Jan 12

Why the private sector should join the climatic change conversation

A few weeks backs, as I moved around some different parts of the central region conducting a research about the performance of various agricultural sectors, I discovered that one of the factors that hindered their production was changing climatic patterns, and like most of the other people always do, they were also calling for “government support” over this problem. In my mind, I felt this was not the complete solution that was going to help bring the problem to an end. One of the immediate thing these farmers would think of, is irrigation. Recent media reports over the prolonged drought in many parts of the country such as Luwero, Isingiro, Hoima and the Northern part of Uganda indicate that this drought is a result of abusing the environment. We have watched news and read all over social media how the President actively participated in irrigating crops on a farm in Luwero. This was a way of promoting the irrigation system.

Adaptation to climate change is a challenge to all countries. Some other industrialized countries, such as the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, and Canada, are ahead by the United States in planning for climate change impacts, and their experiences provide valuable lessons for U.S. policymakers. In the 1992 Un Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United States and other developed countries committed generally to help “particularly vulnerable” countries adapt to climate change. In coming decades, adaptation in developing countries is estimated to require tens of billions of dollars annually. To date, $279 million in multilateral support has been pledged. Additional funds are now being generated through a levy on emissions credits generated through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Under the Bali Roadmap, which launched talks on a post-2012 international climate agreement, stronger adaptation support is one of the core issues to be negotiated. Recently Ugandan youth represented Uganda in Marrakeh in the United Nations Climate Conference which was organised to find solutions to the global climatic change.

Natural resources constitute the primary source of livelihood for the majority of Ugandans and the economy of Uganda depends on exploiting its natural resources. Management of these natural resources is therefore important and critical to Uganda’s long-term development. Climate is a key determinant of the status of Uganda’s natural resources, such as agriculture, forestry, water resources, wildlife and others to mention but a few. However, climate change, which has started manifesting itself through intense and frequent extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, landslides, and heat waves, is posing a serious threat to the country’s natural resources, and social and economic development. They are generally more vulnerable to climate change by virtue of being at lower latitudes, where impacts such as increased disease and extreme heat and drought will be more pronounced, and because their economies are more dependent on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, fishing, and tourism.

In our environment today, climatic change is mainly brought about by severe land degradation, which is also as a result of man’s activities which include: conversion of forests (deforestation), woodlands and bush lands into agricultural grounds, overgrazing and over exploitation of natural resources. All these expose the unprotected soils to extreme conditions and straining the capacity of existing land management practices to maintain resource quality, thus contributing to de-vegetation, soil erosion, depletion of organic matter and other forms of degradation, which in turn leads to climatic change.

The results of this climatic change include drought, famine, floods and devastating landslides. These have had a great impact on both human health and the environment. For example: the people that were killed by landslides in Bududa -Eastern Uganda. Several other people in Kabale district were buried by mud. Prolonged dry spells and dry storms have also greatly contributed to food insecurity, which is the biggest challenge faced by most people all around the world.

Frequent and prolonged droughts plus dry spells interspersed within the rainy season can have serious impacts on the livelihoods of our environment. Drought is cited as the most dominant and widespread impact of climate change in Uganda, more pronounced and severe in most parts of our country. The table below summarizes the impacts of climatic change and their immediate mechanisms:

While governments at all levels must begin acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, some degree of climate change is already inevitable. Climatic changes are happening now and are projected to increase in both frequency and severity before the benefits of emission reductions will be realized. Although mitigation is critical in addressing climate change, the need for both adaptation planning and action is also critical.

We all have a role to play in assessing the climate vulnerability of both natural and man-made systems, and taking action to help these systems adapt, and the following are some of the roles:

  • Promoting and encouraging increased agricultural production and diversification and improved post-harvest handling, storage and value addition in order to improve food security and increase household incomes
  • Promoting and encouraging highly adaptive and productive crop varieties and cultivars in drought-prone, flood-prone and rain-fed crop farming systems
  • Promoting sustainable management of rangelands and pastures through integrated rangeland management to avoid land degradation and deforestation

In conclusion, citizens and public and private entities can all contribute toward a common goal of averting dangerous climate risk and adequately preparing for those changes that are already unavoidable. Therefore, let us conserve our environment. Let us keep it green by planting more trees, practicing agro forestry and establishing soil and water conservation. Through this, we shall be in position to improve on climatic change thus providing as solution to food insecurity and the socio economic development of our environment.

By Mackline Ampurira

MACKLINE_22

Mackline recently 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 Management and Human Resources. You can follow her on Twitter >>@mackampurira

 

Jan 10

The relevance of balancing Information and work flow in your organisation.

In any organisation, all products and services are a result of a process. These process involves inputs and outputs. Inputs can take on many forms as can outputs. For the manufacturing industry it is mostly physical elements such as raw materials, machines, whereas for the service industry it may be more intangible elements such as human resources, knowledge and information among others

Work processes and the work flow in an organisation are highly dependent on the flow of information throughout the process. Information, constantly flowing through an organisation acts as the blood of the company, without which the organisation would be dead.

  • So then we ask ourselves what is information?
  • What is the relevance of information flow?
  • How is it transmitted?
  • How does it affect our work processes?

In an organization, information refers to the facts, ideas, data and opinions that are discussed throughout the company. Since information is the blood of the company, developing work processes balanced with information flow is key for success of any organisation. With growing competition in the marketplace, it is becoming increasingly important for organisations to balance their information flow and leverage on their work processes to gain an edge in the highly competitive market.

As Aaron Levie put it “Too little process and you can’t get good work done. Too much process and you can’t get any work done. Most companies never find the middle ground”.

As much as balancing processes and finding a middle ground is important, it is even more critical to find a balance between information flow and work processes. It is a fundamental requirement if a company is to deliver a successful product or service to the market to achieve a competitive advantage; companies must adopt and implement effective communication channels between the different functions and ensure cooperation between team members and the information flows across the organisation both vertically and horizontally such that everyone is involved and up to date with decisions, and tasks and deadlines are met in order to minimize the gaps, risks and uncertainties that may be brought about by information gaps existent in the organisation.

As a manager, one needs to understand the significance as well as benefits of balancing information flow and work processes in your organisation, a few of which are emphasized below; …..

