Aug 17

Responsibility in the workplace: Part 1

When you hear the word responsibility, you will not be shocked to think of words like care, safekeeping, custody and obligation. This should not really surprise you as being responsible requires a certain level of maturity across various different levels.

Growing up as a boy, I was always bored by my elder sister’s refusal to want to play my boyish games with me and rather always boss me about. She was always the one telling me when to take a bath, or to always brush my hair, or to put the toilet seat down, or to clean up after myself and the list goes on and on. When you translate this or the lack of into the workplace, it has to manifest positively for it to be full appreciated. However as Rome was not built in a day, responsibility just like charity truly does begin at home.

Allow me to build my case.

When you are hired for a job, your supervisor/ manager aka Boss gives you a list of duties which we have now come to agree to also be known as responsibilities. He/ she will communicate with you that it is your job to ensure that the tasks at hand are done to a satisfactory manner. If you do not do the tasks within the stipulated time, it is only courteous to attempt to communicate with your supervisor aka Boss and give a further time as to when it or they will be done in totality. This is called being accountable for your responsibilities.

If you are struggling with part of the task, it is also important to share with your supervisor the specifics of the stuck situation with areas that you feel the supervisor can be of assistance. This is being pro-active.

A person who demonstrates such accountability should indeed not be taken for granted in any workplace as it is indeed often seen that someone else is blamed for a certain failure within any given project. While you can be assigned a variety of responsibilities, whether or not you are accountable depends on your character. A person who demonstrates accountability takes the hit if she doesn’t complete the task on schedule. When you refuse to be accountable, you’ll place the blame on someone else for the project’s failure

Blaming others for results is not being accountable for your work.

In Order to create that vibe which promotes accountability, a certain working environment needs to be cultivated. If you are reading this, you will want to argue, share or even agree with what I am postulating. Just consider three different environments with varying actors.

ONE:
Fully engaged professionals who go to great lengths to fulfil their responsibilities for the day/week.

See a connection between what they do and the success of the company.

TWO:
Mixed group of staff who feel they are owed more than what they give and always have unmet grievances that always affect outputs and general productivity.

 THREE:
A group of staff who are self-focused and do not feel connected to what the company does and how they help it achieve its objectives.

Which is the place that most people would want to work?

>>a workplace based on trust and personal responsibility<<

When employees are engaged, the outcome is obvious. Customer satisfaction improves, staff turnover reduces, and productivity and profitability increase.

So how do you as a manager increase engagement and boost productivity and profitability?

The answer is through employees taking personal responsibility for their work. Responsible employees are more engaged and productive. They willingly accept accountability for producing results and continually look for ways in which they can improve their performance.

But you already know that because your best employees are the responsible ones. The challenge for most managers is figuring out how to get the rest of their employees to be accountable, too.

Many business leaders do the exact opposite of what they need to do to get people to be responsible, productive employees—they attempt to hold them accountable. Have you noticed that it does not work? Instead of holding people accountable, there are a few simple steps you can take to transform your organization into a responsibility-based workplace.

Create the Right Environment

People cannot be held accountable; they can only choose to be accountable. Accountability is the natural outcome of a person deciding to take responsibility for something.

Self-directed people—those who see themselves as responsible for their behavior and performance—want to be held accountable. They want to have a sense of ownership in their job, to have some input into how things should be done and to have a say in how their performance will be measured.

Employees who feel like they have no say will tend to react in an “other- directed” way. Other-directed people tend to be either compliant or rebellious—doing what they feel they have to do or doing the opposite of what you want them to do.

 

Other-directed employees have switched off; they become disengaged and resist accountability. And they usually blame someone or something else when they don’t perform well. The natural outcome of using an authoritarian or control-based approach to enforcing accountability is exactly what you don’t want—self-directed people leave, and other-directed people stay.

Instead, you need to hand over some of the control. However, many managers fear entrusting employees with the responsibility of defining their own success and determining how to reach it through their performance. As a result of this fear, managers attempt to hold people accountable by insisting on compliance with policies and procedures, establishing goals and performance standards for employees, or offering incentives in an attempt to motivate people to comply.

