Facelift for Middle Eastern corporate culture
EngageME brings companies back to fundamentals of communication
June 17, 2013 11:57 by Muhammad Aldalou
“You can’t copy and paste your corporate culture from elsewhere and expect it to work in this region. It’s not going to,” says an audibly enthusiastic Brett Smyth to Kipp Report. “You’ve got to grow it organically and create a sense of identity for your employees.”
The new entrepreneur and former engagement specialist is celebrating the launch of his start-up as we speak. EngageME, a creative employee communication and engagement consultancy, officially opens its doors for business today, and plans to work closely with regional companies to breathe life into their internal communication.
Smyth, having conceived this vision after five years of working in the region, also aims to infuse the traditional culture of collaboration and a sense of community back into the region’s workplace. He pointedly says that he, while working with a variable pool of clients, constantly came across offices with a lack of energy, communication and ‘spark’.
“There was something missing, and I had an opportunity to put the business plan in place,” he says, adding that every little thing a company does contributes towards who they are as an entity – and should not be taken lightly.
According to Smyth, the workforce in this part of the world is largely fragmented and transient, which often leads to uninformed employees who feel “despondent and disenfranchised”. He’s also witnessed some of the other challenges facing the region, and decided to form the company in an effort to inspire a rich sense of cultural ethos back into the Middle Eastern business environment.
“This region is so proud of its community, and even prouder of its hospitality. Let’s reflect that in the workplace,” he tells Kipp. “Being a consultant, I’ve had the privilege of working with clients from every single industry – and I can tell you, people are sensing this trend as well. They’re starting to feel the need to make a difference – which means I’m getting work and that’s great,” he laughs.
One of the biggest mistakes that an international brand or multinational company can make is to replicate their international business models in the Middle East. As a result, many struggle to achieve optimal productivity, he says.
As far as communicating, engaging with and empowering employees goes – which Smyth describes as the necessary starting point to creating an effective work culture – he’s seen companies get it right and far too many getting it horribly wrong. “A CEO cannot be invisible, unknown and sat in his/her ivory tower,” he adds. “They need to empower the management (and that sense of empowerment will trickle down) by keeping them informed and knowledgeable about what’s happening.”
There’s no exact science to creating a culture that is suitable for a company, particularly when the workplace population here often comprises of tens of nationalities, but if one thing Smyth is certain of, it’s that the first step always begins with a conversation.
“Our goal as a company is to help corporations inspire a sense of place and purpose into their internal culture, and to establish environments in which employees feel valued, engaged and motivated. It’s all in the doing, and it starts with well-crafted employee communications.”
*EngageME offers a number of unique training courses and workshops designed to up-skill staff and management personnel, in addition to comprehensive CSR initiatives aimed at meaningfully engaging employees.