The Big Little Things

by Rotimi Ismail, Managing Partner at RS Hunter Limited, June 22, 2016 

Little becomes bigIn almost every relationship I have been involved in, the phrase “It’s the little things that matter.” has probably been one that has been used time and again. As a young child this could be understanding the value in asking my father how his day went, or showing how much I appreciated the meal that my mother made for me. As a teenager, just making up my room or taking time out to help with the chores around the house were some of these little things. The impact or effect of this phrase on whoever was saying it to me was obviously huge, and to them it was a big deal.

The workplace is not so different, as a matter of fact I have discovered that to be successful at work or in business the little things really are the big things. Here are some examples of little things that could make a BIG difference:

As an Employee

Plan your day1. Planning your day

How often do we find ourselves overwhelmed with tasks, such that we start to feel that our managers need to be a bit more compassionate about the volume of work thrown at us? How many of us use our task managers or to-do lists daily for some more structure? Sometimes it is easier to have conversations with our managers when we know what we have planned for the day. Doing this may just earn you the respect of your supervisors.

keep-learning-and-stay-informed2. Keeping informed

Do we know what is going on in the business outside of our specific roles or maybe in the industry apart from who is hiring? Keeping informed allows us to have meaningful conversations, sometimes bumping into the CEO or one of the company directors could make the difference in our careers, a simple conversation that shows you are connected to the business beyond your regular job could well earn you the recognition you have been looking for. Think back to the last time you sought to know how other departments benefited from your department and what you could do to support them.

What-are-your-expectations3. Knowing what is expected of you

How often do we refer to our Job Descriptions/Key Performance Indicators/ Role Expectations? This is easily a 5-minute activity that could be carried out at any point in the day to refresh and re-align yourself with your job and what the business expects of you.

Understand your environment4. Understanding your environment

What are the peculiarities of your work/business/industry environment, do you take time out to observe the things that make your environment unique and how can you add value?

 

As an Employer

Set the tone1. Setting the tone

How many employers clearly communicate their expectations to employees? This ranges from articulating the corporate vision, culture expectations and values to setting clear performance standards.  Most employers in one form or another know these things, the problem more often than not is communicating them at the right time.  As long as you have started a business you already have a rough cut of these. If you are a small business owner, this means making out time to talk to your people about what is important. For larger organisations, maybe it’s time to empower your HR Team by supporting the people/culture initiatives from the front.

Trust2. Keeping promises

Most organisations invest in tools that provide support to the employees for greater effectiveness and efficiency, however in some cases the people may feel like they are not being carried along on the ride to success. How often have we made promises of a brighter future to our employees only to cease communication when the time comes to fulfill such promises? Keeping a promise is possibly the most difficult thing to do particularly in a volatile economic climate, however we can earn the trust of our people simply by making sure they are kept in the loop. Courage in leadership is often tested in adversity and the results of courageous leadership rarely ends in the negative.

Training3. People development

It has been said time and again that when we develop the individuals within a company we are inadvertently developing the organisation. Development is not only external training.  It could be internal coaching and mentoring programs or online courses. These methods are not only affordable but also efficient if taken seriously.

Budgeting4. Financial Discipline

Planning expenses is crucial to long term business success. While there are always ‘nice to haves’, it’s important that the urge to be spontaneous is resisted. Whether you are investing in people or other resources, always look closely at the figures and the intrinsic value. Avoid making fundamental financial errors at the beginning and if this has been done already, do not hesitate to correct what can be corrected.

 

Little seedsIn my experience, you will find that as you build on the valuable little things that you do each day, the bigger things will follow such as discipline, self-motivation, strong listening/communication skills, increased knowledge and the ability to relate with others. Don’t forget that there is no fast-track to success. Everything must start at the very beginning so don’t disregard the little things. Embrace them and they will definitely help you grow.

Positioning for Opportunities

by Kemi Asika, Lead Consultant & Projects Team Lead at RS Hunter Limited, May 23, 2016

Life presents us with favourable circumstances at different times. While we sometimes actively seek them out, there are occasions (albeit rare) when they simply fall in our lap without much effort.  Positioning 2

Just as we come across lucky breaks in our private lives, we are also presented with similar situations in the workplace however in many instances, we fail to recognise these opportunities for what they are. Hard Work

To evaluate how open you are to workplace opportunities, ask yourself these questions:

  • How do I respond to more responsibilities being added to my job schedule?
  • What do I do and how do I feel when asked to take on tasks outside of my job description?

