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A Different View… Is your culture eating your strategy?

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by Judy M McCutcheon

There’s a big buzz now around culture and strategy as companies in our region are finally recognising the importance of having a strategic plan to drive success.

However, I think that there’s a missing link as many fail to understand the strong connection between culture and strategy. A strategic plan should be an actionable document that is easily readable, simple to communicate and easy to implement. Some companies engage in a strategic planning exercise and the document is so big and complicated, that it never comes off the shelf. Your plan should not be filled with pages and pages of complicated stuff. If it is, then it becomes a prime target as a dust collector. It appears that there is a full understanding of the why, but the how is still an illusion. I think we fail at the how because we fear change; we are afraid of technology, we are afraid that robots will take our jobs, we are afraid to hire skilled persons and outside consultants to help close the gaps. We fear the very things that can propel our organisations forward, instead we remain stuck, very much like the “veteran” team member in Brigette Hyacinth’s book – The Purpose Driven Leader, reminiscing and wishing for the same ole.

In a recent article, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) said that AI (Artificial Intelligence) is not the issue, but rather, culture is. We should not be afraid of robots; I think we should be most afraid of what our organisational culture can do to the robots. Culture basically is the way we do things. It defines how we treat each other; how we treat our customers and how it affects the economic position of the organisation. We recently conducted a series of interviews for a client and discovered that there are many talented and well-educated unemployed young people languishing at home. What was shocking and rather disappointing is the way the candidates said they were treated in their search for jobs. I understand that managers and HR managers are busy and have many things to deal with, however, disrespecting people who are unemployed by not acknowledging and replying to their applications only help to lower their self-esteem. What’s worse is that after being interviewed and being told that they will be contacted, they never heard back from the companies. Such disrespectful behaviour speaks directly to the culture of the organisation and specifically to the way they view human resources.

In our Caribbean context human resource is viewed more as personnel rather than as a strategic partner. How many companies have HR as an executive function? Most of these positions are at best mid-level. Your people are who will take your organisation to the next level, so you need to have a culture that speaks directly to that – your culture must demonstrate that you value your employees. So many of our organisations still practice this top down approach to management that it becomes difficult for them to listen downwards. You must begin to pay attention to your people who are closest to your customers.

Another practice I find highly inappropriate, is that of advertising a job without stating the company –  applywithus@….com or officehand@….com. What are you hiding? Is it that you want to release those in the position currently and don’t want them to know? Even so, this says that your culture is probably one that is built on mistrust. So many organisations operate within a culture that is toxic, a culture that adversely affects productivity and at the end of their financial year, throw their hands up in frustration at their financial results.

I once worked for a company that was characterised by deception from the top-down. The leader was divisive and was a purveyor of gossip. This showed in their results every year and put them at the bottom in their industry. For an organisation to effectively execute its strategic objectives, its culture must be in line with those objectives. It makes no sense having a strategic plan that talks about valuing employees, equal pay for equal work and diversity, and you do not respect candidates enough to get back to them, even if they didn’t get the job.

Leaders, if you want your organisation to be an employer of choice, if you want your customers to recommend you (which is the highest praise you can get), then there are some important steps you need to take and it begins with your culture. Start valuing your employees and demonstrate that value.

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Judy McCutcheon is a partner in the firm Go Blue Inc, a Human Development Company. www.goblueinc.net

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Caribbean & World

International Anti-Corruption Day | United Nations

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Anti-Corruption Campaign-UNDP Sudan Organized a Drawings Contest with the Faculty of Fine and Applied Art. Photo: UNDP South Sudan

On this International Day, I urge people everywhere to continue to work on innovative solutions to win the battle against corruption and to ensure that precious resources serve the peoples of the world.

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

United against corruption for development, peace and security

Every year $1 trillion is paid in bribes while an estimated $2.6 trillion are stolen annually through corruption – a sum equivalent to more than 5 per cent of the global GDP. In developing countries, according to the United Nations Development Programme, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune.

To mark International Anti-Corruption Day, we will leverage the recognition of the multi-year “United Against Corruption” theme and will continue to support the 2030 Agenda, which forms the backbone of the campaign. In addition, the campaign will also have a youth component.

 

Corruption – An impediment to the Sustainable Development Goals: describes how corruption negatively affects us all.

Corruption – #YouthForJustice leading the change: describes the importance of empowering and mobilizing youth to fight for a corruption-free world.

United Against Corruption – Take action – Lead the change – Be the change: stresses that it is not enough to just know about corruption but that we need to take action, hold leaders accountable and become integer leaders ourselves.