The research does not support this fear; in fact, the opposite is true. Employees who are trusted and given more say over how they do their jobs are more engaged, more committed and more productive. They achieve more. People who know they are being trusted to be responsible do not want to let their manager down.

The primary fear employees have about being held accountable is that there will be negative consequences if they don’t succeed, maybe even the loss of their job. It is safer for them to avoid risk and to do just what they are told and stay out of trouble. Employees who will not accept responsibility do not trust management enough to take the risk.

 

Build Relationships Based on Trust

The foundation of a responsibility-based culture is a high level of trust throughout the organization. When trust between management and employees is high, the following situations occur:

  • Information is exchanged freely, feelings and opinions are openly discussed, and people do not harbour hidden agendas.
  • Expectations are clear, disagreements are discussed and resolved, and individual performance is discussed and agreed on without the need for a formal process.
  • Differences are valued, employees feel respected for their contribution, and they have input into how the organization can be more successful.
  • People keep their commitments, strive for excellence in everything they do and can count on each other for support.

Managers cannot get accountability without trusting employees to take ownership of their jobs and believing that they will do the right thing by the organization.

Employees will not choose to be accountable unless they trust management; they need to know that they will get the support they need to do their best and that mistakes will be treated as learning experiences rather than as opportunities for blame and punishment.

Stop holding people accountable. Use these tools to let them choose to be accountable.

 Next week we shall see tips on how to improve your own personal accountability habits.

By Edmund Kamugisha

Edmund is the Engagement Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has 12+ years of management consultancy experience notably in MSMEs, FMCG companies and in the service industry.

You can follow him on twitter: @edmokmg

Aug 07

Business Tip – Managing Growth

Every business desires to grow and achieve its goals. This growth may be in terms of sales growth, number of customers served or even quality of service among others. Like it is with any change, the changes that enterprises face as they grow are often times very challenging. It is therefore important for businesses to take deliberate initiatives to manage growth. Here below are some of the tips;

  1. Understand your business: It is important to really understand and appreciate what your intentions and values are as a business. What is the purpose of the business and what sets you apart from the competition in your industry? Take time to appreciate your strong and weak areas. Know where you want to be and how the business environment around you will affect your operations. This will help you to decide how you want your business to grow. Create or refine your vision and mission statements as they will support you to build very clear objectives and how to achieve them
  2. Know your growth market: The role of business is to create a customer; says Peter Drucker. Therefore, a significant part of any growth strategy is to understand your market and how it is aligned to your products and services. Take time to study your industry deeply; this should include target market, why they buy, the buying patterns, substitutes on the market and many others. Remember, as business conditions change, the market may also change and this happens all the time. Therefore, continuously study the market and align your business to remain relevant. This will help you to establish a niche in your market.
  3. Build a team aligned with your core values: People are the greatest asset any business can ever have. This applies to all sectors of business. As a business grows, the business expects the staff to continuously appreciate the changes and perform accordingly. Expectations from staff keep on growing, but must remain aligned to the core values of the business.
  4. Spread company knowledge around: As businesses grow, many things in the business are bound to change. This may be on the product offering, target market or even approach to marketing. It is critical that employees understand the evolving offerings, and can correctly communicate them to clients and prospects alike. This therefore, calls for a deliberate effort to continuously spread the company knowledge around.
  5. Remain focused despite challenges: Despite your best intentions and efforts, it can be challenging to stay on track. The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. If you are not achieving your goals and objectives, it is not good enough to blame outside factors. When you do so, you are actually giving away your personal power and denying that your success lie within your hands. What you need to do, is find a way to manage these outside factors which allows you to stay focused on your goals.

By Brian Ahabwe Kakuru

Brian is an entrepreneur and business advisor. He is also the Managing Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has close to 15 years of business advisory experience notably in the financial services, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality, real estate, infrastructure, and agriculture among others. You can follow him on twitter >> @BrianAhabweK

Jul 11

Making Your Business More Attractive To Financiers

Society is diverse and therefore made up of diverse needs. Business enable diverse needs to be met, although among others they in turn create an uneven wealth and income distribution among members of society. Aside from meeting societal needs, business are key drivers of economic growth in world over. Micro, small, medium and even large companies sprout to create products and services to meet various needs of the population. The importance of MSMEs, especially, in developing countries cannot be overemphasized. Apart from providing products and services for consumption, these entities also contribute significantly to both formal and informal employment. Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), however, across the country face many and varied challenges to their growth and operations. One of such major challenges is the limited access to finances.