It is betterAs we pursue our daily activities, it is important that we recognise the wealth of opportunities presented to us at work. While having to carry out a task that is not part of our primary assignment may appear to be a distraction from what we are engaged to do; such activities often enable us to learn new things and develop additional skills.  Also, we must not forget that “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” so the responsibility is on us to actively seek development opportunities and/or create them whenever possible.  Below are a few tips on how you can better increase your ‘Opportunity Success Rate’:

Seek out new tasks1. Actively seek out new tasks: Don’t be content with what is assigned to you. Where possible request for new tasks. Yes, someone out there is saying “There just isn’t enough hours in the day to take on more than I already do.” But seeking out new tasks on your own demonstrates initiative. This is a much desirable attitude in every employee.

Broaden your horizons2. Broaden your horizon: Volunteer to work on projects outside your job function. This approach presents a number of benefits. Firstly, you learn the business of other departments/functions and their processes which gives you a better understanding of how various business processes impact on each other. Secondly, your knowledge of different functions within your organisation enables you appreciate the dynamics of the business as a whole. In such instances, not only does the company benefit from the employee having a better understanding of the business and being more productive, the employee is likely to develop new skills which will improve their career progression prospects.

Know-your-competition3. Keep abreast of trends in your industry: Make sure you stay informed on developments within your industry. Gain a better understanding of the key driving factors and how they impact your company’s financial performance. Know what your company’s competitors are doing that your company is not. Understand what your clients’ desire to enable you proffer services that meet their needs. Gone are the days when having an understanding of the financial aspects of a business is reserved for management.  Today, an employee who wishes to rise to executive management positions or better still run their own establishment must be well rounded.

Invest in yourself4. Update skills and knowledge: Are you waiting for your learning & development unit to release the training calendar for the year before you improve your communication skills? Some of us already know our weak areas but are waiting for company sponsored-trainings to improve on them. Don’t wait to be told before you invest in yourself. Enquire about the professional certifications and/or degrees that are sought after in your industry and profession and put plans in place to obtain them while keeping up-to-date with new developments in your chosen profession.

Mentoring5. Look for a mentor in-house: If your organisation is not running an in-house mentoring programme, you are encouraged to identify someone within your industry whose achievements you admire and who you believe will provide you with valuable guidance and support based on your chosen career path and identified development needs. This relationship which has equal benefits for the mentor will expose you to new ideas and ways of thinking as well as increase your visibility and recognition within the company as you develop your strengths, overcome your weaknesses and develop new skills and knowledge.

Positioning 3While opportunities abound for those who work hard, positioning is all about being in the right place at the right time so don’t be too hasty to take on additional responsibilities when you haven’t done the ground work that is required. If you have benefited from promotions despite poor performance in the past, make sure to plug the gaps first before you seek greater heights.

On a final note, don’t forget to periodically evaluate how often you are asked for your assistance by your subordinates, peers and supervisors. If the answer is ‘hardly ever’, then this post is definitely for you.

Bringing Life to Work; Bringing Work Alive

by Yeyetunde Caxton-Martins, HR Analyst at RS Hunter Limited, April 19, 2016 

CommitmentWhile it is common knowledge that employees must do their bit to ensure their job is a fulfilling one, we cannot ignore the important role that each employer plays in this daily quest. In the last few years, I have become curious about the relationship that exists between an employees success on the job and the environment within which they work.  So, to enable me better understand the relationship, when I am assigned to work with a client; within the first month of engagement I usually ask the management representative (or try to determine based on observation) the following:

  1. Is the work environment conducive?
  2. How does the work environment create job satisfaction for employees?
  3. Is the employer providing its people with the basic resources required for them to achieve set goals?

Reality CheckThese 3 questions which make up what I call the ‘Reality Check Test’ are designed to make the business owner/manager consider the ‘real-life situation’ and assess the practicality of the their expectations against their commitment to their employees.

