Creating a winning organizational culture

Have you ever been to a firm or enterprise that drains the energy out of you? Picture this: you walk into a premise in need a service. The attendants are chatting in the back office. The receptionist is on a personal call. Your attempts to get someone’s attention are ignored as everyone minds their own business. It can be very frustrating to encounter such a scenario.
What causes such mayhem in an organization? Culture. The business dictionary defines organizational culture as the “values and behaviours that contribute to an organization’s unique social and psychological environment. Aristotle, the philosopher once said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” At its core, an organization is a living organism made up of people, their values, behaviors and experiences. What they do shapes the organization and ultimately reflects in performance of the organization.
Instilling an organizational culture that motivates employees to do the right things rather than the easy thing can be a challenge. Employees come from diverse backgrounds and have unique personalities which are brought to the fore in the course of interactions at the workplace. Creating and sustaining an organizational culture that facilitates successful implementation of the business strategy calls for the translation of the strategy into customer oriented actions that become the soul of the organization. The mindsets of the employees must shift in the process of creating a winning organizational culture. The employees shift from being the doers of the job to being the owners of the job. They take responsibility for their actions. They come up with solutions to challenges that arise. They create a positive working environment.
We have observed that the organizations that create and sustain successful organizational cultures follow these critical steps:
1. Leadership sets the tone
Every organization rises and falls on account of its leadership. If the leadership has a culture of doing the right thing, the employees will follow suit. If the leadership has a culture of doing the easy thing, the employees will do the easiest thing. The leaders of an organization must not only create a winning organizational culture but they also need to make room for the evolution of the organization’s culture. The current business operating environment is changing at the speed of light. New technologies are emerging. New regulations are implemented quite often. A successful organization embraces change quickly.
2. Prioritize and focus
An organization’s culture cannot be changed in a day but each day must be characterized by some changes. What aspects need to be improved? What aspects are unproductive and unnecessary? What timelines have been allocated to the improvement of organization’s culture? What comes first and what comes last? Answering these questions helps in the creation of priorities as the organization seeks to build a winning culture.
3. Structure
An organization relies on ritual and vision to go to the next level. Ritual (habits, values and behaviour) power the vision. Creating rituals that will sustain the organization calls for creation of suitable structures. The structures created perpetuate a winning culture and keep the organization focused on serving its customers.
What is your organization’s culture? Is it working for your organization?

Top five recruiting challenges HR professionals face and how to overcome them

Every HR professional comes up against certain challenges when they are trying to hire new workers. From not receiving resumes from candidates with enough experience to being unable to shift through applications effectively, many recruiters encounter numerous issues with acquiring new employees every day. However, there are some obstacles that many HR professionals must tackle in their search for great talent that are just emerging. These types of issues require HR representatives to adopt specific solutions and strategies if they want to improve their recruiting.

Here are five of these challenges and how to overcome them:

1. The need to make a Speedy Hire.

According to an article in HR resource, one of the biggest struggles recruiters are starting to encounter is the need to make a quick hire. Many HR professionals had time during the recession to deliberate over candidates’ qualifications and conduct multiple rounds of interviews, but competition is heating up once more for great talent. In addition, many companies are growing so fast and need to fill multiple positions at the same time that recruiters no longer have a lot of time to recruit workers.

Solution: HR professionals should examine their recruitment tools, especially their software and employee management strategies. Recruiters can spend a lot of extra time trying to input candidates’ information into systems or speaking with managers about the specific requirements of a certain position. Ensuring all of the needed information is already documented and easily accessible can save recruiters some steps and cut down on their recruitment time.

2. Not having enough resources.

Many HR professionals have to make do with the resources they have, and sometimes there isn’t much to work with. While some HR departments are given large budgets to place ads across the Internet so job openings are in the hottest recruitment spots, others may have to use free job boards or take out space in more traditional recruiting channels. This can present big problems with finding qualified candidates.

