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Recruiting the wrong type of people

Recruiting the wrong type of people

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There are so much resources availalble now for entrepreneurs but I still get it wrong a lot of the times! Nothing beats experience I guess; however, that’s the expensive route.

Without a doubt, the most expensive mistake I keep on repeating is recruiting the wrong people. Time after time. How can I get out of this spiral?

Let me explain to you my process of recruiting at Gulf Broadcast:

  1. Advertising in industry sites
  2. Sift and filter the CVs
  3. Check portfolios
  4. Connect with interesting prospective employees
  5. Ask for a referee list
  6. Conduct an initial Skype/In-Person interview
    1. If possible, invite other staff members to sit in so we can cross-check each other
  7. Contact referees and ask them pointed questions and most are good enough to respond (see below)
  8. Call referees and double check details
  9. Conduct a second interview and drill down into the details
  10. Take a cool-off reflection period of 3 or 4 days and consider whether chemistry and potential exist in the person being interviewed
  11. Conduct final interview and pose any concerns
  12. Double check responses if anything warrants that with referees
  13. Negotiate salary and benefits
  14. Send out the legal documents
    1. Offer Letter
    2. Confidentiality Agreement
    3. Employment Contract
    4. Employee Handbook
  15. Reach agreement and sign documents
  16. Initiate induction process (documented in our Employee Handbook)
  17. Start mentoring and on-boarding process
  18. Start producing

Recruiting reference checklist:

  1. Could you briefly describe your relationship with ___________?
  2. When did you work together and in what capacity was ____ working?
  3. How long did ____ stay in the job?
  4. Would you evaluate ___ as a good team player?
  5. What is the best thing you remember about ___?
  6. The worst?
  7. Would you hire her/work with ___ again?
  8. If ___ left the job, why did ____ leave?
  9. What would you evaluate as ___ strengths?
  10.  ___weaknesses?
  11. What is his general competence level? Does ___ catch on to what is required quickly?
  12. What is the level of his creativity not only in the art of creating films, but also problem solving and dealing with people?
  13. What was __ attitude to work? Was there any issue in working within office hours, attitude to call-outs and working outside of the regular office hours?
  14. How would you evaluate ___ relationship skills with the clients?
  15. Would you like to comment on anything else?
  16. How highly would you recommend her for being our producer and director? (score from 1 worst – 10 best)?

You would think that with this careful process, I’d be able to limit the “bad apples” before they hit our office. Right? Well maybe I do, especially when you consider that it’s not just my opinion that is taken into consideration when we employ people.

But no.

To be fair to myself. The “bad apples” in almost every case aren’t discovered immediately on employment. In most cases, the enthusiasm of a new employee starting is electric and everyone is affected by it, but, reflecting on the situation as I type this (who said blogging is not therapeutic?) they manifest themselves a bit later, from a few months, to even over a few years.

Let me analyse:

The ones that get weeded out after a few months are almost always sales people. Although they are mentored by me personally with sincerity, those who don’t survive with us are those who do not achieve their sales quota. Some, unfortunately don’t sell a single fils before they are cut out and bid farewell to a hopefully more fulfilling future elsewhere. A lot of those, for some reason, become disgruntled employees and  flip the coin to try their luck in court. This has become such a regular occurrence that we started to add a legal contingency fund in our annual budgets, if they naively go into gambling, we’re determined to be more than ready with our royal flush. Unfortunately this attitude is much more prevalent with Bahraini employees.

The technical and creative employees are easier to deal with. It’s very easy to find out their capabilities within the first week of their landing. If they have the right chemistry, we heavily invest in them to bring them to our standard. We continue to monitor their output and eek out the best we can out of them and help, guide and mentor them to a better state. We’ve seen some employees really shine. A lot started with just technical capabilities and low self esteem, low belief in their creativity and talent and I nurtured them to be superstars by the time they moved on. If the chemistry isn’t there, I cut the losses short and wish them luck in their next position and off they go.