Work EnvironmentWhile the work environment alone cannot make an individual a star performer, it has been proven that when an employee is happy with their environment; productivity improves and objectives are met.  In my view, creating an enabling environment requires employers to be conscious of certain factors such as:

  • CultureOrganisational Culture: It is important that employers invest in a culture that supports their corporate vision.

An essential aspect of this is in the recruitment process.  Employer’s must strive to hire people who are able to express themselves while at work and this would require that an alignment exists between its employees values and that of the company. Alignment will ensure that employees are fully engaged when carrying out their duties thereby fostering open and effective communication.  Once the channels for communication are clear, most issues that arise in the workplace can be resolved before they cause irreparable damage.

  • Goals and objectivesSetting Goals and Objectives: Employers must create and communicate a sense of direction for their employees. It has been proven that effectively communicating goals and objectives across an organisation helps employees become aware of what they are working towards and how important their input is to the organisations success.
  • Policies and procedurePolicies and Procedures: Policies and procedures help structure the day-to-day running of the organisation and ensure that the organisational system is run within predefined parameters, thereby making employees aware of any limitations.

 

  • Work toolsProviding Essential Work Tools: Employees must feel comfortable and appreciated at work.  Making your staff sit crammed in a small hot space cannot encourage innovation and creativity (neither can making them share a computer when individual devices are required for them to carry out their duties).  If their role requires constant communication, why not give them a phone? If they are required to work weekends, why not give them weekend access to the internet?
  • Lead by exampleLeading by Example: Good leadership requires that you do the right thing, at the right time and for the right reasons. Always remember that as a manager or supervisor people are watching every move you make. It could be to see if you practice what you preach or even just to know what decision to make. Whatever the case may be, one false move by you could spell potential disaster for the company.

Employees also contribute to ensuring that the work environment is an empowering one by:

  1. Adhering to all company policies and procedures
  2. Dedicating themselves to their job and company goals
  3. Giving their best
  4. Participating in all company activities and working with colleagues for the greater good of the organisation
  5. Being spontaneous and having fun at work
  6. Believing in the organisation and their respective teams
  7. Being open, listening to the ideas of others and engaging in meaningful conversations.

When employees and employer’s are in sync, work comes alive.  This leads to an increase in operational efficiency and productivity across the organisation and over time, employees become vested stakeholders of the company thereby tasking themselves and becoming interested in everything that goes on in the organisation.

The Importance of Recognition in the Workplace

by Adetayo Adu-Okubote, Lead Consultant at RS Hunter Limited, March 23, 2016
The award goes toThe founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Mary Kay Ash,  once said “Everyone wants to be appreciated, so if you appreciate someone, don’t keep it a secret.” This was the lesson learnt at the 10th edition of the Headies Award 2015 which was held on the 1st of January, 2016. The award show turned sour as heavy weight Don Jazzy and singing sensation Olamide Baddo got into a war of words about the rightful winner of the ‘Next Rated’ award.

The verbal exchange revealed the power of recognition and the importance that people attach to it. No matter who you are, how much wealth you have acquired or what you have accomplished, everyone still wants to be recognised and appreciated for their effort. This is also true for employees in any organisation, be it a senior, middle or low level position. When employees put their effort into their work, they like to feel that the company recognises and appreciates their contribution.

Why Recognition is Powerful in an Organisation

  • Happy EmployeeEmployees who are recognised for their effort tend to want to put in even more thereby excelling at their jobs. This has been linked to the ‘feel good’ sensation that accompanies a “Thank you.”, “You did a good job!”, “You are important to us.” or “That was a fantastic idea!”.
  • Companies who have programs that recognise the efforts and contributions of their people tend to have a higher rate of retention. It has been proven that employees are more likely to stay with a company where they know that their hardwork is appreciated.
  • Employees feel a sense of ownership and belonging to their jobs and the company as a whole.

