Human capital wasted in GCC because of unwillingness to nurture future talent

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 7 Jun 2016

Report says organisations need to do more to mentor and support entrepreneurs

Organisations are not investing enough in nurturing human capital in the MENA region, according to a new report by the Mowgli Foundation.

The report, Nurturing Human Capital: The Missing Piece of MENA's Entrepreneurship Puzzle, concluded that successful entrepreneurs are created by nurturing their leadership abilities and mentoring is key to achieving this – but it is not happening enough in the Middle East.

The findings serve as a tool to educate organisations about what is needed to empower leaders who can help to create economic growth through their entrepreneurial activities or performance in the workplace.

One possible reason for the lack of investment in mentoring and training could be the transient nature of the large foreign working population. “Due to the transient nature of many employees in the region, organisations can be reluctant to inject resources into training staff who only plan to stay a few years,” says Matt Jennison, head of training at BizGroup. “The idea that one should not expend time and energy on people because they might leave is a short-sighted strategy that will only do harm to your organisation and its profit margins. It is essential that an investment in human capital is combined with a holistic focus on culture and engagement, because these factors are interconnected.”

The Mowgli Foundation identifies a number of issues standing in the way of potential leaders and entrepreneurs, saying that it significantly harder to be successful as an entrepreneur in the Middle East than in the USA or Europe. Loneliness, lack of confidence, nervousness about risk-taking, and an inability to achieve a work-life balance are cited as obstacles potential leaders in the Middle East have to overcome.

Jennison argues that organisations must also learn how to bring out the best in their talent. “Organisations that value their employees’ contributions and results, and share similarities in personal values, are on the right track,” he says. “Giving people clear objectives and the space to achieve them without being micromanaged results in higher confidence from the team members. People want to feel that they are contributing to a higher purpose, beyond profit. An employee who has been with an organisation for a long time may have been a great contributor in the past as the organisation was growing; however, they may not be the right person as the business evolves and grows to a new level.”

The Mowgli Foundation report is based on the assumption that leaders are created by nurture, more than by nature. “In my opinion, we are all a result of a combination of nature and nurture,” says Jennison. “As children, we are exposed to our family and friends, and their beliefs and experiences. As we grow and absorb media in all its forms, these elements also contribute to our mindset. On the other hand, there are aspects of ourselves that are intrinsically 'us' and the entrepreneur’s drive comes from there as well.”