Lending is a business like any other, where a comfortable balance between risk and reward must be met. Lenders will only be willing to do business with clients where there is “acceptable risk” in anticipation of earning commensurate interest off the loans issued. This model has largely favored large borrowers who easily afford to provide collateral as requested by the banks and backed up by mature business with low chances of collapse and the micro businesses where the lenders are locally based and have taken the time to fully understand their potentials borrowers. For micro businesses, different models have been developed such as group lending which provide comfort to the lenders. Commercial banks, Micro Finance Institutions, (as service providers) have played a significant role in offering financial products and services to larger companies and individuals. On the other hand, Savings And Credit Companies (SACCOs) and Village Savings and Lending Associations (VSLAs) have equally played an important role in enabling access to finance to the individuals, especially the unbanked sector at the bottom of the financial pyramid. However, due to the nature of the services offered, SMEs are less likely to access loans from banks and other financial institutions because their financial needs are too big for the VSLAs, SACCOs and MFIs and yet too small for the commercial banks.

From the above, it now becomes clear that in the financing industry, there is a category of business which find it hard to access financing. These are the small and medium enterprises which are vulnerable to external shocks and largely operating independently to enjoy social support from peers. And on the other hand, these business have shallow assets bases and often times are not in position to offer collaterals to lenders. This category has often been referred to as the missing middle.

Although my focus today is on the SMEs and less on the individuals, the missing middle is not only made up of SMEs. Educated youth and skilled workers who lie between the large industrial credit seekers at one end and very poor small borrowers like low income households, farmers at the other end of financing spectrum are equally hardly catered for in terms of credit facilities.

Although not one particular reason can sufficiently explain the limited financing options for SMEs, some key reasons have been put forward for banks being reluctant to offer loans to SMEs such as;

  • Lack of a credit history
  • Failure to meet requirements for lending such e.g. a clearly developed Business Plan
  • High potential risk of not paying back, in case the business collapses
  • Lack of collateral or security
  • Lending institutions generate lesser profits on smaller loans, thus are reluctant to provide such loans
  • A good number of SMEs operate informally, making them unattractive to credit providers.

Interventions such as Mobile Money have aided money movement but have not significantly tackled the challenge that the SMEs are facing in regard to access to financing. Digital financial solutions (“fintechs”) such as the recently launched MoCash by MTN still are more relevant to the individuals at the bottom of the financial pyramid because of the size of loans offered. Other interventions such as competitive grants have only supported a few SMEs, and their impact is yet to be felt within the economy as a whole. With SMEs being key drivers of economic growth in the economy, a key question to ask is how can SMEs attract affordable financing to meet their financial needs?

Banks and other lending institutions have started giving more attention to SMEs and tailoring financial products to meet their financing needs, which is a step in the right direction because of their ability to drive economic growth. To a greater extent however, SMEs need to;

  • Understand the lending criteria for their target lenders and ensure you meet them.
  • Develop highly scalable business models for the business
  • Keep proper records and prepare financial statements
  • Understand how to separate business and personal finances
  • Seek support in developing business plans
  • Seek professional support to guide them through the loan application process and many others.

Key questions to ask yourself before the decision to borrow are;

  • Do we really need to borrow? Or can you manage the current cash flows more effectively?
  • For what purposes will the capital be used? Any lender will require that capital be requested for very specific needs.
  • How does your financing need fit within your business plan?

Answering these key questions among others and taking the initiative to increase your attractiveness will be critical to get the financing your business requires to accelerate forward.

By Sarah Achiro

Sarah_Achiro Sarah is our Business Analyst . She is a growing consultant with BLEGSCOPE and has 3 years’ experience in consulting for SMEs and in the service sector. She is keen on strategy, finance and procurement. She has previously worked for Riham Foods and MTN. You can follow her on twitter >> @achirosarah

 

 

 

Jun 19

BUSINESS_TIP Why Every Business Needs To Know About Its Business Environment

Talk to any business owner of executive today and ask them about their challenges. Whereas some will talk about internal aspects like (Human Resource constraints) of the business and to what extent they are inhibiting their growth, many will actually talk about those external factors (out of their control) like high interest rates, volatile exchange rates among others are major roadblocks to their business growth.

