Omanisation – T and D – Training and Development – By Ms. Raya al Kharusi Reply

OPINION – MUSCAT DAILY

Omanisation – Training and Development – T & D.

By Ms. Raya al Kharusi – Muscat Daily – July 24th 2012.

July 24, 2012

Despite the many scholarships and training assignments made available to school-leavers by His Majesty the Sultan’s government, we must bear in mind that success is not the result of attainment of education but is the outcome of doing what you want and enjoy doing.

Hence, every employer should and must draw out career and development plans to get the best out of employees. An employee who gets satisfaction out of his/her duties will be pleased with the working environment and will strive to get optimum output and remain a faithful member of the organisation.

Training and development go hand in hand. All plans should assess the staff performance, staff preference (to a certain extent) but more importantly should convey to the staff that a long-term career and development plan is in place for them and what the targets are. It is important to take into account attitude as well as performance when giving assignments and promoting staff.

There are some establishments which have systems wherein promotion is based on a combination of qualifications and years of service, not taking into account the actual skill-set of the employee under consideration, nor their ability, or lack thereof, to perform at a higher level of responsibility. This is de-motivating since initiative is destroyed, commitment is tempered and performance tends to become negatively impacted.

Promotion must be considered as a result of a job well done in accordance with long term career and development plans – where the employee is expected to be, at what level, over what period of time, taking into consideration a career that is projected to continue until retirement age is reached. Staff preference, when feasible, should be taken into consideration when plans are drawn out as this creates greater buy-in to the decisions made. It is important that these plans should be communicated to them. In this way, staff know that their employer takes them into consideration as tools worth developing and in some cases as future supervisors, managers, etc.

Responsibility given to staff spurs them to perform better, and directly works on developing their management skills. However, it should be noted that there is nothing more demotivating than not acknowledging a job well done. Praise should be given when due and recognised.

In many establishments in Oman, staff who are performing well and achieving their targets (if given targets and goals) are not recognised but their supervisors/managers are given credit, which leads to lower morale among staff. This issue is exacerbated in many private sector companies/banks in the sultanate, as in most cases, the staff tend to be Omani nationals, and the management, in most instances, expatriates. Especially, when national staff who are the backbone of a department and who know their duties inside out are made to train so called ‘experts’ who should inherently not require this training as they have been brought in to impart their expertise, and not gain it on-the-job, while earning much more than the staff training them.

This further demotivates staff, creating unwanted barriers, and no doubt further reduces impetus and commitment. Being overlooked is the worst blow to any talent especially in your own country.

What is needed is to have a career and development plan for all categories of staff including low-grade staff, and by that I mean even a ‘farash’, the local term for a messenger/tea-boy. The reason is that in this latter category there may be some excellent brains and talent which, due to circumstances, were not given or could not avail of further opportunities for education. Assessment of this category of staff may uncover latent skills and abilities which may contribute positively to the workforce. Language training in English (being the lingua franca) goes a long way to instill faith in one’s employer since this is the opening of the door, if only slightly, to start with. I say this with confidence and experience, as over the course of my career I have had the pleasure of seeing many Omanis, who thought they were confined to low-paying grades for the rest of their lives, rise to the challenges set and run with the opportunity provided to them.

What needs to be taken into account when drawing out career, development and succession plans? Education and experience play a great role but should not be the ‘be all and end all’. Skill-set, attitude, man-management, performance, commitment and responsibility are all very important factors. When all these aspects are accounted for and considered then there is a double benefit, serving both the employee and employer.

The employee will know what their projected career-path is in a given time scale, and will also know what skills/requirements they will need to develop to be aligned with their career and development plan. In the event that they are not satisfied with their career and development plan then it is clear to them that maybe the future they envisioned for themselves is not in the organisation in which they are currently employed, and that their aspirations may be better pursued elsewhere. For the employer, if all goes according to plan, the establishment will know what sort of make-up staff-wise it will have after so many years. This will help it organise its recruitment drive accordingly whilst at the same time continue to consolidate its overall employee base.

As my readers will notice, I have not made any mention of the remuneration packages since I am of the firm belief a good employer with good un-biased management will ensure that staff are remunerated according to criteria that is both fair and manageable. Credit where credit is due, whether the employee is a degree-holder or not. To retain high-fliers and good performers the employer must ensure equality in treatment without respect to national or expatriate.

Unfortunately, in many instances, this is not the case, and the reason given is that in order to be able to recruit expatriates we need to offer them ‘attractive’ packages. Do we really?! Even if this is the case, does the discrepancy need to be so wide as to reach as much as four or five fold in remuneration packages between holders of the same position but of different nationalities? Shouldn’t the Omani employee be accorded the same ‘attractive’ package? This is the question that all employers should deeply consider.