Guidelines for Employee Recognition

  • Employee of the monthRecognition should be woven into the fabric of every organisation such that it permeates all they do. This culture should be top-down and driven by management and should be seen as a priority for CEOs, managers and supervisors. Whatever initiatives are implemented, they should not come across as patronising as this will have a negative effect on employee morale.
  • Employees can be recognised either individually or through teamwork so long as, in the latter, each team member is given some recognition. Acknowledgement of an employees efforts can take place in team or staff meetings, board meetings or special company events.
  • Thank YouRecognition must be fair, sincere and heartfelt, not forced or contrived.
  • Recognition must be timely so that an employee is able to link the desired behaviour with the recognition and improve on it. Don’t wait to show appreciation once a month or year. Do it NOW.
  • Companies should be seen spending time and money finding ways to recognise and reward the contribution of their employees. Sometimes, it is the thought and the effort that counts. This can be as simple as surprising them with lunch or giving them a spot on the website or a poster in the lobby.

Employee recognitionOn a final note, when it comes to employee recognition; employers must ensure that the recognition whether financial or not is valued by the employee. Sometimes, companies decide on recognition programs without any feedback from their employees on what they would appreciate. According to a recent study by the International Association of Administrative Professionals and Office Team, a staffing company in Menlo Park, California, there is a disconnect between what employees want and what managers think they want. This is unfortunate as it defeats the whole purpose of recognition. It is always advisable that management don’t work on assumption alone but seek the input of their employees to determine what they really appreciate and value.

Attitude is Everything

by Damilola Adekoya, HR Officer at RS Hunter Limited, February 26, 2016 

Attitude-Is-A-MagnetWhen you hear the saying “Attitude is everything” what tends to spring to mind?  Sometimes I feel that we miss the real essence of what the quote is trying to communicate.  I have experienced situations where people think that if they work hard at something – even if we don’t enjoy it, the outcome would be successful.

In some instances, it could be that they do not understand the reasons why a task is being carried out in a particular way but to avoid being confrontational they don’t ask questions so as not to ‘rock the boat’ thereby maintaining a good working relationship with those in the team.  Did you ever think that success is relative? I believe there is a greater level of success that is achieved when we love what we do and believe in the reasons why it was being done.

Think-better

In my opinion, our attitude is a holistic approach to what we do and as such it is a combination of our thoughts, our beliefs and our actions.  If one is misaligned, then your whole attitude is wrong – basically in my view you cannot have the right attitude with a negative belief.

So I asked myself, what are the ‘combination of things’ that will enable me exhibit the right attitude in my personal and professional life?

 

Here are 8 essentials I’ve come up with:

  1. Smile alwaysAlways Smile: Smiling keeps you going. Smiling
    doesn’t mean you are happy, it just means you’re friendly and approachable.  It is a welcoming sign of confidence and positivity that tells others ‘I am in control’ or ‘I am ready for a new challenge’.

 

 

  1. Business Casual vs  Professional DressDress Properly: Your dressing can be viewed as an outward demonstration of your inner feelings. Take pride in your appearance and always be prepared for when the opportunity arises to present yourself in the best light.  It could be a random meeting with a potential business partner or a former classmate.  Remember, the way you dress determines the way you are addressed.

 

  1. first-step-revisedThink Positively: Be constantly aware of your thoughts. Don’t allow negativity to cause fear or panic. You must believe you can achieve success in the things you’ve set out to do.

 

 

  1. Respect 2Respect Others: The way you will relate with people would determine how they relate with you. Listening before you speak, allowing others to voice their opinions, being polite and courteous goes a long way to building long lasting relationships that will come in handy when you least expect.

 

  1. TimelinessTimeliness: Working with others? Don’t be the one holding them back. Get straight to work on your ‘to-do’ list.  Stop dillydallying! Remember, “Procrastination is the thief of time” so don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

 

 

  1. re-energize-and-get-that-focusRest Well: Working all the time will soon take its’ toll on your body and your mind. Work-life balance is essential to keeping you energised and excited about what you need to do so don’t burn yourself out.

 

  1. Dont-Afraid-Ask-QuestionsAsk Questions: Need clarification? Ask questions. Know the why, what, when, who and how of what you are doing.  If you don’t know why you’re carrying out a task, then how will you feel a real sense of accomplishment and value when it’s completed?

 

 

 

  1. Set GoalsSet Goals: The saying “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time” is so apt when it comes to having the right attitude. It is almost impossible to believe you can achieve something great when you haven’t broken it down into simple goals that can be measured.  Once you have determined what you want to achieve (personally and professionally) within a certain period, write it down, break it up into measurable goals and periodically review how well you’re doing.

