Quite time to think

Listen to this postI was fortunate to visit Versailles Palace in France many years ago. After the guided tour we were given free time to walk through the place gardens. The gardens were beautiful and a simple walk through them would reduce your blood pressed by at least 10 mmHg. At the start of my walk I noticed an elderly couple setting on a long chair watching the beautiful view in front of them. They were about one meter a part (3 feet) from each other. I continued my walk around and came back to the same spot after 20 minutes and set down on a single chair and notice that the couple still at their same silence and still looking at the beautiful view ahead. I thought that what they were doing was boring and they might have reached the age were nothing matters anymore. So I sat and started enjoying the view and get lost in my thoughts. Before I knew it, I spent more than an hour of complete silence, similar to what the elderly couple were doing, and it was wonderful!

A distant family member in his 70’s used to set in his wheelchair for hours watching the sea. When we pass-by and greet him he sometimes replay to us and sometimes he just ignore us as if we do not exist. He seems lost in his thoughts and living his past by just watching the sea. Few years after that gentleman pass away I went to the Maldives islands. I use to set in the balcony of my bungalow after the tiresome deep water dives. Each time I set I get lost in my thoughts and spend hours relaxing and enjoying the ocean’s calm waters.
Lately, I do not have the luxury of traveling to these nice places but I still set alone in quite places for at least 30 minutes 3 times every week. I lay down or set without watching TV, listening to music or reading a book. I just relax and let my thoughts flow slowly and reflect on the things I have done or the problems I face. After about 30 minutes I would have good thoughts and practical solutions to whatever challenges I have. Just by simply setting alone and thinking. No TV, no music, no reading or writing, just plain simple thinking. My best ideas and most important decisions were the results of those quite sessions. The sad thing that many people live their lives without setting once in a quite session like that, and they miss the opportunity to clear up their minds and generate wonderful ideas. Go ahead, please try it for half an hour and you will start generating wonderful thoughts and ideas after you pass the 30 minutes mark, trust me!

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Are You Changing Your Work-Space?

Listen to this postMany companies had redesigned their office space from the traditional set up which have rooms designated for one or two office workers to cubicles or open space design. Some cultures would accept the new set up but others would like to  maintain their privacy in the office. According to Jones (2007), the main purpose of the organizational structure is “to control the way people coordinate their actions to meet organizational goals and to control the means used to motivate people to achieve these goals” (p. 7). The workspace is defined as an organizational resource and is designed to advance the organizational goals (Vaske & Donnelly, 1999). The marketplace especially the international market is influenced and segmented by religion (Wenger, 2004).

Organizations would attract workers who conform with the dominant religion in the organization and in the environment, employees with different religions may face glass ceiling and bear stereotype effect during promotions and salary increase. Wenger (2004) relates religious marketplace theory to the failure of communism to replace religion in China. Religion may have a positive effect from the point view of some (having the same religion) or seen as a hurdle by others. Many companies in the Middle East region are changing their work place set up to cubical or open-space set up similar the Western office layout. The new theories may support the open-space layout and “barrier removal” to enable workers to interact openly but not all agree. New researchers have found that such optimism does not continue when workers find that they lose privacy and independence with it (Chan, Beckman, & Lawrence, 2007). Another research found employees’ satisfaction decreased after they moved from the traditional office layout to the open-space layout (Chan, Beckman, & Lawrence, 2007).

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References:

Chan, J. K., Beckman, S. L., & Lawrence, P. G. (2007). Workplace design: A new managerial imperative. California Management Review, 49(2), 6-22.

Jones, G. (2007). Organizational theory, design, and change (5 ed.). New York: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Vaske, J. J., & Donnelly, M. P. (1999). A value-attitude-behavior model predicting wildland preservations voting intentions. Society & Natural Resources, 12(6), 523.

Wenger, J. E. (2004). Official vs. underground protestant churches in China: Challenges for reconciliation and social influence. Review of Religious Research, 46(2), 169-182.

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Do I really want to go to work?

Listen to this postMost of us wake up every morning and go through the same daily routine to get ready for work. We fight our way in the crowded streets to reach the office (work place) just on time or few minutes late, or sometimes, few hours late! We dread the long working hours, complain about the extra work they dumped on us and sometimes we complain that we have nothing to do, just plain boring. We long for a vacation, long public holiday or occasional sick leave to relax for few days. If you just started working then you will be full of energy and would be looking forward to change the world. If you have worked for more that 10 years you would definitely know that you can change just small part of your daily routine. Some of us have worked for more than 20 years and asking them self “when will I be able to retire!” or why don’t I get that easy job in the corner office to just sign few papers every day to enjoy your especial cup of coffee. You would tell yourself that you deserve that easy job because you have earn it.

