Workplace Infidelity

The results of our Pakistan Talent Barometer study are out and some of the findings are striking. More than ever, employees are looking for opportunities outside their own workplace. In 2011 around 52% of all employees were actively looking for other opportunities and this year that percentage has risen to 63%. Look around your office, only 4 out of 10 employees are happy where they are and want to remain your colleague. The other 6 are running for the door…

Loyalty to ones organization has disappeared. The average number of years of service in the US in the 80’s was 23 years, but as of a couple of years ago this has gone down to an average of 2 – 3 years. What’s interesting is that when the researches asked employees why they are leaving, they replied that the company doesn’t invest in them. In return when researchers then asked the companies why they don’t invest in their employees, management stated that employees are leaving so quickly that it is not worth their money. (A classic chicken and egg situation.)

So with loyalty to employers out the window, the most important thing as a leader is to focus on getting the best out of your employee whilst he or she is with you, along with letting them know their value to the organization.

The Talent Barometer findings indicate that the two main reasons people stay with organization are (1) the good name and reputation of the company and (2) that it offers challenging and interesting work. Furthermore we know that company leaders and line managers that 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 organization. In fact, employees with the highest levels of commitment perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave the organization, which indicates that engagement is linked to organizational performance.

How do you get the best out of your team? Are your employees being faithful, or are they looking for the next best thing.

– Paul Keijzer

The Fear of Losing Power

As business leaders are often driven by quarterly results and share prices, politicians are often led by votes and opinion polls. Myanmar’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who last week was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington D.C., is a rare exception. Her famous quote “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts that who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it” really stuck out to me. What an amazing truth and one that can be supported with tons of political examples, however I will leave that for another time.

The idea “It is not power but the fear of losing it” is also greatly applicable to any business. Over the past years, we have heard growing examples of business leaders succumbing to the pressure of short-term results rather than holding on to what is right for the company, its people, its shareholders, its customers and the communities they operate in. From financial scandals that revealed that some banks focused on astronomically increasing their own wealth and duping their own customers, to Pharma companies that pushed doctors to use drugs that were not originally intended nor tested for. The most recent example was seen when a manufacturing company ignored its safety standards, killing 258 workers in a blistering blaze.

Everywhere the combined desire of ‘getting things as quickly, cheaply and with as little hardship possible’ (with the fear of losing power) drives people to take short term decisions with little consideration of what it means for the long run. And you can’t always blame them: Football managers are being sacked after losing only 5 matches, CEO’s are fired after 4 quarters of disappointing results, political leaders are being sent home after a decision that positively impacts significant job growth for the country, leads to few job losses in their own constituency. The pressure is on! Everywhere it is about getting results fast and cheap because of the misguided belief that if we don’t get them now we can lose the opportunity to get them tomorrow.

It is human nature to sometimes take shortcuts in life, but the question is where to draw the line. When are you just taking a quick route and when are your decisions affecting long term results?

– Paul Keijzer

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Collaborating Cultures

I was in China last week, helping an organization in building commitment and alignment in their management teams. I assisted their CEO in his desire to create a transformation agenda for the company. This was exciting stuff, not only because of the topic but because it involved trying to get a number of different nationalities within the organization to collectively contribute and share their ideas and concerns.

I loved being back in China. It has now been almost 15 years since I was last in Beijing, and I must say I didn’t recognize anything. The airport is new, all the ring roads are new and certainly the commercial district I was in didn’t exist 15 years ago. Like many others parts of Asia and the Middle East I witnessed massive change.

The interesting thing was that just by being back in China for a few days, flashes of the language started coming back to me. I had originally tried to learn the language when I was posted there but I never succeeded and only mastered some survival Mandarin. My inability to learn the language (and don’t even ask about my Vietnamese!!!), discouraged me from ever fully grasping trying to learn Urdu. While I understand most of what is being said, here I am ten years later and I still don’t speak enough Urdu to buy me a chapatti. Shame on me!

The fun in collaborating with different nationalities is the differences in getting them to work, share, express their views, learn and disagree with each other. So from my experience, this is what works in facilitating a diverse group of nationalities:

Build a Relationship
Spend one-on-one time with people prior to getting them all together. This helps you to understand their perspectives and learn how they see the world. Build a relationship in which individual members trust you and you can utilize that trust during group sessions.

