On “Treating With” Jamaican Workers

george-phillip.jpgGeorge Philip was a quiet giant of Jamaican industry, and his recent passing away was a blow to most who knew him.

I had the chance to interview him for our recent study “The Trinidadian Executive in Jamaica” before he passed away, and he was generous and insightful — so much so that he was someone I wanted to do an audio interview with, until I heard the news. He was the most successful Trinidadian executive to work in Jamaica.

One unverified piece of advice he was known to give had to do with terminating Jamaicans. He said something to the effect that when one is terminating Jamaicans, one needs to go an extra mile.

“Johnson, as you know we are doing some downsizing and unfortunately your name has come up as someone to let go. As part of your separation, you are due to receive $X for each year of service. However, to help ease the transition we have decided to give you an extra $Z, just to acknowledge the work you have done in the company and to help make things easier.”

His point was that that little extra step is critical in leaving a Jamaican worker feeling respected.

George was right on the money — what we Jamaicans call brawta (a little extra) goes a long, long way.

During my interview with Douglas Orane at HRMAJ 2007, he mentioned a study that was done at the U.S. Embassy. It showed that the Americans complained that Jamaicans were too casual, always late, etc. The Jamaicans had one complaint — Americans were rude, never said hello or good morning and left them feeling disrespected.

Whether this is a true story or not is to be discovered, but I am sure George would agree with the finding.

For more information on the life of George Phillip, click here.

This article is taken from my blog, Chronicles from a Caribbean Cubicle.

A New Public Sector Regional HR Conference

istock_000002927766xsmall.jpgApparently, there is a new HR conference that is coming back to the Caribbean. Last year’s version was held in Barbados.

The following email was sent to the members of the CaribHRForum discussion list by a presenter at last year’s conference — Dr. Kwame Charles.

2008 Caribbean Region Public Sector HR Conference

June 24-26, 2008

Hyatt Regency Trinidad

Port of Spain, Trinidad

Continue reading “A New Public Sector Regional HR Conference”

Jack Welch et al in Barbados

jack_welch.jpgRecently, Jack Welch, Dennis O’Brien of Digicel and Arthur Lok Jak of Neal and Massy presented at the Caribbean International Leadership Summit in Barbados.

What is remarkable is that there were over 200 attendees to the two day event, each paying some US$1800 per person.

This clearly shows me that there is an appetite for this kind of event here in the region, and that CEOs are willing to invest the time and money to hear top quality information.

It is also great to see that the audios and PDF files from the top presentations are available for download from the website. (It now appears that the site is down, but this appears to be temporary.)

Kudos to those who had the vision to bring this together, and I am only sorry that I missed it.

Click here to be taken to the Conference website where the materials can be downloaded.

Igniting a Storm on the Discussion List

istock_000001721417xsmall.jpgSeveral weeks ago, I inadvertently set off a hailstorm of email on the CaribHRForum Discussion List with the following email. The response provoked a few things, including the speed with which this website was launched.

It seemed to tap into some thoughts that many have had for some time about what we are doing as a region in the HR field. Some 70-80 emails quickly followed from all corners of the region, pledging a commitment to the idea of working together.

(If you are new to CaribHRForum, then please join us in one of the most stimulating conversation you’ll find… Click on the “Discussions” tab above and follow the directions to join the Discussion List.)

Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2007 04:58:01 -0800
[email protected]
From: francis – at sign -fwconsulting.com
Subject: [CaribHRForum] Creating a Better Regional HR Conference

The HR Conference season is over for 2007, and I have some observations, and some goals I have set for myself that hopefully will spur on some exciting activities in 2008.

So far I have attended and spoken at 2-3 HRMAB’s, 2 HRMATT’s and 3 HRMAJ’s. I have been to a couple JEF conferences and also a JIM Conference. I may also have lost count of one or two here and there…

What is striking about our conferences is how limited they are to the attendees of the country. At HRMATT, there were 2 Jamaicans and a single Bajan. At HRMAJ there was one Bajan (the same one) and one Trini. At the last HRMAB conference there were 2 Jamaicans, and perhaps 3-4 Trinis.