  1. It allows better planning; the planning process begins with a review of the current operations of an organisation. Planning also involves determining of the organisational goals and growth levels within a given period of time. Since organisations have limited resources, planning becomes a vital element that guides in developing of the work processes that ensure utilisation of minimal resources. Planning is also key in execution. Effective planning however, requires the right information for decision making. Work scheduling and allocation is also fundamental in planning. How you allocate tasks to your staff will have a huge impact on your productivity and competitiveness as a company. Work needs to be allocated to staff based on their capacity and capability to perform the task at hand. Due to the dynamic environment surrounding work allocation (such as sickness, absenteeism, willingness to take on new responsibilities, ability to learn on job etc.), planning especially in regard to work allocation should be very responsive and flexible. The planning process should be informed by correct information though.
  1. You are able to manage expectations; organisations are made of various stakeholders. Whether it is the shareholders, management, staff or customers, engagement of all parties is as critical as managing their expectations. When you offer a good or a service, customers become the key stakeholders as they determine the value of your products. It becomes very vital to understand what customers want and enable the organisation to deliver exactly what the customers expect. You can also take advantage of your customers’ expectations to develop a unique and competitive product in the market. Managing expectations however involves more than just dealing with the customer but also your employees. For example, if you run a blog, you need to determine how frequently you want to engage with your readers (through articles) while at the same time considering what impact and productivity levels it will require of your staff/writers. The key here is balancing organisational needs and your team’s abilities. It is also key to give clear descriptions of what is going to happen and how things will be delivered. Do not assume that all your employees know what happens next, or understand the organisation’s processes. As the saying goes, “assumption is the mother of all fallacy”. The key tool here is clear communication and on a regular basis.
  1. Mitigation in case of failure; when your organisation makes planning a priority, it gives you a fallback position when things don’t work as planned. It gives you a starting point. Process failure in itself is a risk and as Brian Hill put it “managing risk is essential to an organization’s success. Even the largest corporations cannot control the economic and competitive environment around them. Unforeseen events occur that must be dealt with quickly, before negative financial consequences from these events become severe. Planning encourages the development of “what-if” scenarios, where managers attempt to envision possible risk factors and develop contingency plans to deal with them. The pace of change in business is rapid, and organizations must be able to rapidly adjust their strategies to these changing conditions”. The important element here is understanding the organisational and work processes, gathering sufficient information from management and staff and laying more informed strategies to support the organisation achieve its goals.
  1. Improves morale and motivation of employees; all employees seek meaningful employment where roles, responsibilities and tasks are clear, reporting structures are clear, work processes are understood and clearly communicated, work allocation matches with their capabilities, learning is enabled among others. Employee motivation is then achieved when potential conflict is eliminated through clearer and better communicated work processes where an employee knows that their work directly contributes to the success of the entire organisation and they can take pride in their roles.

A lot can be said about balancing work processes and information flow, a critical enabler for this however,   to develop effective communication channels across the organisation and ensure decisions and strategies and work processes are informed by the right information at all times.

By Sarah Achiro

Sarah_Achiro Sarah is our Business Analyst . She is a growing consultant with BLEGSCOPE and has 2 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

Nov 17

Leveraging technology to spur your b2b marketing model

marketing-techLeveraging technology to spur your b2b marketing model

After sharing the basics of what the B2B marketing model is all about, a number of our readers have been engaging us further on its application and how best it can work in today’s business environment. Though in different ways, there is one thing that dominated the discussion and that  is “Technology”. Most of our readers needed to better understand how best they can use technology to realise the best of their efforts in the B2B marketing game. This puzzle compelled me to write this subsequent article.

As I put my thoughts together, this joke that I have encountered a couple of times came to my mind; “My brother doesn’t have to give parental advice to his kid any more. His kid’s phone has an app for that.” There are just countless ways in which technology can support B2B Marketing and different businesses may have to switch from one user to another depending on the different particular needs that they face. Here below are some ways in which you can up your B2B Marketing game using technology.

1. Customer Profiling

This is very critical and helps in the market segmentation, targeting and positioning of your business to market more efficiently. With the basic tools such as MS Excel to more complex ones, technology can and will help in development of user friendly customer databases which can be used to reach out to customers with similar needs or buying patterns as may be deemed necessary. With such databases, other marketing activities such as sending out mass messages, making inquiries, conducting interview, scheduling visits and many others are made easy.

2. Product development and improvement

Today, technology is playing a key role in research for new products, development of prototypes and even testing improvements on existing products. We are increasingly seeing Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) supporting such initiatives with a significant drop in both time and money hence having a marked improvement on company bottom line

3. Customer service

In this technology driven era, we have witnessed a dramatic use of technology in the space of customer service. Self-service solutions like the Automatized Teller Machines (ATMs), or even the communication modes such as transaction confirmation messages by SMS have largely been impacted on by technology.

4 Promotion [social media, e-mail marketing]

A means of communicating to an intended audience have been revolutionalised by technology. In the name of Digital Marketing, promoting B2B has enjoyed immense utilisation. Ranging from Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to e-mail marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) among others have been clear winners in this digital age. With the growing of Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital marketing is becoming more effective as it gets easier to reach the targeted audience.

5.Price computation / modeling

One of the most forgotten aspects of marketing is pricing. It is also clear that this aspect of marketing can leverage technology by the application of modeling application to generate different scenario with lots of time being saved. This is particularly important where price discrimination can yield higher profitability and customer satisfaction.

6. Processes

Be-it a tangible product or an intangible service, processes are another critical element in marketing that leads to higher customer satisfaction. In this regard, technology is highly instrumental in reducing processing time and cost while improving output quality and quantity. Think of how long it takes you to respond to a quotation or confirmation of payments from your clients into your bank account. Ensuring quick and seamless processes will enhance the customer experience and thus positively impacting on your business’ bottom-line.

7. Measuring performance of campaigns

What cannot be measured cannot be achieved is an adage often used for the justification of measuring performance. Technology has made Marketing analytics a reality and thus easy to ascertain the impact of specific marketing initiatives.

In conclusion, it must be acknowledged that adjustment with the times is mandatory. Leveraging technology has its very essential benefits as explained above and with it comes a substantial cost in the immediate short term. Getting over the cost hurdle is widely recommended as optimization methods for growing any organisation or business is now going to have technology somewhere between its core and its heart.

By Brian Ahabwe Kakuru

Brian Ahabwe KakuruBrian is the Managing Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has 10+ 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

 

Oct 18

Ugandan Economic slow-down: Reality or Perception

slowdownThere is a belief that those who studied economics and business are conscious of the goings-on in the world of business, finance and commerce. Whereas this may hold true for a few of the former economics graduate classmates of mine, majority are just like you and me wondering if the deciphering of the current slow-down in Uganda’s economy can possibly be further explained by the economics we studied in A’ Level.

In the world of African economies which seem to always slow-down after or rather during an election year, it is paramount that a nation’s Central Bank takes centre stage in ascertaining control of what it can in an economy and with its strong control of monetary policy, it uses this as a measure of controlling the level of liquidity in the economy. Through the use of the Central Bank Rate (CBR), the central bank through thick, thin and a lot of back and forth with the nation’s government usually does a stellar job in keeping money flows in check so as to keep the financial monster known as inflation at bay. Inflation although explained throughout the ages has its own unique principles that ensure that the purchasing power of a unit of currency falls. In simple terms inflation means 10 shillings today is equivalent to 8 shillings tomorrow.

Over the past two decades, Uganda has seen a remarkable turnaround in economic performance, with growth averaging about 7.7% a year over the 1995–2014 periods. Equally impressive has been the sharp decline in poverty rates, which fell about 15% points over this period. Improved macro-economic management and economic reforms contributed to the country’s strong growth performance. This growth has been known to be private sector led with increase in commercial activities stemming from the liberalization of the economy in the early 1990s. However, in a quest to avoid the recent talk about bail-outs to selected Ugandan entrepreneurs, the same talk is a part driver of this article. Besides the proposed bail-ees, numerous commercial ventures are stalling in the economy and there is a slow-down on bank loan repayments as evidenced by the increased defaults in almost all commercial lending operations in the economy. Is this not an indication of the slow-down in the economy if the reduced growth levels are compounded with an increase in delayed pay-back due to capacities being constrained?

