What a Company Needs to Attract the Right People

What a Company Needs to Attract the Right People

The right people are essential to a company’s success. In our view this is not limited to ‘staff’. Rather, it is the entire ecosystem of value-creating people – founders, teams, mentors, partners and investors. Through our experience, the greatest challenge is not finding the right people. It is finding great companies you want to find great people for. This is what a company needs to attract the right people and create value.

PURPOSE

A company needs to present a compelling purpose and proposition. A purpose candidates can relate to and connect with. Companies whose sole objective is to make profit with no sense of meaningful purpose, will attract a particular breed but not top talent. Purpose doesn’t have to be complicated but it has to real. And the company has got to be committed to it in practice.

PRINCIPLES

People want to ensure their own personal values will not be compromised through their work. Hence companies need to ‘walk the talk’. It is pointless and counterproductive to brandish a set of values if this is not reflected in decision-making and day-to-day business practices. For instance, an investment company that espouses high ideals may attract great people. But if in practice its investment decisions are made solely on the level of return, regardless of impact, it will not keep them.

PEOPLE

People starts with great leadership. People in positions of power may have the title but they may not necessarily be great leaders. Great leaders understand the value others bring. They also have the ability and desire to bring out the best in people. This includes: providing access to tools and resources required to succeed; a conducive environment where people feel they can contribute, where they feel safe to try, make mistakes, learn and grow; where their experience will help them excel and thrive.

People ultimately need to form a team. The team needs to consist of colleagues that resonate and have a balanced mix of different yet complimentary capabilities to get the job done. An optimised team harnesses people dynamics and fosters collaboration, trust and mutual respect. We call this the FIT – Finding Interconnecting Talent.

PERFORMANCE

High ideals are great but for a company to be successful it needs to deliver. Failure to do so will result in poor financial results and the inability to support the employees. There is no point in hiring people if you hinder them in getting the job done. So get clear on the mission and the deliverables. Moreover ensure you have the willingness and appetite to allow people the latitude they need to deliver.

PACKAGES

Companies need to ensure alignment between financial performance, desired behaviours and rewards/recognition. Whilst I would ward off any company from hiring anyone who is interested solely in the financial package, it is important for people to feel they are fairly rewarded for their efforts. Some companies have pay bands, compensation packages linked to a particular rank. Although these may be useful to HR in setting a guideline, but they are often a hindrance to the heads of the business unit who are ultimately held responsible for results. It is far wiser and more effective to view a person in terms of the value they add, adjusting the pay accordingly. So for instance a base (which can fit the bands) with a fair and measurable bonus component. This in effect shifts people away from job titles and focuses them on adding value. Companies also need to ensure the metrics they are using are in alignment with the business’s objectives and principles. Mismatched incentive programmes are a sure way to create conflict, demotivate people and create an atmosphere of resentment.

PRODUCTS

The company needs to produce or provide products and/or services that add value in terms of financial and social returns. For instance, a financial institution that provides project funding for power, water, telecoms and other infrastructure projects, thus enabling the advancement of society and a sound return. Companies also need to ensure they are mindful of the impact their product or service has along its entire lifespan, from sourcing and production to its use and disposal. Mechanisms needs to be in place to identify, eradicate and avoid negative practices.

PARTNERS

Who a company aligns themselves with and how they treat them speaks volumes about them as an organisation and as a group of people. Regardless of an organisation’s success, a level of humility, respect and fairness are essential. Companies that demonstrate arrogance based on their brand, size and supposed standing tend to breed a similar level of arrogance amongst their people. This is not the type of environment people of character opt to work in. Yes they want to work for respected organisations but acting superior is not a great way to earn respect – positive results and a proper manner of doing things are.

PROCESS

The process through which a potential candidate will be taken through is also essential. From interviewing to induction, companies need to ensure the company puts its best foot forward. It also needs to be open and honest about the challenges the company is facing – a reality check if you will.

A process which gets bogged down in HR processes is a sure way to turn off top talent. Talented individuals want to get a handle on the business environment and if they can add value. They need to understand the vision and the task at hand, and will be looking for data points that will enable them to determine if this is the type of company they are best suited for and if they are the right person to take it on.

Companies should ensure they have the ability to understand a candidate’s capabilities as well as their character – what makes them tick. Only in this way will you ensure you have people on board with the right FIT – essential for people to thrive in and add value to your business.

What a Company Needs to Attract the Right People

5 things to keep in mind if you want a great culture

5 things to keep in mind if you want a great culture

Corporate Culture

5 things to keep in mind to set a great culture

Ask a person the reason they love to travel and oftentimes they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience and exposure to other cultures somehow adds a certain colour to our own lives, a certain richness.