"He puts a positive spin on everything."

Remember “Your attitude determines your altitude” so don’t allow negative thoughts, beliefs and people to hinder your success.  Surround yourself with energised people who have a strong belief in their ability and make a commitment to being the positive influence in the life of others as you focus on your life of endless possibilities.

 

The ‘It’s My Company’ and ‘It’s Not My Company’ Syndrome

by Olateju Oladapo, HR Officer at RS Hunter Limited, January 25, 2016 

017e8b2511987de7f73353dc70897061How often have you heard a business owner say “It’s my company so what I say goes.” or “I built this company, I know what I went through to bring it this far, I must be doing something right!”  I once had a boss who when I made a suggestion told me that the company wasn’t mine nor was it his so “Let’s do it the way we’ve been asked to”.  While his statement was very true, I felt discouraged and demoralised by this attitude and as such I began to hold back from making other suggestions since I felt they would receive the same response. 63573a4026d24d56abc94b9eea994f45

Most employees, particularly in my part of the world tend to lack a sense of ownership in the workplace.  This has resulted in them feeling disconnected from the business objectives and corporate vision.  Going by my experience, I think there are some employees who may have started off with an enthusiastic ‘I-can-make-a-difference’ attitude but somewhere along the way they became tired of making suggestions that were never deliberated on let alone implemented.

toon-1224On the other hand, all companies have a set of employees that have always limited their abilities and involvement in the company either because they lack job satisfaction or they are content with being ‘average’ performers.  Statements such as “It’s not my father’s company so I refuse to kill myself.” or “I don’t get paid enough to be this stressed.” and “It’s not like I will get any money when the guys at the top start sharing profits.” are repeated time and again with very little consideration for the impact such statements have on the morale and performance of others.
demotivation

It really is unfortunate that these situations exist particularly when others are working really hard to pull the company forward.  The reality is that if the performance of such a company does not meet shareholder’s expectations, they may end up seeking alternative investments for their money which could put everyone’s job at risk.

Managers and supervisors play an important role in making sure their subordinates feel free to express themselves in the workplace.  Such an environment fosters collaboration, knowledge sharing and better performance.  While not every company can give its employees an ownership stake in the business, there are other ways to get employees to start thinking and acting like business owners including the following:

  • Appreciate them at every opportunity you get
  • Clearly and frequently articulate the company’s vision and your expectations to them
  • Do not micromanage them
  • Encourage freedom of expression
  • Practice constructive criticism
  • Communication should be a two-way street
  • Let your employees decide how they execute their day-to-day tasks
  • Treat all employees with respect
  • Always give feedback
  • Listen to your employees
  • See every employee as a stakeholder of the company
  • Be a leader and not a manager
  • Reward your employees appropriately

Similarly, as an employee we must avoid exhibiting ‘not-my-company’ traits by:

  • Being passionate about what we do and owning our work
  • Holding ourselves accountable for the decisions we make
  • Having a willingness to learn
  • Aligning oneself with the company’s culture
  • Understanding how our personal objectives tie into the company’s overall objectives and working towards achieving them
  • Cultivating a positive attitude and getting rid of negative thoughts
  • Defining your job (don’t let your job define you).

Write the story of your life

There’s no doubt that the future of any company is highly dependent on the motivation of its employees. While we all aspire to run our own businesses someday, we must remember that certain learnings are necessary in order to be a successful entrepreneur.  If you are unable to take ownership for the little you are responsible for as an employee, you will most likely struggle to manage the responsibilities of being a business owner.  Employees should begin to see themselves as co-owners in the companies where they work while employers should build a culture where employees are willing to go the extra mile for the company.

ChangeWhatever your experience has been, always remember that as an employee you must have the desire to succeed so if your manager is not supporting your ideas, don’t let it dampen your spirits; keep your problem solving, innovative and creative juices flowing because you will definitely need them again someday.