The fact remains that every time I go through this recruiting process, I get exhausted. Running the marathon is nothing to on-boarding new staff. This is emotionally and physically exhausting. It’s also hard for me not to take employee failures personally. Whenever we had to release them for whatever reason, I feel betrayed. Maybe because of the level of passion and time I invest in them. I guess this is one thing I have to learn not to do. I should learn not to take things so personally and treat them as “just” employees. Hard, but doable. It might require the installation of a “layer” between me and them, something I do not cherish. And this is not me. I’m an “all in” kind of person.

Going back to the problem, if I can call it that, I’ve got to find a way to employ successful sales people. Sales people who authentically feel the responsibility bestowed on them, and who have the deep rooted need to succeed and revel in the challenge. Looking back, it feels to me that a lot of them were not motivated by success, but by how much secure salaries they can draw. They were averse to installing a performance-based pay system. They wanted a fat basic salary, and little or no commission. Maybe this is the insight into what I should be looking for!

The best I’ve employed were motivated first by how they can use our products and services to contribute to a larger cause, rather than the money they potentially can make off the sale. In some cases, in time, some succumb to getting as much as fast as possible. That’s when the problem with their character manifests itself and the writing gets clearly written on the wall counting down to their departure. Invariably, their sales suffer and almost stop. It gets easier to see through them and their motives; thus, lose that important trust they create with clients. I need a better radar to see this faster and release them before they damage not just their careers but also our own reputation. I need to find the right language and communication method to reset them and their expectations and remind them why they got involved in this business in the first place.

So what’s the solution? How can I stop the time wasting and energy sapping process of on recruiting unfit employees?

I don’t have the answer and I would love to hear your input into this.

What I can conclude with, is something a wise man once told me: “You get what you inspect, not what you expect.” Thank you Mr Redha Faraj. Although I do have metrics and KPIs that every position has to live by, the mistake I have done in the past, and must correct going forward, is that these KPIs aren’t methodically adhered to. What happens, I think, is that over time I get lulled into a sense of comfortable trust. That trust, ultimately, time after time, gets abused. Therefore what I shall do going forward is document all agreements, expectations and processes and hold people responsible to their KPIs.

What else can I do to get out of this cycle? What are your experiences, rather than advice?


Ground Rules

Ground Rules

We’re experiencing growth at Gulf Broadcast and I have to gear up for that influx of new staff and revise the current structure of induction. The intention is to get the new staff to reach productivity levels much faster than we ever had and make their journey a more rewarding one. We already have quite a comprehensive Staff Handbook which we kept revised over the years and I’m happy with its comprehensive content now. It really helps in the induction process.

One thing that it didn’t have; however, is a clear set of ground rules for everyone to follow, so I devised the following 13 Commandments to make sure that everyone is on board.

  1. I’m not your friend.
  2. I’m your boss.
  3. I need to see results within one month.
  4. Don’t bring politics and religion into the office.
  5. Reports must be filled in and submitted.
  6. Business cards and any other material you produce or acquire in the course of representing Gulf Broadcast and while in our employ, remain the property of Gulf Broadcast. This is why you’re getting paid.
  7. If in doubt, ask.
  8. Don’t be late. Be on time. Always.
  9. Participate effectively in the Daily Huddle.
  10. Filing. Do it properly.
  11. Respect confidentiality. Do not send company or client documents to your personal email or drive.
  12. Be presentable. Wear business appropriate attire at all times.
  13. You will be judged on results, attitude, chemistry and team work.

I’ve listed these in no particular order. I know they might sound harsh to some; however, at least they are declared and everyone knows where they stand as well as what’s expected of them. This, hopefully, will create a better and more productive work environment and takes the guessing out of the equation.

Do you have any ground rules you set for your business? I’d love to know. Share in the comments please and don’t forget to Like Mahmood’s Den on Facebook too.


Bahrain’s Shame

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I love it when our enlightened officials use the severely broken record of “we’re a democracy” while they literally sign off on the destitution of their own countrymen for daring to exercise their democratic rights. To add insult to injury, even when the land’s King orders, orders their re-instatement, they completely ignore that royal order as if it’s not important and not worth of the slightest consideration. What and whom are they following exactly to be this belligerent?

