain and the nervous system. A better understanding of how the mind functions could transform our knowledge of the way people work, with benefits for learning, change management and motivation. As you might expect from something that takes the study of the brain as its primary focus, neuroscience can be a complex beast. But with a better appreciation of a few principles, HR practitioners can maximise the potential of people. “The benefits of using neuroscience theory as a development tool are extensive,” says Luke Salway, managing director of the NLP Top Coach consultancy. “They include the reprogramming of our minds at the conscious and unconscious level, which results in long-term positive behavioural change.” James Rule, an HR analytics expert, believes it can enhance the experience of being at work and improve all-round quality of life. “The science is great, and harnessing it gives us the opportunity to target the right kind of intervention to the right person in the right way,” he says. But what are the most important neuroscientific principles to understand? On these pages, we’ve rounded up four of the best.

“Neuroscience can enhance our experience at work and improve our quality of life”


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Neuroplasticity means you never stop learning The stereotype of being unable to learn new skills later in life has, at least in the past, been depressingly prevalent in workplaces. Until recently, our brains were viewed as fully formed by the time we reached our

early twenties. Childhood neurogenesis (the frenzied formation of new brain cells) ushered in a period of synaptic pruning in adolescence, as little-used neural pathways became redundant.

Want a ‘eureka moment’? Tap into your unconscious Unconscious thought theory has long told us that we solve our thorniest problems and come up with our best ideas when we’re not trying – the so-called ‘eureka moment’. “Our conscious mind is what we are aware of in the present moment, and is well known for logical thinking, order, language and numbers, for example,” says Salway. “Our unconscious mind is everything that we have experienced since the day we were born that we are not always aware of in the present moment. It is the realm of creativity, emotions and intuition.” During this ‘thinking without thinking’, a part of the brain called the anterior superior temporal gyrus, located towards the base,

is working double time, processing data and reaching its own conclusions by connecting previously disparate concepts. One of the most important implications of the unconscious mind is that the idea of ‘brainstorming’ – forcing ourselves to have new ideas, either individually or collectively – simply doesn’t work because we’re concentrating so hard our unconscious mind is switched off. Instead, we would do better to create a regular space to let our mind process thoughts, when it is active but not over-burdened. “A way to attend to the unconscious mind is to find time to get to know it,” says Lim. “The more we know what is lying in the

Research has shown that neurons ‘fire together’ over time


Advances in neuroscience thinking have now scotched that notion. Elizabeth Gould, a researcher at Princeton University in the US, spent years studying the brains of adult rodents to show they were developing extra neurons during their lifespans. Similar tests on humans have since confirmed her findings, underlining the significance of neuroplasticity: the idea that the brain is changeable and adaptable and that this flexibility continues throughout a lifetime. “Brains actually adapt to meet the demands placed upon them with aplomb. There’s no reason that a healthy older person should not be able to take on new information,” says Stephanie Thompson of corporate psychologists Insight Matters. Neuroplasticity also has huge implications for coaching, as it makes ‘brain training’ a reality. And as societies age, and the notion of a 30- or 40-year career is overtaken by a working life of multiple stages and identities, we will need to retrain and reinvent our brains more regularly. The more immediate challenge for organisations and innovative HR professionals is to find the right mechanism for encouraging ongoing workplace learning – and to banish the idea that older employees are less likely to learn. “When I learn something, new neural pathways are formed in my brain. The more I reinforce that learning, the more permanent those neural pathways become, the stronger the neural connections,” says Nicholas Lim, director of development at Emergenetics International. “If my company or environment facilitates the learning, retention of that lesson becomes stronger.”

unconscious, the Allowing your mind to better we are able to process thoughts can understand it and find help unleash creativity ways of leveraging it.” While mindfulness training, through techniques such as NLP, can be helpful, simple health measures can also affect how the brain performs. “Excellent nutrition, exercise, mental application and attending to biological imperatives like sleep and downtime are essential,” says Thompson.

