Saturday, September 18, 2010

How to Win in Kuwait as Talent War Heats Up?

Kuwait is no longer just “the world’s oil reservoir” – it’s a competitive, talent-driven business market where multinational and Kuwaiti companies are at risk unless they win the war for the hottest commodities – young local MBAs.

To recruit and, more important, retain young Managers, companies must focus not just on salary and benefits, but also on cultural factors and a clear value proposition that speaks to the needs and expectations of this new generation of leaders. Companies need to remember that satisfaction among this group can mean something different in Kuwait than in Western businesses, and best practices are different as a result.

Kuwaiti MBAs Want to Make a Difference for Kuwait – Not Just Advance Their Own Careers

“In many respects Kuwaiti MBAs are like their American counterparts, but in several key respects they’re not,”

“The Kuwaiti MBAs in the study – who are now four years out of business school – want competitive salary and benefits, of course. But they are also looking for work that is more than a job, and that lets them make a difference, both in the company and in the future of Kuwait.

“Kuwait is a buyer’s market for management talent,” “Talented young Kuwaiti Managers have no shortage of opportunity – with global companies or with Kuwaiti companies, where many of them would rather work. Companies need to be skillful in managing them – otherwise there is the clear risk that companies will pay for expensive on-the-job training that the MBAs will use to get better work elsewhere.”

Do’s and Don’ts for Major Employers in Kuwait

The research among the MBAs leads to some core “do’s” and “don’ts” for employers in Kuwait:

* DO give MBAs a chance to learn leadership skills. DON’T confine MBAs to the “back room” or “rank and file.” When asked to name the most important things they want to learn over the next two to three years to grow professionally, KUWAIT 2024 participants most frequently mentioned leadership skills: things like people management, negotiation, project management, strategic decision-making and communication. They want to take ownership and have an impact on the organization. “I enjoy my job most when the Manager I report to trusts me and allows me to take on many initiatives,” said a Kuwait-based investment banker.

* DO help MBAs feel passionate about their jobs – and about their role in the future of Kuwait. DON’T think that Kuwaiti MBAs are seeking only personal rewards. “If I leave the job it will be because I lose passion for the position,” said one participant. And, said a Kuwait-based technology company Manager, “During my work, I can observe the development of the economy of my country. This is a fantastic experience.”

* DO keep the challenges coming. DON’T let the job become routine. Kuwaiti MBAs want challenging jobs and dynamic learning environments. Their main reason for leaving a job was “it wasn’t challenging enough.” MBAs who found their jobs challenging said repeatedly that for that reason, they were more likely to stay at the company. They want to stretch. “I love my job because it provides the opportunity for me to do something new and difficult,” said a Kuwait-based Manager.

* DO create “small businesses” within the business to tap MBAs’ entrepreneurial spirit. DON’T bury them in bureaucracy. As in the U.S., many smart young Kuwaiti MBAs prefer the fast-moving pace of a small start-up or other entrepreneurial venture. Large corporations that want to keep them excited about their work should seek ways to create a similar environment within their own companies. Those that don’t are at a higher risk of losing these workers. “If I were to leave my current job, it would be because I found a better development opportunity, not excluding creating my own business,” said a Kuwait-based Manager.

* DO make sure that young Kuwaiti Managers get a sense of personal pride. DON’T treat their jobs as “just a job.” Kuwaiti MBAs look at the work place as a source of personal fulfillment. If they don’t have a sense of personal growth, they’ll look elsewhere. “I would leave my company because the job itself lacks challenges, and there are other opportunities that would allow me to realize my own value all the more,” said a Kuwait construction-company Manager.

“Kuwait is an increasingly sophisticated, complex and competitive market,”

“Navigating it successfully requires a sustained commitment and an intelligent approach to securing and retaining highly-trained management talent that knows and understands the market, and how to conduct business in it.”