From the flooded boondocks of Kot Addu to the five star glitter of the Karachi Sheraton, Ramiz Allawala was back in Pakistan plying his trade, engaging with diverse management hierarchies on the issues of relationship and leadership. He cut short his five days workshop with KAPCO in Kot Addu after the first day, and managed to reach Multan just barely ahead of the flood waters that washed away the connecting road. In Karachi Ramiz was conducting a one-day Workshop in High Performance Leadership, spending the day in a huddle with senior management drawn from a cross-section of Pakistani trade, commerce and industry. On the agenda was the development of a positive mindset and the emotional strength to win; focus on inspirational leadership, and the evolution involved in handling the workload growing into the job; and a focus on the organization’s performance improvement for organizational success. “The common denomination of successful leadership is the strategy that places people first,” says Ramiz.
Each industry likes to develop its own lingo and HR is no exception. It is amusing to hear HR practitioners taking themselves seriously, discussing the esoteric aspects of its area. And while new processes and technologies continue to be introduced, so do the buzzwords.
I am often approached to share Shell’s practices on recruitment and performance appraisals. It is also common for HR folk to seek each other’s help in developing policies and stuff like that. There is nothing inherently wrong in this. What does concern me is the fact that there seems to be a rush to adopt the latest fad. What used to be referred to as ‘shameless copying’ is now called ‘Adopting Best Practice.’If I were to pick up Tiger Woods’ golf set, would it make me as good as him? Or Roger Federer’s racquet? That is what this business of ‘Best Practice’ has become.
So the question that arises is: “How do we upgrade HR without just adding on the bits and pieces from a suite of choices?
The other day, just after my last jaunt in the mid east, I was discussing, with my colleagues where I had been lately. They were all surprised to hear of my (almost) regular visits to Pakistan. “Ain’t it dangerous?” – “surely its going to the dogs!” etc. etc. Then to ground me more one asked, “if that country is so good, would you invest in it?” That set me thinking - Would I recommend Pakistan to any entrepreneurs or business angels of my acquaintance?
The last couple of decades have witnessed a profound change in societal mores and their impact on women. That which was once considered taboo has now taken on an everyday occurrence. The right to education has been increasingly asserted by the female, and the rise in the numbers of enlightened males has enabled a quantum increase in the number of qualified, educated women demanding equal opportunity in the workplace. Understandably enough this change in the balance of power between the sexes has come with its fair share of resentment amongst members of the erstwhile Males Only clubs that ran the factory floors and management hierarchies. In more than just a few cases the male reaction has manifested itself in outright hostility. The challenge to the male’s breadwinner status has been met in more than just a few cases by uncouth behavior and the sexual exploitation of female colleagues
The bane of ‘foxhole-ism’ and turf warfare is an attitudinal dysfunction manifest in most, if not all, organizations, irrespective of their positioning on the maturization curve. This accounts for the ‘paranoia about anonymity’ when fielding survey questions, as stated by you. You also say that ‘Organizations are fundamentally networks of people engaged in achieving or furthering common goals’, and that ‘Management itself is ultimately a social technology’. What recommendations do you have to counter the bane of foxholeism, and inculcate a high trust culture within an organization,replete with an attitude of sharing and caring?
Fox-holes develop in wars. They imply militancy, "high alert", divide and conquer cultures. There is a competitive streak in high performers often. However, that has to be channeled out into the market place and in taking on competitors to provide greater value to customers. Battling each other to the death is stupid. Lou Gerstner, in leading the turnaround of IBM, told everyone that the enemy "is out there" and we are here to win in the market. More companies need to get that. The second expedient is to craft goals that cannot be achieved without collaboration, that are enterprise-wide, be it a customer delivery goal, a talent development goal, a process breakthrough, valuebased cost-effectiveness or otherwise -- and then hold people unromantically accountable for them like any other KPI. We can't measure individual showboating and expect trust and social amity.
“Pakistan’s problems are, really, no different from the challenges facing HR throughout the world. The special circumstances surrounding Pakistan in terms of economic, social unrest, combined with internal and external turmoil are ones that make the HR challenges more focused.”