A Cry For Help! Book Review – The Oman Daily Observer!

Weekend Observer – Book Review – January 27, 2010

Bane of stereotyping of local workforce –


The title of Majid Said Nasser Al Suleimany’s new book on Management ‘A Cry For Help!’ sounds far more vociferous and clamorous than that of his earlier one, ‘Psychology of Arab Management Thinking’.

Addressing the increased extremism, fundamentalism, and lack of tolerance and forbearance on the work front, Author Majid Al Suleimany presents A Cry For Help! – Arabian Management Services — Context and Perspectives.

Not that he was ever known for pulling punches and as an Author well recognised and acknowledged ‘To Call A Spade A Spade!. Once again, he deals with office politics of the worst kind and if the title is any indication, the new book is bound to touch a few raw nerves.

In three parts, A Cry for Help! concentrates on the Management styles and aspects of companies located in Oman – and some from the AGCC

• Growing radicalization of local staff
• Some misbehaving expatriates
• Unhappy, dissatisfied local staff
• Poor crude raw treatment of staff, especially by just some FEW Expatriates (Few constantly emphasized by him)
• Increasing extremism and fundamentalism in the Offices
• Sensitive and other related issues

His concentration and focus has been mainly with office situations revolving around the expatriate versus local theme. With his more than 25-year innings with Petroleum Development Oman’s Human Resources (HR) Department and his short stints with a few other companies in the Gulf region, Majid gives many of his personal experiences, exposures and anecdotes here. After opting for voluntary early retirement, Majid has been working as a Freelance (HR) Management Consultant. He gives many personal experiences and exposures of employee behaviour and managerial dilemmas.

In A Cry for Help!, Al Suleimany, focuses on what is particular about the type of local Management, its context and perspectives, and what is peculiar, special, or particular to that work in the context and in comparison to management styles of other nations.

Using personal experiences, examples, and illustrations, Majid exposes the new reality and truth and moves away from the trend and approach of hiding issues and problems.

“I am pained by the stereotyping that goes all time about Omani employees. One such perception among expatriate managers is that Omanis are lazy”, he says. Majid hastens to add that not all expatriate managers are to blame. “Most of them are impartial. But there is a very tiny section that have a low opinion about locals and the local environment. Though they are few in numbers, the damage they cause is tremendous! When one such expatriate manager or supervisor leaves, he passes on the crude stereotype message to his successor that locals are not hard working and difficult to deal with. Those who actually do work hard (and are dedicated and committed) suffer because of this perception – thus the theme – A Cry For Help!

What is worrisome, says Majid, is that the current generation want fast results with lesser inputs in comparison to his older generation – and is very intolerant and often rebellious. “If we don’t address this, there will be dangerous consequences”. Many are switching to Religion for solace and comfort – even the younger generation – and these will create more harm and dangers than good – when ‘Red Lines’ are started to be drawn – he cautions!

The Omani employee’s lot hardly improves when he gets an Omani manager, who, according to Majid, “shoots at his own troops!” “When I studied the attitudes and behaviour of the Omani manager vis-à-vis expatriate peers, I found out that he sadly generally speaking and with due respects here that he lags behind in his management capabilities. He lacks confidence and assertiveness – and ‘hates to rock the boat’ and allows the status quo whenever there is a problem.”

Many among the earlier generation of Omani employees rose to become managers because there was not much competition in those days, points out Majid. The current generation – on the other hand – are well educated and qualified, and this leads to a clash and confrontation. The Local Manager has some typical traits, he says. “He is averse to risk taking and is unable to say no. He is not strong willed and affirmative, and wants to be nice to everyone, which stems from his culture”

It is hard to argue with Majid because he is basing his theories on his own experience or that of a trusted colleague!

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