For the case of Uganda, it should be known that just like similar economies, the same people who work are the same people who pay taxes and the same people who buy the goods and services and the cycle keeps going round and round. Against this backdrop, I want to ask these questions…

  • Is the economy actually slowing down?
  • Are we being deceived even when the same 50,000/= Uganda Shilling (approx. US$ 15) cannot do what it could 5 years ago?
  • Are you wondering who is as liquid as they used to be last year same time?
  • Even if you now earn more money than you did say 2 year ago, is it buying less?

Welcome to the rat race, where you always seem to be struggling and whatever is going on around you gives the impression that it is not about to get better and you do not know how you have made it through the past few months without the grace of God.

During a discussion with my former classmate who works as a senior economic advisor for a reputable international development based institution, he suspected that the way money has become scarce in our economy it is a sign that what there could be a clear reduction of the economic buffers across three fonts.

Real Sector

The part of the economy that is concerned with actually producing goods and services, as opposed to the part of the economy that is concerned with buying and selling on the financial market. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Uganda was worth 26.37 billion US dollars in 2015 as opposed to reaching an all-time high of 27 USD Billion in 2014. With the projected increase in GDP for 2016 set to grow by an estimated 1.2% being driven by  infrastructural development primarily being funded by the Chinese, according to data released by the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics (UNBS), it is hoped that this projected growth will lead to a possible trickle-down effect in cashflow in the normal human beings.

Source: tradingeconomics.com World_Bank

This may not prove the loss of the value of money per se, but gives a clear indication that the economy is slowing down.

External Sector

Uganda’s Balance of Payment figures (Millions of US$)[1]

Year 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
Exports 2,297.77 2,667.43 2,912.11 2,706.33 2,738.37
Imports 4,671.12 5,241.48 5,035.07 5,073.51 4,988.01
B.O.P Position -2,373.35 -2,574.04 -2,122.96 -2,367.18 -2,249.64

Using Uganda’s Balance of Payments (BOP) figures above, what you can see is a steady trend in both imports and exports and no sign of the exports value rising in any way to reduce the current Balance of Payments gap otherwise known as a deficit. The gap is on its way again to widen though not drastically as we are becoming slightly more conservative in our spending; not with His Excellency’s new stand of “wacha mchezo” hopefully the nation can attempt to ease the burden for the next generation. The reduction in reserves too from 3,246.0Bn UGX in 2014 to 2,843.1Bn UGX in 2015 is also another indicator of this.

As we move along in 2016 however, the question to ask is… “Is the economy slowing down?

Financial Sector

Tight monetary conditions were imposed throughout most of 2015/16 by the central bank to counter the depreciation of the shilling as well as any expected rise in liquidity. This increased lending rates to an average of 25% on loans issued by commercial banks, thus increasing the cost of capital and slowing down investment in the period. Inflation rose throughout 2015 and peaked at 8.5% but has eventually been brought down to 5.1% as at end of August 2016. Uganda’s current account deficit stood at 5.2% of GDP in 2015. This is expected to contract further due to high imports of high value inputs for infrastructural development. Coffee accounts for 20% of total export earnings and a third of foreign exchange earnings.

Future oil production is expected to turn the country’s deficit account into surplus, following the announcement that the proposed USD 4 billion oil export pipeline from Western Uganda would be constructed to pass through the Tanzanian port of Tanga.

Central Bank executed in raising its Treasury Bills rate over the past 12 months (with it rising to as much as 20% in February 2016 for 182 T-Bills and 18% for 91 day T-Bills[2]), the central bank has managed to successfully avoid having too much money (if any at all) staying in the economy.

Uganda’s Inflation rate[3]

Year 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
Rate 9.4 6.5 23.5 5.6 6.7 2.7

Source: Bank of Uganda Statistics: https://www.bou.or.ug/bou/rates_statistics/statistics.html

As you can see, the central Bank’s foresight to manage inflation has come to pass with the current rate (as at August 2016) being 4.8%.

 Source: Bank of Uganda Statistics: https://www.bou.or.ug/bou/rates_statistics/statistics.html

According to the Central Bank, lending rates in commercial banks have increased from about 15% in September 2014 to 19% in August 2016. This was due to contractionary monetary policies that were implemented by the Central Bank to control inflation. CBR has increased from 11% to 19% in the same period. With inflationary pressures currently falling, the BoU‘s relaxation of monetary policy is required amid concerns over weak economic activity. By lowering its policy rate, the Bo U has endeavored to reverse these trends.

It should also not be forgotten that Ugandan Government debt in the financial year 2014/2015 stood at 34.7% of GDP and this is expected to increase significantly in 2015/2016 due to heavy depreciation of the shilling in the middle months of 2015 thus increasing the cost of borrowing. The stock of public debt was 23,708UGX billion as at June 2014 and was estimated to be 29,984 UGX as at June 2016. This is a clear rise in public sector borrowing. Notwithstanding the increase, our public debt remains sustainable and Uganda is not under debt distress. Over the medium term, the debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to peak at about 39.8% of GDP. However, this level of debt excludes pipeline borrowings in particular for the Karuma and Isimba hydropower and the Standerd Gauge Railway Projects.

What remains is that the money in the economy is scarce.

The theme for the Finance Year 2016/17 Budget speech was ‘Enhanced Productivity for Job Creation’. This is a very unique and hopeful stance since what I am attempting to explain is why the current cash flow problems are happening in our economy.

  • Off shoot reasons can be traced to a few external factors including Uganda being on the receiving end of the impact of global and regional economic slowdown. We are experiencing low commodity prices for exports exchange rate depreciation (depreciation of the shilling) because of global strengthening of the US dollar and decline in capital flows in Uganda.
  • This capital inflow decline is no joke as we have consistently failed to reduce the deficit gap over the past decade with a strong belief that purposive oil revenues beyond 2020 will help speedily reduce that deficit gap
  • Reduced effective demand as a result of economic slowdown has led to reduced cash in hands of the wanainchi with the few higher survivors enjoying slightly higher salaries than others and a few feeding off of travel per diems
  • These I feel are symptoms of the greater problem that Uganda is facing as an economic enigma. The delay (or is it reluctance) for the State to curb some of its spending habits into a more manageable and sustainable manner.
  • Squeezing the current tax base is possibly the greater source of the recent Shs. 11,598 billion equivalent to 13.2% of GDP. But looking forward, we need to widen the tax base otherwise the state will run out of options for it and our well-being as a nation
  • Facing the disease head-on of low export base is being attempted through His Excellency promoting industrialisation and the like which is hoping to yield a better product base from which to increase exports to which value has been added and this will hopefully bring better revenues from exports
  • Promoting Uganda as a high value tourist destination since Tourism as an income earner Tourism adds US$ 2.5 billion to our GDP and approximately USD 1.5 billion in foreign exchange earnings annually. This translates to 9% of national output and 26% of export earnings. That should tickle your minds. 26% of foreign earnings!
  • One other key thing that is often overlooked both in terms of operation as well as end result and its usage is the level of domestic savings in our country. We need to increase our domestic savings from the current level of 11% to beyond 20% to address the problem of lack of long term financing. The financing levels at UDB [asset base of Shs. 205.6 billion (US$ 60 million as at June 2016] as compared to Stanbic Bank Uganda [asset base of Shs. 4.5 trillion (US$1.3 billion) as at June 2016] are clear to see with UDB struggling to raise much needed affordable capital from the state.