This brings me to a key subject today; business environment. The term business environment refers to external forces, factors and institutions that are beyond the control of the business and they affect the functioning of a business enterprise. For example the political instability in South Sudan has affected many businesses just like how the long drought season last year has done. These effects may be positive or negative. On a positive note, the government’s increased expenditure on infrastructure developments has widened the market for contractors.

It is therefore that every business takes time to study, analyze and thereafter develop strategies to operate in an environment that affects your business. Many scholars and business practitioners have developed many tools to help businesses understand their environments and here today, we shall share with you the PESTEL Model. One may evaluate six (6) forms of environmental influences in the PESTEL framework. They are political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal.

  1. Politics affect business in many ways; ranging from political instability, election cycles, tax policies, protectionism or protecting of local markets etc.
  2. Economic factors such as interest rates, inflation, unemployment rates and access to credit must also be evaluated by every business.
  3. Social factors, largely related to the populations’ demography assess the mentality of the individuals or consumers in a given market. Gender, literacy, religion, population structure and many others are fundamental to a business.
  4. Technology is increasingly becoming a multi-faceted enabler in effecting change. Technological advancements can optimize internal efficiency and help a product or service from becoming technologically obsolete.
  5. Impact on the environment is a rising concern and there is growing pressure on business to advance practices that do not harm the environment. In some instances, incentives are available to environmentally friendly enterprises.
  6. This entails learning about the laws and regulations in affecting your industry, country or local government. Examples include licensing requirements, employment laws, and health and safety regulations among others.

There is a general observation that the business environment is becoming more demanding as it continuously evolves. To a great extent, the changes in the evolution are continuing to speed up every now and again and this requires constant transformation in how leaders think and act. Traditional methods may no longer be effective. We acknowledge that change is not easy, but leaders who continually reframe their mindset and innovate are best set up to thrive and grow.

 

By Brian Ahabwe Kakuru

Brian is an entrepreneur and business advisor. He is also the Managing Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has close to 15 years of business advisory experience notably in the financial services, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality, real estate, infrastructure, and agriculture among others. You can follow him on twitter >> @BrianAhabweK

Jun 12

BUSINESS TIP – Adapting Digital Marketing

In this changing world, hardly anything has stayed the same. As Peter Drucker put it, the role of business is to create a customer. Today, we are putting forward a business tip in this regard. Marketing like other spheres of business is also changing as it responds to the business environment. The biggest change is the emergence of digital marketing which has become a big force, no one can afford to ignore. For example, according to Hubspot 2016, 73% of people say that they use Facebook for professional purposes.

Digital marketing is not merely developing a nice website. It is a lot more than that and involves setting clear approaches that are intended to bring potential clients to your website and convert them to customers. Millions of people are using the Internet each day to search for things they need. People in your community are searching for the products and services you provide. Internet marketing makes sure that when someone types a keyword into a search engine that is relevant to your business, your website appears at the top of the search results. 

Digital marketing is undisputedly a dominant force in business today that you can use to reach out to your customers and prospects. It empowers you to interact directly and converse with potential customers, this tool can be far more effective than traditional marketing. Key to note however, mastering digital marketing is not easy, and take a lot of commitment to enjoy full benefits. You may employ services of an expert to come up with a winning strategy. Without a strategy, playing around with a blog, Facebook or Twitter will be useless. With the right strategy, these tools can bring new customers in and create loyal followers from present customers

 

 By Brian Ahabwe Kakuru

Brian is an entrepreneur and business advisor. He is also the Managing Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has close to 15 years of business advisory experience notably in the financial services, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality, real estate, infrastructure, and agriculture among others. You can follow him on twitter >> @BrianAhabweK

Jun 05

BUSINESS TIP – Financial Management for SMEs

World over, just like it the case here in Uganda, many business are started every year, and only a small fraction of them survive till the second birthday, in case they made it to their very first birthday. Many reasons may be advanced, but it all boils down to one thing; there is little or no cash to sustain the business and it thus becomes inevitable to close shop. Therefore finances are very important for the survival of any business and thus must be accorded due attention. This brings us to the subject of Financial Management.