Solution: Not every department can boost its recruitment budget, but HR professionals are able to examine where the best hires are searching for jobs. Platforms like social media can be great and affordable solutions to this issue for HR professionals, who can use their LinkedIn profiles, for example, to send out information about open positions to others on the social site.

3. Being unable to find the perfect candidate for a certain position.

HR professionals often see themselves stuck when they aren’t receiving resumes from candidates with strong backgrounds or skill sets needed for the position. Even if these recruiters reach out to passive job seekers, they may hit a brick wall in terms of finding the talent they need. This is an all-too-common problem for recruiters, but one that they are starting to face more often as the competition for key performers heats up.

Daniel Ha, founder and CEO of communications firm Disqus, told SmartRecruiters this was a significant problem his company encountered, especially since it had limited resources.

Solution: Ha said his company was able “to strike a great balance between hiring someone for position-need versus hiring someone that’s great regardless of position.” HR professionals need to get out of the mindset of hiring for a position rather than assembling superstar talent. While recruiters may have to fill a certain position, they should also be open to training and educating talented workers so they can acquire needed skills.

HR representatives can also adjust the position’s job description. According to Brazen Careerist, a job description’s wording may not correctly explain the position and its needs. Some of the qualifications may not be realistic for the position’s true requirements.

4. Understanding and using analytics effectively.

Big data may be a topic that’s old news to many HR professionals, but analytics remains a large challenge for many HR professionals. According to HR Den, being able to sort through and harness data acquired through human resource information systems and other types of technology can be difficult for HR professionals. Making sense of the collected data can be especially tricky.

Solution: HR professionals should work with data analytics experts or HR solution vendors to understand what various data points mean and how the department can harness them. Recruiters can then create cheat-sheets to help them understand how certain types of information can be used in the future.

5. Finding workers who fit the company culture.

New hires need to be able to integrate into a team and work well in the company environment, otherwise HR professionals will have to start the talent acquisition process all over again. Jennifer Barbee, founder and CEO of a tourism marketing company, told SmartRecruiters finding workers who fit the company culture was the business’s top recruiting challenge. This was an issue as well for Nathan Parcells, founder and CMO of InternMatch, who told SmartRecruiters his team had to let great candidates go because they didn’t gel with the team.

Solution: HR professionals should ensure they describe the company culture as best as they can in job descriptions. Displaying the company’s mission and aspects of its internal environment can help job seekers understand the organization better, which can ensure only those candidates who may fit well will apply.


Six Reasons Why Your Company May Want To Outsource Your Payroll

In the ever changing world of payroll taxes and regulations, preparing and managing a payroll can be a daunting task.  It involves a lot more than just determining the salary and statutory deductions such as NHIF, NSSF, and PAYE. Here are six reasons why your organization may want to outsource the payroll processing service.

  1. To save costs and time.

A large organization that has unlimited resources can afford to maintain a large payroll department, but for a small business, establishing an in-house payroll team can be a big burden and only adds costs to the company’s bottom line. Consider the huge expenses such as payroll software costs, training costs, printers, printing and distributing pays lips, creating tax documents etc.Time is money and there is a lot of time spent in producing payroll information.Outsourcing your payroll gives you time to focus on the core aspects of your business.

  1. Accuracy

If you choose to do payroll in-house, any errors your staff make can result in huge penalties from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) or other government institutions. Making payroll mistakes can be costly to the company and painfulto the person who commits them.  No one wants to have the government behind their back because of committing errors that could have been easily avoided. It gives you peace of mind, confidence and there is no room for errors when working with qualified payroll providers who have the required resources and expertise to process your company’s payroll.

  1. Privacy and security

It can be embarrassing and detrimental to employee morale if their payroll data is accidentally or maliciously exposed to other staff. By outsourcing your payroll, sensitive and confidential payroll data is calculated off-site, so there’s nochance of breach in confidentiality.  Payroll providers have technologies that can spot and alert clients to various types of payroll fraud, such as payment manipulation and phantom workers.