So far, according to (a much rejuvenated Al-Wasat) 2,593 have been unfairly fired. I say and emphasize the word unfairly as the only reason for losing their jobs was due to their exercising of one of their basic human rights. 2,593 from 199 companies and the public sector. 1,643 from eight entities who have trampled their very own lifelines, their employees in a race the end result of which is to ensure the starvation of the largest amount of families of their compatriots as possible! Those who have excelled at this vocation are now inducted in a particular hall of shame that Bahrain will never forget. That hall of shame belongs to ALBA, Bapco, Ministry of Health, Gulf Air, Batelco, Ministry of Education, Khalifa Port and the Ministry of Municipalities all of whom account for the misery of 63% of all of those unfairly dismissed.

Put in another perspective, according to the secretary general of the Bahrain Labour Unions those despicable 199 entities are directly responsible for the hardships that 13,000 Bahrainis find themselves in with their breadwinners out of a job.

What the hell are they thinking?

Doctors, engineers, teachers, tradesmen and a plethora of other worthy individuals are out of jobs. Do those companies not have any balls whatsoever as to stand their ground and refuse to enact orders relayed by midnight callers? Ok, we know that they don’t, they’re afraid for their own positions and benefits, but why the mad chest beating rush and which-hunts? Don’t they realize the extreme damage that this situation can do to the health of their own companies? What would the remaining employees think of the company and its management? I bet that every single employee within those despicable entities cannot help but think that their own turn will come! It might not be for the same reasons, but if they see that other employees are so summarily and unfairly dumped, regardless of their length of service nor their deserved excellent local and international reputations, how easy would it be to dispense with them too? And for whatever infantile and ludicrous reason?

For those who are dancing on their co-workers’ graves, those who snitched, poked and stabbed their own brothers and sisters to be put in the literal firing line, where is your humanity? Where is your dignity? Where is your self-worth?

13,000 of my countrymen are at the risk of missed opportunities and continuous nightmares for doing nothing but expressing their views.

Know this; though, I bet that when they get used to the nightmares they will turn into a more belligerent and more extreme force that might very well rock the country, even more than what it’s at now, and those 199 entities as well as the government who is complicit in this, are directly responsible for this phenomenon. So thank you for destroying yet another generation.

What’s to be done, then? Like other great events in history, this is the time for a brave and responsible man to stand and take the helm. That man should not wait it out, because time now is the mortal enemy. The future of this country and its people are hanging in the balance and only strong, just and resolute decisions will rescue this country from the brink. This is where actual and much needed political, financial, labour, education and societal reform starts. And they all need a strong man with vision who is not afraid to step up on deck and take the helm in story seas. That journey is long and hard and won’t resolve overnight. But the country and its future children deserve the trouble.

To those 199 entities and the witch hunters. Your legacy will be shame, and you will be forgotten. Parasites that you are.


Brief thoughts on the job market and its reforms

‘can we talk’ said in a comment:

meanwhile the guy who took the burger-flipping job for peanuts has long moved up to a better paying job

This is as good an opening as any to re-open the labour and job situation in Bahrain, so let me start with this:

I talked to two businessmen last week about the job situation in Bahrain, both had the same opinion:

“we are ready to pay taxes, pay fines, establish a ‘General Organisation of Fly Castrators’ or ‘General Organisation of Counting Rice Grains’ or whatever; just put all those Bahrainis which the Ministry of Labour is throwing at us in those organisations and we will pay the monthly salaries of BD200 a month and will not require them to punch-in and punch-out; just give us the opportunity to employ whomever we want who we can hold responsible for their performance and fire when warranted – but don’t force this stupid ‘Bahranisation’ on us. We are not charities.”

A third businessman who owns a factory told me another story:

We employ over 100 people, we give everybody the chance to learn if they want to, and then find the appropriate position for them if that position wasn’t predetermined. We also embrace and promote those people who excel.