Recruiters are looking at the wrong part of the brain One of the most HR-relevant principles of neuroscience is ‘emotional intelligence’. In essence, the idea behind it is that being conventionally ‘clever’ isn’t the be-all and endall of being effective, or even intelligent. In his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ, psychologist Daniel Goleman stated that emotional intelligence, or EQ (emotional quotient), was a more accurate predictor of success in life than a person’s intelligence quotient (IQ). However, many recruiters are still wowed by IQ and rarely consider or test for other types of intelligence. Being emotionally intelligent means having the ability to recognise and control your emotions and behaviour while remaining aware of the effect that these have on others around you. It isn’t necessarily about being a ‘people person’ who’s overly friendly, or a good listener: “It’s about self-and-other awareness, partnered with well-judged, constructive interpersonal

behaviour,” says Adrian Cox, a neuro linguistic programming (NLP) trainer. Some leaders need Michael Castle, to work on their executive director at the emotional maturity Abu Dhabi University Knowledge Group, agrees that EQ is important, both in business and in life. In his writings on the subject he has said that, while many leaders may be emotionally intelligent, they are not all emotionally mature. If EQ develops our knowledge, then emotional maturity develops our behaviours, and the two need to work in harmony together. Closely related to EQ, and somewhat more rooted in neuroscience, is the mentalising system – a way of processing the signals we receive from others and our status in relation to them. Those who are good at mentalising may be at ease in social situations and tend to be persuasive, inspiring and motivating. But despite these assets, many companies still believe IQ is the key to business success. Forward-thinking HR professionals are increasingly drawing on neuroscience findings to identify people with high EQ and who are good at mentalising by undertaking task-based interviews and questioning. The aim is to encourage people to talk about times when they have been attuned to the needs of others, rather than focusing on individual achievement.

Can we train our brains not to judge? Most people, barring the most doggedly bloody-minded individuals, like to think they are open-minded and objective. And in the vast majority of modern workplaces, diversity is highly valued. But unconscious bias still comes into play surprisingly often. Our logical mind may not think we are passing any kind of judgement, but unconsciously we tend to like people who look like us, think like us and have backgrounds similar to ours. It is an instinctive process that is hardwired in our brains. When human beings interact with each other, there is an abundance of information to process, a lot of which is suppressed, grouped and placed into easy-to-identify categories. These enable us to make quick decisions on future situations, and heavily influence how we view and evaluate others and ourselves. While this categorisation is a useful function in many social situations, in business it can be costly. It can cause us to make decisions

that are not objective, and can stymie diversity, recruitment and retention efforts. It can skew talent and performance reviews and affect who gets hired, promoted and developed – unwittingly undermining an organisation’s culture. Increasingly, companies are taking action to combat unconscious bias. Tech giants such as Facebook and Google have introduced training programmes that ask people to confront their biases, while consulting and business service EY’s Middle East arm is championing a Women Fast Forward campaign in a bid to accelerate gender parity by bringing genderrelated biases out into the open . “HR has to be well-versed in bias control, and in objective, structured and rigorous recruitment techniques,” says Thompson. “The same applies for managers conducting performance reviews. Learning these protocols is very eye-opening and extremely worthwhile. It builds wisdom – and emotional intelligence.” People Management Middle East