Way forward is always a well-received section of any article/ report that one writes as it usually is intended to portray some form of hope for the current situation to improve. My opinions on this have been shared, maybe you can add or subtract.

[1] Source: Bank of Uganda Statistics: https://www.bou.or.ug/bou/rates_statistics/statistics.html

[2] Source: Bank of Uganda Statistics: https://www.bou.or.ug/bou/rates_statistics/statistics.html

[3] Source: Bank of Uganda Statistics: https://www.bou.or.ug/bou/rates_statistics/statistics.html

By Edmund Kamugisha

Edmund Kamugisha Edmund is the Engagement Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has 10+ years of   management consultancy experience notably in MSMEs, FMCG companies and in the service industry. You can follow him on twitter: @edmokmg

 

Oct 11

The 7 steps through which the sales process can increase your sales.

sales-stagesWith my own experience through observation of many sales professionals, different line managers and leaders, I have realized that the ability to sell something to someone; be it a product, service or an idea, is the fundamental skill at the core of many jobs in the business world. The sales profession moves faster than ever today. In the blink of an eye, new competitors emerge, products and services similar to yours are released and before you know it, they have circulated all over the market.

No matter what industry you are in, what worked well a few years ago is not good enough today. This is no time for trial and error or order taking, this is a time to sell. When it comes to closing a sale, it is not just smooth-talking your buyer; it is as important as being able to listen, think critically and intelligently applying the effective sales techniques. Today, many sales people are not effective at selling not because they are not good sellers, but mainly because they do not follow a clear sales process.  Different professionals came up with strategies on how salesmen can increase their sales and these were majorly summarized in 7 steps as explained in our article today. However is very important to know that each step is as important as the other. Chances of losing any exists at every stage.

Step 1. Prospecting

The first step of the sales process. Prospecting means identifying potential customers. Literally, prospecting is all about finding who wants what you have. Approaching the right potential customers is crucial to the selling process and increasing prospecting effectiveness is the fastest way to boost sales. Prospects can be qualified by their financial ability, volume of business, special needs, location, and possibilities for growth. For sales people, the best leads of sales include the following:

  • Referrals such as current customers and suppliers
  • Phone calls
  • Social media
  • Referrals such as customers and suppliers
  • Mailing lists
  • Cold calls
  • Trade shows and exhibitions and
  • Directories

After generating the above lists, one should research about the prospects so as to easily determine the potential ones that can be approached first.

In the broadest sense, prospecting is an ongoing process that everyone in the company (particularly the sales force or even the business development team) should be involved in. This simply means everyone should have their “prospecting radar” up when they are out and about in the world. Very often, a great lead turned customer is first discovered after being heard or seen in the news at a party, or any other event.

 Step 2. First contact.

First contact is about setting an appointment. After prospecting, the next step you should do is reaching out to the prospects. Calling and speaking to them over the phone is the most effective way to make appointments. Besides, many salespeople are quite successful using other channels such as email, social media also, in-person visits and many more. In fact, it is best to use at least two different contact methods say; phone and email, so that you will have a better chance of getting in touch with each lead. If you can manage to contact them, then your task is to move them on to the next stage of the sales process. During this stage, you as a sales person should focus on the following four strategies:

  • Establishing buyer trust
  • Introducing the purpose of the meeting
  • Maintaining interest and attention and finally;
  • Concluding by seeking permission to ask questions which can easily lead you to the text stage.

Step 3. Qualifying the prospect.

This means confirming that your prospect is both able and potentially willing to buy your product or service. This stage can either happen during the initial contact (for example; call phone) or at the appointment itself. Much will depend on how willing this particular lead is to speak with you at length during the phone call or any other means you used for the first contact. Some people will be brusque and eager to get you off the phone, so asking a series of probing questions will likely cost you the appointment. There are various questions they can help you qualify for a sale and these are grouped under different categories which include the following:

  • Buying history questions. Learning more about the prospect’s previous buying experiences, can help you get a glimpse of how his mind works and what his buying routines are.
  • Purchase specific questions. These questions relate to the specific transaction you are hoping to initiate. Purchase questions help you identify hot-button needs and design your pitch around them. They include questions like: What prompted you to meet with me today?, what qualities do you look for in a [product type]? And many others.
  • Rapport building questions
  • Clarifying questions. If a prospect gives a brief response to an important question, you can try drawing more information like
  • Objection seeking questions which include the prospect’s thoughts, concerns and any other subject to discuss.

Step 4. Presentation

The presentation is the core of every sales cycle, and it is at this stage that you will invest the most preparation time. Before you arrive for your appointment, it is important that you know what you are going to say and you should have all the tools you need to say it. This can be your laptop, complete with PowerPoint presentation. Important to remember is that the goal of the presentation is not to trot out your company’s credentials and finish with lots of technical information about your product, but more to get as much information as you can from the prospect.. Usually the more interactive your presentation is, the more interest you will generate, therefore it is important for you as a sales person to know what you are talking about and rehearse it to the point that you could do it in your sleep while still seeming spontaneous. It is also an important part of building credibility and establishing trust. Below are some of the things you can practice to have the best presentation:

Listen more and do less talking

Asking sales questions helps you to collect the information that you need to sell effectively. Besides this, asking questions also helps you to build a rapport with your prospect. If you focus is on listening to what the prospect has to say instead of talking over him/ her, your prospect will feel that you take him seriously and that you respect him. That is a powerful way to start building trust with your prospects.

Know when to stop.

During each sale, there is a moment when the prospect decides whether or not to buy from you. The prospect himself may not recognize this moment, since people usually buy based on emotion and justify it using reason. It is therefore important for you to recognise that moment when it comes because over talking is one of the ways that sales people lose prospects.

Develop a strong body language

Prospects listen to what you say, but there are also paying attention to what you do. In fact, some experts believe that our nonverbal communication has a much stronger effect on an audience than what we actually say. Ideally, you want your body language to say that you are confident, trustworthy, and interested in your prospect’s needs. To convey these ideas, the single most important aspect of body language is eye contact. If you spend the entire presentation talking to your PowerPoint slides, you’re sending exactly the wrong message.

Eliminate filler words

When you’re doing your practice sessions for a new presentation, record at least one session and then play it back. Do you use a lot of filler words like “uh” and “um” and “you know?” If so, you need to make a conscious effort to, like, get rid of those fillers. Including a lot of filler words in your presentation makes you sound uncertain, confused, or like you’re hiding something.

