Got business problems or challenges at work? With his Two Cents page, Loaay Ahmed shares his expertise in strategic management consulting to help managers, employees and entrepreneurs thrive.
Q: Every year my employees expect a pay rise without demonstrating what they’ve learned throughout the year. How can we separate between those who deserve the increase or bonus and those who don’t?
If you directly manage more than seven employees, it’s difficult to know thoroughly how each one managed to learn and grow on a regular basis so much so that you can make bonus decisions comfortably. One simple and yet important tool is to have Continuous Professional Development (CPD) records as a prerequisite to bonus meetings. A CPD record is about documenting something an employee learned from work or personal learning experiences in the form of short insightful reminders. CPD records can be filled out using a simple online platform that can be accessed from any device. Of course this can be done manually as well. However, online platforms will record each entry’s date, which eliminates the chance of anyone trying to outsmart the system by writing the notes a week before the performance review.
For example, if an employee presents CPD records that demonstrate improvement (something for the employee) that generates strong results for the department (something for the team), and the company hits its targets (something for the business) then a bonus is granted based on whatever set scale you have. You could add customer experience scores, peer evaluations, or whatever you want as part of what an employee is rewarded for depending on what’s important for the business as long as it’s fair and the success criteria is clear so that employees know how the evaluation is made. One of the benefits of the recession is that it became quite common for companies to conduct performance-based bonuses while freezing salaries. The keyword is ‘performance’; bonuses are not gifts…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: Two years ago, I sold shares in my company to different investors. Since then, I’ve asked the Board to support the business in various ways, but they never did. Why does the fact of them being involved mean more profit is overlooked?
When you observe the attitude of football coaches during games you’ll find that most of them are hyperactive, expressive and pretty much involved. And why wouldn’t they be! They’ve put a lot of time and effort into getting the players to win championships. Coaches have a personal interest as well because we live in a blame-the-coach culture; so when the players do well, coaches get to keep their jobs. However, if the players – not the coaches, mind you – don’t perform well, it’s the coaches who get fired, not the players. Clubs owners, on the other hand, have a different position. They naturally want to see higher returns for their expensive investments, but they don’t spend as much time with the team and some of them invest for sentimental or for strategic reasons that are not dictated only by money.
Investors, like coaches and owners, come in two styles. The first kind is active investors: very much hands-on; they open doors, share resources and raise flags. A good example of such an attitude would be Venture Capitalists. They behave almost like managing partners to protect their investments. The second kind is passive investors: investing in various businesses for obvious, and sometimes not so obvious, reasons. They focus on companies that are well established and are not dependent on their support for higher dividends and increased equity. The clash you’re currently having could be from having club owners (i.e., passive investors) while you need coaches (i.e., active investors). Knowing your investors’ type is essential before signing any contracts. Change your plan before it’s game over…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: The Middle East office asks us for data to evaluate efficiency but it’s time wasting and somehow I feel it’s damaging productivity because of the time spent filling in forms. Is there a way to assess efficiency without involving the team?
Regardless of how many times one reads or hears the warning phrase ‘Mind the gap’ in the London Underground, it seems that most people don’t give it much thought outside the stations. Regional offices within a company can often develop a communication gap pretty much like the gap between the platform edge and the train. Unlike the trains, this gap is not needed for operational reasons. Therefore, it should be eliminated. The Middle East office is just focused on their needs and how they need to pass reports to the Head Office. So, they request information from all the offices in the region to collect, analyze and forward. A better approach is to engage all the offices with the objectives of such reports and why they would be helpful to the company.
Opening the door for each team to come up with suggestions on how to streamline the data entry process creates a sense of partnership and more involvement. If none of you managed to think of an efficient data entry solution, then, at least, you can collectively see that the current system is the best option available so far. And you’ll continue filling out the forms without much resentment about the process as you have now. Employees will follow management requests anyway; yet, when employees are part of the process rather than just being at the edge of it, companies will gain a dynamic working experience and an enhanced level of commitment from everyone. Being productive and happy shouldn’t be opposing qualities…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected] . Regrettably, only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management adviser and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit www.knightscapital.com .