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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

The BC employee trap

Anyone who has had responsibility for a team will probably have had to deal with a BC player at some time.  A BC player is someone that is performing in their role at the right level, potentially performing over and above your expectations, however, they are a square peg in a round hole.  They just don’t fit for whatever reason and because of this they are rubbing you and the rest of the team up the wrong way. 

 BC players are difficult characters to manage but manage them you must, or you will fall into the trap of showing that results are more important than the culture of your Company.

 Here are 3 traps that show how it’s easier to retain than deal with a BC player:

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Why we need to have an exit strategy

At some point I am sure you, like me, see a lovely healthy and financially comfortable retirement in your future.  Mine sees me living close to a beach with no concerns at all apart from a daily quick look outside the door to make sure the sun is shining and today is indeed a beach day (I don’t trust weather apps!).

My parent’s generation and the generations before were very confident that they had this future planned out financially.  They tended to stay with the same Company from leaving school till retirement, diligently saved into their Company pension scheme and retired somewhere between the ages of 55 and 65 with a good income to see them living comfortably. 

Statistically this was all possible.  In the 1950’s it was reported that for every person over the age of 65, there were 7.2 people between the ages of 20 and 64 that helped pay for older generations retirement plans with their own pension contributions.  

However, it is predicted in 2050 that this number will have decreased to 1.8, the combination of increased life expectancy, a fixed retirement age and a decrease in fertility rates are having a detrimental impact to our Company pensions schemes.

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When do you deal with poor performance?

Over my 30+ years of experience within the HR field, I have often been confused by Managers frustrations over their poor performing employees.  In my experience, Managers tend to hold off dealing with poor performance, keeping the issues to themselves in the hope that the employee will miraculously improve saving them the effort to have the tricky conversation to deal with it. 

The first HR tend to hear about a non-performing employee is when their Manager has been pushed to the limited of their patience and wants “them out immediately”, pushing their frustrations onto HR who simply ask about the performance management or disciplinary processes they have followed to help support this request. 

HR don’t tend to write these policies and processes for the good of our health, they are there to help deal with situations like this, protecting the Company from tribunals and the Employee from discrimination.  However, I admit these processes do require some effort from the Manager, I’ll also admit that conversations like these are not easy to have.

Here are 5 ideas on dealing with poor performance as soon as it rears its head:

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Act in haste, repent at leisure

Have you ever put your head in your hands and uttered the words “why does every business mistake cost me money!”.  Its always the way isn’t it, the chances we take or even the most thought out business decision that goes wrong costs you financially.  

Of course, the opposite is also true, the business opportunity you didn’t take but should have done that would have netted you significantly financially.

You are not alone, imagine if you were the top management team at Blockbuster video, who in 2000 laughed out of their office the management team from a newly formed Company called Netflix. 

Netflix proposed that it would handle Blockbuster's online component for it, and Blockbuster could host its in-store component, removing the need for mailed DVDs. According to an interview with former Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy, "They just about laughed us out of their office." Blockbuster later closed shop (literally) and Netflix went on to thrive.

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The importance of onboarding part Two

 Onboarding programs are the first touch a new Employee makes with your Company. First impressions count, if a new Employee encounters confusion and chaos during their first week on the job, they probably won’t form the most favourable opinion of you and your Company. 

 The statistics cannot be argued with:

  • 91% of employees stay for at least a year when Companies have efficient onboarding processes
  • 69% of them stick around for at least three years when companies have well-structured onboarding programs

 
To make a great impression and set new Employees up for success, you must be deliberate in creating a plan that ensures they'll be engrossed in the culture and their responsibilities in no time......

How much attention are you giving to your Company’s own onboarding program? Is it as effective as you want it to be? 

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The importance of Onboarding Part One

Imagine the picture, you have spent many months recruiting for a key vacancy, reviewing multiple CVs, interviewing questionable candidates, narrowing it down to the chosen few, arranging final interviews with key team members, conducting psychometrics, finally agreeing on the right candidate for the role and Company and preparing the formal offer of employment.

Then begins the hard work, potentially negotiating on salary and benefits, gathering all their required document, including now the need for an attested certificate of good conduct, a new requirement here in the UAE - waiting for candidate’s old visa cancelation, obtaining the new work permit, and confirming the start date once it’s through.

Phew! 

A lot of work and of course time – and as we all know, time equals money.  So, all done, time to step back, pat yourself on the back and mark this down as a job completed on your to do list! Unfortunately, not.

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In pursuit of perfection

Companies looking to fill their vacancies will already know this, currently there are a lot of potential candidates looking for a new role, it’s an Employers “buyers’ market!”

Given the luxury of a large pile of CVs arriving for each vacancy posted, I have recently noticed that Companies are becoming increasingly fussy, looking for a 150% fit to an advertised role, rejecting candidates because they don’t tick all the boxes of the job description. 

They seem happy to delay filing a role, leaving it vacant (probably doing the role themselves) until they have found the ideal candidate, taking the risk that not filling the role with the perfect employee is better than having someone in place that can do most of the tasks but needs your time and effort to settle them in.

Part of me completely understands this thought process.  In an ideal world, having someone join the Company with their running shoes on allowing them to hit the ground sprinting is utopia - however the reality does come with many challenges, perfection is hard, if not impossible, to find, meaning that the role could stay vacant delaying your Company growth while you work yourself into the ground doing 2 or 3 roles yourself.

So how do you fill key roles in todays market?  Here are a few ideas and observations:

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Please look up!