Step 5. Handling objections

This means dealing with your prospect’s concerns.If your prospect keeps throwing up “Yes, but…” statements or otherwise objecting to what you say, that is actually a good sign. He is at least interested enough to consider what you are saying, even if he/she does not agree with every detail. Prospects who just sit there with their arms crossed and do not say a word are much tougher sells. As you sell your product/service you will find that you hear the same objections over and over, which gives you plenty of opportunity to come up with the perfect responses for these common issues. When you get one that you have never heard and are not sure how to respond, just say something like, “That is a great question. I do not want to just toss off a quick reply, so let me do a little research and get back you to you.” That honors the prospect’s concern while giving you a chance to think before you respond. While handling objections, you can use things like testimonials, case studies that high light similar challenges. You can also create more value based on the customer’s buying motives and provide them with more information about your product or service.

Step 6. Closing

This involves identifying closing signals from the prospect that indicate it is decision time. During this stage of closing, the seller’s major goal is to facilitate the prospect’s decision making process towards making the purchase of a good or service at the right time.

Approaching the right potential customers is crucial to the selling process and increasing prospecting effectiveness is the fastest way to boost sales. Prospects can be qualified by their financial ability, volume of business, special needs, location, and possibilities for growth. There are different approaches to closing, namely:

  • The alternative choice close.

You assume the sale and offer the prospect a choice such as, ‘Will this be a cash or credit transaction?’

  • An extra inducement close

This involves you offering something extra to get the buyer to agree, such as a discount or a free product.

  • Standing room only close,

This close requires you to inform the prospect that time is of the essence because some impending event, such as a price increase, will change the terms of the offer.

Closing is either the easiest or the most difficult stage of the sales cycle. It all depends on how well you have done your job in the earlier stages. Each step in the cycle is either a step forward in your prospect’s esteem, or it is a step back. So if you have built rapport effectively and treated the prospect with respect, closing can be as simple as saying, “Sign here and we will ship the product to you by Tuesday.”

On the other hand, if you have not convinced the prospect, closing may be your last opportunity to turn him into a customer. In that situation, using a closing technique can salvage the sale for you  but will probably your work cut out for you later to earn your new customer’s trust and ensure he will not jump ship in a month.

Step 7. Follow up

This is the final step in the sales process. It requires building long term relationship with customers for purposes of repeated sales. A good follow up can help you double and even triple your closing ratio. When a sales person makes contact with a prospect a relationship has been built, and follow up is how it is nurtured. Staying at the forefront of a prospect’s mind requires persistence and should not be confused with being bothersome. This is why it is important to get agreement on some next step each time there is contact. Follow up therefore should never end. The pace may slow but it will never end. When a sale is made, then a new type of follow up begins, for example asking the customers if they received the good/service. The follow up stage has two major purposes namely:

  • It entails the development of the long term, mutually satisfying relationship with the customer.
  • It provides a recycling of the sales process through subsequent sales calls on existing customers.

When you successfully do close the sale, do not shake the customer’s hand and then take off before he can change his mind about buying. While he is thinking positive thoughts about you and the product, it is an ideal moment to ask for referrals of his friends and colleagues, and in such a process, you will be able to make grow your sales.

In conclusion, on completion of the follow up stage, the sales process naturally becomes cyclical because the follow up leads you to the preparation of the next sale. As earlier noted in the introduction, as a sales person, it is very important to master each of the seven stages of the process because if you fail to successfully accomplish one stage, then it becomes difficult to get to the other one, meaning you will never achieve your real potential as a sales person.

By Mackline Ampurira

MACKLINE_22

Mackline recently joined BLEGSCOPE Team as an Intern and 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 Management and Human Resources. You can follow her on Twitter >>@mackampurira

 

 

 

 

Sep 29

Stress; know more about it and manage it better.

stressThe rapid pace of modern living has seen individual lives changing faster and every day we are faced with tonnes of decisions and unique situations. Balancing work, our social lives, family, business and clients, health and fitness, school and spiritual growth among others, has become increasingly difficult and more individuals are falling short and failing to keep up with such a pace. We are often faced with overwhelming demands in trying to keep up and with the ever increasing pressures we often feel unable to cope. Many such situations leave us uncomfortable and in (dire) need of an immediate solution.

Stress is what you feel when you have more to handle than you are used to. In a more specific sense, stress is a mental, physical or emotional strain caused by either internal or external factors. Stress has also been defined as an adaptive response by an individual that is a consequence of any external action, situation or event that places special physical and/or psychological demands upon a person.  The most common stressors are situations and people. Everyone goes through stressful times in life, however, the magnitude and levels very from one person to another and from a situation to another. Stress can come from your job, family, friends and even things outside of our control such as sickness, death of a close person etc.

Many articles have been written about stress, but let me take a unique approach for better understanding of stress and its management.  Today we would love to share with you how you can manage stress in your day to day life as stress is a fact of life and good stress management skills brings about both emotional and physical health benefits. Here are a few facts about stress that are important to know before we delve into the stress management techniques;

  • Stress is not a mere nervous tension, it equally affects our emotional health
  • Stress is necessary and even useful sometimes because it allows for creativity in managing both situations and people.
  • Stress can have positive consequences like an improved memory, boosted immune system, and better time management among others.
  • Stress is infectious; sometimes stressed individuals give off negative energies and association with such negativity will have an effect on us.
  • Stress can be avoided by understanding its triggers and limiting contact with such and most importantly,
  • Stress should be managed because stress management is core to our physical and emotional well being.

The ability to take on what life throws at us varies from person to person. Everyone feels and responds to stress differently. Whereas one person would get overwhelmed by a situation, another person would remain absolutely calm and collected. Stress management, therefore, cannot adopt a one-size-fits-all approach, however, here a few stress management techniques that can be adopted and applied to take you through any stressful situation that you may be going through;

stressing

  1. Self-awareness; Self-awareness refers to having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self-awareness allows you to understand other people, situations, your perceptions, your attitude and your responses. When you become more self-aware and understand who you are better, it becomes easier to know your stress triggers and how to either control them or manage them. Stress can also grow slowly and go unnoticed, or ignored, for years. Lack of self-awareness can cause it to build up until something breaks under the pressure. Becoming more self-aware means you can identify the stress triggers and be able to tell if you’re stressed or not.

2. Accept; acceptance is the first stage of stress management. it is at this stage that we identify stressors; whether it is a situation or a person, identify the cause of stress and equally identify stress signals such as headache, restlessness, lack of concentration, low morale, frustration, fatigue, sickness, nastiness, discontent or any other signal for stress and ACCEPT IT. In our article about how entrepreneurs deal with a low morale, ‘figuring it out’ is the first step in dealing with a low morale. Similarly for stress, identification of stressors and consequently accepting it is key. Before you accept that a situation or person is causing stress to you, it will be close to impossible to find a remedy or solution for that situation/problem.