Occasionally, we get the thought of quitting, retiring or switching jobs but we forget or dismiss that thought after few minuets . However, few of us would seriously think about it and have difficult time deciding. The best way to know if you should quit, retire or switch jobs would be that morning routine. If you wake up in the morning but feel that you do not want to go to work, then it is time for you to make a decision about it. The decision would be based on not wanting to go to work because you do not want to go. This decision would not be applicable if you are physically tired, sleepy or sick. You would positively know that you just do not want to work at the same place because you hate working there. This is a gut feeling that you can not explain, but your body your brain and your legs would all tell you that they hate going to work at the same place. You should plan your future of either retiring, looking for another job, or shutting your mouth and stay at your current job until things get better. Never leave your job while you have financial commitments or family to feed with no other source of income to replace your monthly salary. Tomorrow when you wake up in the morning ask yourself “do I really want to go to work?

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Maintain Longterm International Relationship

Listen to this postBusiness should target long term  strategies to grow up the profit gradually while maintaining healthy profit and satisfying the stakeholders. Business should use the corporate social responsibility model to serve the community by meeting the national and international obligation and the ethical standards. Self regulation would be a good tool to meet the internal ethical standards and the local ethical responsibilities. The ethical issues and the ideas of being right or wrong are governed by the religious, cultural or professional value base believes as stated by O’Donohue and Nelson (2009). Around the world, organizations may set rouls and regulations to cover ethical issues but the individuals behavior and his background would limit his or her ethical behavior.

Grotenhuis (2009) state that 50% and up to 80% of the mergers and acquisitions fail to make the expected benefits. The main reasons for the failure is weak research of the target company and its context, unfocused strategic issues on the intended merger and acquisitions and finally the leadership and cultural issuers that lead to cultural clashes and fatal misunderstanding (Grotenhuis, 2009). Cultural differences should be studied in earlier stages of the merger or acquisition to expect the problematic areas and sort them out before they develop to culture clash that slow bonding of the two organizations. In a merger between Dutch and Japanese organization the Japanese felt that the Europeans are “person-oriented” that look for short-term profit while the Japanese are more group-oriented and always explore and target the long-term profit (Grotenhuis, 2009).

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References:

Grotenhuis, F. D. J. (2009). Mergers and acquisitions in Japan: Lessons from a Dutch-Japanese case study. [Article]. Global Business & Organizational Excellence, 28(3), 45-54. doi: 10.1002/joe.20258

O’Donohue, W., & Nelson, L. (2009). The Role of Ethical Values in an Expanded Psychological Contract. [Article]. Journal of Business Ethics, 90(2), 251-263. doi: 10.1007/s10551-009-0040-1

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Mediating the Negotiation … Ouch!

Listen to this postThe negotiating parties might not have a conflict of interest but the emotional involvement and the negotiators’ ego may cause the conflict (Noll, 2009). The mediator will face a challenge to control the personal differences during the negotiation because some of the reasons for the conflict is the readiness to meet and discuss. The mediator’s job is to listen to both sided of the discussion. Noll (2009) state that “many disputes end up in litigation because someone feels that he or she has not been heard.” (p. 45). The mediator should use his authority as a mediator to stop the repeated interruption and give equal and fair chance for both sides to state their views. The mediator might offer encouragements or threaten to take away benefits to help steer the negotiation in the right direction (Favretto, 2009).

The mediator has to be neutral with good negotiation leadership to be able to end the discussion. Mediation as stated by Fridl (2009) is a form of intervention to resolve  a conflict by negotiating an acceptable settlement. The definition of “acceptable” would vary from one person to another. The mediator should lead the negotiation by his or her communication skills to reach a compromising solution (Fridl, 2009) that both parties could not reach by themselves. Fridl (2009) state that the negotiation would not reach an acceptable solution for three main reasons. First reason would be the readiness of the negotiating parties to accept a compromise. Sometimes the parties would not compromise their demands because they feel that what they have asked for is their right to have and the other party should compromise.  The second reason would be the mediator’s failure to lead the negotiation toward a compromising solution. The third reason would be the benefactors readiness to seek out a constructive alternatives. The benefactors could be the shareholders or board of directors of the negotiating parties.
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References:

Favretto, K. (2009). Should peacemakers take sides? Major power mediation, coercion, and bias. [Article]. American Political Science Review, 103(2), 248-263.

Fridl, D. D. (2009). Kosovo negotiations: Re-visiting the role of mediation. [Article]. International Negotiation, 14(1), 71-93. doi: 10.1163/157180609×406526

Noll, D. E. (2009). The myth of the mediator as settlement broker. [Article]. Dispute Resolution Journal, 64(2), 42-48.

