Thursday, June 25, 2015

Children and Organizations

Two days ago after I noticed my kids had their noses in their iPads all day or until it runs out of power (whichever came first) I felt that I had to do something fast before their brains turned into mush. The problem is I have to work and I can't watch them all day so I had to be a little creative.

I decided to do something very simple and see how it pans out: every night I'd give my daughter a list of tasks to do throughout the following day. Each task had a measure for achievement and another measure for overachievement. All she had to do is to perform the task and tick the appropriate box next to it once done. If she achieves it all she gets BD1 and if she goes the extra mile she gets BD2.

It's only been two days and I still can't believe the amount of excitement it created! When I got home from work that first day she couldn't wait to tell me what she has achieved and to my pleasant surprise I found that she decided to go the extra mile on all the tasks.

Last night I prepared the second task list and posted it on her board and in the morning I explained what needed to be done so earlier in my office I got this whatsapp voice note from her asking me to send her the link for the quraan verse she's supposed read today.

Some of the tasks were reading a book or drawing a picture and others were aimed at engaging her brother or helping him with his summer homework. One of them is always a writing exercise to engage her imagination such as what would it feel like to be a fly.

Most will say that my HR persona has spilled over into my home and I don't mind that at all. Every group of people with a shared objective is considered an organization and most organizational insights provide great benefit in home organizations and vice versa. 

Doing this helped me realize a few things about human behavior irrespective of age:

- Giving someone a purpose and incentive means you have given them motivation and excitement; something to look forward to and a sense of achievement.

- When people know what is expected of them they will perform. When they know what going the extra mile looks like they are more likely to go that extra mile and not settle for the minimum.

- Timely reward that is constant and proportional assures the continuity of the whole process.

It's amazing how much we can learn about ourselves and others just by observing our children. Their basic, almost primal instincts are the best testing grounds to see how the world is constructed and how human behavior is influenced by our surroundings. Most importantly, they teach us simplicity in an increasingly complex world...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My new helper is #human_too

When I was invited to be part of the judging panel for the Bahrain Awareness Award, I jumped to the opportunity and here’s just one reason why:


This week, and after a 3 month wait with a lot of jumping through hoops to fulfill her government’s migration requirements, my new domestic helper has arrived safely in Bahrain. It is so close to Ramadan that you just know how precious her arrival was to me. She is 32 yours old and single mother to 3 children the youngest of which is only 2 years old…


I welcomed her into my home and showed her around and then took her to her room to rest. Every morning she would come down with bloodshot eyes and a despondent look on her face until one day I asked if she was alright and if she needed anything when she suddenly disintegrated into a flood of tears. Once she calmed down she explained that she misses her children and especially her youngest who was too small to understand why her mother was no longer with her…


As a mother myself, this one statement was like a knife in my heart triggering a storm of erratic emotions. I started questioning my own morals wondering why it didn’t occur to me that this would be the case and whether or not I’ve made the right decision causing this rift in such a fragile family. Am I the villain for extricating her from her world and throwing her into this one? Have I created too many victims in the process of ensuring my own comfort?


Would I ever consider leaving my children and traveling thousands of miles to take care of somebody else’s children? Would I be willing to deprive them of access to my affection and venture into unknown territory with a questionable living and working environment? They hear of the stories of abuse and destitution that come out of our region towards domestic helpers and in spite of it all they do come; and there is only one reason for that: 




Human beings were born with choices and decisions and consequences; some of us more than others. Those who believe that they have no choice are the ones who compromise on their happiness and that of their children for what they believe is their own good do so because they run out of choices. They have exhausted all possible options in their countries and have barely managed to survive. The only choice they seem to have is to live at someone else’s mercy five time zones away just to barely make enough to give their children a better life… without them in it. They settle to become mere spectators in the new and improved lives they’ve created with the meager income they earn by making our lives easier.


As recipients of their services, as custodians to their welfare, as privileged individuals happily living in the bosom of our families able to embrace our own children whenever we please, would it be too much trouble to treat them with a little respect? 


The Bahrain Award has given me a way to contribute to this cause. 50 submissions, 23 shortlisted and 750,000 views. If only 1% of these views have had an impact we would have 7,500 people paying their domestic help on time. Next round is going regional; more views and higher impact and driven by the future “sirs” and “madams” of their own households… just imagine what will become when they have their own domestic help…


It is a flash forward of a future that makes me proud of our youth today.


For more information about the award and this year’s winning submissions visit .