Sunday, October 13, 2013

Selling HouRs

Selling HouR’s!

Before you continue to read this I would like to state a few things which I would like to request you to keep in mind!
  1. I barely passed my O-Levels and do NOT have a college degree (had a party for four years in Florida) so this blog is based on common sense.
  2. As I don’t have a graduation the only thing I am fit to be hired as is a salesman – and oddly enough I REALLY love it!
  3. People run companies Brand names don’t

Ever since Pakistan became conveniently democratic what has happened is that licenses have been bought and sold like mad for any or every kind of a business available.  Today amongst some of those most lucrative business verticals is the Education vertical.  In the 1990’s so many colleges and so called universities popped up that it did three things.
  1. Gave the masses a cheaper option
  2. Broke the IBA & LUMS oligopoly for being the only respectable place to go to for a college education
  3. The focus on further education was not limited to BBA / B-Com, Accounting & Medicine only… New paths of enlightenment took the preferred choice amongst the most commonly loved and out of those the most commonly known today are IT, HR, and Arts & Humanities.

However, this blog / article is NOT on education it is about HR practices and why I being a salesman I am writing about HR when I have nothing to do in HR and am more so even not educated in HR.  Here are my reasons. In order to understand this you need to think as I do so here is a situation, read on…

Imagine you are a CEO of any Multinational in Pakistan.  You wake up, polish your shoes, iron and wear your Ralph Lauren Shirt and press your own Hugo Boss Suit. Come down make your own breakfast, then wash your dishes and go to your fancy office provided BMW 7 series with your 4 kids in the car and your office bag. On the way you get a flat tyre and then take off your coat and change it whilst answering all your calls on the cellphone in the 11am Karachi Sun and eventually after dropping your kids late to school you get to the office.

Once there you collect your mail from the reception power up your laptop and head to the pantry to make a cup of coffee only to return finding 20 unwanted people banging at your door for cheques.  So you stop doing it all after wondering where the security guard went and walk to finance, make the cheque find the stamp and eventually hand it over.  Now you have lunch so you go to the pantry warm up your home made sandwich and the first cup of coffee eat it quickly and then wash your plates and go back to your desk to discover another nightmare has occurred in the form of 10 more people who you really could not and did not want to deal with.  I will stop here…

The point I was trying to make here is that “PEOPLE RUN COMPANIES – NOT BRAND NAMES” so we need to understand and respect each and every member of our business.  It does not matter if we have a parchoon ki dukaan or we run a billion dollar MNC bank we need to understand that people are extremely important especially our very lower staff towards whom we are very unforgiving and consider to be cattle which we can throw away.  We need to respect everyone.

Now going back to Education – whilst the industry boomed and colleges printed degrees by the billions it made the workplace realize that there were cheaper options available and really messed up the job market.  More supply at a cheaper rate vs. the same demand and that too in an unstable and diminishing economy where the average working days in the year were only seventy to ninety (if we were lucky).  As an Islamic republic if you count every weekend (two days) and then all the Islamic Holidays and then add all the days that are unexpectedly counted as “Na Maloom Afraad Holidays” you will see that the numbers do add up to what I was saying… Take 2012 for example…

When someone who has had a (for example) manufacturing concern and has been running it for the past 3 decades with stability under these circumstances their priority is to sustain stability.  From my knowledge I do not know any old stable business that has decided to be so bold to try to take any new risks in the form of any investment where their guaranteed stable income would become insecure or they would not be able to sustain their professional families.  So when one looks at hiring the IBA & LUMS graduates are at a loss because nobody in Pakistan wants a fresh textbook smart graduate to walk in the door and tell them how to run their business that they have run beautifully for the past 30 years…  They simply cannot risk it.  Also now they have cheaper options that come from the likes of colleges who are willing to start in less than 20,000/- and that also includes mobile and fuel expenses.

When we work we sell our most precious commodity which is time… Some of us get for 15 minutes of our time (doctors) some monthly (most of us and some of us periodically – every three months (architects) But seeing that it takes people to run companies the HR field trying to fill that need has used everything possible to do just that in the form of pop up HR consultancies to web portals (technology) etc.  Today there are more HR companies in Karachi that promise some form of employment from the same pool of people. 

The HR industry has become a joke because if one looks at DAWN or the NEWS today on a Sunday the jobs classifieds is almost finished.  In the 90’s it was the most successful business unit for the Jang Group and Herald Publishing.  Most HR Consultants do not consider the fact that their clients entire business needs to be understood also everyone drops cliché’s like ‘we don’t search the web” or “we are head hunting specialists” In this field I know only one such lady that works independently but has the ability to understand the needs of any organization and not waste its time and oddly enough 90% of the times she delivers extremely good results.  This HR professional is brilliant because (this article is not about this one woman and please note that she HAS NEVER gotten me a job EVER) she has a track record for delivering the most sought after human resource in the country. 