What we are less aware of perhaps are the unique cultures we create in these environments we call workplaces. Just as the reality of visiting a country rarely reflects any possible depiction portrayed in a brochure, company culture is hard to convey by text printed in a company handbook or website, but rather better experienced by its essence, its spirit. But how can we translate something seemingly ethereal into something more tangible and why is it even important? Here are five things to keep in mind to set a great culture.

The ‘spirit’ of a company

Just as any culture around the world is formed over time through traditions, cultural norms, societal needs, forms of communication, behaviours and attitudes, so too is a corporate culture. We create the environments we work in through a combination of day-to-day interactions. Environments that come with particular qualities regarding desired and accepted behaviours, attitudes, principles and modes of communication. There is one main difference though – I am not aware of any society in the world that set out to create a particular culture intentionally, consciously. Rather the culture morphed through the ages.

Some companies morphed in the same way, directed mainly through the attitude and conduct of the board, leaders and managers, and the behaviours that were tolerated. But if you stop to think about it for a moment, through corporate culture we have an awesome opportunity. Through our actions, we can shape and form a mini-society that lends itself to our highest ideals. We can enable others to step up to the plate and be their best, to focus on and achieve a unified purpose and direction.

And quite scary in the wrong hands… So how do we get it right?

Setting the Tone

If you want to set the ‘right’ culture – start with yourself. Whether you are aware of it or not, your character, your personal conduct, value system and manner of treating others is akin to a metronome, the timekeeping device used in music to keep everyone in sync. So ask yourself some key questions: Who are you, what do you stand for, what drives you? How do you treat others? Are you a person of your word? Can you be trusted? Do you come across as friendly, approachable, aloof, firm but fair? What is your prefered style of communicating? Are you formal, structured, agenda-led, walk around the floor? How do people interact with you and react to you? What is your business ethos and how does it translate into practice?

Your people

The people you surround yourself with and the manner in which you interact with them speaks volumes. If for instance, you are smart enough (and humble enough) to realise that you are not great at everything and surround yourself with people who are ‘better’ than you, you have set the scene for greatness. That is of course if you also create the environment for them to speak their mind and you are open-minded enough to listen.

Measuring success

What does success look like for you and your company? Is it just about profit at all costs? What milestones do you measure and reward? Does the manner in which objectives are met really matter and are they taken into account? Are certain behaviours tolerated, just as long as there are results?

Aligning vision with practice

A lofty and noble vision is all well and good but it’s what you do in practice that counts. Do not underestimate the impact that your individual actions and conduct have in setting the standards and the cultural tone. So ask yourself: Do you want to create an environment in which compromising behaviours are tolerated in the name of profit? Or, do you want to generate an environment that nurtures, develops and engages competence and character, to build great companies that add value to more than just their profit margins?

As featured in WorkLab

Ask a person the reason they love to travel and oftentimes they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience and exposure to other cultures somehow adds a certain colour to our own lives, a certain richness.

What we are less aware of perhaps are the unique cultures we create in these environments we call workplaces. Just as the reality of visiting a country rarely reflects any possible depiction portrayed in a brochure, company culture is hard to convey by text printed in a company handbook or website, but rather better experienced by its essence, its spirit. But how can we translate something seemingly ethereal into something more tangible and why is it even important? Here are five things to keep in mind to set a great culture.

The ‘spirit’ of a company

Just as any culture around the world is formed over time through traditions, cultural norms, societal needs, forms of communication, behaviours and attitudes, so too is a corporate culture. We create the environments we work in through a combination of day-to-day interactions. Environments that come with particular qualities regarding desired and accepted behaviours, attitudes, principles and modes of communication. There is one main difference though – I am not aware of any society in the world that set out to create a particular culture intentionally, consciously. Rather the culture morphed through the ages.

Some companies morphed in the same way, directed mainly through the attitude and conduct of the board, leaders and managers, and the behaviours that were tolerated. But if you stop to think about it for a moment, through corporate culture we have an awesome opportunity. Through our actions, we can shape and form a mini-society that lends itself to our highest ideals. We can enable others to step up to the plate and be their best, to focus on and achieve a unified purpose and direction.

And quite scary in the wrong hands… So how do we get it right?

Setting the Tone

If you want to set the ‘right’ culture – start with yourself. Whether you are aware of it or not, your character, your personal conduct, value system and manner of treating others is akin to a metronome, the timekeeping device used in music to keep everyone in sync. So ask yourself some key questions: Who are you, what do you stand for, what drives you? How do you treat others? Are you a person of your word? Can you be trusted? Do you come across as friendly, approachable, aloof, firm but fair? What is your prefered style of communicating? Are you formal, structured, agenda-led, walk around the floor? How do people interact with you and react to you? What is your business ethos and how does it translate into practice?