The numbers don’t augur well for what we are all attempting to create — a regional body that unites all practitoners across the region. At the moment, the only unifying entity that exists is CaribHRForum, the regional discussion and email list.

Under the auspices of CaribHRForum, I am thinking about doing more to help regionalize our conferences. So far, I have come up with the following ideas:

1 – find out why people aren’t attending the conferences across the region (a survey maybe?)

2- determine what needs to change to enable them to attend

3- sharing the outputs from each conference across the region

4- giving cross-conference awards e.g. best paper submitted to a conference

5- granting conference discounts for those who travel to attend

6- setting dates early in the planning year to allow for those who want to attend to do so

7- approaching cross-regional companies to sponsor several conferences at the same time

Does anyone have any other ideas about what we can do in the short term to generate greater attendance? As budgets get created for 2008, does attending a regional conference show up on HR budgets as a priority?

If not, is it because the company has no interest in CSME, or is it because the case has not been made for HR to be an important part of the changes that are coming?

I am eager to hear. Let me know your thoughts.



Inviting Authors For CaribHRForum

istock_000001701558xsmall.jpgIf you have always wanted to share some ideas related to Human Resources in the Caribbean, this might be your opportunity.

The CaribHRForum blog is inviting HR practitioners to be a part of the writing team, for 3 months at a time.

The benefits of writing in the blog are numerous:

  • network with other professionals by sharing your ideas
  • show up on Google searches related to the topics you decide to write about
  • practice putting your ideas into words in a friendly forum

The process is simple. You agree to submit one post per week for three months, and CaribHRForum will, at its discretion, post the article on the blog, with your name listed as the author. The post needs to address Human Resource issues as they apply to the Caribbean.

You will be coached by me in how to get the right tone for a blog — I currently run three blogs in addition to this one, receiving thousands of hits per month. You need to have no technical ability whatsoever, other than a knowledge of how to send me email.

At the end of three months, we rotate the responsibility to other authors from the region, thereby keeping the ideas fresh. Of course, there is the possibility of being picked up for subsequent 3 month stints.

So — let me know. Contact us here at CaribHRForum with an email sharing your interest, your writing experience and a writing sample of any kind.



How to Make the Most of CaribHRForum

istock_000000797943xsmall.jpgOn this, the launch of the new, enhanced CaribHRForum website, it makes sense to review the best practices we have been employing on CaribHRForum.

For NEW members

1. If you have not already logged in as a member of CaribHRForum’s Discussion List, I recommend that you start there. Visit the “Discussions” tab at top, and follow the instructions to join as a member.

2. Spend a few days observing the discussions. If the volume happens to be low, you can get things going by sending a quick introduction of yourself. Simply send email to [email protected] with a short “hello, my name is…, I am from…, I work for….”

3. Observe enough of the conversation to get an idea of the tone, and the tempo. Jump in when you feel confident by sending email to the [email protected] address, or by replying to an email from the discussion list.

4. Tell your friends in the HR profession about CaribHRForum. Invite them to visit this website and to join the Discussion List.

For Existing members

1. You have probably been watching other people send emails back and forth, and chances are you have some of your own opinions. Simply hit reply to an email that you find provocative and participate! Let others know that you exist and that you have a point of view.

2. You probably joined CaribHRForum in order to enhance your own networking skills, and also to build a bigger network, period. The best way to do that is to share your interests with those who are on the list, in a way that makes it clear that you have something unique to say. Trust me… you are already special (in the good way) and anything useful that, you say will assist you in your networking efforts.

3. Visit the archives to view past conversations. The old Yahoo groups that we used to use until we switched over to the fwconsulting server is still available — see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CaribHRForum/

You can view the current archives by using one of those monthly reminder emails that you receive from the Discussion List with your unique password to follow the link, and click on “View Archives.” You must login to access these archives.

Want Even More?

1. Delve into the regional conversation on the Discussion page. Add your point of view on regional conferences, HRMAC, regional HR certification, etc.

2. Respond by taking one of the volunteer positions in CaribHRForum. Keep checking this blog for more details as they become available.