Every business especially start-ups should be aware that financial decisions even when made at an early stage can be the most important, as well as the most difficult to make. The ability to raise the right finances, putting in place the right controls, and planning financial matters effectively are key ingredients to supporting business growth and enabling adaptability to the ever evolving business environment.

Businesses need to keep all financial records and later produce financial reports. These reports serve different purposes for both control and planning. Important to note is that small businesses who prepare their own financial statements often need the support of professionals to address financial and business issues including cash management, debt advice and management structures. When these businesses grow, they may find themselves subject to a statutory audit requirement as turnover increases.

Small Businesses owners should also be aware that whereas it may not be mandatory to conduct an audit, one should consider having an external assurance assessment of their financial information in order to build confidence with other external stakeholders such as tax authorities and banks.

By Brian Ahabwe Kakuru

Brian is the Managing Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has 12+ years of management consultancy experience notably in the finance & banking industry, MSMEs, FMCG companies and in the service industry. You can follow him on twitter >> @BrianAhabweK

May 30

Interpersonal skills: The attribute many organisations are missing out on creating team synergy

In our previous article, we defined interpersonal skills and explained how they can be practiced the right way. In today’s article we share with you how we can use the same interpersonal skills in creating and instilling team synergy.

So many organisations today have faced challenges due to a lack of teamwork. Numerous workers have failed to understand and appreciate each other for the work others have done, and have instead resorted to conflicts based on misunderstandings, which has in turn contributed to poor performance of many organisations. Apparently, research indicates that 85% of the reasons teams struggle while working together is due to poor interpersonal skills and the 15% is due to other technical reasons.

Interpersonal skills are very important and healthy for every organisation and the following are some of the ways in which people with interpersonal skills can help improve on its performance:

  • Provision of good client service
  • Proper conflict resolving
  • Ensuring effective communication
  • Ensuring team work
  • Conveying professionalism

Prior to the above advantages, it is important that people who work together play certain roles within teams so as to create team synergy and these roles include:

  1. Respect fellow team members: It is well known that every person has a different unique talent and way of learning and doing things. Therefore every individual should respect their fellow team members in all aspects of life such as viewpoints, religion, lifestyle, physical ability and many more. In every team, it is important to know that an environment in which members are treated with respect and dignity promotes team synergy thus better productivity.

  1. Open communication and honest feedback; Open communication and sharing of ideas in an organisation is very important for a successful team work to be in place. For an effective communication to take place, team members should have an open mind, participate in active listening and have a better and clear understanding of the organization’s goals. It is also important that every individual develops the will to accept any criticism and provide genuine feedback.

  1. Interdependence: The degree of interdependence in an organisation arises from several sources including the differentiation of roles, the distribution of skills and resources, and the manner in which goals are defined and achieved, and the manner in which performance is rewarded and feedback is given. Team members need to create an environment where they can contribute far more together than as individuals. A positive interdependent team brings out the best in each person enabling the team to achieve their goals at a higher level. Individuals should promote and encourage their fellow team members to achieve, contribute, and learn.

  1. Proper team composition: This is very essential in the creation of a successful team. Team members need to be fully aware of their specific team role and understand what is expected of them in terms of their contribution to the team and the project.

  1. Commitment to team processes especially leadership and accountability: Every team member should be accountable for their contribution to the team. Every individual should be aware of team processes, best practice and new ideas. Effective leadership for each individual is essential for a team’s success including shared decision-making and problem solving.

In conclusion, all the above roles are extremely important in both creating and maintaining team synergy, and once put in action will help doing away with conflicts and misunderstands in organisations, thus leading to excellent performance

By Mackline Ampurira

MACKLINE_22

Mackline  joined BLEGSCOPE Team as an Intern and is now a Management Consultant Trainee. She previously worked with the Ugandan Ministry of Health in conjunction with (USAID) Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Team as a Research Assistant. She has interest in Marketing, Management and Human Resources. You can follow her on Twitter >>@mackampurira

Apr 04

Practicing interpersonal skills the right way

Anyone can master interpersonal skills and communication; however there are some people you and I know who are naturally good at it. For most people, it takes conscious effort and practice to master this skill, while for those who appear naturally good at it never seem to struggle. In today’s world, we are much more aware of instances of bullying, harassment, intimidation and threats. Sensitive people experience more intense emotions that are more easily aroused and that last longer than those who are not emotionally sensitive. We react faster with greater emotional intensity that lasts longer. Our emotional reactions can be triggered by television shows, magazine articles, places that trigger memories, anniversaries and other events.  Interpersonal issues are one of the most challenging areas for us.