Your people

The people you surround yourself with and the manner in which you interact with them speaks volumes. If for instance, you are smart enough (and humble enough) to realise that you are not great at everything and surround yourself with people who are ‘better’ than you, you have set the scene for greatness. That is of course if you also create the environment for them to speak their mind and you are open-minded enough to listen.

Measuring success

What does success look like for you and your company? Is it just about profit at all costs? What milestones do you measure and reward? Does the manner in which objectives are met really matter and are they taken into account? Are certain behaviours tolerated, just as long as there are results?

Aligning vision with practice

A lofty and noble vision is all well and good but it’s what you do in practice that counts. Do not underestimate the impact that your individual actions and conduct have in setting the standards and the cultural tone. So ask yourself: Do you want to create an environment in which compromising behaviours are tolerated in the name of profit? Or, do you want to generate an environment that nurtures, develops and engages competence and character, to build great companies that add value to more than just their profit margins?

As featured in WorkLab

Water and Wealth Creation

On a trip to Kenya, we were faced with a village that required access to clean water. Their wish was to have water, to grow crop that would in turn provide them with the money to educate the boys and the girls of the community (traditionally only the boys were...

A fresh perspective on Women and Leadership

A fresh perspective on Women and Leadership

Female Leadership

A fresh perspective on Women and Leadership
It always amuses me to see the look of bewilderment when people hear that I love working in the Middle East, and even more surprised when they find out I had a successful practice in the region. This surprise is for the simple reason that I’m a woman.

I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East, therefore making it difficult to fathom how a woman could have a successful business. But in my experience, the traits that seem to be more abundant amongst women, such as insight, intuition and inclusion, seem to be trusted and appreciated in the Middle East, enabling us to not only contribute but also play our role in business

But I am just as bewildered as those who find my success in the Middle East surprising, by some of the rhetoric around women in the workplace and leadership in the UK and London specifically. A recent article on the matter pointed out that 15% of Senior Leadership roles in the City were held by women, and the majority of those by foreigners. The article went further by attributing this ‘fact’ to the foreign women’s swagger. The truth of the matter is, given that London is a global financial center, there is a strong likelihood that a senior leadership role will have a regional or global focus and if the potential candidates haven’t had any international experience, they simply don’t qualify, swagger or not.

That said, the ‘swagger’ comment did get me thinking, and led me to reflect on the great Arab women I have had the privilege of interviewing and working with. They are highly intelligent, very well-educated and extremely insightful – ingredients which are prevalent amongst many women around the world. They don’t seek to be liked but rather have the courage of their convictions. They don’t have to speak loudly or demand to be listened to, but still have their views be known and considered. They tend to speak less and act more. They are compassionate and kind but don’t tolerate fools.  But above all else, there is a particular ingredient in their presence and demeanor, described perfectly by a dear friend from the region – “we are salty not sweet”.

 

From Segregation to Sisterhood

It’s fascinating when you think about it. Yes, women in the region tend to live more segregated lives. This means that instead of competing with men, they understand and nurture the concept of sisterhood, encouraging and supporting each other. When they get older and enter the corporate realm, government or family business, they are purposeful and have a quiet self-confidence, an inner strength which is ready to come out and be deployed in a broader spectrum. And contrary to popular belief, they are welcomed in the workplace and encouraged to grow and rise through the ranks. Have they had challenges to overcome? Absolutely. Challenges have shaped their character, balancing their resilience, perseverance and determination, together with their faith, patience and belief in a higher power. Formidable indeed.

So what are some of the ingredients that help foster women’s capabilities in this way that we could instill to make our companies more balanced, diverse and better equipped to handle the changing times?

 

Vision & Purpose

If you want to attract, nurture and keep the best women, consider what difference your business makes, why it matters. Frankly, if your business isn’t concerned with anything other than profit, you are going to face challenges in finding and keeping people with character and competence – women  or men.

 

Interview From the Inside Out

If you are using an interview simply as a checkbox exercise to see if the person has the skills for a particular job, you are missing out on a great opportunity. A person’s CV is merely a scratch on the surface of not only who this person really is, but also how far their capabilities can extend. Context is key.

As a starter, why don’t you put the CV aside and get them to tell you their story. Adopt a curious mind,  seeking to learn about the person’s experiences that has brought them to the present day. This approach can open up an individual’s character, their way of thinking, approach to challenges, and the environment and factors needed to bring out their best. You never know – you could even learn something along the way.