  1. Efficiency

When you outsource payroll processing you don’t need to worry about staffing, training, vacation coverage and other internal issues when youuse an efficient, outsourced payroll service provider.

  1. Team of Experts

The team of experts is constantly updated on current trends and changing regulations on payroll management. A team of experts is more attuned to leading Best Practice in the market; they can source for the best software. They are in touch and aware of all the statutory requirements. By outsourcing payroll an organization can take advantage of this competency.

  1. No fear for losing your HR staff.

Having one person in your company doing your payroll can be a business risk. If they get a new job, all their payroll knowledge and secrets walk out of the door with them. When you outsource your payroll service, you eliminate the worry of losing your valuable HR personnel.

Outsource your payroll to professionals by getting in touch with us for more information.Tel: +254 706 419 111

The top two criteria used to differentiate annual salary increases are individual performance and company performance, a Kenyan survey reveals.

According to a survey carried out in Kenya by Virtual HR services in partnership with South Africa’s 21st Century Group, the top two criteria used to differentiate annual increases in most organizations are individual and company performance. The other consideration for awarding salary increase is affordability.

The survey was carried out to determine the nature and extent of salary movements in Kenya for last year and the first quarter of 2015. The data which was collected from some of the leading Kenyan brands including Safaricom Limited, Strathmore University and Libya Oil Kenya Limited among other organizations sampled 13 CEOs, 57 Executives, 872 Managers and 5 247 General Staff.

The survey revealed valuable insights which can be useful for senior management and HR executives in Kenya’s corporate world. From the research, we found that, in most organizations, the executive management have the highest prevalence of the total consolidated package at 38.5%.  The executives are also more likely to enjoy flexibility in their package compared to the general staff.

The crust of the report in the survey revealed that the top two reasons why employees leave organisations are either being forced out as a result of non-performance or downsizing or because they choose to leave for personal or career growth.

Despite differences in industry and organisational culture, most employees are motivated in their job because of one or many of the following factors:

  • The organisation for which they work
  • Remuneration offering, including incentives
  • Their boss
  • The work environment such as culture, personality fit and flexibility
  • Recognition
  • The achievements they can produce when they play a specific role
  • The status that a position gives them
  • Their peers, team and co-workers
  • The work schedule

To keep every employee satisfied and motivated, managers should understand what motivates each employee individually and design their work environment accordingly.

The detailed report which is available for free on request concludes that, salary increase determination is not an isolated decision and is made with consideration of your organization’s affordability as well as your company’s history of salary increases.

To get this report for FREE, Call us +254 706 419 111 or Email:

Achieving Accurate Person–to–Job Match Using Scientific Tools

If you have been keen enough, we have begun a new journey of consistently engaging our audience with HR related content on all our social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. This is our first blog article that captures in a summary what we’ve been talking about this week.

Our thematic subject last week was about Personal Development Analysis (PDA), the new and internationally recognized tool that helps companies and individuals assess the job profiles of candidates. PDA is a scientifically validated behavioral assessment tool which improves the selection and development of organisational talent

The main uses of PDA are for recruitment, training needs and analysis.

PDA gives you an overview of an individual’s:
• Leadership style.
• Decision-making style.
• How to lead this person to success.
• Persuasive skills.
• Analytical skills.
• Sales skills.
• Motivation and energy level.
• Emotional Intelligence (Self Control).
• Strengths and developmental areas.
• Compatibility with specific job outputs and competencies.

