DHL Express Pakistan: Accelerating into “The Best Place to Work”

Engage Consulting, a leadership and HR consulting firm in Pakistan, is excited to announce the winners of The Express Tribune 2012 Best Place to Work Study – DHL Express Pakistan.

From the 200+ companies invited to participate in the study, DHL is walking away with the well-deserved award with approximately 9 out of every 10 employees displaying a positive attitude and commitment towards the company, which is 30% higher than the global engagement standard.

So, how did they manage such fantastic results? Speaking with Sarfaraz Siddiqui, CEO of DHL Express Pakistan, we learned what is making DHL Express, the Best Place to Work. According to Sarfraz, all employees – from the senior heads to the delivery riders – are given a voice and everyone is treated equally. All team members are engaged on a weekly basis, every Monday at 9am, to review the past weeks performance and set targets for the coming week. Most importantly, everything is transparent and measured, and decisions are based on merit.

“You have to genuinely show them [employees] action, lead with a positive attitude and totally engage in the business. When people trust in you, they go the extra mile for you.”
–  Sarfaraz Siddiqui, CEO DHL Express Pakistan.

DHL’s success in engaging their employees also translates directly into their business results with DHL Express Pakistan achieving a 98% on time delivery rate making them the best DHL franchise across the world.  They have doubled their revenue and have increased their profits by more than 60% over the past 4 years.

It is an absolute pleasure to see DHL Pakistan winning the Express Tribune 2012 Best Place to Work award. CEO Safaraz Siddiqui recognized that engaging people was the key in transforming the company. DHL have not only grown the company exponentially, but have also set a benchmark for other companies in Pakistan and other international companies globally to follow. 
– Paul Keijzer, CEO Engage Consulting.

The runners up for the Best Place to Work award were P&G (Procter & Gamble) and ICI Pakistan respectively. P&G showed 84% employee engagement and ICI followed closely behind with 83%, both having improved their engagement levels by around 12% from 2010. Congratulations to both companies for showing a coordinated and determined effort in engaging their employees.

We are delighted with the outcome as this is a reassurance of our continued commitment and efforts in making our beloved company the best place to work through small things, which make a big difference.
Asif Malik, VP Human Resources and Life Sciences ICI.

The Best Place to Work survey is based on people who know and can judge a company best; their current employees! So what makes a workplace ‘the best place to work’? Our research shows that “company leaders and line managers, who are able to create a trustful relationship with their employees and recognize them for their contribution are more likely to create an environment where people want to go the extra mile and are willing to stay with the company”, says Shala Agha – Associate Director People Insights, Engage Consulting.

The Best Place to Work Study aims to highlight trends in employee expectation, retention, motivation and engagement levels. Engage Consulting introduced this study in 2008 and over the years has collected a rich database of over 8000 employees from the top 50 companies in Pakistan.  Engage Consulting is committed to helping organizations across all sectors achieve lasting improvements in their workplace relationships. Measurable business benefits and better corporate performance are the results of creating a great workplace.

Written by: Anusha Bawany

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Name Dropping

I have a confession to make… Yesterday for the very first time I did something that I always detest when I see other people do it: I was name dropping in order to get things done.

Let me justify myself first! After many attempts at trying to collect, a client had still not paid an outstanding invoice (now passing the 90-day mark from the original due date). The company’s admin officer had promised to send us the cheque by a certain date and when we called on that promised date, she asked us to send  over the invoice again (for the 4th time!). This was stressful and unnecessary and I knew I had to step in to get the ball rolling, so only when I threatened to explain her inability to deliver on her commitments to the regional president, was the matter resolved. The cheque was then delivered within 24 hours.

I hate it when people do this and I felt very guilty that I had just done the same. I felt bad for the person whom I ‘bulldozed’. I have come to realize that sometimes we have to press down hard on people to get the job done. On the other hand, why can’t people just do their job without being threatened? How come you can get things done when you throw around big names?. What is it in our culture that we are motivated by fear and not by desire…?

Have you done this? Used names and influences to get things done? Would love to hear your stories!

– Paul Keijzer

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The Holy Month of Golf

Ramadan is upon us!

I love Ramadan. In my first year here in Pakistan, whilst not fully understanding the meaning and context behind Ramadan, I started fasting to prove to my colleagues that it doesn’t have to impact your work or output – especially  if you are a white collar worker, enjoying the comfort of air-conditioning and no manual labor. I wanted to show that it is all a matter of strengthening the mind over the body.