3. Plan and execute; think logically and objectively about how you intend to manage this stressful situation. If it is a bit overwhelming, break it down into manageable parts and sort it out on a step by step basis, making sure you maintain progress! This stage involves two types of execution techniques;

  • Calming techniques; many practices have been suggested at this stage, some by experts and among other things; exercising, taking a walk, calming activities like massages, praying, stretching, taking tea, going out with friends and taking time off are commonly suggested practices for managing stress. These practices however, are only useful in letting you to become better composed to think more objectively about how to handle the situation at hand. It is not enough to only calm yourself down when faced with a stressful situation. A practical solution still needs to be found for that situation.
  • Techniques to actually manage the situation; as already mentioned earlier, objectivity is significant in managing any stressful situation. Once you are calmer and better composed, it’s easier to think objectively and better plan a more logical and healthier course of action. Breaking it down into a step by step course of action makes the situation more manageable. Say you had a bad disagreement with your boss over something (whether work related or not); your ideal course of action would look something like this; think through why it happened the way it did, decide whether it is necessary to meet up and talk things through and if it is, plan a meet up with him/her, discuss openly and respectfully about what happened and put things behind you and finally ensure that in the future such an exchange doesn’t repeat itself. It’s important to note that no two situations are the same and therefore each situation needs to be handled independently.

4. Adapt to stress management and reduction techniques; most of the stress we face can be divided into 3 categories;

  • natural stress that we face for example when trying to achieve set goals,
  • stress we can control such as stress from relationships and
  • Stress we can’t control such as sickness or death of loved ones.

For the stress we can control, the following techniques are useful;

> avoid stressors (situations, people),

> practice positive thinking,

> do not take in more responsibility than you can handle,

> practice better relationship management and stop fretting over little things.

Stress is one thing that will happen to us from time to time, especially that which we have no control over.

When you manage one stressful situation well, it gets easier to avoid a similar situation in the future. Adopting stress reduction techniques is therefore very vital for future situations.

Key Takeaways;

  • Become more self-aware
  • Identify the stressors
  • Reduce/avoid possible stressors in your life
  • Learn healthy ways to manage stress
  • Avoid similar situations in the future

By Sarah Achiro

Sarah_Achiro Sarah is our Management Consultancy Trainee. She is a growing consultant with BLEGSCOPE and has 2 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

 

Sep 27

Introducing Business to Business (B2B) Marketing

bbb2Beginning with a question to expound our thinking: “what is marketing?”

Very often, marketing is narrowed down to only mean communicating a company’s products to the general public or targeted client. This is only half true; marketing refers to everything a company does to acquire customers and maintain a relationship with them. Even the small tasks like writing thank-you letters, playing golf with a prospective client, returning calls promptly and meeting with a past client for coffee can be thought of as marketing. One of the world’s leading authorities in the marketing profession ,  The Chartered Institute of Marketing define marketing as the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably. The ultimate goal of marketing is to match a company’s products and services to the people who need and want them, thereby ensuring profitability.

As different organisations sell different products and services, they must devise different strategies to serve their target customers. The first major difference in the market comes from businesses that target individual consumers such as Brian buying his own shirt and others targeting businesses like Airtel buying corporate uniform for its staff. Technically, the former is called Business to Consumer (B2C) while the latter is Business to Business (B2B). With these two areas of marketing, the same strategies may be used, but their application will need to change for them to be effective. Business-to-consumer marketing (B2C) relates to people who buy products and use services for their own personal or domestic consumption. This includes durable items such as cars, white goods and consumer goods for speedy consumption such as food, drinks and toiletries, also known as FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods).

On the other hand, Business-to-business (B2B) marketing involves products or services that are sold to other businesses or organisations. Business-to-business marketing was previously referred to as industrial marketing, but this phrase failed to recognise the involvement of a range of other, non-industrial enterprises. For example, governments and the not-for-profit sector also contribute a significant amount of commercial activity. Therefore, the term Organisational marketing has been adopted to encompass other players such as Government, NGO’s, distributors and retailers among others. These products are often referred to as industrial goods which could include yarn for use in textile manufacture, installations – such as large-scale equipment, aircraft, production machinery, operating supplies like paper, pens and internet among others and services to businesses like IT, tax consultancy, audit and accounting, recruitment and training provision among others.

It is worth noting that many businesses engage in a number of these different types of marketing. Take an example of Roofings which will market to construction firms and also to individuals as they build personal houses or a soft drinks company like Riham marketing to its distributors, but going an extra mile to support them to be able to market to the final consumers.

The market for goods and services bought and sold between businesses is very huge and is believed to be far larger than the consumer market and it is why we are giving it attention today.

The business market comprises many types and sizes of organisations that interact selectively and form relationships of varying significance and duration with one another. Although these organisations are often structurally and legally independent entities, a key characteristic is that they are also interdependent. That is, they have to work with other organisations to varying degrees in order to achieve their goals. Imagine the complicated, multi-player chain of buying and selling for a manufacturing conglomerate like Mukwano. It relies on different suppliers for its machinery, and their respective spare parts, different raw materials, suppliers of energy, professional service providers like legal firms, management consultants, auditors, IT and Tax consultants etc. Regardless of whether they sell their products and services to consumers or to other organisations, all businesses buy and sell items in order to create their own offerings. In recognition of their added value, other businesses may then buy these products to use, to create other products or to sell them as finished items to consumers.

Here below is an illustration of the major differences between B2B and B2C

b2b

In conclusion, as the business environment evolves, businesses seek new ways of reaching out to their customers. B2B has not been an exception and we have not only seen the vast changes but also anticipate many more that we cannot even predict today.

Technology has had a strong role in how B2B is conducted; ranging from application of social media to content marketing and even more sophisticated channels such artificial intelligence and this shall be our focus in the next article.

By Brian Ahabwe Kakuru

Brian Ahabwe KakuruBrian is the Managing Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has 10+ 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

Sep 21

Internship – Opportunity

INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITY

Position: Intern         –             Reports to: Managing Director

BLEGSCOPE Capital Limited is a holding company with interests in business advisory and engineering consulting services. The business includes a fast growing medium sized management consulting firm, dedicated to finding practical long lasting solutions for our clients. We take pride in growing our reputation by adding relevant value to our clients through provision of consistent quality service. The same philosophy applies to the engineering consulting services.

BLEGSCOPE Infrastructure Limited (BInfra) is privately owned limited liability company that was incorporated in July 2013. The firm was set-up to participate in the lucrative sector of Infrastructure Development and Management in Uganda and beyond.

Mission:

“To be the provider of choice for appropriate, sustainable and secure infrastructure solutions in our chosen markets”

Vision:

“To provide superior integrated solutions to the diverse infrastructure challenges facing different target clientele while meeting the financial expectations of our shareholders.”

Our core values:

  • 1.Honesty, Integrity and Fairness in Business
  • 2. Passion and Intellectual Curiosity for continuous improvement
  • 3. Professionalism and Attainment of high standards in our work approach.
  • 4. Entrepreneurial mind-set
  • 5. Clarity in communication
  • 6. Efficiency in our systems and processes.
  • 7. Effective Corporate Governance

Due to high demand and an established need by both our existing and new clients for infrastructure services, BLEGSCOPE Infrastructure has been operational to provide infrastructural services and because of this we are currently recruiting for an ambitious and highly driven Intern to support internal operations and work process management. This individual will attain valuable insight into project management, utilize, develop and refine their architectural skills and gain invaluable experience in handling relevant assignments.