Let me give you an example: several years ago we employed a tea-boy from India. He couldn’t speak Arabic nor English, he was completely illiterate: couldn’t read nor write. We paid him BD40 a month. He was diligent and poked his nose into everything, asked questions and slowly, over a period of a year he learnt to read and write enough to get by, he also knew exactly where every nut and bolt and other stock’s locations in the store. He got to be faster than the old storeman and better, now a few years later, he is the full storekeeper and is earning many times what he earned when he started.

Another example: we hired a Bengali as a general dogsbody on the factory floor and he got lost between the other bodies. We almost forgot we had him, until we noticed that he learned how to use a very technical machine and excelled at producing works of art with it! The customers started asking for him by name (the person who did that piece, and that sort of thing)! That was just 9 months from the minute he stepped onto the factory floor! He is now regarded as a full artisan and is being paid handsomely, many times that what he started with.

Final example, and a symptomatic one, unfortunately: we had a Bahraini driver; he takes the workers to the site, comes back after dropping them off and just sits around smoking, drinking tea and making jokes with his co-workers in the factory until he has to bring the workers back at the end of the shift to their accommodation.

I approached this fellow Bahraini and advised him to make use of his time; try to learn what goes on here, try your hand at helping those people at that machine so that you can learn.

He just looked at me, rose with a lot of grumbling and said to other co-workers that “they only pay me BD150 for being a driver and want to squeeze the life out of me and use me in other jobs as well!”

I called the guy back and explained the situation to him, I told him: “look, regardless of your presence, the factory will run. If you are sitting here smoking and drinking tea, the factory will run. If you are sitting in the car reading magazines and making phone calls, the factory will run. If you are here or not here doesn’t really matter, the factory and our work will not stop. We are not dependent on you. If you didn’t understand why I asked you to put your hand at something else it was for your benefit, it is so that I can justify increasing your salary and helping you learn a trade. Do you want to live the rest of your life as a driver?

Needless to say, the driver continued to be a driver, but no longer with that factory.

Unfortunately there are a lot – an awful lot – of people like the third person. Of course there are many who are like the first and second too, but the numbers who equate with the third kind are many, unfortunately. And I can give you many more horror stories that I have experienced personally.

Why that is? Lethargy, deficient self-worth, frustration, poverty, and not bothering with education are some of the problems faced.

Still, if you read a bit more into the new Labour Reform packages soon to be implemented and the stages and targets they have, you have to lift your hat quite high for the perpetrator of these changes. I truly believe that at last the problems have been identified and being tackled courageously and that’s why we should support them.

You will notice for instance that labourers and drivers are not the main target of these reforms, at least not in the first phase. Those will come. The biggest change that that package will introduce is the employers’ ability to hire and fire based on performance, regardless of nationality and gender. And it is this – in particular – that will ultimately force the Bahraini worker to re-evaluate his and her position and become more productive. Believe me when that happens, we will rule the world, because – ironically – we are not lazy, we just needed that huge chip to be knocked off our shoulder!


Happy May Day

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Men at work sign

But only to the Bahraini workers.

Those who are in the private sector to be exact.

Let’s forget those in the public sector, as they are not allowed to form trade unions, they’re unimportant and can’t be counted.

Let’s also forget the Asian workers: Indians, Pakistanis, Bengalies, Filipinos and others who we simply don’t want to see, especially amongst our neighbourhoods, regardless of the fact that it is them and their ancestors who built all of our countries in the Gulf and continue to do so. Let us forget that it is them who keep our streets clean, who man and manage our transport systems, transfer of goods, build our houses and palaces, and manage a large sector of our commerce.

Let us forget those things called maids. Those who clean our houses, wipe our babies’ bottoms and change their nappies, baby-sit them, feed and clothe and bathe them.

Let us just assume the worst of these ingrates whom we have enticed to come to our countries with hopes and dreams of a decent living. Let us assume that they are all drug-dealers, child molesters, rapists, thieves and charlatans.

Because we are a superior race. We are better. They should be grateful that we give them the opportunity to work in our countries.