Create a Shared Need
Spend a considerable amount of time on creating an equal playing field in which all participants agree what the issue is and create a shared need of what changes are required.

Build a Safe Environment
Most Asians, (except my Desi brethren) feel uncomfortable in speaking up in large forums, certainly if the ‘big bosses’ are present. It is therefore important to create smaller groups in which people can share their thoughts and opinions.

Give Equal Talk Time
Stop people that speak too much and allow the less talkative individuals to express their views. Give everyone an opportunity, you will be surprised to find that pushing people to speak up will help them not only gain confidence, but might also produce some fresh ideas and perspectives.

This approach worked well last week and the team truly only enjoyed their experience. They were not only able to agree on the content of their transformation agenda but also were committed to its implementation.

What techniques would you use to get people from different cultural backgrounds to speak up???

– Paul Keijzer

How Is Your Company’s Management Team Performing?

From my experience, getting a company’s management team to become a high performing team is a grueling challenge. One of the main reasons is that management teams are almost never a team in the real sense of the word. They often represent a function, division, geography or business unit, which they are heading. When they are asked to choose between favoring the function / division they are heading or the management team of the company they are a member of, leaders almost always choose the team they are leading. Understandably, as they feel more ownership and have a close affinity to the people that they have hired and with whom they spend most of their time.

However the result is that a management team often is comparable to a gathering of the head of states at the United Nations. A group of individuals who represent their own area of responsibility, trying to do whatever is best for their own team. As a result the organization will achieve sub-optimal results and the management team can never be a high performing team.

I have worked with many management teams and the above is almost always the norm. I have seen few exceptions though, one of which I was part of myself during my time in Vietnam. This extraordinary group of leaders (consisting of 8 different nationalities) was able to come together and made everything about the company results. The team solely focused on how to solve problems collectively and grasp opportunities quickly. The results were phenomenal as the company quadrupled its revenue in a period of 4 years.

From my experiences in working with management teams as well as the work of some others  (my favorite reading on this topic is Patrick Lencioni’s book The Advantage) I have learned a number of crucial steps in developing high performing management teams:

4. One Target

First of all you can’t expect a team to deliver collectively on the company’s goals if the individuals don’t have a collective goal that has the highest weight-age in bonus payments. If you want people to deliver together you have to reward them for achieving a common target.

3. Peer-2-Peer Accountability

The advantage of making people’s bonus payment dependent on each other is that they will hold each other accountable. Peer-2-Peer accountability is the most effective form of accountability. Most people assume that the CEO is the person who should hold others accountability, however complaining about a colleague to the CEO will undoubtedly lead to politics and tensions and are certainly not the hallmark of a winning team. Healthy teams are able to discuss issues and obstacles which each other.

2. Shared Agenda

For a team to be able to hold each other accountable they have to have a shared agenda. An agenda that they have created together, to which they have full heartedly committed themselves and can support each other in achieving.

1. Developing Team Trust

To do this you have to build the foundation of the team. For every team this means creating an environment where team members can build trustful relationships. Doing this for management teams is very difficult as people are most of the time set in their ways and have only achieved their position because of the way they are. Changing that is a tough but necessary journey and requires a thoughtful and planned approach, in which the leader of the team constantly works to enhance the relations in the team and role model the desired way of working.

To build a solid management team, start with the last step. Create an environment where people will and can trust each other. Where they can have tough and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about the future of the company and how to improve it. Where a team is able to practice the principle of 70% Agreement, 100% Commitment and to speak with “One Voice”. If you achieve this you have the foundation of a healthy leadership team, ready to deliver outstanding results.

– Paul Keijzer

Take Charge Before The Whistle Blows

Yesterday the IRS announced that ex-UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld would be receiving a reward of $104 million for blowing the whistle on UBS for assisting tax invasion of 4,500 American clients in Switzerland. In case you didn’t get that number: 104,000,000 US Dollars… Woah! That is an impressive number of 0’s. The impact of this ‘bounty’ is enormous. It gives incentive and impetus to turn any employee, customer, supplier, or activist into a possible whistleblower.

However, it is not only the banking industry that is under tremendous compliance pressure. The pharmaceutical industry has also seen its share of malpractices and compliance cases leading to astronomical fines. Pharma companies across the world are talking about how to ‘shore up’ their policies, control systems and incentive schemes. They are looking to enhance awareness, capability and change the mindset of their employees, customers and suppliers alike.