BLEGSCOPE has a fast paced work environment and we seek hard-working and talented employees who crave learning new skills and aren’t afraid to tackle any projects on their own.  As an Intern you will get to work with a variety of our staff, while working on real projects that will help us grow. Our ideal candidate is someone who seeks to constantly improve themselves, able to work with others and appreciate intellectual curiosity. The position will require someone who is keen on identifying opportunities for improvement and brainstorming creatively to generate practical and unique solutions that satisfy client needs.

What you will do

The responsibilities for this position include;

  • Creating building concepts, designs highly detailed drawings
  • Support in project management from start to finish to ensure customer satisfaction.
  • Identify clients’ needs, compile project specifications and put together feasibility reports and design proposals
  • Provide technical support for the business development team.
  • Develop concepts keeping in mind client’s needs, building’s usage and environmental impact
  • Develop architectural designs and concepts to be approved by the Senior Architect
  • Work closely with a team of other professionals such as building service engineers, construction managers, quantity surveyors and architectural technologists about the feasibility and implementation of potential projects
  • Writing and presenting reports, proposals, applications and contracts
  • Play a part in project and team management
  • Make on site visits to check on proposed project locations, status, to attend client meetings and report on projects
  • Follow architectural trends and advancements

What we require

The intern must possess the following;

  • BSc. Architecture from a recognized University
  • Fresh graduate (less than 18 months from date of completion)
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and oral
  • High levels of creativity, imagination and vision
  • Visual awareness and an eye for detail
  • A keen interest in the built environment and the dedication to see projects to their conclusion
  • Willingness to work long hours, under time and budget pressure
  • Excellent design and drafting skills and proficiency with computer-aided design (CAD)
  • Strong mathematical skills
  • A keen eye for the detail of specific tasks, combined with an understanding of how such specifics fit in with the project as a whole
  • Organisational, project management and planning skills, including the ability to juggle multiple tasks
  • An analytical mind with excellent problem-solving ability
  • Leadership skills as well as the ability to work well within a team of other professionals

Benefits to the Intern:

  1. A monthly allowance
  2. Learning and networking experience.

NB; Females are highly encouraged to apply.

How to Apply;

Send your CV ONLY to achiros@blegscope.com not later than 25th September, 2016.

Only shortlisted candidates shall be contacted by 28th September, 2016.

Aug 25

Burn-Out

burn out2

In my very first job after finishing my degree in economics, I had the opportunity to possibly the best training job to get one out of your shell. I was a Sales Executive for a two-person advertising / architectural practise. They were (are) a couple (now married) who both studied architecture at their respective Universities of choice and both have amazingly creative minds that would stretch to places the normal mind would not even dare to go. In my adventure as a potential deal-sourcer for R& L back then, I met many a hustler on my frequent boda-boda trips to and from the Jinja Road office right next to Hot Loaf Bakery and as the months would go by I smelt a little resilience in many of them. There was one however who looked like life had done him a few bad turns. On setting up a meeting with him and needing one of either Rodney or Lisa to back me up, they were both very nonchalant on what to say about the aforementioned client. At the meeting, everybody was chatting up each other like they were old school friends except me.

Back at the office, it turns out when I asked how old the client was, they both asked why and I mentioned he looked like he was about 49 pushing 50. They both laughed and told me that Mr. Johnson was in their architecture class and dropped out to pursue his dreams of being a power broker. He started literally at the bottom and used to sell land, cars, food supplies and literally anything that he could get a buyer for. Along the way he had made a tonne of money as well as being able to always lose slightly more than he had made. They also told me that he had burnt out after 9 years of no rest no break and full hustle….

Whether you are an entrepreneur (read hustler), or even a senior manager with your current employer, or better yet still at your second job and doing your Masters’ degree concurrently, ask yourself a question or two…

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?

If you answered yes to any one of these questions, you might be experiencing a mild or potential form of (job or otherwise) burn-out and I do not mean the video-game. Let’s get into it for a bit.

Three weeks ago, I was failing to get any urge to complete a report that had a deadline this most recent Monday and I spent the entire Sunday night frantically finishing up the report like a madman! I sensed there was something a little wrong with me turning up early at the office to play WordsWithFriends© and not get the basics down to the usual. I realised that I was answering yes to more than one question up there.

Job burnout is a special type of job stress — a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work. If you think you might be experiencing job burnout, take a closer look at the phenomenon. What you may realise is that you can recognize what it is before it takes you under!

Some clear symptoms could be;

  • You are always exhausted mentally
  • You are not really as motivated as you used to be
  • A somehow negative spill-over into your other relationships and others
  • Slipping job performance , and
  • Thinking a lot about work when you are not at work

Mark you, this is not extreme burnout, but some things to notice before you realise you are driving into an electricity pole.

What could likely be one of the causes of job burnout?

  • Maybe you have not taken a real break in a few years
  • Maybe you try to do everything for everyone else except yourself
  • You identify so strongly with work that you lack a reasonable balance between your work life and your personal life
  • You feel you have little or no control over your work
  • There could be a mis-match in values between you and your employer
  • You need a lot of energy to stay focused during the various distractions in your life

Whatever it is to you, you can make some adjustments in your life as you embrace your true conviction to attain your career goals by the age of 40 by being a part of #TeamNoSleep or #CoffeeMeetsBusiness.

There are some things you can do to mitigate some of these happenings and avert any future unplanned trips to the operating theatre of your local hospital. It is imperative however that you evaluate both your life and lifestyle and endeavour to take a break as I am planning on taking when that client pays the balance on the invoice.

What’s the best way to handle job burnout?

If you’re concerned about job burnout, take action. To get started:

  • Manage the things that contribute to job burnout. Once you’ve identified what’s fueling your feelings of job burnout, you can make a plan to address the issues.
  • Adjust your attitude. If you’ve become cynical at work and in your other relationships, consider ways to improve your outlook. Rediscover enjoyable aspects of your work. Recognize co-workers for valuable contributions or a job well-done. Take short breaks throughout the day.
  • Assess your interests, skills and passions. An honest assessment can help you decide whether you should consider an alternative job, such as one that’s less demanding or one that better matches your interests or core values.
  • Get some exercise. Regular physical activity can help you to better deal with stress. It can also help you get your mind off work and focus on something else.
  • Take Relaxation Seriously ;Whether you take up meditation, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, truly think about what you’ll do to relax, and designate time for it.
  • Cultivate a Rich Non-Work Life ;Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and really gets you going—whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community (along with other items we mention here, like relaxation, being able to “turn off” and participating in rewarding non-work activities).
  • Unplug ;While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.
  • Get Enough Sleep ;Research suggests that having fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout, not least because poor sleep can have negative effects on your job performance and productivity. It can lead to fatigue, decrease your motivation, make you more sensitive to stressful events, impair your mental function, leave you more susceptible to errors and make it harder to juggle competing demands. The reverse is true, too:
  • Get Organized ;Often, when people are burnt out, they spend a lot of time worrying that they’ll forget to do something or that something important is going to slip through the cracks. Get organized, clear your head, put together a to-do list (or an electronic task list) then prioritize. That way, you don’t have to keep thinking about those things because you’ll have systems in place to remind you.
  • Know When It’s You, and When It’s Them ;Burnout is sometimes motivated by internal factors, and sometimes it really is a symptom of external ones. In the first case, you’ll need to ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” so you can figure out what’s stressing you out, and how to maintain your internal resources to keep yourself motivated, doing your best work and functioning well.