Your quarterly run-through of essential skills, with expert commentary


Network with confidence

Networking in numbers

membership organisations or informal groups rather than commercial businesses that are likely to subject you to a ‘hard sell’. Consider looking for events in different sectors, or different disciplines, Networking is a word that fills even the which will enable you to meet people most confident individual with dread. outside the usual HR circles. And though the advent of LinkedIn and Before you arrive, look at the other online tools means you can make delegate lists and research the speakers introductions virtually and maintain a (Hepworth says you could even network of people you’ve never invite them to connect on even met, there’s no substitute LinkedIn). The aim isn’t to of business people prefer infor face-to-face interaction. turn the event into a slog; being person networking, according to Forbes research. There are “The more connected you prepared will help you open several reasons behind the choice, are, the more people in your conversations with confidence. the survey reveals network, the more you can rely Think about the things you on someone within that band can offer in conversation – to help you out,” says Perry around your experience and Timms, founder and director of recent developments in your the People & Transformational organisation, or your personal 85% 77% 75% HR consultancy, whose years background. of networking have earned Don’t be afraid to approach say it leads to say it offers prefer stronger, more the ability the social him a diary full of contacts. anyone – at a networking event, meaningful to ‘read’ the elements of But “networking can be done everyone is there for the same relationships other person the interaction clumsily, over-eagerly and just reason and expects to be spoken downright noisily – and that to. Asking someone what they isn’t effective. Considered, are working on or simply Timms and Hepworth genuine, gentle networking is engaging in small talk can you discussed. Consider introducing believe business is always the best way.” open the door to more contacts to each other, which can be an built on relationships Joe Hepworth, chief executive meaningful connections. effective way to establish trust early on, at the British Centres for “There’s nothing or emailing a follow-up note to Business in Dubai, agrees: “Business wrong with being honest about build a relationship. LinkedIn is built on personal relationships. If why you’re there, and what networks are also good you don’t know your client, you won’t you hope to get out of the ways to maintain contacts. do business. Networking happens event,” says Timms. “Be The key may be to not constantly, both via formal means such curious and interested in expect immediate returns as networking events, and informally, what others are saying and – relationships take time by simply talking and getting to know they’ll be the same with you.” to build, and many of the Preparing for an potential business partners.” And if you’ve been able contacts you make may not event will help build Even so, finding the right opportunities to make potentially useful be useful straightaway, if your contacts list can still be tricky. It’s worth investing contacts, the next step is to ever. Over time, however, time to identify small events aimed maximise them after the event. Take a well-maintained and diverse network at people like you, ideally held by note of who you spoke to and what can be worth its weight in gold.




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The Knowledge



Design an awards programme There’s nothing better than climbing the podium to pick up a glittering award, the acclaim of your peers ringing in your ears. But designing a successful, HR-led employee awards programme isn’t as straightforward as it seems – from choosing which channel to use to avoiding disengagement among those who don’t win, the importance of proper planning can’t be underestimated. Getting it right can boost morale and motivation, says Ashish Ahluwalia, a Korn Ferry Hay Group consultant. “Motivated employees tend to go above and beyond the call of duty and enhance an organisation’s performance. We should never forget that recognition is the greatest motivator. If well-run, reward programmes also encourage specific behaviours aligned with the culture and vision of the company.” To get the best out of your scheme, Ahluwalia says it should be aligned with business objectives: if your organisation encourages corporate social responsibility, for example, it makes sense to have an award that recognises effort in this area. Shobha Jaison, senior MENA HR manager at recruitment website Bayt. com, says all her firm’s internal awards are based on clear key performance indicators (KPIs) agreed by staff with their managers: “We try to be really strict about awards only being given when an employee has clearly exceeded their agreed targets. All awards are audited by the HR department to ensure compliance to set standards.” Ahluwalia suggests those who miss out on awards needn’t feel hard done by: “If the criteria for the recognition are well understood, and

“I f you maintain transparency and fairness, those who don't win will not feel unfairly treated”

We all like getting an award – and staff are no different to film stars

the organisation maintains transparency and fairness in the programme, employees who do not win an award will not feel they’ve been unfairly treated,” he says. But one way to increase the feel-good factor from awards (and spread the right sort of culture of appreciation) is to supplement them with peer-to-peer recognition.

What works in employee recognition? How businesses choose to celebrate staff achievement


One-on-one with a manager


Company-wide meeting

61% Special

55% Staff

36% Email

29% Intranet






This can be done through ‘thank you’ programmes, or by giving department heads the authority to award small gifts for a job well done. This also removes the focus on a single winner-takes-all awards night, which might not always be feasible. Instead, says Ahluwalia, concentrate on providing a personal touch – having a business leader make a presentation to an award winner, even at a local level, helps bring their achievement to life. Company intranets and social media can help amplify it. The actual award, he says, could be anything from a physical trophy or memento to cash, vouchers or gift ‘experiences’ such as hotel breaks. Jaison says recognises the achievements of its 340 employees through monthly, quarterly and annual awards. Winners of monthly prizes who have met their KPIs get cash and team outings, while quarterly ‘fiestas’ take place in each of the company’s 13 offices to celebrate top performers across different departments. The key, she adds, is maximising the visibility of those who are being recognised – all employees receive a regular video montage of monthly winners, and the organisation’s Facebook page is an ongoing tribute to its high performers. People Management Middle East


