Between Us Only!
The Oman Daily Observer – Weekend – December 12th 2012
A Question of Pragmatism!
Or Continue To Firefight?
Several years ago – as part of The Quality Improvement Projects – QIP – and as part of my function and responsibilities in the then Human Resources – and with The Management and The Board Approvals – I had set up to conduct what they call as a Customer Staff Satisfaction Survey (Climate Survey) on our Staff – and how satisfied and or not they were on the services provided by us in Human Resources! The survey was supposed to be Anonymous – meaning that you got to say whatever you wanted to say – and the Forms could be downloaded and typed – after ticking off the boxes – if you just did not want to add in any comments!
There was – of course – some resistance from the Top HR guy – fellow local – who preferred for the dirt to be piled up – and still be pushed under the carpet – than the reality and the truth was to be found out! But he was overridden by the more Senior Expatriate Director – and who was pragmatic and smart enough to check off the route to Board Members – by himself explaining why it was necessary to conduct the survey.
People being people – you cannot change some – there was room for making trouble and mischief – but even with these on board – the survey was very successful indeed. Soon after some of our competitors came to us asking if they could see the Sample Questionnaire – and if they could use the questions also?
In one of the most glaring area where things were seen not going on fine and okay were areas identified as ‘Grey Areas’ in the Company Policies and Procedures – areas that had never ever cropped up before – or the circumstances and the situation were slightly different – or even vastly different – from those shown and recorded in the books. Including the communication levels – between The Staff, Applicants and The Company in itself!
It is next to impossible to get all the situations and scenarios in – something – or someone will always crop up – that was not seen or identified before. That is why they are called Changes and Amendments – and sometimes they may be things just facing you – but you just missed!
But the Real Shocker was this. Following up these issues with the HR Function (and others) to get satisfactory and fulfilling results. This meant that the affected person had continuously to follow up his case and situation – let alone by emails and correspondences – but even by personal visits and follow-ups – but still not get any answer or result. It was a complex situation – and there were many short fuses tempers explosions all around. And the biggest excuse was – We do not want to start a precedent – for others to follow! Or as the soldier had said – I am just following orders!
So the main fundamental question had still remained – will we continue to firefight these complex and complicated type of questions – and how do we communicate back our responses to the applicants. Do we do it the way of silence and ignore till the person gives up following his case – as we do not have the guts and courage to say No emphatically and forcefully – or by implication for the answer to get back to them?
Or do we handle the bull by the horns – and tackle the situations to come to a satisfactory end result – and make the required necessary changes to the rules and the regulations – and for future references? And do we communicate the changes to all others – and possibly others – usually the locals that normally did not apply – because ‘their expectations are always lower’?
Or do we communicate openly and transparently – ethically, professionally and with principled approach? Do we communicate better to let people know of the results of their applications – or do we continue to remain uninvolved, detached and care free – and let the applicant go up and down till he gets the results he wants – or gives up in trying – till the next time – and or another applicant?
The question of Image is very important here. What is the point of having all the slogans and the advertisements – the websites – the Call Centres – Hotlines etc – when nothing actually moves? You are moved from the Branch to the Head Office – from the Head Office back to the Branch. To the Marketing Department – back to Finance – from Finance back to HR – HR back to Marketing – the vicious cycle never ends – and you are increasingly getting incensed and upset – and nothing gets done anyway!
I have noticed this thing – with due respects! Forget emails! Forget correspondences! Forget Call Centres! Forget all the slogans and the adverts! If you want anything done you have 2 routes only – use W Wastah (Influence) if you have! But if you are like me – No W? Be prepared to move around – up and down – with all your forms and all your support documentation – and be ready to physically move around! Nothing much has changed – whatever that office – nowadays even that place in the private and business sector even – no longer at one time only the Public Office monopoly – but now it – the disease – is everywhere!
People have just lost interest – and there is no care or bother anymore! Sometimes the establishments have grown up to be too big – and cannot cope anymore! It maybe also that those in the frontline are few and overstretched! And with the blame culture – everyone is scared to take responsibility – and action!
And if you try to be hard and obstinate – you will start the process all over again – because even in the private sector – the application may just have disappeared! So it is a very good idea to keep always extra copies – and try to be nice, peaceful and patient – you need the service and help – not the person behind the desk and the counter!
Of course there are few exceptions – but are very few and isolated! May Allah God Help us all – Amin Amen
By Majid Al Suleimany