Some burnout really is the fault of work. Any form of increasing workload takes its toll on workers. There are more demands and fewer resources.” To find out whether it’s time to move on, figure out whether your position is a “mismatch between your needs and what you’re getting working for that particular organization.

  • Ignore (some of the) rules. In life, we are brought up to follow rules. We follow standard guidelines, structures, traffic lights, and so many others. Most of the time, this is exactly how it should be. There’s no need to get creative and put someone at risk. But as Richard Branson says, “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing.”  So while your actual practice of life may be causing you a direct road to burn-out, breaking a rule or two could be a little inspiring enough to yield a change.
  • Collaborate.

Keep an open mind as you consider the options.

DO NOT let a demanding or unrewarding job undermine your health

By Edmund Kamugisha

Edmund Kamugisha Edmund is the Engagement Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has 10+ years of   management consultancy experience notably in MSMEs, FMCG companies and in the service industry. You can follow him on twitter: @edmokmg

 

Aug 23

How to Manage Your Online Reputation.

onlinereputationIn our previous article we defined and talked about online reputation. Today, we share with you how you can manage your online reputation. There are now so many ways for strangers or even friends to communicate with you online without your knowledge. These people could be posting negative comments about you and your company, writing negative reviews about your goods and services, take up your competitors or even create a bad site regarding you.

How does all this affect you?

The most obvious way is that customers may turn away from your services or company just because of one thing they see online.

The Effects of a Negative Online Reputation

Having a bad image on internet could seem minor at first, after all it is one thing to have a scandal spread all over the media and quite another to have so many bad comments on your blog post about you. I am sure you remember the leaked naked images of a Ugandan singer/ celebrity that went viral across the internet and seemed to put her in a negative light. However, a negative online reputation can ruin you both personally and professionally through the following ways,

  • Loss of friends: While people may like you personally, or know you for a fact that the rumor is untrue, it simply might be too much of a business risk to associate with you personally or professionally if you have a bad digital reputation. Losing business connections is bad enough, but imagine losing a good friend because other people have chosen to make you look bad. Take a look at Makerere University academic Dr. Stella Nyanzi; Despite the fact that she has got other connections in various parts of the world, she has lost the respect of many of her friends both in business and the social media platforms.
  • Disrespect: It is very important for you to know that your reputation has so much to do with your respect in any society or environment. Respect is as important as building and protecting a good reputation. A good reputation generates respect whereas a bad one breeds suspicion. An example is our own Ugandan musician Desire Luzinda, during the time when her nude pictures were leaked all over social media, many people despised her, made fun out this by posing and taking pictures like she did. This was a sign of disrespect, thus a result of a bad online reputation.
  • Harassment; Online issues being the internet, it is emphatically easy for a person to speak their mind to you whether you care to hear about it or not. Email, social media, websites, blog comments sections and the list continues. Proving that there are many ways you can be reached whether you want to be or not.While most of the internet has a very short memory, there are always going to be a handful of people out there attempting to dredge up settled business and give you a negative reputation. Some people simply have so much time on their hands that they will keep coming after you, again and again. A case in point is our own so-called television presenters here in Uganda whose nude photographs and videos are still all over the social media and people want to keep talking about them.
  • Loss of customers; The most obvious effect of a bad online reputation is the loss of customers. It can be hard to determine how many, if any customers you are losing based on the reviews or mistakes on your social media. There is no way you can tell if a potential customer would have bought from you if it is not for your poor online image. The reality is that if the first thing a person finds about you or your business is something negative, they are less likely to do business with you. You are not being evaluated on your actual strengths and possible benefits, you are being ruled out because of something someone else said about you.

For the last 2-3 weeks, most the people on social media mainly Facebook have been sharing a post about Facebook’s change in its privacy policies”…I give notice to Facebook, it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute or take any other action against me based on this profile…” Although this post has not been a true source from Facebook, many people have shared it all for the need to ensure privacy on their accounts so as to manage their online reputation.

Besides this, there are many ways that are available to help you and your company manage and protect your online reputation and these include some of these explained below:

  1. Mind about the images you post. All image based sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and many others represent you online and people use these images to determine who and what you are. You image/ photo should reflect the kind of person or brand you would like to convey. It is important to always let your photo match your general outlook because the today’s joke may come back to haunt you.
  1. Keep private things private and above all always remember that nothing is really private. This has been a major problem today and many people have been affected by lack of privacy. It is therefore important for you to put privacy settings on all content you would want to share. However you should not post things such as bad photographs and other obscene posts that you would not want the world to see, this is because some social media sites are constantly changing their privacy settings and your friends may forward embarrassing pictures of you without your consent. Also do not trust any person with the kind of messages and pictures you share while on social media. These same people may dissappoint you and post these pictures and messages at some point in future thus ruining your reputation.
  1. Keep your brand. This is one of the best strategies. It is important to build your future instead of suppressing the past. This concerns people that have had a bad reputation before. Ensure to add new content all over your social media that will portray the current picture of what you are. This works because usually search engines bring new content first.
  1. Listen to what other people are talking about you and create a response plan. No matter what you do, you must stay on top of what is being said about you and your business. Consider the people talking about you and what they are talking about and then create a response plan. A response plan helps you to easily overcome any challenges encountered. It involves the following:
  • Who flags an issue and to whom is the issue addressed.
  • When should action be taken and who takes action
  • What tools should be used to respond
  • What content should be in the overall response
  • How do you treat comments particularly the negative ones
  1. Keep your company’s website up to date. Your website is the first place people go to when searching about you and your business. This gives an image or impression about the kind of person or business you are. It is therefore important that you leave a strong first impression since so many people judge books by their covers.
  1. Finally, monitor your reputation. Once you have established everything mentioned from 1 – 5, then you need to diligently monitor your reputation. Google yourself and your company, use every kind of such engines in social media and other forum searches to see what people are talking about you. Set up Google alerts; these are emails sent when your Google finds new results matching your search terms. Regular monitoring saves you from a series of crises that could happen in the future.

As I conclude, always remember that what is posted online becomes public information for everyone to view, and it is no longer under your control, it is therefore very important for you to be strategic about what you share.

Manage your online reputation and create your personal and company brand.

By Mackline Ampurira

MACKLINE_22Mackline recently joined BLEGSCOPE© as an Intern and 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 Management and Human Resources. You can follow her on Twitter >>@mackampurira