Happy May Day Bahraini workers.



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Bahraini looking for a job plastered his certificates on his car

I got this picture in an email from a friend this morning; the picture shows a car, the significance of which is that its owner has plastered his various certificates on it, and has even put a caption on his read windshield saying “Unemployed National.”

I’m not sure how to take this; is he making a political statement or is he genuinely looking for a job?

It is creative, for sure, I’ve never a “looking for a job” done like this before; regardless, I think that the level of its effectively is lacking due to various reasons:

    1. There is no obvious telephone number to contact him to offer him a job.
    2. As he is unemployed, he’s going to be hard pushed to buy petrol to cruise around the island advertising his wares.
    3. If petrol money is not available, then people who will know about his plight are most probably of his environs, and they probably know about him anyway. Therefore this is a wasted exercise.

The saving grace of course is that he got shot simply by coincidence by a passing motorist who has emailed the pictures around. Without that particular link, the whole effort might have been wasted.

The other conclusion of course is that he is making a political statement. Which begs the question if he actually submitted his papers to the Ministry of Labour or the EDB’s employment programs and what he got out of that activity, if any, especially that the Ministry of Labour now declares that the unemployment rate in Bahrain has dropped to a very respectable 3.8%.

I hope that the guy gets a job, sincerely, as he has at least shown perseverance and has peacefully used his constitutional right to demonstrate against an issue he obviously feels very strongly about.

Good luck to the guy, whoever he is.


Shift Happens

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JJ sent me this video this morning (thanks!) which is a must see. It puts things in stark perspective.

After watching this, would you like to discuss the educational rut we are in in not only Bahrain but the whole Middle East? I have maintained that if we do not embrace this shift wholeheartedly then very soon the whole world will change our name to the Middle Ages, and quite deservedly too.



Worker's shoes

Shoes, originally uploaded by malyousif.

While most of us are enjoying our weekends, let’s spare a moment to think of those who continue to struggle to eek out a living.

Have a wonderful Friday.

and I wish all my American friends a very happy Labour Day!


Outsourcing Public Security


I am exasperated, as I am sure many Bahrainis are, at the laughable state of what we call “Public Security!” That is the definition of oxymoron if there ever was one.

In other societies, when one has a problem they would go to the police first, and never think of taking the law into their own hands, while in Bahrain, people are encouraged to do just that! In effect, our so called Public Security seems to make an art of “outsourcing” this task back to us citizens and residents.

They might as well hang a big sign at the entrance of every police station which should say:


This has happened over several incidents where I took it upon myself to go and complain about silly, and not so silly things. All I got was do the paperwork and never disturb us again. Forget about follow-up.

Our maid decided to do a bunk last night. We immediately called the police and were informed that “it’s too late now (it was around 7pm) and we should come back tomorrow morning to lodge the complaint.”

Fine. Would you just note that we actually called you, just in case? “No need.”


We go to the police station this morning armed with all the papers that we thought they would require. They simply asked us if we believed that she stole anything from us. We said, so far we don’t think so. Their answer? “It’s not our problem. Go to the Minister of Labour!”

Huh? What the bloody hell for? This is a person whom I have sponsored to come to this country and work. I paid her recruitment charges, I pay her as per her contract, she has only worked for us for a year and there is another year in her contract, she is treated well, she is given bonuses whenever we see that she has done a job well, she eats and drinks the same food and drink as we do, she keeps her own CPR and other papers, she is given days off, she is allowed to go out of the house, but she decided to leave our employ. Fine. This is her right and we have no real complaints about this, in a free job market, she is free to go and find another job if she likes; the proviso is; however, that the employee should give the employer sufficient notice as per contract. She hadn’t. She just decided to go.

It is useless to complain to these morons.. and if this is the law, then the law should be respected, but definitely CHANGED (are you listening MPs?)?