Why Successful Companies Invest in Employee Training & Development

by Bukola Dovon Training Analyst at RS Hunter Limited, December 26, 2015 

Have you ever wondered what your customers think about the people you hire to work in your organisation?  How would they describe your organisation based on the interaction they have with your people?  How much do they overlook when it comes to conducting repeat business with your company?  If they had a choice, would they take their business elsewhere?

Customer Satisfaction Secrets

A well trained employee will certainly differentiate your organisation from that of your competitor.  Imagine a scenario where a customer service personnel ends a call without solving the customer’s issue or proffering possible solutions?  Worse still the employee is rude, doesn’t show concern and is unapologetic?  Unfortunately, situations like this occur everyday and in many instances the managers don’t get to hear about it.  In some cases, the first inkling they get is when revenue starts to dwindle.

Teachable MomentThe interesting fact is that the cycle doesn’t end there.  Lower revenue negatively impacts profits, the employer is forced to look at different ways to stay afloat possibly making cuts in it’s spending on employee benefits which then makes employees feel undervalued and demotivated and ultimately impacts individual and corporate performance.

There are two major reasons employers are reluctant to train their employees:

  1. Training is costly

Training your employees will definitely come at a cost but if done properly, the cost should be quantifiable and therefore budgeted for.  This allows adequate planning ahead of the expenditure.  On the other hand the consequence of inadequate training could be disastrous for the company.  Dissatisfied customers and a bad reputation as a result of defective products or poor service delivery could lead to a total loss of business.

  1. Trained employees become knowledgeable, attractive to the competition and ultimately leave

Investing in EmployeesMost have heard the famous Henry Ford quote “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”  Just imagine a scenario where all your ‘top’ performers become disillusioned with their prospects in your organisation and leave the company? What will be the calibre of those that stay and will they be able to carry the organisation forward?

Employee Training BenefitsFormal development of employees does not have to be costly.  In some instances, a manager spending some one-on-one time with their subordinate and guiding them on how to fill gaps that exist in their skills and learning needs could do the trick.  In addition, depending on the level and skill, you could develop in-house training guides that will improve ‘On-the-Job Training’ (OJT).  Because the modules are specifically designed for your organisational needs, they can be used for as long as they remain valid, thereby reducing the overall cost of training over the long term.

Classroom based teaching methods will always have their place and it’s important that where this is the best approach to enhance learning, it is used.  Remember that classroom sessions can be conducted in one of two ways:

  1. Online training modules
  2. Face-to-face interactive teaching sessions

Using a combination of the different training methods will surely get you the desired result.  Don’t forget that individual training and development plans must be designed based on the skills gap analysis of each employee for their present and future roles.

Successful companies have found that training their employees reduces inefficiencies, improves the retention of their top talent, increases loyalty and the overall productivity of their organisation.  So as you prepare your company to survive the ever-changing competitive sphere of business, commit to being a learning organisation and watch as new horizons open up.

The Combination Of Things

by Our Managing Partner, RS Hunter Limited, December 10, 2015

The purpose of all we do is somewhat similar to a cooking recipe and the final result depends largely on the various ingredients, the timing and the measure.

Having worked for a number of organisations and then being involved in starting up a business, the importance of getting things right has become clearer over the years.  As a candidate looking for work, an employee or a business owner, I have found that the key ingredients for success (the required combination of things) are actually quite similar.

3D Illustration of the word 'success' being cooked in a saucepan. Suggested concept – 'A Recipe For Success'

  1. Appearance – How do we appear as an applicant, an employee or as a business to those we want to be attractive to (the customers, employers, managers whom we hope will pay, employ or reward us)?
  2. Quality – What are the standards we commit to?
  3. Values – What do we stand for and how clearly does it show in the way we go about our business?
  4. Time – How do we view time and timeliness as an ingredient for success?

All new businesses are established with the aim of being profitable, this always means there is a huge focus on bottom-line performance of the organisation:

  • What sort of revenues can we generate?
  • How do we keep our costs low?
  • What will be our ‘go-to-market’ strategy?
  • Who are the best people to take us there?

grow-business-gross-profitAnswers to all of these will give us some sort of direction and shape our businesses or careers.

