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 gogallo@virtualhr.co.ke

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

www.businessdailyafrica.com

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) – Beyond Computers

On Thursday 19th May we had undoubtedly one of the best and most persuasive career talks we have had this year. It was based on the various career opportunities available in the field of I.C.T. It was presented by Mrs. Gladys Ogallo, a parent in the school. she works with Virtual HR- a human resource consultancy firm  which carries out its operations via the internet. She was accompanied by a gentleman called Evans who works for Google Kenya- the globally  renowned search engine company. They broadened our minds on the extensive possibilities of I.C.T. We got to know the global trends on information and communication and that this field is more than just sitting in front of the computer!

We learnt that I.C.T stretches into what are traditionally non-I.C.T fields such as farming, catering, amongst  others. The two went further ahead to elaborate on what pertains to their specific field of expertise.

We were quite impressed by both speakers. They used visual aids in form of PowerPoint presentations that made the session lively. Mrs. Ogallo especially has a way with words. She was in sync with the students and was successful in bringing the content down to our level. At the end of the talk, I had been won over with the idea of pursuing an I.C.T-based career.

Jean Wanjema – Journalism Club Member, Kianda School

www.kiandaschool.org


How do I give Value Training on a Lean Budget?

In my days as Training and Development Manager, for Africa Online a large IT company I used to spend several weeks a year in various countries bringing training to the country operations.  I had a heavy travel schedule. It had its rewards, and its downturns. Now, corporates are replacing this kind of schedule with other means.

The world economy has taken a nose-dive. When companies are pushed to the edge with lower revenues and profits, training budgets are the first to get slashed.  However as HR professionals we need to continuously find ways to fill the gaps with in-house initiatives that are cost effective.  Sometimes, these in-house initiatives have a greater impact than more costly alternatives.  Some of these initiatives are well-know, but we don’t utilize them well.

To do more with less, I recommend focusing on peer learning, keeping instructional modules simple, leveraging technology and maximizing what you already have.

Highlight internal talent: Instead of hiring external consultants, turn to the real experts; your own employees.  At UUNET, a leading ICT company, internal talent that has specific skills are keen to impart this skills to their peers.  This ranges from Technology (Vsat, Wireless technology) to Personal growth (personal financial management, debt management, self-branding or career management). Training evaluations are done after each session. This serves both the trainer; to know his improvement areas and the Training Manager; to understand the impact of the training on the trainees. HR professionals can take this further and include Peer training as an aspect of the employees’ Key Performance Areas and hence enhance his eligibility for growth within the company.  Employees who attend the training learn techniques and the trainer gains recognition, boosting morale.

Implement Job Shadowing. Job shadowing involves more than just following a colleague around all day. Shadowers end up viewing the company from a more wholesome perspective.  They learn firsthand about the challenges facing their colleagues in other departments.  This new perspective helps employees realize the impact that their decisions and actions have on other departments.

Create or expand formal mentoring.  Mentoring yields cost effective training – and incredible results. Freshers learn about company culture and history from the more seasoned staff. Senior managers are able to see the organization from the directors’ view point. And a lot of times, these viewpoints give employees a totally different perspective of the company than the one they have been holding.  Using this approach, young managers will move into management after learning about management style, situational leadership and skillspers

Invite industry leaders and industry experts to give free presentations.  It is amazing how many senior industry leaders are willing and eager to give free presentations.  It is also amazing how rarely they are approached to do so. The Kenyan industry is an emerging market; yet very competitive.  The earlier we learn that co-operation is more fruitful than competition , the better for all involved

Focus on Product knowledge.  During tough economic times, CEOs pull back and instruct managers to concentrate only on the core of the business.  Leave out the frills.  Training should reflect this focus.  Give attention to training that is immediately applicable to every employee’s job. Focus on product knowledge.  The administrative assistants, telephone receptionist, drivers should all learn the core of the business – learn the basics of beer making, soft drink business, mobile phone technology or media.  This is cost effective training.  Senior employees teaching the less experienced. And it yields immediate results.  Employees who understand their organizations’ products can discuss them articulately with suppliers, co-workers and customers.  They are the first product and brand ambassadors of your company.  Relevance to their jobs becomes clear and these employees become truly engaged to the company.

