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Got business problems or challenges at work? With his Two Cents column, Loaay Ahmed shares his expertise in strategic management consulting to help management, employees and entrepreneurs thrive.

By Loaay Ahmed , May (2010) edition of bazaar
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<strong>LOAAY AHMED'S Two Cents</strong>
<strong>LOAAY AHMED'S Two Cents</strong>

Many companies around the world have big programs for society, employees and the environment and they have taxes to pay, higher salaries compared to other markets and shareholders that demand higher profit. How can they do all these things and satisfy their shareholders?


LA: Civilian airplane pilots and flying staff have to go through regular health checkups and measurements to make sure they’re fit to fly and perform. This policy makes almost all airline companies give gym memberships to their staff for free or at highly discounted rates. Some even provide a gym facility. The company factors the cost as part of its overhead expenses like car or mobile allowance. The staff factors their share of the cost as a requirement for keeping their job; it’s like rent, you pay it without thinking about it because you need place to live. Great companies that manage to give back to society, the environment, and their employees have already calculated these budgets as part of their business model or cost of sale. When you don’t take such amounts from your gross profit, it feels less painful.


As for the shareholders, some have been convinced by senior management that such activities are necessary to ‘look good’ to customers, prospects and employees. Others agree that companies have a role to play in their surroundings. It’s just a ‘part’ of what they do, not ‘an addition’ to it. What can you do if you’re not the decision maker on similar issues in your company? Suggest adjusting the pricing strategy to include such activities in the cost of products or services in the name of “Customers demand it from everyone now.” And find a way to add value to customers to accept the new prices. First step: Get shareholders and senior management to agree. Next step: Engage them in the activities to take ownership and, with time, believe in it…and that’s just my two cents.


I’m new to the market. In a few months since I took the new HR Director post, I’ve had people complaining nonstop, I managed somehow to get a number of employees to hate me and I saw those who couldn’t care less about the new changes we’re trying to apply. Is this normal in Kuwait?


LA: It would have been a good opportunity if you joined the company for a week undercover (watch Undercover Boss on CBS) to get a true feedback from staff. Once employees see you as ‘not management’ they open up and tell you how things really are. As subjective as it may be, at least they’ll talk straight. However, the work environment will always have problems. Families have problems. That’s life. And when salaries, packages, bonuses and promotions are involved, it’s wartime. Happy go lucky attitude is possible to get closer to, but it requires more than a shoulder to cry on. The company, starting from the top, has to change the way business works from the inside. Dig deeper into the reasons why employees complain? Is it injustice or internal politics? Is it a personal incident or a fundamental flaw in the system? Address their concerns first and you’ll have fans everywhere you go in the company.


In most cases, employees’ problems are symptoms for defaults in the company’s processes, culture, or business model. For a quick win, engage the employees in the new ‘change’ you were hired to apply. Watching you change things makes them an audience. It’s not as fun as playing the game. You can’t stop problems from coming your way, but you can control the way you react to them…and that’s just my two cents.



Time really flies when you’re having fun!


LA:In April 2009 the idea of starting ‘two cents’ came to me as a result of the increasing demand from our clients, friends and associates for help and guidance during the tough times of the credit crunch. When I approached Ahmed El-Adly, the Resident Guru of bazaar magazine, with the idea, he said, “Yes. Let’s do it!” That passion for doing what’s relevant and needed was immediately felt and made me realize that I was about to start working with the right team. One year later, I can confirm that my feelings were right and it’s been an enjoyable journey with bazaar magazine since then. So, to Ahmed El-Adly and the entire staff that makes this engine up and running and part of life in Kuwait, I’m deeply grateful for your support. Thank you for taking me in.


But none of this would matter if you, loyal ‘two cents’ readers, didn’t read the questions and answers in the printed version or the online version of Bazaar magazine or at knightscapital’s branded for life blog. None of this would have been made possible without your questions (so, keep them coming. If there’s something on your mind, email it). The greatest joy of acquiring any knowledge is in the ability to share it with others. Your questions make me a better consultant. It’s like a mind gym for me. I genuinely thank you all for taking the time to write and read ‘two cents’. And here’s to another year!



For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to Please note that only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.

Loaay Ahmed is a management consultant and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy,

visit To send in your question, please email it in brief to Loaay at

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