I remember a chat I had with a girlfriend of mine few years ago. She shared with me her burning desire to marry a guy that is great in every sense of the word. She often found my opinions on this topic very valuable as I did hers.
So, concerning her burning desire for a great guy, I told her,
“If you want to flock with eagles, you must become one yourself, and you can’t become one if you keep perching on shrubs. Find the places where eagles have their nest and then start making your way up there no matter how impossible it may seem, for eagles will never descend to perch on shrubs”.
It seemed she found that a bit difficult to process. I narrowed it down and said “You need to think like a great woman, cultivate the habits of great women, study and read about the lives of great women, see yourself as a great woman, go to places great people go to, refuse to fall into mediocrity and you will most likely attract a great man to yourself.”
Just like my friend, I hear a lot of companies and business owners stating their desire to become “world class” or to be at the “zenith” of what they do. Countless number of vision and mission statements has been written to this effect. We see them in company brochures, profiles, and on the walls of various offices. I would like to tell every company and entrepreneur that for an organisation to attain world class status, it needs to do what world class organisations do. You might want to argue that big companies do what they do because they are big, but a closer look reveals that those companies became big by consistently doing the things they do. The only difference is that, as they grow they do those things at a higher level.
An organisation cannot become world class when most of its employees opt out for better job offers (mostly with regards to salary), and similarly when a large chunk of its staff do not buy into the organisation’s vision but are there just to earn their pay. When the staffs are not emotionally and physically balanced to discharge their duties effectively, the company cannot move on to great heights. The worst scenario is when it is glaring that the organisation does not care about the welfare of its staff. The main goal of a business organisation is to make profits. In order to do that it has to invest in the capacity building and well being of its staff. This would facilitate increase in productivity (consequentially increasing its profit), create the right image and build the right perception for the organisation.
The quality of employees an organisation has, and how productive and effective they are, play a big role in determining how realistic it is for such an organisation to attain world class status. The Human Resource department of any organisation is saddled with the responsibility of recruitment and management of the affairs of staff. Even small businesses should have someone (or a consultant, since they might be too small to have a HR department) who oversees the affairs of employees. Unfortunately, most organisations are only concerned in what their employees could be used for and not in what the employees could become while working with the organisation. There is a world of difference when employees are made to understand that they work with the organization and not necessarily for it. Beyond making the most of employees which is Human Resource Development (HRD), organisations should also make the most for employees which is Human Relationships Management (HRM). I refer to this as Total HR (HRD + HRM).
“In whatever you do, people should come first before profit” – Pat Mesiti
Employees are human beings with feelings and emotions, and not robots. If you give a human face to your relationship with them, you will over time win not just their heads (skills, qualifications, degrees, etc) but also their hearts (passion, enthusiasm, etc). So long as humans are involved in what you are doing, LOVE cannot be kept outside the door. Develop and introduce a love strategy to your staff and watch them pour out their skills and hearts (passion) into the organisation. Those who are not fit for the organisation’s mission will also be revealed. Let’s look through some scenarios:
- A wife who always feels unhappy with the extra time her husband spends at work surprisingly receives a gift through a dispatch rider from her husband’s organization on her birthday. She unwraps the gift and finds out it is an item she has been desirous to get but have been too busy to go get from the stores. Besides that, the gift was addressed in her first name and not just her surname. This means the company had deliberately requested for her details. Do you know what the company just did? Beyond making the wife happy, they’ve helped the husband manage the rift in his family life! And they’ve just shown themselves as a responsible organization.
- The kids (Peter and Chris) have been made to understand that their Daddy has to work in order to take good care of them, but they can’t deny their feelings when they nag about hardly having him around. Surprisingly, just at the end of the annual long vacation, they received a package through a dispatch rider from their Dad’s company. They unwrapped the package in excitement and found company branded exercise books, pencils, biros, and other kiddies stuff in it for both of them. Guess what the company did? They just struck a soft spot in the heart of the kids!
- Imagine a company hiring handymen to go and fix things at the homes of employees while they are at work. All the employees need to do is provide the keys to their homes and the needed basic materials. By managing these home responsibilities, the company has helped its employees remain focused on their jobs.
- An organization that finds time to send a representative to visit an employee that is ill is very likely to win the loyalty of its employees ranging from the security officers, cleaners, and even up to top management. Sometimes just a few phone calls will suffice.
A lot of employees face various forms of stress and companies who want the best out of their employees should also think of ways to help their people manage stress. They could sign their employees up for physical training sessions organize retreats for them or create brief games sessions during lunch break. It could be through signing them up for physical training sessions, or organizing retreats for them, or creating brief games session during lunch-breaks. Also, a stress relief room within the office complex would be a cool spot for employees to relax. Every organization can be creative about this and figure out what works for its staff and what doesn’t. The point really is about showing genuine concern and interest in the well being of its employees.
Some persons might be of the opinion that these ideals are quite noble but are not applicable in Nigeria, but let me quickly share two Nigerian instances with you:
- Sometime ago, Alder Consulting observed that the number of nursing mothers in the organization was increasing. That meant a portion of its staff will be having trouble focusing on work which will consequentially lead to poor performance, what did Alder Consulting do? The company created a crèche within its office complex and employed someone to be in charge of it. Nursing mothers could now come to work with their babies, baby food, and nannies. They drop them off at the crèche and resume at their various offices to focus on work with the opportunity of coming to check on their babies during lunch-break. That’s a Nigerian company pressing for world class best practices.
- Mr. Williams is the General Manager, HR/ADMIN Dept. of one of Nigeria’s largest conglomerates. He was posted to one of the newest companies to help with the start-up process. The head office of the group could not fathom why things remained calm though the company was facing challenges. The staff had not been paid for three months and production was still in progress. They found out that the GM, HR/ADMIN, Mr. Williams had everything under control and had gotten the employees to repose confidence in him to resolve the issues as quickly as possible. What did Mr. Williams do? Long before the problems arose, he had been building a good rapport with them. He usually took out time to eat with the staff at the canteen. He sometimes rode with them in the staff bus though he had a comfortable car and driver assigned to him, and he was patient in listening to and resolving their complaints. He was very understanding and lenient but not weak. He practiced the firm and fair strategy. These attributes and gestures endeared Mr. Williams to the employees. It placed him at the position of averting strike actions and other forms of chaos thus he was able to resolve conflicts with less effort. That’s a Nigerian HR executive exuding world class best practices.
People give their best to what they love. They do not drag their feet when reporting to work in the morning. They are ready to give their job the utmost best. The more a company shows concern over the affairs of its employees, the more the employees give themselves to their jobs. Employees are at their best when they fall in love with their organizations.