Industries have started to wake up over the past few years and have focused and invested heavily in trying to make businesses compliant with US and European legislation (specifically the Anti Bribery Act in the UK). This is certainly a huge task in Asia where the regulatory environment, business, and cultural context are not always supportive of such an approach. Many people I have spoken to long to go back to when these rules were not applicable and when you had some operational freedom to ‘grease the wheels’, grow your market and deliver results. It certainly requires more effort, perseverance and consistency to get things done in a compliant manner, but one thing is true and rightfully so; compliance is here to stay.

So my advice: Adapt. Be known as the compliance king in your industry. Become the expert (know every law, understand your processes and systems, be aware of industry best practices), show that you can implement these rules in complex situations and keep a record of delivering results in a compliant manner. Make it your personal competitive edge and you will reap the career rewards for years to come. Take charge before someone in your organization decides to blow the whistle on you!

– Paul Keijzer

Top Talent Investment

The previous CEO of Engro Corp, Asad Umer, did what most leaders should do – he directly interacted with the talent in his organization. He invited them over for special events in which he engaged them in conversations that were important for the company and took the opportunity to directly influence the opinion of his best people. This is something that every CEO should think of and practice. Who are my most important employees and how do I involve them more within my company? (For more, read The 100 Most Important People in Your Company)

Treating a specific group differently from others requires a tactful approach. You don’t want to engage your top 50 critical talent and at the same time alienate the rest. For many leaders this is the main reasons they hesitate from taking the necessary steps to differentiate talent.

Your most crucial (and with that I don’t mean your most senior) talent, are the people that will shape the future of the organization. They are the movers and shakers of the company and will be your biggest advocates, change agents and result drivers. They will convince, push and cajole the rest of the organization forward. They are your value creators.

From all our engagement research we know that in order to retain critical talent and motivate people to give their best you have to (1) create a sense of belonging, (2) ensure they understand, can give input and are aligned with the company strategy (3) are given challenging opportunities and have opportunities for growth, and last but not least are (4) remunerated and recognized in line with the value they bring to the organization.

So how do you do all of this whilst not upsetting the other 75% of the company who are also necessary to deliver your objectives? How can you discriminate whilst not alienating the rest? Try the following:

1. Be Transparent

First of all be transparent in identifying what makes an individual the ‘critical talent’. Performance, competencies, unique skills and contribution and the selection of critical talent should be recognized in a way that is transparent and clear to all. Don’t create a ‘secret inner club’ where membership and dealings are only known to the selected few and not to the rest of the organization.

2. Give everybody the opportunity

If you are clear on what makes someone a ‘critical talent’ then give everybody a chance to be part of it. Assess and develop people, give them opportunities to meet the criteria set to become critical talent and give everybody a shot at that elusive position. You never know when someone is willing to step up until you give them a chance to do so.

3. Differentiate and include

You should differentiate on the things that matter and be inclusive on everything else. Give top talent the most challenging assignments in the company, provide them with the most thought provoking learning opportunities, give them international exposure, include them in strategy sessions, expose them to senior management, give them long term based incentives and pay them better (as long as it is of course linked to better performance). At the same time ensure that all employees are given training opportunities, can apply for vacancies, are engaged through company wide communication events and stay involved in all kinds of company events. The biggest thing to remember is not to discriminate on benefits.

Getting the best from your most valued talent will be worth it, now and for future performance. But always make sure you don’t lose the best of the rest. Remember that each player contributes to the game as a whole.

What works for you, how do you differentiate and include at the same time?

– Paul Keijzer

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The Balancing Act

Anyone who has ever been deeply committed to their job, knows that managing a successful career while having a healthy personal life is almost next to impossible. Professionals deal with the challenge of trying to find the perfect balance between family and work life on a daily basis. It can be very hard to juggle between getting ahead at work and helping the kids with their homework, meeting that deadline on a project or spending quality time with your spouse, or traveling for a business meeting and caring for elderly parents. For some, it’s a constant battle!

If you are a person who is faced with the constant struggle of being away from your family and the pressure of making difficult time management choices – it is time you did something about it. Don’t get overwhelmed by assuming that you need to make big changes to bring more balance to your life.