We go to the Misery of Labour this morning at which we discovered their demands:

    1. Pay BD 100.
      Why? “Just in case she is caught then this will be used to buy her a ticket back home!” WHAT?
    2. Copy of her passport and Central Population Registry (CPR) card.
    3. Sponsor’s CPR.
    4. Latest electricity bill!
      WHAT? To ensure that the house address is correct (and why don’t they trust what’s in the CPR card, is anyone’s guess.)

Okay.. and then what?


What the hell am I supposed to do? Do they want me to hire a posse to go after her myself, apprehend her, tie and truss her up, and physically take her to the police station so that she would be thrown on the first boat out?

And what the hell are we supposed to have done to prevent her from leaving the house? Lock her up? Keep her papers? Use a ball and chain? Beat the shit out of her? Abuse her? What exactly do they expect from us to do and what has the Misery of Labour got to do with this?

What the hell is the police’s role in this country then? Beating up protesters? Fighting “terrorism?” What IS their role for God’s sake, someone tell me!



Lessons in extortion explained

58 security personnel were made redundant by the Seef Mall a few days ago in an effort for the company to be more profitable by out-sourcing security. The ex-employees were given an extremely fair severance pay (the last one negotiated was 6 months for every year employed by them, coming to some BD 22,000 in severance pay for the group, the members of which used to get between BD 200 to BD 250 per month if not less) but that was rejected. Their union is demanding severance pay equivalent to 5 years’ wages per person. The excuse given is that these people have loans and families to support.

The whole of Bahrain is in a tizz with this “issue.” Every paper has articles and editorials about it since this started. Members of parliament are “outraged” at the unfair dismissal, the the workers’ unions are giving interviews left, right and centre. The minister of Labour and Social Affairs is into the fray as well. He (or at least his Ministry) has given Seef Properties, the owner of the Seef Mall, the go ahead to outsource security to a private company, but now he’s coming out that he was never aware of this decision and wouldn’t have sanctioned it had he been aware of it. The company on the other hand has proof that he did know. And the games start.

Now, like with any issue in the past 3 or so years, the affected workers through their union have approached the King to force the company to hire them back. As if he’s not busy enough.

Can you now imagine the Vaseline jar or KY jelly being put to good use with the company bending over?

Right. This sums up the labour market in Bahrain. The worker has the ultimate power, no businessman or woman has the balls to fire a Bahraini. Even if you caught that Bahraini steeling from you, physically damaging your office equipment, selling your trade secrets, or even screwing your dog. Because if you do, then be prepared to be immediately sued for an inordinate amount of money.

You, as a businessperson, will be at the worker’s mercy. The very first thing this “dispossessed” person will do is lodge a complaint for wrongful dismissal with the Ministry of Labour, they will move the case to the Labour Courts and they in turn will slap you with a bill so big that it would be better for you just to up-sticks and close your shop, declare bankruptcy thus leaving of course more people out of work.

Welcome to the wonderful world of employing Bahrainis.

Do we have to? Have you heard of state controlled and sanctioned embezzlement and hostage taking? If you haven’t and you intend to do any kind of business in Bahrain, you soon will. It will be the stuff of your most virulent nightmares. Believe me, I have been having the same recurring nightmare for about 12 years. It is not a pretty thought I can assure you.

There is no way in hell that as a business, large or small, for you to get the correct employees you need for your survival, success and growth under the current stilted labour laws. I’m talking about Bahrainis here. Give a Bahraini the option of working for you and the interview will go like this:

1. How much you pay?
2. Not enough, how much more?
3. Ok, I’ll fink about it.
4. I only work morning. How many shift you have?
5. I only work morning.
6. How much you pay more?
7. What time start? I come between 9 and 12 ok!
8. You give me mobile.
9. You give me car.
10. You give me holiday 2 months every year.
11. Sometime I don’t come to work because period. (huh? You’re a man!)
12. I only get work when pregnant 3 months. Don’t show. I get maternal leave one year. Full paid. Then I leave ok.
13. I get mobile, yes?
14. How much you pay more?

Now take your pick, this could be an interview for a secretary, office boy, technician, whatever. Just change the language up or down to suite, but the essence is the same.