In my article today, I share with you on how to practice/ improve your interpersonal skills, but before i introduce you to the topic, it is important that we understand the meaning of interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills are those pertaining to relationships with people. Interpersonal skills gauge how good you are at interacting with others. For example, the interpersonal skill of knowing how to respectfully communicate with someone is called “active listening.” Interpersonal skills are composed of many different important soft skills, which include:

  • Mentoring
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork
  • Empathy
  • Negotiation

Working on interpersonal skills and ways to manage emotions in relationships can help you reduce the suffering you experience on a daily basis. Below are some of the steps you can follow to help you achieve interpersonal skills in your day to day life:

Self-awareness: it is important that you discover and know how best you currently communicate. You may seek feedback from a trusted friend or relative or professional colleague on your non-verbal behavior. This helps you to realise what you could be missing. If you fail to know, gather feedback from various places or even appraisals so you can know your strengths and weaknesses. Use the rest of this list to help with your self-assessment.

Keeping the other person in mind: For any instance involving interpersonal skills, you should plan out your approach with a certain person ahead of time. Considering the other person is always important. Try your best to put yourself in their shoes and figure out what might be their mindset, sensitivities, and how they may receive your words. Effective interpersonal skills can only happen if you understand where the other person stands.

 Determining your desired win-win outcome: The outcome of any conversation must be a “win-win,” but not all outcomes you desire are good for the relationship. For example, you may want to prove that you are right, but that would mean the other person needs to be proven wrong. You may win the argument, but lose the relationship. That is not a good outcome.

Listen as much as you speak: Effective interpersonal skills is a two way street.  It is advised that one  should spend at least 50% of the conversation listening. We are sometimes prepared so much that all we focus on is talking. You can lose the listener quickly that way. Pause after a few sentences so the other party can respond. That way you can adapt your communication based on how they react. Sometimes it takes fewer words than you think to achieve the “win-win” outcome.

Do not expect anything:  You cannot control or change anyone else. This is an easy concept that is easy to forget. After all this work, you put into structuring an interpersonal skills, there is no guarantee about how the other person will react. Everyone is responsible for their own actions. All you can do is play your part the best you can, accept whatever you get, and adapt your actions from there.

At the end of the day, the key to effective interpersonal skills come down to practice. We interact with people every day. Some interactions can go well, while others may not. That is part of the process. As long as you put conscious effort into improving, you will become effective at interpersonal skills over time.

By Mackline Ampurira

MACKLINE_22

Mackline  joined BLEGSCOPE Team as an Intern and is now a Management Consultant Trainee. She previously worked with the Ugandan Ministry of Health in conjunction with (USAID) Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Team as a Research Assistant. She has interest in Marketing, Management and Human Resources. You can follow her on Twitter >>@mackampurira

 

 

 

 

Mar 28

What you are not told about being an internal customer!

In a very candid and open discussion with one of my cousins, we broached the subject of how certain restaurants in our country always look lovely on the outside, but somehow always fall short on key things like warm welcomes, mixed up orders and delayed service. In our deeper analysis, we wondered whether having excellent customer service is a sure sign of a good product/ service.

We realised that customer service is an external-focused arena and it is geared towards somebody offering you some form of payment for your service/product. External customers have choices and if they feel your product / service is below par or that your actual customer service is weak, they can take their business elsewhere.

An internal customer on the other hand is anyone in the organisation. It can be a co-worker, a service provider whose products/ services help you achieve your own deliverables for the clients or a department in your organisation that works with you. In simple terms, an internal customer has no choice. A simple definition of an internal customer is anyone within an organization that, at any time, is dependent on anyone else within that organization. This internal customer can be someone you work for as well as someone who works with you. For example, if the business development department doesn’t like the finance departments credit policies, they can’t fire that department and hire another.