Ever since I converted to Islam, I have been observing the purity of the month. I love the concept of self-discipline, abstinence, reflection and giving. What I am always amazed by though, is how people change their normal rhythm and adopt a ‘Ramadan’ schedule during this holy month. I love the idea that you should observe Ramadan while continuing your normal daily activities.

This is the mindset of Muslims all over the world during Ramadan. This year Muslims in Glasgow have their Sehri at 5am and Iftar  at 21:45. That’s 16 hours and 45 minutes! The majority of Muslims in Britain and in other parts of the world go through their fast for long periods of time and continue to do their jobs without letting this month effect their routine.

In Pakistan and even more so in other parts of the Middle East, Ramadan is for a number of people an opportunity to start slacking. They start to come to work late – if at all, work in slow motion, move all decisions to after Ramadan and in general adopt a very ‘laissez-faire’ attitude. It has become a norm and many easily adapt this shift in daily lifestyle.

One of my friends, who is an avid golfer, calls Ramadan ‘the holy month of golf’, as suddenly the number of people that are too tired to work show up at the golf course everyday in the afternoon, able to play 18 holes.

I can’t blame them, the heat and hours of going without a sip of water can really take a toll on ones motivation. But, for all of you who work normal hours during Ramadan I salute you!

Ramadan Mubarak everyone, have a blessed month.

– Paul Keijzer

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Enjoy The Experience

Sometimes we are so focused on achieving our set goals that we forget about the experience itself. Whether it is to do with completing ones Bucket List or trying to quickly check off all your resolutions for the year, we focus so much on the end result that we miss all the excitement of the journey.

A recent research study by the University of Chicago and the Korea Business School shows that aspiring to specific goals has significant benefits, however, people who focused on the experience rather then the end result outdid their goal oriented team members.

In their experiment Ayelet Fishbach and Jinhee Choi had a number of students focus on a definitive target – losing weight, training for an event – and a number of students just focusing on the experience of running on the treadmill. The results illustrated that the latter group ran on average 33% longer than the goal oriented students.

The researchers go on to explain that it is all to do with the classic difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. “Visualize your goals to help get yourself started in the first place, but once you’re underway, try to let your long-term mission fade a little into the background. Revel in the process and you’re more likely to make it to the finishing line.

Focusing on the experience has other benefits than just enjoyment. It also significantly improves your ability to reflect and learn. This is what top athletes do; they break down each and every part of their sport and then practice just that part over and over again. (Tiger Woods practicing his drive, Cristiano Ronaldo spending hours taking long distance free kicks – they all take the time to learn and grown from their experiences.)

You can only do this if you focus on the process and open your eyes to what is going around whilst you achieve your goals.

– Paul Keijzer

A Graceful Goodbye

Unfortunately in my career I have had to manage numerous restructuring exercises. Horrible stuff, but sometimes in the big picture for the organization’s longevity it is unavoidable and necessary.

Leaders understandably shy away from having to hold these conversations, not only afraid of the impact of the individual discussion, but also of tarnishing the reputation of the company and the people who stayed behind to do the heavy lifting after a number of their colleagues had left. The good news is that by following a few rules you can actually build the reputation of the company.

The key is to make sure that during downsizing, you deal with people ethically and morally.

This means that you don’t just hand employees a letter and let them know their time is done. You don’t block their email system access or ask them to pack their stuff and have them immediately escorted from the office property. Just imagine if this would happen to you, or if you see your colleagues been treated this way. How would you react…?

So how do you downsize with dignity? Here are some important rules:

1. Prepare. As Alexander Graham Bell once said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success” (Do I need to say more???)

2. Be upfront. You will be surprised to find that people, even when faced with a possible redundancy, can be very resilient, if you are open with them and show trust and respect. Don’t be afraid of what might happen to your business results. If you treat people with consideration, they, in almost all cases, want to return the favor and want to go out on a high note.

3. Put yourself in their shoes.During a redundancy conversation, try to connect with the individual. The moment that the ‘message’ is out, individuals will most likely not hear the rest of the conversation as he or she will be distracted about all the consequences to follow. Who will look after my family? Who will pay the rent? How will I pay for my daughter’s wedding? How will I face my peers back in the office?

As an employer, do your best to really listen. Allow them to vent, don’t react, but empathize and let them know you care.

4. Take responsibility. Whether you agree or not with the decision to let people go is not important. During the conversation you are the representative of the organization and you have to live up to that. Don’t absolve yourself. The best position you can take is to be hard on ‘content’ (the decision) and ‘soft’ on the process (how it will be executed).