PDA fits into all areas and applications of Human Capital. With the PDA assessment tool, you will be able to…
• Hire the most suitable people for each Job
• Team up the best talent
• Develop leadership skills
• Select the best career path for executives and professionals
• Identify employees’ and team’s areas of strength and areas for improvement

Who uses PDA?
a) Small and Big Organizations who want to utilize behavioural information of employees to achieve higher productivity and create high performing teams thus allowing small companies to grow big and create a niche in the market, while big companies solidify their market position, and even grow bigger and better. This tool is used widely by leading companies ranked “Great Place to Work.”
b) Individual People who want to understand their strengths and developmental areas in order to improve their job/career prospects, current and future job performance and relationships with subordinates, colleagues and superiors.

In Kenya, Virtual HR services is the officially accredited company by PDA international to use these tools. Get in touch with us for support. We have something interesting this week. Keep an eye on our social media platforms for more.

Wishing you a lovely week ahead.

The Strategy Summit 2014

The Strategy Summit 2014 shall be held at the Strathmore Business School.
Theme: Bridging the Generational Gap – Creating High-Performing Teams
The Strategy Summit 2014 focused exclusively on this little-understood subject: Bridging the gap – creating authentic teams from diverse teams for high performance at work. Participants were exposed to the latest thinking and research, and were made to understand the do’s and don’ts of engaging their talent across generations.

Key Notes

  • Skills for managing across business units, functions, borders
  • Awareness of the impact of differences in work values, behaviors and attitudes
  • Awareness of characteristics of each generation and their interaction
  • How to manage diverse workforces and build authentic teams
  • Understanding how to develop initiatives to ensure engagement
  • Bring greater productivity and success

Your Communications May Not Be Communicating

Have you ever been in an organization where communication was not an issue? If so, you’re the exception rather than the rule.

Large organizations in particular have always struggled with the challenges of communications. In fact, the concept of span of control — a decades-old organizational design principle — was derived originally from communications research analyzing supervisors’ interactions with various numerical sets of subordinates. For example, one study noted that going from four to five subordinates increased potential interactions from 44 to 100; and that going from seven to eight brought the total from 490 to 1080. Hence the ideal number for traditional spans was usually pegged at seven, so that supervisors would be able to get more face time with their workers.

Today, we’re not restricted to face-to-face communication for conveying information, and most companies have invested in full-time communications professionals. Consequently organizations are constantly communicating with their people through a wide range of modes and media: Newsletters and magazines, email blasts, town meetings, streaming videos — as well as traditional meetings. But yet somehow, communications are still a problem. As one of my clients is fond of saying “The greatest problem with communication is the assumption that it has taken place.”

Now, I’ve never found a senior manager who says that communications are not important; so why do organizational communications continue to break down despite all of the investment and generally good intentions? Let me present three common traps:

  1. Lack of context: How many times have you received a message but didn’t know what was behind it or why it was important? Not long ago, the senior leaders of a large corporation decided to launch a number of very critical initiatives, and consequently assigned project leaders from their areas. When the overall effort started to fall behind, the CEO called a meeting of all the project leaders and discovered that they lacked a common understanding of the initiatives: their urgency, their impact on the overall business, and their interconnectedness. Without that context, the project leaders were treating this as just one more assignment among many.
  2. Lack of questions and dialogue: Recently I sat in on an “all-hands” meeting for a department of a major bank. At the session, departmental and corporate leaders made well-prepared, informative presentations — complete with slides, graphs, and videos. After 90 minutes of presentations, the departmental manager asked if there were any questions and — when none of the 150 people raised their hands — adjourned the meeting. A week later, when people were asked to give feedback about the meeting, most recalled that it was “useful” but very few could remember any specific takeaways. Without questions, your audience has no opportunity to digest the content through discussion, and communications are hard to absorb.
  3. Lack of connection: Finally, communication is always local. The first lens that everyone uses to understand a message is: “What does it mean for me?” Because of that, communications can often be interpreted differently depending on the person. For example, a number of years ago an executive visited a manufacturing site to give employees the “bad news” that the plant was going to be gradually shut down over the next few years. After his announcement, he was surprised to hear a wide variety of reactions: Some were happy that they would get a payoff and be able to retire early; others were indifferent because they didn’t think it would really happen; and most thought it was too far into the future to worry about at present. All of the employees received the same message — but the individual interpretations were different, and none of them were what the executive expected. But because this executive didn’t have personal relationships with the plant workers, he was not prepared for their reactions.

