Omanisation - training and development
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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