5. Put the individual at the steering wheel. People have a strong desire to be in control of their own destiny. Reinforce this belief by reminding them that they still have choices to make which are entirely within their control. Give them options about when and how they want to leave the company or give them a menu of redundancy pay out options. Provide them counseling and support in resume writing and interview skills.

Let them decide their exit path according to their individual needs.

6. Show appreciation. Let separating employees know how thankful you are for their service and loyalty to the business.

The focus in restructuring exercises should be as much on the employees who stay as those who leave. Take note – the way you treat the people who leave will have a significant impact on the people who will stay. The way exiting employees are treated is a reflection of company character and culture.

Growing a business is much more meaningful than having to restructure a business. However in the current economic climate you can’t hide from it. The best you can do is give those who are leaving a graceful goodbye.

– Paul Keijzer

Tomorrow Is Here Today!

“Start today the job you want to do tomorrow” – This was the best career advice I ever received. Renowned, Omar Khan, one of the Top 25 consultants in the World, gave me this advice many many years ago and I still treasure it, use it and spread it.

People often come to me, explaining that they feel they don’t have opportunities in their organizations to grow, and are looking for better (paying) opportunities outside their current employment. Often this might be true, however, over the span of my career, I have learned that the best opportunities come to you when people in decision making positions have confidence in your ability to do something else, to do something more. Their confidence is based on seeing people take action, and responsibilities that are bigger than what they are paid for, even if that goes outside the ‘boxes of the organization chart.’ Change comes to you when you allow yourself the opportunity to illustrate your ambition and spirit.

You might plague yourself with the “what if” questions that come to mind… ‘What if my boss doesn’t recognize it? What if he stops me from taking on more? What if he feels threatened?” These are all sincere worries. If you have a boss that tries to keep you down because he is insecure and afraid of his own job / status then of course this won’t work. However the majority of bosses I have come across, don’t fall into this category. They might not be crowned the world’s best boss, but they also recognize abilities, aptitude and performance.

And hey, if you make the life of your boss easier, which boss wouldn’t like that!

So how does it work, to do the job today that you want to do tomorrow? If for example you want to change your function, let’s say from sales to marketing, then start reading up on the latest case studies in brand management that could be used in your company, have a chat with the marketing manager and share an idea on the next below the line marketing campaign. Volunteer to do extra work in measuring the effectiveness of a marketing campaign in your territory, get your boss to support you to participate in a specific marketing project… etc etc (you get the drift.) Put it out there that you are able and willing, and see how others take notice of your drive.

If you are interested in moving up the ladder and taking on a managerial position, there are many steps you can start with. Take initiative for team improvement projects, or the lead in organizing team events. Recognize other team members publicly for their contribution as a team player, give feedback to your boss on how he can save costs, improve revenue and increase customer satisfaction. Ask to be involved in cross-functional projects, represent your team in other forums and never speak negatively to others about your team and boss.

There are a million ways for you to start today the job you want to do tomorrow. I say, just go for it. What is the alternative? Sulk and wait for others to give what is ‘rightfully yours?’ If that is your strategy in life, keep on waiting…

What initiatives have you been taking today to start working your way to the job you want tomorrow?

– Paul Keijzer

The New Interview in Town

Many companies conduct Exit Interviews when people leave the company.  These interviews are conducted assuming that the employee who is leaving will have nothing to lose and might share confidential information about their boss, colleague etc.

If you are one of those companies living in this fantasy world then here is something for you to think about. Why would a person, who was incapable of coming forward whilst they had the chance to influence their work, suddenly do so now? The truth is, in our work culture, personal relationships are so much more important than anything else; one doesn’t want to burn any bridges.

So in my view there is no value in Exit Interviews.

Instead I believe in the concept of ‘Stay Interviews’. Have frequent conversations with your employees where you ask them what it would take for them to stay and shift their performance into top gear. Now this would be an interesting and valuable conversation. You might not be able to ‘satisfy’ all the needs of the person you have this conversation with, but that’s not important. You know why? Because the goal here is to give your employees the chance to have their voice heard and assure them that their position within the organization is valuable and lets them know their opinion matters.

This will also help you strengthen your relations with you current staff members and allow you to show your commitment towards their development. In the long run, that is what counts. So go ahead and ask your team members three simple questions:

  1. Where do you think you are now?
  2. What do you want to become?
  3. How can I help you?

Start having Stay Interviews, ask these questions, offer your support and I promise you, that your HR department will need less Exit Interviews.

– Paul Keijzer