The MHC Blog

Powerful Business Insights for Succesful Leaders
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Claire Donnelly

A Business Growth and HR Strategist helping medium size companies to Scale Up using proven systems. Claire is an MCIPD qualified Human Resource professional, with 25+ years’ experience working within various industries and 10 + years’ experience of HR practices throughout the Middle East. As a HR Generalist she has held a number of senior and Board level HR positions. She is experienced in working at both strategic and tactical levels.
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Recent Posts

Quit and go it alone?

Part 1

I think we have all been tempted at some point in our careers haven’t we, on the days when we come home from work grumpy, complaining to our better halves about how we could run the Company so much better than the boss.  Or we are budding entrepreneurs with the “next big thing that no one has yet to think of” idea we spend our paid working days day dreaming about.  Regardless what we do and what we want to do, many of us dream about the freedom of making our own decisions and running our own company.

Some of us take the plunge and make the enormous decision to quit our full-time jobs and set up our own businesses.  A recent survey in Bostine says that 70% of Millennials want to start their own business, a huge number, however, I don’t believe business set ups are limited to the millennial generation - ask any of the business set up Companies here in the UAE and they will tell you that age is no limitation to going it alone – in fact, older generations are more likely to be financially secure enough to take the plunge.

So, what do we need to expect when embarking on running our own business?  This 2-part blog will give you some insight to the challenges and lessons learnt you should take into consideration before handing in your resignation.  They are taken from clients we work with and of course, personal experience as well:

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5 steps to outsourcing

According to Forbes, an estimated 50 percent of large companies outsource all or part of their HR services.

Today many functions have moved to Human Resource Outsourcing and Administrative Outsourcing Companies.  Not only is this trend continuing to develop in the larger business world, but smaller businesses are now starting to jump on board.

Companies are always looking for ways to reduce costs and improve efficiencies and productivity. HR departments have been shrinking as Companies turn more and more of the responsibility over to outsourcing professionals.

The bottom line is that Company owners and management gain more time to concentrate on their business.

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The Generation Game

Whilst eating breakfast in a very busy remote UK hotel recently, we noticed something we hadn’t noticed elsewhere before - the workforce in the breakfast room of a large hotel was made up of 2 distinct generations, close to or past retirement age Baby Boomers and much younger generation Y/Z team members.  Generation X was completely missing!

But this wasn’t the end of our observations – it appeared that all the work, the running around, food serving, coffee/tea providing, table clearing, dealing with customer questions etc was completely being covered by the older generation, the young ones seemed to be standing around staring into space and looking completely bored.

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Time to grasp the nettle!

Most of you have been there - you have a poor performer on your team, you know you need to remove them but don’t know how to do it – it’s a tough conversation, easily put off, however you need to do something about it rather than hope and pray the Employee decides to leave before you must deal with it!

But how do you do you have THAT conversation? In my many years within the HR field, I have had to terminate many Employees for many various reasons, it’s not a pleasant conversation but I have learnt the hard way the best approach to use. 

Here are some pointers to help you prepare and finally “grasp the nettle”!

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Are your internal systems customer friendly?

As a small business owner, we are constantly dealing with complicated, red tape heavy requirements of obtaining and keeping a Company trade licence, personal visas and Company bank accounts.  Even after setting everything up and being able to move forward with our work, we have annual renewals to contend with and after 5 years of doing this, it seems the process changes annually and every action requires at least 5 visits to the bank or sponsoring Company to update everything.

The internal systems and connecting departments all work independently of each other.  Departments that work alongside each other are not able to connect the dots and help us move forward.  Even “Relationship Managers” seem to complicate things rather than simplify and you are often puling your hair out with frustration as you struggle to find a straight answer.

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Why it's important to be clear as a leader

Say what you mean

I watched with interest the James Comey meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Highly interesting on many levels and I am sure this is not the last we have heard about the situation.  The main learning I took from the meeting is that Leaders need to be clear when giving instructions or making a request.  Much of the meeting with the Committee seemed to be based around the phrase “that’s what I took him to mean”. 

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Time to get your house in order

The summer months are a great time to start getting your house in order.  Much as I wrote late week about summer not being a time of taking things easy, working hard to find new leads and closing out business, the reality is that work does slow down a little bit as you wait for key decision makers to either return or pick up their email whilst on holiday. 

The quieter periods in your working months are a great time to get your house in order, what we call in the UK “spring cleaning”.  Here are some ideas to keep yourself occupied during the quieter months:

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Time to stop the summer excuses!

Let me share something with you that’s got me a little hot under the collar, and I don’t mean the high 40’s temperature or the humidity you can cut with a knife!