 

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Government refutes allegations of closure

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The Ministry of Finance has observed a statement purported to be issued by Andall & Associates Inc. that suggests a decision taken by its management to close operation is in some way directly related to actions taken by the government.

It must be noted that the decision taken by the management of any entity to close its operations is purely managerial in nature and should not be attributed to government.

The Government of Grenada wishes to categorically deny this claim and empathises with the many workers that may be affected as a result. It is important to establish that tax compliance is the responsibility of all taxpayers and that government has no authority in law to waive taxes.

Historically, government has made special arrangements and has worked with clients/taxpayers to allow them the opportunity to settle their legal obligations to the state via payment arrangement and other means. We, therefore, use this opportunity to congratulate the taxpayers who have worked and continue to work with the government to meet their responsibility.

However, there are instances where clients/taxpayers blatantly refuse to settle their tax obligations, some of which are collected from the ordinary Grenadians who purchase items and pay taxes like that of the VAT, that must then be remitted to the Inland Revenue Division, Ministry of Finance. As a responsible government, the collection of monies from the working class and the failure to pay over the same to the government while business owners enrich themselves cannot and will not go unchecked.

The government, therefore, encourages all taxpayers to file and pay their respective taxes to the Inland Revenue Division and further discourages any attempts to engage in any fraudulent or criminal activities at the Customs and Excise Division.

The government remains committed to engaging clients or taxpayers on the necessary payment arrangements that would allow entities to be in good standing with their tax obligations.

GIS

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Report of TAMCC settlement labelled fake news by union

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by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada 

  • Workers led by the Public Workers Union refuted settlement claims released on social media
  • Sixth week of protest involving 243 permanent workers employed by college council

A report circulating on social media to have stemmed from the Interim Chairman of the College Council, Augustine Vesprey, that a settlement has been reached between the Public Workers Union (PWU), and the TA Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) Council has been described as fake news.

The ongoing protest involving 243 permanent workers employed by the college council, is over the none payment of increments amounting to over $6.1 million over the past six years.

A release dated 6 December 2019 and entitled “Payment of increments to TAMCC staff” stated in part that the council had on 6 December 2019, presented the unions with a formal written offer wherein council will pay the $6.1 million increment in three tranches:

That the first scheduled payment will be made by 30 December 2019 in the sum of $1.5 million

The schedule for the payment of the other tranches will be made by 30 March 2020 upon the receipt by the council of the completed manpower and financial audit reports. These reports will become the basis for an understanding of the available financial leverage and, for ensuring prudence in the scheduling and payment of the remaining tranches.

Now into their sixth week of protest, affected workers led by the Public Workers Union (PWU), refuted the claims made in the release. “We are now seeing that there is a letter on Facebook stating that a settlement has been reached. We are not aware of any settlement. As a matter of fact, the last meeting that we attended with TAMCC, the chairman took this as a joke and to us, he was playing games,” said PWU President, Rachel Roberts.

Roberts said the union proposal still stands in that they are willing to accept their payment in three tranches starting with a $2 million payment in December and the other two tranches in 2020 at a reasonable time. “We went to a meeting with TAMCC and they indicated that at this time they can only pay $1.5 million. We indicated that what they will agree to would be a settlement in three tranches and the three tranches must mean that $2 million must be paid by December and the other $4 million, we would be able to accept it in 2020 in a reasonable time, so we didn’t give them a time frame,” she said.

The PWU president said the union is not clear as to when the next meeting will take place with the council on this outstanding matter and is also not convinced that the council’s declaration that they can only pay $1.5 million came as a result of consultation with cabinet. “The chairman indicated to us that TAMCC is only able to pay $0.5 million. When we stood our ground and we pressured the chairman he then went outside to make a phone call — but we are not certain that a true phone call was made because as he said he went outside to call the cabinet to determine what it is that the cabinet has decided to pay — and then he came back in and said the cabinet has decided that they will put in $1 million, but we are not certain that we can take his word for gospel.”

Meanwhile, President of the Lecturers Association at TAMCC, Adunni Johnson, said the lecturers will continue with the industrial action but he remains hopeful that a solution can be had very soon. He stated that the issue is much bigger than just a financial one, but also deals with the management of the college.

“The issue is not just a financial issue, the financial issue is just the icing on the cake but what led to the breakdown because there is little or no management at the college, so at present, we have to be hopeful but we remain between a rock and hard place,” said Johnson.

Johnson said it remains unclear if a report was submitted by the council to cabinet. Telephone calls to the Interim Chairman went to voicemail.

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