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When Do We Blow the Whistle?

Listen to this postWhen we notice something that we think is unlawful or unethical at work we have to investigate its integrity. We should also investigate why the employer would do unlawful or unethical act. Whistle-blowers sometimes blow their whistles too early and get themselves in trouble. Whistle blowing is ” the disclosure by organization members (former or current) of  illegal, immoral, or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers, to persons or organizations that may be able to effect action” (Peeples, Stokes, & Wingfield, 2009, p. 468).

Miceli and Near (2002) stated that the wrongdoing would be terminated when it is less serious or deeply rooted. Whistle blowing can be more effective if the whistle –blower have power and can communicate to the right people (Miceli & Near, 2002). A single incident like overhearing a supervisor or noticing a violation by the organization might not be worth reporting, although we are obligated ethically to report it. Understanding the reason for the unlawful or wrongdoing would help the whistle-blower to find alternative solutions or means to do the same job without violations.

Good reasons for whistle-blowing would be increasing safety, stopping wrongdoing, receiving monetary rewards, and eliminating perceived injustice (Peeples, et al., 2009). The whistle-blowing is an act of loyalty to the employer because it will benefit the employer in correcting the wrongdoing or improve the workplace safety and general condition. But, the whistle-blower should do that after exhausting all means to correct the wrongdoing by using internal means. The whistle-blower should balance his decision by weighing the severity of the act, the motive of the wrongdoer and the degrees of control assigned to the wrongdoer (Peeples, et al., 2009). The US Department of Labor estimated that only15% of the whistle-blowing cases have value,  and 85% of the whistle-blowers incurred high costs for their decision to blow the whistle (Peeples, et al., 2009).
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References:

Miceli, M. P., & Near, J. P. (2002). What makes whistle-blowers effective? Three field studies. [Article]. Human Relations, 55(4), 455.

Peeples, D. K., Stokes, P., & Wingfield, S. S. (2009). When the whistle is blown: Legal defenses and practical guidelines for managing reports of organizational misconduct. [Article]. Business & Society, 48(4), 467-488.

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Sexual Harassment or Office Relationship?

Listen to this postWhat would you do if a co-worker was sexually harassed? You may not accept sexual harassment and you would report it right away to the right person for immediate action. But before reporting the harassment, you should make sure that you know the difference between office relationship and sexual harassment. The result of surveyed workers in the US stated that 40% of the surveyed workers admitted they dated a co-worker and 18% of them had dated more than one co-worker (Pearce II, 2010). The age group between 35 to 44 are most active group in the office relationship group because 44% of them admitted a relationship (Pearce II, 2010). Pearce II (2010) state that the age group of 55 and older are also participating in the office relations activity with lesser percentage of 34%. Office relationship is defined as “relationship between two individuals employed by the same company that advances beyond the socially acceptable employer-employee association and the work-related duties” (Pearce II, 2010, p. 38). Office relationship might be desirable by large number of employees but sexual harassment can lead to “employee turnoverabsenteeism, insurance costs and lost productivity” (Popovich & Warren, 2010, p. 45). If you have been sexually harassed by a co-worker then you should:

  • Remain calm and do not start blaming yourself.
  • Tell the offender that you do not like what was done and it should be stopped immediately.
  • Report the harassment to the right person. Fill the forms or write a litter of complain to you superior.
  • Follow up on the investigation and disciplinary action. Make sure it will not happen to you or other co-worker.

But before you file a complain for your co-worker, make sure that they have been harassed.

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References:

Pearce II, J. A. (2010). What execs don’t get about office romance. [Article]. MIT Sloan Management Review, 51(3), 39-40.

Popovich, P. M., & Warren, M. A. (2010). The role of power in sexual harassment as a counterproductive behavior in organizations. [Article]. Human Resource Management Review, 20(1), 45-53. doi: 10.1016/j.hrmr.2009.05.003

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How Sick You Are?

Listen to this postSick leaves have been used and abused by workers depending on their health and employer’s firmness. The cost of sick leaves on the U. K. taxpayer is exceeding £11 billion due to different reasons. Work related stress is one of the contributing factors along with workers lifestyle and malingering. The sick leave issues are management concern and health and safety topic. Workers feel the need for sick leaves to revive their mental and physical health. The organization management considers sick leaves as wasted valuable assets. Worker’s lifestyle in workplace or outside affects his/her health. Sleep deprivation can cause fatigue and negative impact on health. Work related stress is because of apprehensions over job security and family finance. Malingering is workers laziness to the point of taking sick leave when not sick.