While trying to manage my own busy work schedule with my commitment to my family, I came across a few tips that may help others find the right balance between their work and personal lives:

1. Let Go of Guilt

Guilt is one of the greatest wastes of emotional energy. It causes you to become paralyzed in the present because you are still dwelling on the past. By introducing logic to help counter-balance the guilt and taking emotions out of the equation, you can avoid sabotaging your efforts toward work/family balance and stay better on course. Set goals for the future and work towards the future.

2. Establish Limits and Boundaries

Determine for yourself what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. While there are different priorities at home and at work, boundaries and limits define how you take charge of your time and space and get in touch with your feelings. They express the extent of your responsibilities and power and show others what you are willing to do or accept. Without limits it’s difficult to say “NO“. Remind yourself often that your boundaries are necessary for balancing work and family.

3. Create Time for Yourself

Being a good parent, partner and professional means being good to yourself first. Find ways to relax, relieve tension and minimize stress. Taking some time off for yourself will not only benefit you, but it will benefit your work and family tremendously, as well!

4. Get Organized & Set Your Own Standards

Set priorities, work smarter not harder, delegate (and really let go!). Keep a main calendar to stay on track with your work and personal activities, this will help you figure out where the best places to make the compromises are without short-changing yourself, your spouse, your children, your boss, etc. Stop trying to be a perfectionist.

5. Be Flexible

Forgive yourself when things don’t get done. Never get too comfortable, because as soon as you seem to get things under control, they change! Also, realize that in order to achieve success many people have had to give up their original goals and substitute new ones with different but equal challenges.

(If that wasn’t enough, click through to read the many more tips offered!)

What I now know is – there is no set formula for achieving the perfect balance, but with constant effort, commitment, and a little bit of sacrifice things can improve. It is up to you to take responsibility, prioritize and set boundaries!

– Anushey Matri
This writer is the Marketing Manager at Engage Consutling

2012 Best Place to Work Highlights

Over the past three years, Engage Consulting has gained a tremendous amount of insight into what makes a company the ‘best place to work’ in Pakistan, and together with research done across the world we know that organizations whose employees are strongly engaged with the organization grow faster, earn more and have higher returns than their counterparts with low engagement levels.

From our 2012 research on Pakistan’s Best Places to Work we know that the best scoring companies have 50% more engaged employees than the bottom ranking companies. The return on investment on engaging employees is for all to see, where in top companies, 83% of employees feel their organization energizes them to go the extra mile, while only 42% of employees in bottom ranking companies feel the same way.

Pakistan’s Best Places to Work are aware that getting people to perform and stay with the organization requires that employees need to feel a sense of pride and belonging with the organization, ensure that all employees are aligned with and are empowered to deliver the organization’s objectives and are given opportunities to grow within the company.

The good news is that as leaders you don’t have to wait for an organization wide engagement drive. One of the highest impact levers in engaging employees is to genuinely care for your team members. 88% of employees in Top ranking companies believe that their leaders care deeply for their employees. As a result, employees are proud to be associated with the company as well as the people they work with. On the other hand, only 44% of employees in the bottom ranking companies have a sense of belonging, respect and pride in their leaders and company.

Direct performance enablers are responsible for 57% in performance improvements, where nearly 9 out of 10 employees in top ranking companies believe that they are strategically aligned with company objectives. They know what the company’s strategic drivers are and are stimulated by their work environment.

Supporting research shows that money is the number one reason (53%) for people to leave and to find ‘better opportunities ‘ whilst ‘challenging and interesting work’ is by far the leading reason why people choose to stay with their company.

Similarly we have found that 60% of employees who are considering leaving their company, do so because of limited career / growth opportunities or have no clarity on their career opportunities in their company. The survey results show that employees always score lowest on growth opportunities. Pakistan’s Best Places to Work out score their lower ranked counterpart with 8 out of 10 employees who believe that top ranking companies have sufficient growth opportunities, rewards and recognition measures (compared to only 5 out of 10 employees in bottom ranking companies).

The insights from our Best Place to Work research shows that investing in engaging your workforce effectively and consistently generates most likely the best return you can get to improve your business results.

– Paul Keijzer

Please visit our website to read the full 2012 Best Place to Work Highlights Report