Cross – train. Employees with more than one skill are more valuable and flexible.  At The Beck Group, a commercial architecture, construction and development company in Dallas, employees take 40 hours of continuing education annually. Eight of the 40 hours represent cross – training or training outside your department or function.   For example, the chief information officer spent over three months on a construction site as a project engineer.  Less dramatically, we can implement this in our organizations.

Host Interdepartmental events. In many companies, the right hand does not know what the left hand does for a living. Simple tasks get duplicated.  Work takes longer because employees are unaware of knowledge existing elsewhere. Your valuable employees spend weekends in the office trying to dig out information or to tie loose ends. This information could be in a file cabinet next door or on the company intranet – available to all!  Introducing members of one department to another builds networks to share information and get that job done faster! Two features departments could hold an open day (as is done in many schools in Kenya) where they inform the rest what their department does and how they collaborate across the organization.  This is a chance to connect people, departments and skills in an open and unthreatening forum.

Give job rotation assignments. In this part of the world, job rotation has been very popular with management trainees and new hires.  However, even older employees can benefit from it. Such assignments boost employee engagement and knowledge transfer

Leverage Technology. Some technology is expensive.  However, many companies have already invested in computer hardware and other technology required for e-learning.  This is the time they need to use it to reach the most employees with little additional cost.  While creating e-learning content may be outside the realm of the HR professional, implementing the content proves cost effective.  People can always learn about other functions or other products and services. So if you are not working in the WAN (Wide Area Networking), Fibre or Vsat area, you can still learn the terminology and workflow – the basics – so that you can have an intelligent conversation with someone from that product line. It is a really good return on investment.

Create an online bulletin board, email discussion lists, blog or other intranet forum for employees to share best practices and ask for help.  Adding a bulletin board feature to your intranet is not a complicated matter and most techies in town are able to do that.  A staff member might post “anyone has experience using xxyyzz equipment on a fibre network?” And someone else will pick up the thread.  At the end of the day, invaluable information will have been shared

Video conference. All you require is a video conferencing kit, adequate internet bandwidth, your training material …and voila; you have all your staff in distant offices ready for training.  This will also help tap talent from your head office experts from Europe, America and other parts of Africa; time differences allowing. In this way, employees will learn the best practices across regions. Remember the video-conferencing equipment will also be used for board meetings and other business communication in your organization.

Marketing. In good financial times, HR professionals can be so eager to obtain the latest training material that we buy more than we can actually use.  Lean times provide opportunity to exploit our library of training material.  Market the training materials you have.  HR professionals may find some real good resources, but we’re not the best marketers of them.  We launch our training programs with little fun-fare and we don’t keep promoting them.  This is the partially the reason why e-learning hasn’t taken such a foot-hold in companies that have the facilities.  HR professionals don’t market their wares.

As HR professionals, we need to capitalize on opportunity.  The impact that internal talent and innovation can have on our organizations is enormous. We will be able to do more with less.  We should never underestimate the ability of the internal teams. Engage your workforce in helping find answers. There is no one-size fits all type of training program.  By working closely and collaborating with the people who have the learning needs, and the supervisors who have the training ability, our employees become skilled and efficient.  Training takes a lot of time, effort and imagination, but it does not have to take great amounts off your bottom line.

Gladys Ogallo

Head of Human Resources, UUNET

For Business Daily – SBS – Nov 2008

www.businessdailyafrica.com

Transform Your Team into a Winning Team

Kenya’s 2010 TOP 100 SMEs convened at Strathmore Business School during a breakfast sponsored by Sage Pastel themed ‘Developing a Winning Team’ on Thursday 15th March. The keynote speaker Gladys Ogallo, CEO and Founder of Virtual HR sought to engage the participants with tips on developing the winning team that will take their organisations to higher levels.

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