The multiplier effect: Interview with Ravi Singh, head of talent relations, training and development

Written by
Changeboard Team

24 Dec 2014

24 Dec 2014 • by Changeboard Team

Creating balance in organisations

Companies in the Middle East are constantly battling the impact of rapid business growth. As an HR professional, you are tasked with getting more from existing resources and creating an engaging culture in which to retain talent. This latter point is particularly challenging, given the multitude of nationalities found in many workplaces across the Gulf.

Managers must play a crucial balancing role of driving performance to meet their business objectives and creating the environment in which employees can thrive. However, not all managers are created equal.

Do you diminish or amplify talent?

There are some leaders who drain intelligence and always need to be the smartest person in the room. These are the idea killers, the energy sappers, the diminishers of talent and commitment. Other leaders use their intelligence to amplify the capabilities of the people around them. They inspire employees to stretch themselves to deliver results that surpass expectations.

Fortunately, most leaders in the region seem to sit in the middle of this spectrum, intending to get the most from their teams, but accidentally shutting down their thinking. These leaders only need to make subtle changes in mindset and behavior to get significantly more from their teams. They need to shift from thinking ‘people won’t figure it out without me’, to ‘people are smart and will figure it out’.

By embracing diversity and deliberately uncovering the native genius of every individual, leaders will challenge their teams to stretch, step out of their comfort zones and do the impossible. In this way they foster a culture of innovation that transcends demographics.

But in order for leaders to become talent ‘multipliers’, companies must first create an environment in which this behavior is embraced.

THE One celebrating diversity

“Diversity and culture go hand in hand,” says Ravi Singh, head of talent retention, training and development at THE One. “Companies that adopt a diversity-based policy where a mix of nationalities are welcomed, respected and appreciated create a culture and a workforce that can potentially elevate the vision of the organisation.”

“We embrace diversity at all levels of the organisation to bring in different perspectives, individuality and enhance the dynamics of our business,” Singh continues. “We are an equal opportunity workplace and make initiative part of our core values.”

By creating a strong culture, Singh says it is easier to find people who share the same values because they are attracted to the organization. This includes national talent. In Bahrain, 51% of THE One’s workforce are nationals and it has appointed GCC nationals to key roles around the region. The rest of its employee population comprises people from 36 different countries.

But aligning employees to that vision requires investment in development programs, both internally and externally. The com[any’s succession planning modules include programs for professional development, supervisory training, management development and coaching to mentor high potential talent. This development culture is embedded in an individual’s career journey and monthly one-to-one meetings help ensure they and their management remain on the right track.

Holding on to top talent

THE One has appeared in the Great Place to Work Institute’s list of top companies to work for in the UAE for three consecutive years. Retention rates are higher than the global average and it enjoys a strong level of enquiry from potential candidates.

According to Singh, competitors that try to poach staff should not be seen as a threat. “If you fear your development program could become a wasted resource should people jump ship, you will never succeed,” he says. “There are certain risks you need to move the business forward. It is a fact that employees will leave, but this should not stop you from developing your teams. Although you might lose a great performer to a competitor, if your company is the preferred choice of employer, this person will return to you bigger and better. This ‘boomerang rate’ means that, if you have the right culture in place, you can manage the return of these top performing individuals. Exposure to global knowledge is usually a win-win situation.”

THE One describes itself as a “total home retail experience” but the company says it is, ultimately, in the people business. “Hire the best, train them well, pay them fairly and – most importantly – only hire those that are smarter than you. Once you have hired the right person, treat them with respect and look after them. If you treat people like a number, rather than as an investment, you will fail.

Your role as a head of HR is to set the right strategic thinking in your company that must work in alignment with your company’s values and vision. People will deliver if the environment is right.”

Ravi Singh

Ravi Singhhead of talent relations, training and development at THE One

The lifestyle-conscious brand operates 16 ‘theatres’ in seven countries across the Middle East.