And the hidden thing in all of this of course is that after you do employ them, they will continue to try to find another job and will leave you even if the pay difference is 5 Dinars. And even while transferring to another job they will:

1. claim unfair dismissal.
2. sue your ass for the privilege or having hired them in the first place.

And do you think they will stay in that “greener pasture” long? No, they will continue to try to find another job, UNTIL of course they land a GOVERNMENT job! THIS my friends, is the ultimate for a Bahraini worker. They will be in their heaven when they get that and will hold on to it with their teeth until the day they die, and even after that, they will have had dibs put on their seat for their children, and their children’s children.

Why? No need for performance, evaluation, and a guaranteed lifetime of doing nothing. Add to that the fact that they will only work mornings, so almost all of them will get another part time job for the afternoons or start their own grocery, tailor, garage, or electronics repair/sale shop!

So why waste time even attempting to hire Bahrainis in the first place? Remember what I said about the government sanctioned extortion above? A businessperson CANNOT employ foreign staff UNLESS you have the token Bahrainis. So most small businesses at least just hire an office-boy/driver and with that you will get one visa (if you’re lucky, or have the right connections) to employ a foreign person you can depend on.

You’re expanding? You’re moderately successful so now you need to hire a secretary? Bahrainis only can hold his exalted position. Refer to “steps of successful interviewing” above. But pay particular attention to points 11 and 12 though, don’t get caught now, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

And you wonder why we have unemployment here? How can the private sector, which is the largest employer on the Island cope with this phenomenon? How can I as a small business owner employ an office-boy and pay him a comparatively good wage, higher than the national average for such a job, fire the stiff because he threatened my life (literally) and he not only walked away with it, but the court gave him 7 months’ salary as severance pay, a bonus because he worked for me for a few years, and pay his full social insurance which we are not eligible for anyway? Now repeat this story at least once every 3 years or so. Vaseline anyone? Anyone?

The unemployed don’t WANT employment. Why the hell should they if each and every one of them can “sell” his CPR (central population register) number to an employer for 100 Dinars or more and be a “ghost” worker, just for the privilege of this employer to get a work permit for a foreign worker? Just walk by the Ministry of Labour any day of the week and you will find them all sitting around, sometimes inside the ministry’s halls waiting to catch someone to sell their numbers to? This is a highly profitable fishing exercise! And if we do fall into the trap and do buy a ghost-worker we have to pay into his social pension fund as well!

    (I should probably explain the CPR thing. Every person in Bahrain must have a central population register number. This number dies with you and you need that card for conducting anything with the government, banks, anything. If you hire a person, that person has to register with the Ministry of Labour using their CPR card number and that number is cross-referenced to your commercial registration, so that the government knows how many you employ, who you employ and when you employed them. Why would a country that doesn’t have any taxes do that? Big brother of course.

    So let’s say that you want to hire a Bahraini in order to really hire a foreigner. What you do is get an unemployed Bahraini to just register with the Ministry of Labour as your employee, then the Ministry will deem it correct to give you a work permit to hire a foreigner.)

More? Ok. A business cannot get ANY government contract unless they get a certificate from the Ministry of Labour certifying that your company actually employs the required quota of Bahrainis the ministry has set. In most business enterprises that varies between 25% to 75%, maybe higher.

Okay you are officially a good citizen and employ Bahrainis as a matter of course. You are patriotic and truly believe that you do good by not only employing Bahrainis but also train them, bring them into your business and give them responsibilities and make them grow with you. This can work and does work in some cases, but not in the small business arena. This only works for larger companies, banks, insurance firms and of course the great benefactor: the government.

For the small and medium enterprise this is fraught with untold danger. The sword will continuously hang over your head: if the person gets a slightly better paying job, he WILL leave. If the person gets a government job, he most definitely will leave, but if has stayed with you for a few months and learnt the ropes he will not only leave, but leave and start a business to directly compete with you, taking with him of course most if not all of your customers. This has happened, and in this environment and stupid labour laws will continue to happen.

