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Monday, March 28, 2011

Motivating Disgruntled Staff

Motivating Disgruntled Staff

Words by Francis Kahihu: kahihucareers@gmail.com (The writer is an Organisational Development Practitioner)

You must have realized that every workplace has its share of staff who murmur and complain. You come across staff who are speaking of how depressed and stressed they are as a result of certain aspects of their work. These could relate to the work environment in terms of infrastructure and space or could be due to a feeling of being poorly remunerated. All these lead to murmuring as staff engage in their daily duties. Since murmuring is more of a norm than an exception, just what should employers do to motivate staff who murmur and complain?

Seek to understand the root causes of the murmuring: People don’t just complain. There is always a reason why people feel discontented with their current situation in life. As much as some of the reasons could be fake and unjustified, they still remain reasons that need to be addressed. It is prudent for the employers to develop mechanisms that inform them of the reasons why certain staff murmur either about their jobs or about their bosses. This information is helpful in determining the response to the feelings of discontentment.

Respond to the concerns at your earliest convenience: Staff have been known to be open to their bosses with regard to their complaints the moment they realize that their bosses will be helpful in seeking for a solution to their concerns. It is common knowledge that when staff perceive like their employers are not interested in addressing their needs, they keep the murmur to themselves and do not divulge details to the employer. This is a catch 22 situation as your concerns will hence not be addressed when they hide them from your employer.

Opportunities should then be created as part of the organisational culture to encourage staff to freely express their concerns to the management. Such could include suggestion boxes (though these are rarely used by either party), a mood meter at the exit where staff mark against a certain criteria to indicate their feelings as the day passes among other creative ways of harvesting staff feelings.

Don’t disregard murmurs: Murmurs are like gossips. They spread faster than the truth. As much as the murmur starts with an individual or a department, it is helpful to address it as soon as you can. Failure to address it enables it gather its own storm and life making it difficult to respond later. As the whirlwind blows, the initial issues causing the discontent get blurred as staff and management start accusing each other of mischief with no one laying a finger on the exact bone of contention. Other issues crop up that complicate the management of the conflict.

Do not victimize: In most of the cases, it is not easy to tell the exact source of a certain murmur. Staff would murmur around the workplace with no one in particular being the murmur leader. The management team should be keen not to victimize a specific staff since this only leads to a broader based internal revolt. In cases where staff have representatives in the form of a trade union, seek to engage their representatives in the discussions instead of engaging individual staff. Since the loudest staff are the ones who will be heard murmuring, it should not be assumed that those who are quiet about their experiences are happy staff comfortably undertaking their tasks. They could be burning from within.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Would a pay rise may you happier?

Would a pay rise may you happier?

Words by Francis Kahihu: kahihucareers@gmail.com

When I ask people whether they are happy at their jobs, the majority indicate they are not and quote the salary they earn as the main reason for their lack of job satisfaction. They say they would be happier at work if only they were granted a pay rise. The equation of an extra pay to happiness has been a widespread illusion. I refer to it as an illusion since it does not necessarily translate that a higher pay will always lead to a happier moment at work.

Job satisfaction is a result of the interplay of many factors. Some of these could be the match between the person’s career ambitions and the current roles or could be the work environment a person works in. If a person received a huge pay rise but continued to work in a strenuous work environment, or an environment that does not appreciate them as they would desire, such a person would still not acquire happiness from the pay cheque at the end of the month.

Why is it that when a person gets a pay rise, their monthly expenditure follows suit? People change their lifestyles. They start frequenting joints they would otherwise not have afforded and start adorning designer wear suits in an effort to live their newfound status. Little do they know that with the rise in expenditure, the quality of life does not necessarily improve hence would keep on grumbling at how inadequate their salary is.

According to a 2006 Princeton University research, even if you do reach a higher income level, earning more money doesn't necessarily mean more smiles, in fact, it probably means more stress. We overlook the fact that earning more typically means working more. Working more means less time with family, friends, and for yourself. If you could earn double your income by working double the hours, would you?

Due to the desire for more money, we tend to push ourselves beyond our mental imaginations. We deny ourselves the benefits derived from a contented lifestyle. True to nature, we are not discontented by our jobs because of the amount of financial reward it provides but because we are on a rat race with our colleagues and friends. Every so often, we see a colleague driving in a brand new car and we wonder how they would afford such a happy drive when we are still ‘struggling’ with a second hand car or have to push and shove our way into public transportation means.

The desire to impress the world around you robs you the opportunity to enjoy life. You find fault with your employer or with your business since it does not seem to propel you to the heights you want to reach. Ironically, we fail to take time and appreciate the fact that people around us could have varying sources of incomes and may not necessarily be relying on their salaries alone. In addition, it could be that they have had to make certain other compromises in life to be able to project the kind of lifestyle they do.

