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 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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2017 – the last push!

Wow, where did 2017 go!  Has it whizzed past you at speed as it has us? 

Here we are at the beginning of November, and there are only 8 business weeks of the year left.  If you assume the “Festive Season” celebrations will put a stop to business for approximately 2 weeks, then in reality we have only 6 weeks left to achieve our business plan targets and cross the finish line.

So how are you doing?  

If at this point you are reaching into your bottom drawer and blowing off the dust that settled over the business plan you sweated blood and many hours over at the end of 2016 to write, then it’s likely that you have deviated away from your plan and have spent much of this year chasing targets and work that haven’t in any way moved you forward to your achieving the overall target.

If this is you, don’t despair, there are still a few weeks left to crack the essentials of the plan and see some positive steps forward.

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What we can learn from other generations

We are a small business, with our team of 2 being born in different generations (late Baby Boomer and early Gen X).  We were both brought up by the Traditionalist Generation and, being close in years, have very similar views in our business approach.

We are also lucky to work with many Companies and across many different generations.  As their business coaches, we can install into them the habits we have learnt over many years of corporate life and the younger business leaders are teaching us business hacks that their generation take for granted.

One of the Companies we are grateful to work with are a UK based start-up Company called Upward Fitness & Wellbeing. Both owners fall into the Gen Y / Millennial generation and it’s fair to say that there has been learning from both sides.  We act as their business coach and they act as our personal fitness trainer and nutritional coaches.  We manage this business relationship whilst being based in 2 different countries, over 7,700 km apart, different time zones and working weeks!

So how do we manage the joint coaching relationship? Let us share how we do this and how this relates to our personal education from the “millennial kids”!

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When should you engage a coach?

How many of us have tried to diet or improve our fitness by ourselves?  We know we need to make some changes in our health, but are lost to know what we are doing wrong and how to put these things right. So, we join a gym or buy organic, but are often left out of pocket financially and still the same weight and still chowing down on fast food!

We start with great intensions, complete online research to the foods to avoid and those we need to eat, and may even have seen some great results at the beginning, but walking past fast food outlets becomes impossible after a few weeks – one burger and chips won’t hurt will it?  And were back on the slippery slope heading back to our bad habits and our results start show our lack of focus.

 

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VAT 101

We had such a great response to the VAT article posted on 1st October, thank you to those that took the time to email us. 

 What the response did bring to our attention that many of you are confused as to what VAT is, so we thought it would be a good idea to provide a layman’s overview to VAT, what it is and what we, as business owners, need to do. 
This article is written with our Financial strategic partner expert, Caroline Thevenot of CTC Consultancy.

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