Likewise, as HR people, we may also be guilty of ignoring the rules for getting the best results with the ingredients we have.  We strive to hire the best people; competent, passionate, professional, loyal and so on, but sometimes we forget the combination requirements for getting the best experience from those we attract.

halfswirlwculture_thumb

To get the best out of our people (and in turn business success), we could look at these three ingredients for our workplace culture:

  1. Fun – Keeps people passionate, motivated, and interested.
  2. Focus – Keeps the end in mind, consistently reminding us of the values that are important to our success and our objectives.
  3. Fastidiousness – A culture that’s doesn’t forget the little details, keeps the facts in perspective, that pays attention to the little things that keep the people ticking.

 

Here’s food for thought

How do vision, values and business performance relate to each other?  What are we communicating and what are we actually doing? What do people see?  Can we be leaders if all we do is follow?

We sometimes need to create our own recipes to shape our reality and find the best combination that will achieve our bottom-line objectives, like salt and pepper there are some constants.  Putting things together in the right proportions will result in an outstanding performance that will exceed expectations which will in turn lead to an increase in profitability – the result of a winning business recipe.

The Perception: We need a lucky break, a series of things have to come together for us to have a breakthrough.

The Reality: Whilst having all the ingredients may lead you on the path to success, the path is often paved with obstacles and only the brave, the patient and the persistent actually achieve success.

The Combination: The right amount of experience, talent and ambition, a well-planned business strategy (value, people, profit) we will set you on the right path.Combination of things

Major Misconceptions of a Young Graduate

by Yeyetunde Caxton-Martins HR Officer at RS Hunter Limited, December 01, 2015

congratulations-getting-through-easiest-graduation-ecard-someecards

A number of young graduates enter the labour market with impractical expectations. Sometimes it appears that their immediate focus is to secure a big oil and gas job with a multinational firm.  This is exacerbated by the economic situation in the country which has resulted in most graduates being torn between what they really want to do and the need to work for a high paying organisation.

vennThis inner conflict usually affects their immediate choices which can negatively impact their chosen career path as well as their sense of fulfillment and job satisfaction.  As a recent graduate myself, I am usually speaking to my peers when I ask these questions:

  1. Have you decided on your chosen career path?
  2. Have you been able to secure your first job?
  3. Do you have a sense of job satisfaction?

I have decided to leave the subject of self-fulfillment to another day as I have come to realise that this is not a question for only young graduates.
February-15-2012-02-08-02-tumblrlzb3x4XUTa1r5uwyno1500In my current role as a HR officer with a consulting firm I am expected to participate in a certain number of interviews each month.  A few months ago I was on a panel interviewing candidates for an entry level position in a small and medium scale company.  The young lady had recently completed her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) year and had no work experience however when asked about her career aspirations and salary expectations she responded “I would like to secure a job with a multinational firm and travel the world.  My expectation for the role would be N8,400,000 gross”  Now, as a HR practitioner, I commend her self-confidence and aspirations however; are they realistic and is an interview the right place to dream big?  I was curious so I asked her to enlighten us on the basis for her high expectations. Unfortunately, she didn’t have an answer and it became clear that her statement was simply a desire.

I was intrigued by the fact that all the candidates I met that day happened to have similar responses to ‘Candidate A’ so by the end of the day I was driven to make two major conclusions regarding the expectations of a young graduate.

1. If I get good grades I will become a high-flyer when I graduate.

d8b00134f0b2def18ee5101b7aa698e7There appears to be a lack of appreciation for the work that is required to move up the career ladder for any profession. Is it me or is there is an expectation that when you graduate, you go immediately to the US or the UK for a Master’s degree programme; return and then waltz into a good job? This may be the story of a lucky few but the unfortunate reality is that this is not the case for most young graduates. Based on a ‘back of the envelope’ survey I carried out I have come to the conclusion that pursuing a higher degree immediately after the first degree is closely linked to who is paying (I’ll expatiate on this in another post.)

 

2. All good jobs pay a lot of money

Money (not career opportunities or aspirations) is the key motivator for many young graduates.  There are well established firms in Nigeria that will imbibe in you good work ethics, expose you to the professional working environment, invest in your training as well as encourage a balance between your work and home life.  Don’t stay fixated on the oil & gas, banking and telecommunication sectors and even if you do, you don’t necessarily have to start with the big ones.