In the past 3 years I have known her to have had a hand in making many people in top tier to lower masses take the plunge and leave an organization after 15 years of service because they invested intelligence and convinced them that where they would be in the future was very benefitting to not only the organization but also promised and ensured the human resource would not be a number or treated like a piece of meat once the cattle was slaughtered.  Since I have rambled on about “thIS one woman” I think I should tell you about one lady that I professionally & personally respect immensely Ms. Nasira Hoori.  Now enough about her let’s focus further on the topic.

Today the HR field (consultants) only looks at numbers (what they will get in the form of revenue) most of the consultants do not even realize that the wrong person hired can destroy and entire organization.  Two examples which I would like to present that have happened in front of me. The first is where I have seen an entire court case get thrown out of the window because the contract (Service Level Agreement) drafted by the law firm had a full stop where there should have been a comma.  This oversight cost the entire organization such a huge loss in Pakistan that the FBR almost broke them.  Bear in mind this is a multinational FMCG I am talking about.  The second is when a technology company hired a textbook smart developer as a cheap resource for its client that was a Telco.  This guy to prove he was asset wrote the code for an additional software to be added on to a SAP module and due to not having enough experience destroyed the entire financial history and archives of the client.

HR is a very sensitive field and today who we choose to help us support our endeavors to feed our professional families is extremely critical.  We need to consider our options very carefully and not give business in the form of jobs or contracts on references.  It is so advisable to try and maintain the current human resource as they are readily trainable and have a firm back ground.  The problem with hiring new people is that the 90 day period is ridiculous because it is a honeymoon where everyone is on their best behavior.  Time brings out the true colors in any relationship and once the insecurities are gone a new hire can actually have a free mind to be able to learn the culture of any organization.  So actually this new resource becomes productive after about 180 days of being hired. According to me I believe that any organization that takes away the HR powers from its CEO & Board of Directors and allows it the ability to function independently with any interference whatsoever is a place I would like to call home.

I have physically witnessed tons of organizations where I have been contracting to sell training on how to sell where one witnesses corporate feudalism.  I have been on sessions in SEA where I witnessed how Relationship Managers would serve their Branch Managers who would entertain their regional managers with special presents in Bangkok hoping to get a fantastic appraisal.  All of a sudden I realized that words like “Town Hall” & “retreats” were nothing other than a formal display where one say how someone who had a salary of 50,000 would spend (invest) in Johnny Walker, & Durex immensely.

When someone in Pakistan says that it is a man’s world ironically that is extremely true, because being The Islamic republic of Pakistan under Sharia Law if a woman were to be unfairly treated or a victim of a heinous crime she would require 4 witnesses who actually saw the act before she got justice.  (I am referring to before the word democracy became the war cry for any politician.) Today it’s all over social media and when the world has witnessed such an act and verified it she suffers immense humiliation and if she is lucky she actually might not get flogged for allowing it to happen.

Why did I go off on a tangent about women’s rights? Well it is very relevant.  I was working in an office where we had halls and being technology we only had developers or salesmen.  To sell technology is ridiculously difficult because it is not tangible and results show up much later after implementation.  When selling technology one needs clarity and peace and quiet to focus on what they have to convince someone to buy.  I was in sales and I did not have any peace and quiet because 85% of the developers & gamers I know were and still are hard core fundo’s who found technology to be the best form of an answer to a profession because it is halal and there is no sooth involved. Also most gamers are developers whilst all developers are gamers.  Now these chaps have ego’s because it is true without them the world would not function (technology world) and boy are they rude loud and noisy.  Basically a law unto themselves I was at logger heads with them and I had to build a team of people for sales.  I sat and thought and in the stack of CV’s eliminated each and every male no matter how competent they were.  I hired four girls who were professional and had a grip on our religion.  Within minutes of the announcement of the news of their hiring there was complete silence.  Each and every developer the next day was smelling nice had combed his hair and also the beard. There was silence in the entire hall and people actually started being extremely polite and courteous.  It was a strategic gamble I took and as I had hired them as support staff I hit way over my numbers that I had committed immensely.  After that day my contractual employer who is my client today never questioned my ability of not having a degree. (These ladies working for me were convinced by a trusted friend to join the organization who was in the HR field – Today I am happy to say that each and every one of my direct reports are heading their own business units in the technology field)

I have gone on long enough in my ramblings but I would like to end with the statement that any organization should outsource recruiting / hiring or whatever you call it to a professional who has the ability to understand your needs as well as your business as a whole.  Today you need a trusted confidant who can externally give you an objective look at how to restructure your most precious asset which is “people” and will respect your time.  Today it is extremely hard to find a HR consultant who is a part of the solution and will not add to the problems you already have by eating away your most precious commodity which is time.

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