You could be forgiven for thinking the GCC is the physical embodiment of “globalization”; as a region it facilitates international business deals, houses offices of most multi-national corporations and plays host to some of the most diverse workplaces in the world.

But despite the growth of regional business performance in global rankings, there is precious little research done into how business is actually executed in the GCC.  So, never one to shy away from the tough questions, the HardTalk team undertook a pilot research project to find out more about the types of HardTalk individuals encounter in this region in particular and the effect that has on their work satisfaction and job performance.

The responses to this research, the first of its kind in the region, were astonishing in both quantity and quality. As our first research project it was important to get an overview of the more general workplace scenarios, and so ethnicity or industry was not elicited from respondents (though this is likely to be done in the future). Our 2 key filters were geography and job level.  62% of our respondents were based in the GCC on a full time basis, 18% where based in Europe and 20% in other places around the world. To discover whether one’s place in the hierarchy affects one’s experience we did ask respondents to tell us about their job. Respondents were fairly evenly split between individual contributors and managers with about 20% at each of 4 “levels” of management.

Let’s break it down

Over 90 % of people surveyed said they had experienced behaviour at work they thought wasn’t right or appropriate.  This behaviour took the following forms:

  • Reported seeing people not meeting deadlines or keeping promises 55% 55%
  • Saw gossiping and backstabbing 66% 66%
  • Suggested their colleagues failed to share credit 53% 53%
  • Say that they witnessed blame shifting 66% 66%
  • Saw colleagues cover up problems 48% 48%
  • Saw colleagues actively avoid discussing performance or giving feedback 48% 48%

When we asked if respondents about other inappropriate behaviours they had experienced or witnessed, the answers included sexism, racism and outright lying and fraud.

Who are we talking about?

When asked who had exhibited the “bad behaviour” the biggest response was “my boss” at 34% followed by “my colleague” at 24% and “a senior leader” at 22%.  Perhaps surprisingly, bad behaviour from direct reports was only mentioned by 9% of those surveyed.   The angelic performers appear to be our suppliers, with less than 1% of respondents claiming to have experienced bad behaviour from them.  Customers were the next best behaved at only 3%.

  • My boss 34% 34%
  • My colleague 24% 24%
  • A senior leader 22% 22%
  • A direct report 9% 9%
  • Customers 3% 3%
  • Our suppliers 1% 1%

Worryingly, the bad behaviour wasn’t a one-off or the result of ‘a bad day’.   Over a quarter of respondents said it continued for more than a year and just under 70% said it lasted more than a month.

  • This bad behaviour continued more than a year 25% 25%
  • This bad behaviour lasted more than a month 68% 68%

So what?

Unsurprisingly, the implications of this systemic bad behaviour can be serious for a company and their bottom line.  The culture in which employees work, and its impact on their happiness, has a direct correlation to their output and loyalty, all of which was reflected in our results:

  • 55% of those surveyed experienced lower employee satisfaction – 19% of which led to a higher turnover 55% 55%
  • 67% of individuals reported a drop in their overall morale 67% 67%
  • 42% said the quality and productivity of their work had reduced 42% 42%
  • 23% admitted they had missed deadlines 23% 23%
  • 20% saw that customer satisfaction was negatively affected 20% 20%

Quite rightly, 82% of respondents called these implications very or quite severe.

That sounds bad; shouldn’t we all just talk it out?

So obviously everybody spoke up and these instances of “inappropriate” behaviour were dealt with in an effective, transparent, respectful manner?  Well, not exactly.

70% of respondents said that they did not speak up, instead:

  • 41% considering quitting their job 41% 41%
  • 22% avoided the topic 22% 22%
  • 12% of people admitted avoiding or transferring the individual involved 12% 12%
  • 36% of people hinted/talked around the topic 36% 36%
  • 37% complained to others 37% 37%
  • 6% of respondents even called in sick rather than face talking about the issue 6% 6%

On the one hand, it isn’t incredibly hard to understand why certain people might not be confident in confronting delicate issues at work.  But those not speaking up equated to over nearly ¾ of all the respondents and their reasons were varied.   Over half the respondents kept quiet to avoid repercussions, 12% didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and a whopping 63% felt speaking up was fruitless and wouldn’t do any good.


25% would have spoken up if they had known how to do it effectively

What can we do?

On a more positive note, 25% of the total respondents would have spoken up if they had known how to do it effectively.   That is exactly what HardTalk is designed to do.   It teaches participants to identify situations where speaking up is important and give them the confidence and skills to do it effectively and productively.

In fact, over half of respondents said that they are currently facing a HardTalk scenario but only 5% of participants say they have the confidence to do anything about it.

This is the time for HardTalk.  Get in touch to find out more about how we can help your business.


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