Communication in organizations is equivalent to the neural network in the human body. If there is a misfire, the organism becomes inefficient or even dysfunctional. If you’re a manager, part of your job is to strengthen the communication pathways to, from, and between your people. To do this effectively, take the time to provide context, encourage questions, and stay sufficiently connected to the different ways that people respond and react to messages. Of course there is more to effective communication than just these factors; but for most managers, it’s a good place to start.

Adapted from

The HBR Blog Network

Article by Ron Ashkenas

Importance of Personality Testing

Importance of Personality Testing

Personality and aptitude tests (psychometrics) are helpful for managing people and for understanding yourself. You should also consider using personality and aptitude tests if you are recruiting or developing people.

Even though the question types and personality categorization differ from test to test, they provide insight into the human psyche.

There is a general feeling that many employers are not making full use of the PAT (Personality Assessment Tests) when recruiting. The factors that have contributed to this include.

  1. Costs: Most employers feel the cost of administering these tests is way beyond their budget. Some are unaffordable to many hence limiting their use
  2. Knowledge on the benefits: Most employers are unaware of the benefits of PAT. This leads to the traditional interviews being in use
  3. Internet access: Most of these tests have to be administered online with the use of internet. Most potential employees may not have access to the internet or some employers do not have internet installed in their offices. this limits the number of employees with access to PAT
  4. Wrong hiring practices: Some organizations have not developed or adapted the best practices in hiring. The procedures used are ambiguous and this limits the use of PAT with many employers

What is the importance of Personality Testing?

A personality test can provide us with a way to categorized different characteristics or traits that we might otherwise not be aware of.

Additionally, this categorization will help us learn how others might react to something in their environment.

These tests can be used for self-reflection and understanding, for job placement, and for learning how to better interact with others in a team or work group.

a) Job Placement:

If a job requires specific characteristics and personality types, then a personality test can be used for placement purposes.  For example, if you are joining a company where you will be placed into one of several close knit teams, the company might use a personality test to determine which group of people you would work best with.

In addition, if the personality test is properly configured to identify people who will be highly satisfied with important aspects of a job, hiring such people will significantly reduce turnover. For example, if a large part of the job requires the daily performance of a series of highly routine tasks, then it behooves a supervisor to hire people who can not only perform the tasks, but will be very satisfied performing the tasks over an extended period of time. The personality test can provide just that type of information. In other words, organizations interested in hiring high quality employees and reducing turnover can achieve greater success in both areas by employing a well-developed personality test in the hiring process.

b) Group Interaction:

In addition to understanding your own personality type, it is often beneficial to understand the personalities of those around you.  For example, many work teams and even sports teams, use personality tests to help the team members learn more about each other.  Since the personality test indicates some of your innate preferences, it can be very useful for other team members to understand what makes you tick.

Personality tests can also be used as a tool to help dysfunctional teams learn more about each other and begin to work through some of their differences.  Each team member would take the same personality test and then would share their results with the other members of the team.  Then, as a team, they would discuss the results and how to function as a more cohesive team.

Increasing the teams’ awareness of the personality types of the other members can create a more functional and cohesive team atmosphere.  Once the team members realize that someone has a different personality type that might make them more suited to one type of communication than the other, they can adapt and work together to create the best team dynamics.  Personality tests can be a great tool to use to bring team members together and create more productive teams

c) Self – Reflection:

By taking a personality test, one can often learn about his/herself and encourage self awareness.  For example, if a job involves presenting speeches and mingling with large crowds of people, but you’ve always felt a little uncomfortable performing the job functions, knowing that you are naturally introverted can help you to better understand yourself.  You will realize that performing these social functions will drain you of your energy.  By making this realization, you will be better able to cope with your job and create happiness for yourself.  For example, you can learn that you might have a better evening if you spend some quiet time alone before the functions to gather your energy.