Employer/employee relations based on mutual respect will

enable the establishment to perform better and reach greater heights due to employees identifying themselves with their

organisations and having faith that their welfare is tied to the welfare and well-being of their employers.

Raya al Kharusi is a mother, grandmother, world affairs spectator and human resources consultant. She graduated with a Master of Arts degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London in 1971

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Omanisation – The Missing Ingredients! By Raya Al Kharusi. 3

Omanisation – The Missing Ingredients

– By Raya Al Kharusi – Muscat Daily – July 17th 2012. 

 

Raya Al Kharusi

 For the last twelve months I have been holding my breath every time, I came across an article or letter on Omanisation. What is Omanisation and what are the objectives? To Omanise numerically is not the target. It has to be effective and enduring.

 The missing ingredients are two. First the attitude or lack of it from the Omani recruits and second the negative reception of non-Omanis in any organization when they have an Omani in their department. The Omanis must be committed, involved and not let any hostility de-motivate them. I am not just putting words on paper – I am doing so out of the long experience I have had in the human resources field with 20 years experience in the best non-government organization in Omani, namely P.D.O. 

I was part of the think-tank tasked to draw up policies, salaries, benefits etc for Omanis and third country Regionals. The aim being to attract, retain and develop Omanis to take over from expatriates. At the same time in the late 1970’s / 1980’s we did arrange with others Gulf Oil Companies to find jobs for those expatriates who were Omanized. Despite a very attractive package to motivate expatriates to train/develop Omanis within 6 months only one expatriate qualified for the package, (this package was 26 months salary.) This says a lot of how much negativity there is in this issue. 

I also worked for a short spell in one of the major local banks in their H.R. Dept headed by a third country national. I was shocked to see how much negativity and nit-picking there was against Omani staff with spying, rudeness and all means used to de-motivate them. Even when a group of students from S.Q.U.’s College of Commerce were taken as interns- no work was given that would develop their skills. Instead final year graduates were given letters to put in envelopes, shred papers or just left hanging around. I am not saying that this is widespread but is definitely prevalent in almost all private organizations where third country nationals are worried of losing their jobs. 

On the other hand we have Omanis who have no motivation, do not attend to their jobs, have no interest in development, are not committed and who think they cannot be fired. These are the Omanis who are giving disrepute to the process, who only think of the salary at the end of the month and who have no target or aim to be developed, promoted and get satisfaction of a job well done. An example of this is absenteeism of staff in supermarkets. This has led to complaints that Omanis (by inference all Omanis) are lazy and unreliable. Far from the truth it suits the expatriates to cast Omanis as such. 

I will not even delve into the major discrepancy between salaries, benefits and perks meted out to expatriates compared to Omanis who in many cases are even more highly qualified than the expatriates. Besides huge salaries, free accommodation with utilities paid for, fully comprehensive insurance, family passages and children education all add up to an immense inequality in the packages. Additionally, with the gloomy economic outlook in the West there is a tendency amongst Western supervisors to engage in alienating Omanis either by innuendos, negative appraisals and generally be hostile especially vis a vis Omanis, especially those who show potential, in order to ensure their continued employment here in Oman, and not have to risk the uncertainty of un-employment back in their countries. 

It must be borne in mind by all concerned in the job market that expatriates are here for a certain job, for a limited period but that Omanis are the future of Oman and every help on the way to achieving their potential and doing so objectively without feeling discriminated is the best way all round. On the job coaching- relevant courses, cordial working relationship and positive attitude will go a long way to a harmonious long term relationship well after the employment period. 

Omanisation is an honorable target, achievable and well worth fighting for. Omanis: tighten your belts and honour your country by honouring yourselves. The target is well within achievable reach and worth the world to struggle for. With dedication, motivation and long term development plans Omanis will be looking forward to go to work and achieve targets instead of hating being in their work places. His Majesty, may Allah protect him, has dedicated himself to Oman. The least Omanis should and must do is dedicate themselves to achieve the vision of a better future for our future generation. 

Realistic Omanisation involves more than just salary, training and development plans. Omanis must be encouraged and given long-term plans on how and when they are expected to achieve their full potential. In this way motivation and commitment as well as goal and result-oriented Omanis will be able to achieve Omanisation.

By Raya Al Kharusi.

Raya is a Mother, GrandMother, World Affairs Spectator and Human Resources Expert, Advisor, Professional and Consultant – with over 20 years in all HR Jobs in PDO. She has a Master of Arts degree from The School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London 1971.

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