 

Don’t Hire What You Don’t Appreciate

This may seem a bit of a shock, but frankly, if you don’t see how someone adds value to your organisation, why hire them? And if the person is onboard, why aren’t you listening to their viewpoint and perspective?  If you want yes people who just go along with what you say, you are wasting your money in hiring great people. A recorded message to yourself telling you you’re doing a good job will suffice. But if you hire us, listen to us. We have a different perspective. It may not be what you want to hear but we are here to add value. Allow us – there are skills, traits and natural capabilities just waiting to be engaged. If you don’t appreciate us, we’ll find someone who does.

 

As featured in Women’s Prospects 

It always amuses me to see the look of bewilderment when people hear that I love working in the Middle East, and even more surprised when they find out I had a successful practice in the region. This surprise is for the simple reason that I’m a woman.

I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East, therefore making it difficult to fathom how a woman could have a successful business. But in my experience, the traits that seem to be more abundant amongst women, such as insight, intuition and inclusion, seem to be trusted and appreciated in the Middle East, enabling us to not only contribute but also play our role in business

But I am just as bewildered as those who find my success in the Middle East surprising, by some of the rhetoric around women in the workplace and leadership in the UK and London specifically. A recent article on the matter pointed out that 15% of Senior Leadership roles in the City were held by women, and the majority of those by foreigners. The article went further by attributing this ‘fact’ to the foreign women’s swagger. The truth of the matter is, given that London is a global financial center, there is a strong likelihood that a senior leadership role will have a regional or global focus and if the potential candidates haven’t had any international experience, they simply don’t qualify, swagger or not.

That said, the ‘swagger’ comment did get me thinking, and led me to reflect on the great Arab women I have had the privilege of interviewing and working with. They are highly intelligent, very well-educated and extremely insightful – ingredients which are prevalent amongst many women around the world. They don’t seek to be liked but rather have the courage of their convictions. They don’t have to speak loudly or demand to be listened to, but still have their views be known and considered. They tend to speak less and act more. They are compassionate and kind but don’t tolerate fools.  But above all else, there is a particular ingredient in their presence and demeanor, described perfectly by a dear friend from the region – “we are salty not sweet”.

 

From Segregation to Sisterhood

It’s fascinating when you think about it. Yes, women in the region tend to live more segregated lives. This means that instead of competing with men, they understand and nurture the concept of sisterhood, encouraging and supporting each other. When they get older and enter the corporate realm, government or family business, they are purposeful and have a quiet self-confidence, an inner strength which is ready to come out and be deployed in a broader spectrum. And contrary to popular belief, they are welcomed in the workplace and encouraged to grow and rise through the ranks. Have they had challenges to overcome? Absolutely. Challenges have shaped their character, balancing their resilience, perseverance and determination, together with their faith, patience and belief in a higher power. Formidable indeed.

So what are some of the ingredients that help foster women’s capabilities in this way that we could instill to make our companies more balanced, diverse and better equipped to handle the changing times?

 

Vision & Purpose

If you want to attract, nurture and keep the best women, consider what difference your business makes, why it matters. Frankly, if your business isn’t concerned with anything other than profit, you are going to face challenges in finding and keeping people with character and competence – women  or men.

 

Interview From the Inside Out

If you are using an interview simply as a checkbox exercise to see if the person has the skills for a particular job, you are missing out on a great opportunity. A person’s CV is merely a scratch on the surface of not only who this person really is, but also how far their capabilities can extend. Context is key.

As a starter, why don’t you put the CV aside and get them to tell you their story. Adopt a curious mind,  seeking to learn about the person’s experiences that has brought them to the present day. This approach can open up an individual’s character, their way of thinking, approach to challenges, and the environment and factors needed to bring out their best. You never know – you could even learn something along the way.

 

Don’t Hire What You Don’t Appreciate

This may seem a bit of a shock, but frankly, if you don’t see how someone adds value to your organisation, why hire them? And if the person is onboard, why aren’t you listening to their viewpoint and perspective?  If you want yes people who just go along with what you say, you are wasting your money in hiring great people. A recorded message to yourself telling you you’re doing a good job will suffice. But if you hire us, listen to us. We have a different perspective. It may not be what you want to hear but we are here to add value. Allow us – there are skills, traits and natural capabilities just waiting to be engaged. If you don’t appreciate us, we’ll find someone who does.

 

As featured in Women’s Prospects 

Water and Wealth Creation

On a trip to Kenya, we were faced with a village that required access to clean water. Their wish was to have water, to grow crop that would in turn provide them with the money to educate the boys and the girls of the community (traditionally only the boys were...