While we do not all think alike, these myths appear to be holding many young graduates back from starting their careers and setting the right foundation for growth.

One of my favourite quotes by Anais Nin is “Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.”

c898572bee3a677656f9dd9c7b872123While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having high expectations, “The distance between your dream and reality is called action.”  You must work hard to make your dream a reality so pace yourself, grow yourself and while you are doing these, stand out.  I believe that if you are knowledgeable, professional, persistent and confident; one day your ideal will become your reality.

Are You Adding Value To Your Organisation?

by Damilola Adekoya HR Officer at RS Hunter Limited, November 24, 2015

career-advancement-and-developmentWhen people share with me their concerns regarding career growth opportunities in their existing place of work, the first question I ask them is “Are you adding value to your organisation?” This is quickly followed by “How do you measure the value you are adding?”

Most people do not stop to think what their contribution to the bottom line is.  The fact is that each employee is recruited because there is a belief that your being part of the organisation will help the company meet its corporate objectives and long term vision thereby increasing profitability.

I got paidIt can be expected that the more valued you are as an employee, the more likely your employer will be keen to keep you around.  This desire can be demonstrated in numerous ways such as training opportunities, improved salary and benefits package, career progression and company-wide recognition.  Most important of all is how your employer treats you during an economic downturn. If you are a value-adding employee your employer will be keen to keep you around while others may be released.

Employees are constantly presented with the opportunity to make an impact in their organisations.  While carrying out your duties in a professional and efficient manner will make you stand out among your colleagues, good interpersonal skills, an ability to contribute positively to group projects as well as a positive attitude will go a long way to making your manager and other people in the organisation value your being there.

thank-you-for-going-the-extra-mile-1

Adding value in a particular position may also mean challenging the status quo or finding a better way to do things.  So while each role has a job description designed to ensure the individual achieves a specific outcome for the company; the person in the role can determine the extent of the value the company receives just by the way they go about conducting their responsibilities.

Take for example a recruitment officer whose role it is to identify and recruit suitable individuals to fill vacancies within an organisation. Such an employee may be expected to:

  • Develop job descriptions.
  • Advertise openings on the company’s job portal.
  • Conduct interviews to identify suitable candidates.
  • Select candidate(s) to be employed.

However the employee could go the extra mile by:

  • Getting to know the client, the industry in which they operate, their service offering, work culture and environment.
  • Listing the vacancies on various job portals as well as other social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and blogs.
  • Providing both successful and unsuccessful candidates with an update on the outcome of their interviews.
  • Offering advice to both the client and shortlisted candidates on pay rate, staff training and career progression.
  • Following up with the client and the candidate after a few weeks on the job to ascertain any immediate issues and proffer solutions if necessary.

81While these value adding strategies are not defined anywhere in the job description, a few extra steps in the process could lead to a potential cost saving for the company.

Some concerns employees have with trying to add value is that they do not want to be seen to be acting outside of their scope or that the extra effort may not be appreciated and could lead to additional costs for the company.  Whatever you do, don’t be a lone ranger. Run your idea by your manager or other colleagues in the office.  Make sure you have a summary to hand that takes into consideration the ‘what, why, how and when’ of your initiative.  If it is beneficial, you wouldn’t have to do much convincing.

Dont tell meAll things said, remember you were hired to perform a particular role in your organisation.  Make sure you do that to the best of your ability and where you may not have the requisite skills to perform above expectations, find ways to get it.

Below are a few questions I ask myself periodically.  Try to answer them honestly and give yourself a score on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest)

  1. Am I improving each year?
  2. Am I consistent in my attendance, my work, and my results?
  3. Am I spending most of my time at work with top performers?
  4. Do I collaborate well with others and have good professional relationships?
  5. Am I moving forward with purpose and not resting on my past accomplishments?
  6. Do I regularly ask for feedback on my performance from my boss and my peers?
  7. Do I set goals for myself beyond the ones set by my supervisor?
  8. Does my performance compare favorably with my peers?
  9. Have I recently added to my job description using my own initiative?

In conclusion, focus on the work you do and how you add value to your company. Infuse positivity and a “can-do” spirit to those in your team. I encourage you to work smart and watch your career soar!