Here we are, the day after the long Eid weekend, back at work and ready to get our work done, and already I am hearing the excuses of the summer slowing everything down, phrases such as “last time we will be doing this due to the long summer getaway” indicate that everyone is heading out of the country till September.

Let me try and explain how it seems to work in the UAE to those that are unaware.  We live and work in the Middle East and its hot during the summer months, it’s also peak holiday season as the kids are off and many non working members of families head to the airport with their little ones to spend the whole of the summer out of the country to escape the heat. 

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Simple team KPI setting

How much do I tell my team about our Company business plan?  This was a question recently asked by our soon to be graduated members of the Scaling Up Club and it’s a good question, too much and you may be over sharing, too little and you are left being the only one implementing the tasks ahead!

If you’re a small business owner, it does feel lonely at the top, you probably are a 2 level Company, you and everyone else!  Everyone reports into you, so who do you bounce ideas off? 

Who can you have the “what next steps to take” conversations with?  In larger Companies, there is usually a senior level of accountable management to include in the Company business planning, in 2 level Companies this layer is missing.

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Company vision boarding

Many years ago, I worked for a large supermarket in the UK.  It was going through its first (of many) transformations, to scope out this transformation it involved pretty much the whole Company in how it should evolve and what the Company should start looking like in order to grow and keep up with the competition. 

All around the UK the Company organised team events of a couple of hours per event for vision planning.  It was not a complicated process, was huge fun for those involved, highly effective and (accidently?) resulted in a great amount of team building.

We were all ushered into a room not knowing what to expect, perhaps another boring training session where we were talked at and not asked our opinion, however we were presented with an arts and craft session! 

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got to have a plan stan!

As business consultants, we spend a lot of time with Company owners helping them write and then stay on track with their Company Business Plan. 

However, the purpose of this blog is not to harp on again about how important it is for business to have one (although, its extremely important), the purpose of this blog is to talk about how important it is to have a life plan.

Most of us in the UAE are expats, we came to the region with the beginnings of a plan, usually to find more rewarding work or to escape from some bad decisions we had made back home -  whatever got us on the plane with a one way ticket in hand, we landed and, in most cases, just got on with things. 

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Why you need to know your numbers

It’s been an interesting year in the life of politics.  Anyone following the US or UK political scene may agree with me, it sometimes feels like your watching a comedy programme, never has the political section of the evening news held my attention so closely – I ask myself daily “I wonder what have they been up to today?!”

My interest was held very closely with the recent 2 interviews with Diane Abbot.  You don’t need to know which UK party she is representing (Labour), or her job title (Shadow Home Secretary), just that during a key election time where she is being interviewed nonstop to convince the public of the credibility of her party, she wasn’t able to have an accurate discussion on key numbers.

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Slow down, relax and let business flow

Anyone running their own business, regardless of Company size or how long you have been in business, will know the immense pressure they feel to keep business flowing in, finding new leads and seeking out others that can help recommend their services. 

Running your own business often comes with hidden expenses that add to the pressure – the pressure increases tenfold when you have the responsibility of employees.  Add to this that its tough business world out there now, it’s no wonder you can let things get slightly out of kilter. 

Panic can creep in and you forget everything you have learnt about finding and getting new business.  Networking in the region is a huge business development opportunity that you must leverage from.  It takes time, it hardly ever brings immediate closed business, but works when you give the right amount of time and effort.

 Here are my 3 tips to remember when networking either in a group or one to one:

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Needed a Rockstar, hired a diva!

When working with SMEs run by a passionate entrepreneur, I often hear the business owner refer to the A Players they want on their team to needing to be Rock Stars! They want, and quite rightly so, A Players that are the best around, superstars of the future that will work hard to help grow the business. The Rock Stars need to be able to turn their hands to many things, be flexible to work across roles and give their all in to help the Company “break the industry!”.

Wow, inspirational stuff! And they are right, in order to grow quickly, the team you hire need to be a passionate bunch of people, driven the same way the entrepreneurial owner is, willing to go the extra mile …. I think you get the message.
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Too Busy To Let Them Go

We have all been there, someone on your team that isn’t really cutting it, but you keep putting off the job of dealing with it and ultimately asking them to leave.  There are many reasons why you do this: 

  • They are a nice person
  • They have family relying on them
  • They have been with the Company since day one
  • It’s not their fault that the role has changed and now it’s out grown them

 
All of these are fabulous excuses and allow you to sleep at night putting off the inevitable.  However, what is the real cost of delaying the conversation?  Here are 3 points to take into consideration:

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