The solution is so simple and staring the government in the face all the time that it boggles the mind why it is so difficult to grasp and enact. FREE the labour market! Remove all these hindrances to small and medium businesses. Invest – really invest – in effective training schemes. Radically revise the dilapidated educational system. And hold the workers responsible.

If as a business you absolutely NEED to fire someone, then ensure that the contractual agreement between the parties actually is respected, don’t come back and say that if the contract does not tally with the official contract template from the Ministry of Labour then it is invalid. What, did the guy sign a contract blindly, cannot read, cannot think for himself so that the government once again acts as the big brother here? If anyone signs a contract which is fair and correct, why force the government’s own version down your throat? If you fire someone, give him the correct severance pay, as dictated by the mutually signed contract, don’t even LET the bastard come and complain to you that he was wrongfully dismissed and demands 20 years’ salaries because his wife can’t keep her legs closed and now he has 19 children. Why the fuck should I care? I want a productive employee, I’m not running a child-bearing farm, nor am I a family planning unit.

Having said that, NO company is going to fire a good employee. It has invested time, money and a lot of effort into training the employee on the various aspects of the business, why go through all of that again if you don’t have to? We’re running businesses to make money after all, not squander and lose it.

Almost every day we get teachers, labourers, and even professional nose-pickers demonstrating because they can’t get jobs. In most cases it is not because jobs are not available, it is because they don’t WANT the jobs found and offered to them on a silver platter. It is because they are not flexible enough to do something else, it is because they want a government job, and it is because they want a hand-out. And they hold the business enterprises by the balls to get what they want.

Sure there are cases which are genuine. Sure some people are highly educated and cannot find jobs because of discrimination and other factors. I am all for that person and am aghast with disgust as to why a job cannot be found for them. But generally, ask any business owner about this situation and I can guarantee that if they are honest they will fully agree with me.

Minister of Labour, if you are in the mood to listen, then listen to this advice:

1. make your absolute priority in your office to find the fastest and best way to close your ministry. It is not needed. The best way to do that is for you to enable, encourage and harbour free trade and a free labour market. For the sooner you do that, the sooner businesses will boom and as they boom they will require more workers and the country’s main unemployment problem will dissolve. Trust me on this.

2. shut down the labour courts. They are useless and unnecessary. They are completely biased to the workers anyway and they (along with your ministry’s policies) are throttling business opportunities and FUTURE job opportunities for your armies of unemployed. If a just claim to wrongful dismissal is raised, then raise it in a civil court. And LOOK and STUDY the documents presented by the employer, rather than judges arbitrarily remove the soiled finger out of their proverbial ass, test the wind with it, and award a sum of money that will break the small business’ back, hence creating more unemployment. An even better option is use a tribunal. It does work in other countries.

3. invest in education. Throw all the current books away, let’s have a national bonfire, it will be a pretty spectacle. And then bring in real experts and real teachers to teach. If you have to close all the schools for a year or two to get that done then it’s not a problem, they’re not learning anything now anyway.

4. LISTEN to the business community. They are your friends. They are the people who are creating and maintaining jobs. They know what they’re doing and they know how important loyal and productive workers can be.

Back to the start now with those security personnel. The majority of the sacked workers have been offered jobs by the company taking over at the same or even better salaries. Get them to take it! It’s an opportunity which should not be missed. If they refuse, then fuck ’em. They will restart selling their CPR numbers anyway…

Here’s something that you should read, study and take to heart:

Opinions differ as to whether the economic success of Dubai can be replicated elsewhere in the Middle East. Delegations regularly troop through Internet City, and Egypt recently rolled out its own technology park, Smart Village, near Cairo.

But no other Arab society seems to possess quite the same readiness to throw its doors open to outside influences, coupled with the flexibility to capitalize on them.

“Dubai’s a complete anomaly, like Singapore or Hong Kong,” said Peter J. Cooper, editor of AME Business Info, a journal of gulf commerce. “Port cities have always been more liberal.”

Philadelphia Inquirer: A city-state run like a conglomerate

Bahrain is a port country not just a city, or am I mistaken?