If you wanted to learn how to cook something new, or master an unfamiliar household task, it would be second nature to go online and find someone who could visually demonstrate the answer. That’s why YouTube, the go-to home of online video, is now the world’s second biggest search engine. But too often, employees who use video learning in their personal lives are stuck with one-dimensional manuals or time-consuming training courses when they get to work. That’s changing, albeit slowly. An independent report by Gess Dubai says the e-learning market in the Middle East

will increase to $560.7 million in 2016 – up from $378 million in 2011. Much of that can be attributed to the power of video learning. Tony Glass, vice president and general manager EMEA at Skillsoft, says he has seen a definite acceleration in video-formatted learning over the last few years. “There are a host of factors and trends that have contributed to this, such as the influx of millennials into the workplace, better connectivity through continuous innovation in technology, the adoption of mobile learning apps and an increase in the breadth and depth of content coverage,” he says. And with training and development budgets often the first to be squeezed, many organisations are choosing to forgo expensive classroom-based training

Make videos that work – in four easy steps



Keep it simple A clean, clear set means viewers can focus on what

Be authentic Let interviewees or presenters rehearse what



matters – that means keeping backgrounds empty and even ensuring that people wear simple, nondistracting clothing without stripes or patterns.

Frame your scene Leaving too much space around your subject will look awkward and unprofessional. Producers often prefer to shoot people ‘off centre’ so they are speaking into unused space.


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they want to say, but don’t worry if they make mistakes or stumble over their lines – often, it will make it seem more ‘real’ for viewers.

Avoid tricks

Straightforward cuts between shots or a simple fade-to-black are all you need to move between scenes – snazzy graphics and effects simply detract from your central message.

and offer video-based learning instead, whether it’s created by a professional provider, managed in-house or uploaded by individual employees. Sue Carruthers, HR director EMEA at video provider Polycom, says delivering training sessions with video can help bring down delivery cost per head: “HR leads or trainers can record sessions and make them available on a company portal alongside other related content, allowing all employees – whether they attended the session or not – to watch when they have time to do so,” she says. “The content could range from simple topics such as how to change a drill part on a machine, all the way through to global IT challenges. The scope is endless,” adds Glass. Andy Lancaster, head of L&D content at the CIPD, notes that employees are increasingly developing learning content to share with their peers, often on a closed company YouTube channel or intranet. “For younger people who follow video blogs, it is natural for them to be working in this way. Those coming into the workplace now will be far more familiar with user-generated content,” he says. “Organisations need to recognise that this type of social peer-learning is going on already and some of it goes on under the radar. It is just having the confidence to provide a process and a means by which those videos can be captured and shared.” There are, of course, some areas of learning where peer-contributed video simply won’t work – in compliance training or heavily regulated industries, for example. There are also issues around quality control. But for Lancaster, that simply demonstrates that L&D professionals should be at the heart of the process, helping guide and advise learners along the way. But despite the increasing use and merits of video learning, Glass sounds a note of caution – it might not always be the best medium available: “It’s imperative that the content is engaging, powerful and impactful, along with ensuring it is relevant and targeted towards user requirements.”