Personality tests and quizzes can also provide insight into how you react to other people. For example, certain personality types have a tendency to get along better, while other personality types often are prone to arguments and clashes of style and opinion.

Why is personality important when hiring?

Personality is one of the most important factors when considering an employee for hire. A prospective employee’s personality can influence how that employee may perform within the confines of the business and interact with the existing staff. A goal-driven, positive personality can also be contagious and may boost the morale of the entire staff, leading to increased productivity and success. The key to hiring is to select the candidate with the right attitude then train them for skills to do the job. By doing this, the organization will ensure it hires candidates who adapt well with the culture of its staff. Personality is also important for the following reasons

i.  Team spirit

When hiring, an employer must consider how a prospective employee’s personality may mesh with the existing staff. Too many strong personalities with leadership characteristics can lead to a lack of teamwork, whereas a staff composed primarily of conservative personalities may lack the initiative necessary to achieve the business’ goals. A knowledgeable employer who is aware of the personality needs of his staff can use this as an effective hiring criterion right along with job experience
ii.   Customers buy from nice people

An employee with a more “people friendly” personality is good for a business that depends on customer service to drive sales. Customers buy from people they like and who are nice to them, and they quickly leave establishments where customer service is inattentive or rude. This is seen most often in the service industry where an employee has the power to influence a customer experience simply with attitude. In return the business get referrals for more business
iii.   The drive to learn

A prospective employee’s personality can tell an employer a lot about the drive and performance potential of the employee. This is particularly important in competitive fields like marketing or in commission-based sales positions. An employee who lacks drive or who does not display the desire to close sales will not fare well in those industries and is therefore not an ideal candidate for hire
iv.   Hire whom you like

As an employer, you get to hire whomever you want within the limits of the law. Hiring an employee whose personality you enjoy and whom you could see yourself being able to stand seeing every workday is an important factor when considering anyone for hire. If you hire someone whose personality clashes with your own, it could lead to problems in the workplace that could bleed over onto the rest of the staff, causing a more stressful work environment. Stressed-out employees make bad decisions that could ultimately impact the performance of the business.

Gladys Ogallo is the Managing Director and founder of Virtual HR. She can be reached on

What do Recruiters Look for in a Sales Person?

To be a successful sales person, three elements are key: knowledge, passion and fire in the belly.

Recruiters look for the sales person who appreciates that product knowledge is paramount.  If they are selling a technical product, for example internet working Wide Area Networks, do you know what that means?  You may not be the one who will install and configure the product (the engineers will) but do you know ALL the features of the product.  Are you able to translate these features to the potential client? Are you able to interpret these features as value-adds to the potential client?  Without adequate product knowledge, selling looks like treating earthquake victims covered in fatal wounds with band-aid.

A sales person needs passion.  The kind of burning passion that makes you jump out of bed with a song and a spring in your step – literally. Let’s face it, selling may be a natural act, but the business world does not make it easy.  You will face rejection, closed doors, askaris with dogs, uncooperative receptionists and all sorts of gate keepers.  The gate keepers appear to be on the payroll of your competitors.  They will test your self esteem, your ego, your pride and all that your esteem counselor has been hammering into your head. You must have enough passion in your heart to go back again and again until you gain entry into the decision maker’s office to sell your story.

The third feature we look for is a burning fire in the belly.  That which says I am in a hurry to move on and get done.  But I am with you, the customer, for the long haul.  I am not a hit-and-run. I am in this profession for life and it is the only profession that is right for me.  I have unfinished business, that I must complete.  And that unfinished business is to create a relationship with you, the buyer, and win you to my side of the fence.

Gladys Ogallo

For Business Daily  April 2010