Excellent customer service creates customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and customer retention. So really, what is the fuss about internal customers, especially when retention isn’t an issue?

Outstanding internal customer service is simply good business. Internal customer service can flourish only in high communication environment. To create positive internal customer service, all departments work together cooperatively, agree on processes and procedures, and negotiate expectations. Like gears meshing in sync, interdependent business units meet each other’s needs, work productively together to meet common goals, and deliver high quality products and service to the external customer.

Everyone within your organization affects the outside customer, and virtually everything you’ve read or learned about customer service in general applies to the internal customer. What is not mentioned however frequently you notice it and discuss it quietly amongst your colleagues is that for an internal customer system to work with good harmony, a good enough atmosphere must be created; a sort of roundtable atmosphere where everyone is keen on sharing and helping the other and in essence being an internal customer of each other.

Whether you are a subordinate staff, mid-level manager, senior officer, director or business owner, it is imperative that you do not take being an internal customer for granted and pay attention to the following tips aimed at creating the above talked about harmonius ambience

Here are some tips for creating that atmosphere:

1. Start with your own perspective: Regard fellow employees and other departments as your customers. Understand that helping your colleagues do their jobs more successfully helps your organization and you. Therefore they are your customers. Treat them almost like VIPs without feeling like you are kissing their behinds

2. Set clear expectations. As an internal provider of service, you are responsible for setting clear guidelines about what internal customers can reasonably expect. Last minute requests are typically due to poor planning on the part of the internal customer. However, if someone reaches out to you with a request while you’re working on something time sensitive, talk with them and identify how important his or her task is relative to yours.  If they have unrealistic expectations, explain your workflow, priorities, processes, and timelines. Then, reinforce your goal to provide top-notch service for them

3. Get to know your teammates/ fellow internal customers. Go to lunch with co-workers in other departments or schedule quick calls just to check in and see what’s happening in their department. At BLEGSCOPE most of our team works on select projects in small teams, so it has become relatively easy to get to know each other. If you are in an organisation that has its staff working remotely, it may take a little more effort most of your colleagues, but it is worth it.

4. Understand the “big picture.” Develop an understanding of how the whole organization works. How does what you contribute fit into the big picture? What do other departments need from you to meet their goals? Think outside of you, your function and department.

 5. Always keep customers informed on project progress.Nobody likes to be blindsided by delays or last minute requests for additional information. I like to err on the side of over-communication. If you’ve finished a portion of the request, let them know the status, and when you plan to complete the rest of the project.

6. View interruptions not as nuisances, but as opportunities to serve your internal customers. If someone interrupts you to share gossip, that’s a pothole. If someone interrupts you to ask for sales figures she needs to analyze sales team performance, that’s a necessary lane change that will get your company closer to its destination. Learn to identify every real need from a colleague as a “necessary lane change,” and think of them as an opportunity to move your organization closer to its goals.

 7. Exceed your internal customers’ expectations. When someone exceeds your expectations, how do you feel? Most people feel delighted, excited, upbeat and very, very positive about that person and his or her organization. Think what you can accomplish in your organization by exceeding the expectations of fellow employees

8. Make your co-workers feel valued. Recognize them with a smile and call them by name. When someone approaches your desk stop what you’re doing, make eye contact, and be attentive to what they have to say.

9. Develop a positive attitude. Your attitude is reflected in everything you do. It not only determines how you approach your job and your co-workers, but it also determines how they respond to you. Avoid complaining. Do whatever it takes to get the job done—and done right.

10. Identify and anticipate needs. The more you know your customers, the better you become at anticipating their needs. Communicate regularly so that you are aware of problems or upcoming needs.

11. Say thank you. A simple, genuine “thank you” goes much farther to create an atmosphere of sharing and helping than two such small words would suggest. Even when it is a person’s job to provide information or a product to you, tell them “thank you” when they have done it. Express your appreciation of their timeliness in providing it. Explain how it has made your job much easier. Show them your delight when they exceed your expectations.

All in all, your willingness to help others get their jobs done will lead them to readily assist you when you need it.