Am I the only one who struggles walking nowadays?  Trying to avoid the smombies (smartphone zombies) leads me to screaming internally “please look where you’re going!” whilst zigzagging from side to side to avoid people walking towards me with their noses buried deep into their phones.

The problem is so prolific someone has invented the “The Type while Walk” app which takes over your phone’s camera so that you can see the ground beneath your feet, with an included font colour-changing tool means that whether you’re walking over pavement or grass you can change the colour to contrast for visibility.  In Salzburg, Austria, lampposts are being covered in airbags to stop people bumping into them as they walk around staring at their screens.  Phone handsets seem to be glued to people’s hands, there is even a recognised new anxiety “rinxiety" or "phantom pocket vibration syndrome”, these conditions refer to anxiety surrounding missed messages and phone calls and the more often you check your device, the worse the anxiety will get.

But how does the phenonium affect business?  Here are my 5 thoughts on the matter:

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Are you Keeping your brand promise?

Over the festive period I was a back-seat passenger on a longish journey.  A talk radio show was keeping me company, the topic of heated discussion, the Apple iPhone battery. 

A high school student had recently discovered an issue with his phone and decided to post on Reddit.com giving details of what he had found.  He had discovered the decreased performance in his iPhone 6s handset had to do with the phones lithium-ion batteries. He decided to research into why that might be, and found a suggestion online that he replace his battery. When he did, his phone sped up instantly.

His post went viral, eventually leading to Apple to make a public statement, a confession that is said could end up costing the company billions of dollars in class action lawsuits. Apple had issued a statement that made it clear that changes it had made a year ago were indeed slowing down the maximum performance of iPhones with older batteries.

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Can’t afford to give a pay rise?

As we were busy welcoming in January 1st 2018, businesses were, overnight, increasing their price points on everything (food, drink, clothes, services) by 5% to fall into compliance with the new VAT regulations.  This increase excludes any new year increases which were also applied.  The UAE is now 5%+ more expensive to live and work in. 

So, did salaries increase in line with these cost of living uplifts? The simple answer for many small and medium businesses is no, they just cannot afford to keep up with the increases in cost of living.  The VAT Companies are now charging on invoices raised and are paid back to the Government quarterly, making cash flow management a top priority, but Companies are not 5% richer, a point missed potentially by their workforce.

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Time to plan for 2018

We are close to the end of 2017, where did the year go?

As work starts to slow down in the lead up to the end of year, this is now a great time for business and personal reflection.  Did you achieve everything you planned to do or did the year head down a different route? 

If you feel as though the year didn’t quite pan out as expected, ask yourself why this happened, was this due to not having a written plan or did your plan stayed firmly put in your bottom drawer?   The first step to achieving your visions is to commit to it on paper and then keep reminding yourself of your targets by referring to it throughout the year.

Here are 5 reasons why having a simple business plan will help you achieve all you want to achieve in 2018, they should spur you into action to create your plan now:

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How to inspire your team for a successful 2018

We are just a few weeks away from the end of 2017, you should be very close to achieving the targets and critical numbers you planned to reach by year end and in fact, you should already have written your 2018 business plan. 

2017 has been another tough business year, and with the introduction of VAT next year, 2018 is likely to provide some interesting dynamics and no doubt distractions.  The success of your Company will in the most part have been down to your leadership and management of your team and their support and commitment to you these past 12 months. 

The importance of bringing a team together to work together is something that is often talked about but rarely implemented. Strong leadership is one of the elements that will ensure a team stays together and continues to be efficient. By developing good leadership skills, you will avoid issues such as high staff turnover, micromanagement, conflict in the workplace, and low productivity. As a result, your actions and behaviour determine your team’s success. Here are five ways to inspire your team in 2018.

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VAT Registered?

VAT implementation does seem to have been shrouded in mystery and confusion, there are still many unanswered questions, but clarity is forming and the one thing that is for sure, VAT in the UAE goes live on 1st January 2018.  All the unanswered questions will slowly be demystified as the months go by.

Time is ticking by, the deadline for VAT registration in the UAE is 4th December 2017 – so have you registered?

Hopefully you are not one of the many that have not registered in the hope that the implementation would be delayed.  If you are, time to get your head out of the sand and get registered by the deadline or face a fine.

For those of you who have yet to register, let me help with a simple overview of the VAT registration requirements for those that have yet to go through the process.

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Getting new business contacts

Finding new business is a constant focus for Company owners.  Depending on your deliverables and/or services, you cannot rely on repeat business alone to keep sales coming in.  Competition is tough and continuously snapping at our heels, so to keep the sales pipeline filled up is a goal for everyone in the Company to focus on, not just the Sales Team.

One of the things the Middle East is great at is networking – everyone seems to know someone in this region and so this allows you to focus your networking skills to get new connections working for you.  To do this, it’s very important that you have a clear and concise message that is easily understood and explained.

 

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Why do we need a BHAG?

In his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins’ research found that all great companies had developed and pursued a goal through time that was so challenging they might not know how they would accomplish it when they first set out, it was likely to be thought as impossible by anyone outside the Company, but was internally regarded as completely possible.  Jim Collins called this goal a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” or BHAG for short.

To have an exciting and achievable plan - either personal or business - you need to identify a BHAG. Something so inspirational that you (if this is a personal plan) or your Employees (for a Company plan) can get fired up over.  Something that gets the juices flowing, something challenging and yet fulfilling and totally possible if you put everything behind it.

 

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