Workers sickness due to work environment or work stress is a natural phenomena, but workers misuse of such privilege intensifies the debate against general practitioners (medical doctors) issuing the sick leaves. A survey showed that 80% of the general practitioners did not want the responsibility of writing sick leaves. The general practitioners are generally busy on more important issues that force them to write the sick leave without careful consideration.

Many of us have different justifications for taking sick leave when they are not sick. We have to ask ourselves how do we feel if our employees, whom we pay their salaries from our pockets, used the same justifications for taking one or two days off. For example, if we have a driver or housekeeper that declare that they are sick today and they got the official sick leave from the doctor to prove it? And they make this announcement to you just before you leave to work! How would you fee? What would be your reaction if they repeat the sick leave once every week?

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References

Cumulative sleep debt on rotating night shifts. (2005). Nursing Standard, 19(43), 18.

Duffin, C. (2004). Staff take less sick leave with flexible shift system. Nursing Standard, 18(33), 7.

Paton, N. (2008). Economic crisis starts to take its toll on occupational health. Occupational Health, 60(11), 5.

Sicknote pressure could backfire on business. (2004). Management Services, 48(6), 6.

Turn Down the TV or Else…

EarbudsListen to this postI did not know that I have supernatural ears which can hear the faintest sound until few months ago. The ear wax completely blogged my ears and I had to go for ear “de-waxing”. When the doctor pulled the wax out I was really embarrassed. I don’t want to describe what came out of my ears but it was a lot! I felt the difference immediately. I started hearing the faintest sound around me. I am able to hear people talking 3 meters (10 feet) away while I am listening to music using the ear buds.

The Arabic version of Sponge Bob can be really annoying

The kids used to watch cartoons in the morning while I am having breakfast. I did not mind that before because I could not hear the noise, but now I hate Sponge Bob more than anything. The kids like watching Sponge Bob at 6 in the morning and I can not stop hearing his annoying voice coming from the living room. The late afternoon noise is a little different. While I am having lunch/dinner at 5:00 pm I hear the sound of explosions, machine guns and distraction coming from the kids room. They love playing “Call of Duty” on their Play Station while I am trying to get a peaceful meal. You can hear me shouting everyday “Turn down the sound or I will…..”. Food will be splashing from my mouth and my face would turn to red but they would not hear me for two reasons. First they don’t want to hear me, second they will be too busy playing. By the end of the meal you will hear me saying “….and I mean it this time!”. I guess, next time I got that wax in my ears, I will think twice before cleaning it. Plugged ears are a blessing and mercy to some people.

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How To Deliver A Presentation With Confidence

Delivering the Presentation

Delivering the Presentation

Listen to this postIn the past two months I presented two different technical papers in two major conferences. It was not easy and needed good preparations. The latest paper was presented in the 13th Middle East Corrosion Conference and Exhibition in Bahrain. The paper was presented within the allotted time and generated many interesting questions which continued during the coffee break. I thought of sharing some of the tips I use to deliver my technical paper with confidence:

  1. Write the paper by yourself, do not let anybody else to,write it for you. You will subconsciously synthesis the information while writing and keep the information for future use.
  2. Prepare the presentation by yourself. Avoid using text automation and “cool tricks”, they might stop functioning during the presentation or function wrongly when the presentation is installed on a different PC.
  3. Last minute changes in the presentation will make you nervous, avoid them unless they are necessary. You may complicate your presentation or mistakenly drop some slides during the last minute changes.
  4. Go early to the conference place so you do not get stuck in the traffic. When you reach the presentation hall, get familiar with the place, lights, podium and microphone.
  5. Check the loaded presentation in the PC. It might be distorted because the presentation is transferred to anther of PC. If possible, stand at the podium and switch on the microphone. Talk or do quick rehearsal of your presentation while you are still standing at the podium. You will get used to hearing yourself through the speakers and will get familiar to the presentation position and relax a bit.
  6. When presenting, avoid unnecessary jokes unless you have tried them before and they were funny without offending anybody.
  7. You will be nervous in the first 5 minutes of the presentation, this is normal. The intensity of your nervousness depends on the situation and your confidence level.
  8. Stick to the time allotted for your presentation. Try to finish early to avoid rushing through your summary and concluding remarks. Most of your audience are interested in the conclusion. Make sure you deliver it clearly and slowly.
  9. When somebody ask you a question that you can’t answer just say ” Thank you, this is an interesting question… I never thought of it this way. I will explore it and give you the answer…I need your email to send the answer to you” hold you pen and write the question.
  10. Smile and thank the audience for their participation and excellent questions.

That’s it, you have done it.

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