Q&A: Abdulmajeed Al Balushi: “Building the next generation of leaders starts with developing HR professionals”

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 29 Sep 2016

RBL Group Middle East’s managing director on the importance of trustworthy HR to board-level executives, and why talent management is crucial to companies’ competitive advantage

Abdulmajeed Al BalushiAs HR’s role becomes more strategic, HR professionals need to become more business-savvy and maximise the return on human capital investments. People Management spoke to the managing director of RBL Group Middle East, Abdulmajeed Al Balushi, about how employers can stand out from the competition through building organisational capabilities, leadership and talent.
Generally speaking, is there a difference between how HR departments operate across the GCC?
Workforce strategies have many similarities and differences at country level, but all organisations in the GCC face the same challenges. Sustaining change is one of the biggest challenges HR faces. Organisations have been very successful at initiating change – designing catchy campaigns and reporting quick wins – however, unless they know how to institutionalise the change at all levels of the organisation, the so-called ‘change’ can easily end up as just another initiative from HR.

Organisations should be looking to optimise technology to accelerate results and improve the HR department’s efficiency, which will in turn improve the service they provide.

A further challenge is building the next generation of leaders, which starts with developing the HR professionals themselves, and then ensuring they adapt the right practices and measure the right criteria to enable them to build the next generation of leaders.
Does HR in the GCC face any specific challenges? For example, is there enough local talent?
We have come a long way in terms of investing in local talent, as well as also making the labour market very attractive to global talent and encouraging them to actively seek opportunities in this part of the world.

Nationalisation is a talent management process that focuses on a specific group of employees. Organisations in the GCC need to employ the right organisation capabilities, leadership systems and talent strategies to become a talent-friendly place to work for locals. The RBL Group has partnered with many organisations in the public and private sectors to enable them to adapt their models and frameworks and become more effective at nationalisation.
Are leaders in the GCC generally open-minded when it comes to working with HR?
CEOs and business leaders have started to invest more in differentiating their organisations, based on recruiting talent that can give a competitive edge through innovation. Crafting the right culture and integrating the organisation’s values into the veins of the business is starting to be at the top of the C-level agenda. In order for HR to be a strategic partner for the business, it needs to earn the business’s trust first by getting the essential work right. In organisations where HR provides a worry-free service, HR is trusted to contribute to the strategy and become part of the solution.
In the GCC, what are biggest mistakes employers have made when trying to attract talent?
The first mistake is that employers have hired a person for a job, not a career. To ensure there is a consistent flow of leaders in the talent development pipeline, there needs to be an integrated talent management system where all HR processes are geared towards reducing the risk of losing key employees. Organisations that focus mainly on solving past problems risk a poorer ROI compared to those that focus on developing the capabilities of talent and planning more for the future.

Another error is the outsourcing of competitive advantage work. Organisations should not compromise on building internal capabilities to do their specialist work at a world-class level. Outsourcing the work for which an organisation is known usually ends up with a loss of competitive advantage. Always perform specialist work in-house, co-source strategic support work and only outsource essential support work.