Get started with video learning

The Knowledge


Get your people strategy down on paper

usually delegated to the HR department. But defining it means consulting widely with the business. “Discussing [your people strategy] with people from diverse areas of your company will help integrate different perspectives and make it more relevant and effective,” Rintjema says. Strategy is the cornerstone of business Deborah Woollard, vice president of growth, and most HR departments – as HR for Asia, Middle East and Africa well as most CEOs – will have a clear idea at InterContinental Hotels (ICH), of where they’re going and where they agrees: “A people strategy is as critical want to be in the future. But the concept as a corporate strategy and should be of an ‘HR strategy’ is relatively insular. developed holistically across functions. By instead defining a ‘people strategy’, This will ensure the gap between current most experts agree, you can and future talent is minimised.” improve return on human capital If, for example, you want to be investment and ensure you have more innovative in the products the right talent to meet your goals. and services you offer, you’ll Marjola Rintjema, lead need to look at people structures consultant for communication and culture to ensure innovative and change management at behaviour is encouraged. If Willis Towers Watson in you want to achieve the Middle East, believes 20 per cent growth in Rintjema: writing your all businesses should have a a particular area, your strategy down will create defined people strategy and people strategy needs structure and alignment that, in most cases, it should be to address how this captured as a written document. will be achieved. It might mean hiring “If you don’t define a people strategy, additional staff with particular skills, you’re likely to end up fighting fires and or upskilling existing employees. losing focus on the things that are really “You may need to adjust your important,” she says. “The process of recruitment strategy to target a different writing it down helps create structure and type of candidate, change team structures alignment and makes it easier to share. and management styles to increase It doesn’t mean writing a book – try and empowerment, include idea generation in keep it concise and as simple as possible.” your performance management goals or While a people strategy requires buy-in adopt a more flexible work environment,” from senior managers, its ownership is says Rintjema.

A people strategy may involve recruiting staff with particular skills

Why people matter A PwC survey of multinational CEOs suggests skills and talent issues are increasingly central to corporate strategy

81% 72% 67% 30%

81 per cent of CEOs are now looking for a broader range of skills when hiring 72 per cent say skills availability is a concern 30 per cent are focused on upgrading employees' skills and adaptability

67 per cent think that, in five years, rather than going for the biggest pay cheque, talented individuals will prefer to work for companies with social values that match their own


At ICH, Woollard says the people strategy is developed around four key pillars – organisation, talent development, learning and development, and winning culture – to ensure it is ‘people ready’ to deliver against company strategy over the coming three to five years. Once you have a people strategy in place, regularly reviewing it is key. This will depend on the pace of change in your sector, and your other business goals, but if there are any indications that your people strategy is not working, it’s vital to intervene. Woollard says employees are also starting to take note of these issues. “Increasingly, employees take people strategy into account when they are selecting a company to remain with or to work for. A people strategy needs to be attractive to colleagues, especially millennials,” she adds. People Management Middle East




Are we ignoring the power of teamwork to enhance business performance?

When times get tough, organisations to teamwork. And the results might be introduce efficiency measures and other truly profound. corporate remedies garnered from the The idea that the ‘internal locus of external environment. In today’s control’ is limited to individuals operating context, we focus on is a long-held belief. But getting competitors, watch market trends the most from groups could have and study the press incessantly. benefits far beyond traditional But the irony is that, in doing so, team-building. An identity we take our eye off a powerful could emerge as the team source of influence that lies evolves, communicates and within our own capability. understands together. With We prioritise outer a strong sense of belonging, influences at the expense of its pride would drive selfManaging director those within our reach, both assuredness. A team would ‘business en our own self-leadership and the of the begin to develop its own rules motion’ learning state of a team’s relationships. of engagement and charters. organisation But what if we could maximise It would become attuned to our teams to be much more silent and invisible signals in its effective? We could bring together ‘emotional field’. Trust and belongingness multiple individuals connected by would increase. dependency and common goals – A systems-based team welcomes sometimes called a ‘systems approach’ conflict, perceiving it as a sign that

Debbie Nicol


Members of a team that works together can achieve remarkable feats

34 People Management Middle East

something is trying to evolve. An increased level of responsibility ensures a move from ‘victimhood’ to ‘victorhood’, positioning a team for greater performance and engagement. Eventually, the members are as much a part of the team as its leader. This team recognises the futile aspects of titles, and works with the mantra: ‘Whether you do, or whether you don’t, you have impact.’ It may seem like a utopian ideal. But they say that the best way to predict the future is to create it. Systems-based teams and relationships create an environment where it’s possible to maximise, capitalise and synergise for improved performance. Let’s set business up for success by handing it the keys to powerful, intentional, probable and positive impact on performance. Systems-based team approaches should not be overlooked; they are well within our reach.

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People Management Middle East Issue 4  

The CIPD magazine for the Middle East

People Management Middle East Issue 4  

The CIPD magazine for the Middle East