Saturday January 19th, 2008
Magazine – Mawarid – Resource – HR Our Most Valuable Asset!
Reflections of a HR Man!
Complexities in Human Resources Jobs!
The best compliment that I ever got in my life came from two CEOs – one Omani and the other British. They said the very same thing to me – Thank you for looking after our staff, make them all re-motivated, and resuscitated once again. If there were more peoples like you, this country would definitely change a lot in the corporate world.
Why do many people still to this day wrongly think that Human Resources (some now call it Human Capital) is a similar job to that as simply being just an Administration job. In actual fact, they are divergently and completely differently – though some peoples will continue to see them as being twin-alike and as the same. This comes from either ignorance or lack of appreciation and estimation between the two – either by lack of coherent awareness and knowledge or sometimes in just plain culpability in actual design and retrospective default. The more when it is the Senior Management in the corporate world who do the tasking etc here.
Many people still think that the Human Resources Professional tasks are only to arrange Labour Clearances, NOC, and Visas for the Expatriate Staff New Intake, or renew for those ones already in existent. They are to arrange accommodation and travel for the Staff. To arrange for traveling tickets and allowances for the staff, whether for expatriates going on leave or for Omanis also going on business travel and training abroad, or even locally. Their jobs are only to order furniture and equipment for Office use and or for Staff accommodation. Theirs are only to pay for the electricity, water and other facilities being used in the company premises and staff accommodation. And theirs so like meeting and receiving visitors and new staff, or saying goodbye procedures as they leave the country.
And sometimes to arrange for training, conferences, meetings etc – whether internally or for outside customers and clients with the Company. And of course who else would arrange for the parties and get together occasions and giving out awards and recognitions if not Human Resources Staff? HR for short. A nickname that has so stuck that even the Arabic only speaking staff knows it better than the literal translation into Arabic??
Why do peoples think so marginally narrow about the HR Professional? In some establishments – perhaps because of the laws of the land for the jobs to be occupied by only locals – they make the position head report to the Finance and Administration Director, The Operations Director and or The Chief Operating Officer (COO) who is conveniently Expatriate in order to ensure that the position would still report in many cases to the Expatriate Boss. If sometimes you are lucky, your title would be raised high up to put your heads into the clouds of positions like Deputy General Manager (reporting to The GM Expatriate) or General Manager – HR reporting to the CEO / MD – who is again conveniently Expatriate – so control, dominance and direction is maintained even if the grand title is still there. Only in some Commercial Institutions like Banks, you will find the CEO as Omani – but even there questions may well arise and be asked if he or she is in real control – or is just a window dressing exercise in real aspects?
Sometimes grand titles are brought in to justify expatriate recruitment into these jobs. Like HR Consultant, Expert, Professionals etc – or other grand titles. It would be okay if they were real competent, experts, talented and professional HR Officials – but when it is a non-HR Professional but is just a native speaker and knows well ‘copy and paste’ or ‘cut and paste’ – or even local non-HR – it makes ridicule, jest, fun, tease and mockery of the whole thing – and is just an insult to one’s intelligence and a plain fiasco thing!
Sometimes polarization and local differences will be encouraged to be set in, especially in New Ventures outside the Capital of Muscat and for those where the Head Offices are in the Regions, or where the major operations lie. A local person – who is not even from the HR function and discipline – would be so be appointed from that area being born from that domicile – and more importantly well known in that locality to do the Company’s bidding and (dirty) works – with explanations like we aim to provide jobs as first preference from those in that locality.
Personally, I have no hang-ups if it is a genuine and justifiable case, but when the nominees are incompetent, lacking the required skills, education, training, talents and expertise – but just brought in to fill in the numbers and make the feuding different local officials feel happy and contented – that raises a lot of questions to the justifications, ethics, professionalism, ethics and quality of the whole thing. Especially if those from other areas are even better qualified and experienced, but are simply being denied because they come from other areas or had the misfortune of being ‘born outside’ – or even worse of their parents’ originality and ethnicity.
These are very dangerous and explosive things to be allowed to come and creep in. The worst case scenarios when the expatriates controlling the situation misbehave and conduct themselves badly to such an extent that they are plain crude, rude, arrogant, vicious and aggressive to everyone in the company – but sometimes the locals take a special beating and raw treatment of all the works. And when they complain? They are told to ‘bear and grin’ it because we want the investments to come in and stay – and in the long run ‘things will take care of themselves’ and to be patient and tolerant, and not to rock the boat and system.
What are we waiting for? Till a real disgruntled, unhappy and frustrated person would ‘listen to the devil’ and do something very nasty, ugly and unexpected – and then everyone will ask Why? What happened? Why and how it came to this situation? Don’t we read the newspapers and see things in the TV happening in other places for us to awake and see, open our ears and hear and open our mouths to speak??
For a Company to survive nowadays, it has to be appreciated that people are its best resources. The question to ask is this – whatever happened to the principle and maxim that human resources are a company’s best and most important resource – even more than capital and any other resource – even if combined into one lot? And you need strong, competent, talented, experienced, skilled, educated, qualified and bold cum strong Human Resources Officials to take control and to be in charge – and who are principled, feeling, caring and touching-hearts simply and smugly put. Such HR Officials, who can make a stand, take care and control – and be noticed.
But if you still think his main job is just to arrange just visas and labour cards, and keep his mouth shut and just do what he is being told – what is the point anyway. It will look all calm and peace on the cover level – whilst cinder fire is burning quietly and deeply underground – to come out and explode unexpectedly and suddenly one day.
We need to hear our Staff who are deeply hurt, frustrated and unhappy. And especially to remove those in control who treat peoples badly, unfairly, unethically, unprofessionally, unprincipled etc whatever you have it. And if that person is an expatriate – why is he or she still an invited and welcomed guest in the country – when he or she reduces all staff to tears, pain, hurt and disgust – and we should concentrate on our own anyway and in maintaining our values, customs, heritage, pride, traditions and of course health and well-being. More important when staff are disenchanted frustrated and unhappy, the establishment and the economy suffers too!
We must aim always to prevent and stop a few ego seeking lack of self-confidence and trusting few Individual bosses making the rest of the working dreading staff lives misery, pain and havoc – and need just little showers to not to report to work! And so scared that Saturday is in, and back to work syndromes!
Majid Al Suleimany
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