By Edmund Kamugisha

Edmund is the Engagement Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has 12+ years of management consultancy experience notably in MSMEs, FMCG companies and in the service industry.

You can follow him on twitter: @edmokmg

Mar 16

6 ways to instill initiative in your team

Are you a manager grinding out results at your form of employment? Are you a Business Owner who works in your business as a Leader/ Director?

When things stall, are you constantly wondering who you can assign the mantle too, or is there somebody who is always at your door with some keen initiatives?

Taking initiative is essentially assuming the risk of a possible failure. When doing so, you put yourself out there and things don’t always go as planned. But the alternative is choosing to be inactive.

If you are a leader, it is vital that members of your team make the right choice between doing nothing and doing something. For a healthy, forward-looking operation, they should want to choose action — and this begins with the encouragement of a proactive leader. On the flip side, you may be proactive and still not yield to having members of your team doing something or nothing at all.

For you to inculcate some form of arrangement that makes your team share their thoughts before you ask (as well as come to you with their own ideas) is no mean feat. And for this to happen without them feeling like they will be shut down is even better. Here are some suggestions

1. Start by creating a supportive environment.

Team members need to feel comfortable in their workspace. They should know that while they may strike out, their ideas will be heard and taken seriously by leadership. If the office isn’t a safe place to do this, new ideas will no longer be shared — or conceived at all. Make an effort to tell employees you are excited to hear their thoughts.

You do not have time to sit down and discuss ideas face-to-face? Create a process for workers to submit and share ideas. Even set up a unique email address for this exclusive purpose.

2. Get to know the diverse ways in which the team process ideas and thoughts.

This was borne out a realisation that in any group of individuals, their likes are diverse and helping them appreciate the different likes is a huge challenge. Bring up different scenarios and situations that can be done by them as ONE team to bring them out of their shells but not force them into a bottle.

3. Kick people out of the office for a day or two.

From time to time, encourage your teams or units to meet separately outside their normal work environment. Our firm, BLEGSCOPE did this at the end of the year, and we always make an attempt to do this on a monthly basis on the last Thursday of every month. Members of the team meet off-site for the latter part of the day and share their own goings-on about what they think of the world, the economy and it helps us appreciate each other’s diversity. These thoughts may not have surfaced had the team members met in the same workspace they occupy day to day. Sometimes, all it takes a change of scenery for less vocal employees to come out of their shells and share ideas.

4. Preach volunteering and spearheading. 

Initiative comes in many forms. It doesn’t have to mean highhandedly taking on a new project. Someone can volunteer to help another person who is already on a committee, team or project and support that individual any way he or she knows how. Remind employees that it’s not all about coming up with the idea but also helping to move it forward is valuable, too. If you praise volunteers as potential thought leaders, everyone will realize he or she has an important part to play.

5. Let history speak for itself. 

Looking back on the past, one can find evidence of great things coming from those who take initiative. Breakthrough ideas, inventions and processes exist today because someone recognized a problem and sought a solution. Your employees may not change the face of the future with their work, but there’s a message to be learned from history: No matter how worthy the goal, a person may be unlikely to succeed on the first try. In sharing stories of people in similar industry or job position who eventually succeeded after many attempts, you may be providing the encouragement members of the team need. It may not negate their risk of failure, but this human spin might shift their mind-set toward taking action versus sitting back.

6. Tell employees the truth.

The best, most transformation ideas do not usually come from the top. Many times the best ideas come from individuals involved in an organisation’s day-to-day business. They see the organization from a different perspective, which can be very valuable. If a team member waits to be called upon, however, the positive transformation will tend to be dependent upon a leader’s prompting.

The easiest way to encourage team members to take initiative is to simply enlighten them accordingly: If they know their ideas are not only wanted but also needed, they may find the extra time to develop them.

We’ve all heard leaders say they want new hires to have go-getter attitudes. It’s easy to forget that this approach can be found inside everyone. Often it’s a matter of encouragement. By simply opening up communication and creative freedom, you may find that you’ve had a team of thought leaders on your side all along.

By Edmund Kamugisha

Edmund is the Engagement Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has 12+ years of management consultancy experience notably in MSMEs, FMCG companies and in the service industry.

You can follow him on twitter: @edmokmg

Older posts «