Wise are the people who have been able to define for themselves what happiness really means and go ahead to live within their means. This contentment leads to improved performance at work and with it, natural satisfaction and occasional promotions.

When your private life shows up at work

When your private life shows up at work

Words by Francis Kahihu: kahihucareers@gmail.com

Career coaches encourage people to ensure they leave their private issues at home and should never allow them to interfere with their work. This is great advice but reality has it that human beings are consolidated units with both the private and public components squarely intertwined. A case in point is Margarita’s experience.

After a long and constrained relationship with her in laws, she eventually decided to break the ties. She made her resolve known to her husband who as expected did not approve the decision. She nonetheless decided that it was better to break the ties with the in-laws than to live in pretence that all was rosy. Time went on and as much as this did not seem to negatively affect their relationship, cracks started to show when the husband proposed to have the family visit their upcountry relatives. Margareta refused to accompany him on the material day but unknown to her, he had his own plans of coercing her.

An hour after Margareta had reported to work and was on with clients, she received a call from the receptionist informing her that she had a visitor. When the she opened the reception door, she came face to face with the husband who insisted they had to travel together. As she resisted the request, they were involved in a scuffle and had to be separated by the receptionist and the office guard. An embarrassment it was which they both regretted. Margareta decided to take the rest of the day off to cool off the effects of the experience but still decided not to travel upcountry.

As it is difficult to totally compartmentalize life, our private lives every so often show up at our work places either directly or indirectly. It could be through experiences that resemble Margareta’s or indirectly through indicators of slowed performance and poor social relations with your colleagues. When spouses disagree at home, children turn rebellious or a home is bereaved, as much as it is important to hide it from your workmates, the bodies have a way of revealing what is in the heart and mind with little ease.

Such private experiences could be revealed through a rise in short temperedness in some of the staff or delay in meeting deadlines. You may have come across a staff who responded so angrily at your requests for basic assistance that left you wondering what wrong you had done by making the request. In such cases, you could have encountered the person at their lowest mental stability points. They could have been easily irritable due to the challenging concerns they may have been processing in their minds.

Appreciating that our private lives will once in a while find their way through the smart suits and beautiful hairdos should advise us on the need to remain level headed especially when the personal experiences are not those to boast about. Investing in the management of personal conflicts and challenges goes a long way in enhancing our performance at work since private and public lives are two sides of the same coin. Just as challenges at work affect your social life, so do private concerns affect work performance.

Rising from the dust of poor appraisal

Rising from the dust of poor appraisal

Words by Francis Kahihu: kahihucareers@gmail.com

As the year begins, many workers are reengaging with the results of the performance appraisals facilitated in either December last year or at the start of January this year. We all look forward to great commendations during annual appraisals but the reality is we do not always receive the highest points during all the performance reviews. For those who are agonising over poor performance reports, you may want to consider a few of the points below.

Don’t be too hard on yourself: Many people receive poor performance reviews at one point in their lives. A poor evaluation does not indicate the end of your world. It could be an opportunity for you to reevaluate your true performance and gain encouragement to consider better performance in the following year. Failure at certain times in life always act as an indicator of poorly utilised capacities. Learn from the failures and desire not to repeat the poor show.

Do not become defensive: It is common human response that whenever we are faced with hard hitting criticisms, we defend our actions. We find it difficult to accept that we were actually not able to perform as per the set standards and always look out for what and who to blame. Do not spend time justifying your failures especially when there are means to verify that your performance is below the expectation. Carefully consider the concerns raised and determine the truth in each of the issues. For those issues about which you are sure you deserve such an appraisal, admit the failure and seek for whatever support you require to improve on the performance. For those issues you are criticized about yet are beyond your control or are outrightly malicious, brush them aside and move on with your life.

Reevaluate your performance: Consider the merits and demerits of all the concerns raised and consider the lessons you can learn from each of the points. In cases where the evaluation involve other people in your department as is the case of 360 degrees evaluations, seek to appreciate what each of the comments mean. In some cases, performance evaluations are not aimed at looking at the weaknesses in the performance of a staff but seek to compare the potential with the current performance. It could be that your potential has been identified as not matching your current performance hence an indicator of the areas you may want to improve on. This is a helpful exercise as it could catapult you towards self actualization.

Plan for improvement: Finally, an evaluation report does more harm if it is left at the appraisal stage. Upon appreciating the contents of the appraisal, you would want to consider developing a plan jointly with your supervisor on ways and processes needed to address some of the critical issues raised at the appraisal. Appraisal reports could as well serve as capacity building needs assessment reports. Seek to work out a practical plan with your boss on your capacity requirements. Having accepted some of the performance flaws plays a big role in having your boss recommend you for continuous capacity development.

Excelling in 2nd choice careers

Excelling in 2nd choice careers

Words by Francis Kahihu: kahihucareers@gmail.com

(The author is an Organisational Development Practitioner)

What did you want to become when you grow up? You could have wanted to become either a doctor, a teacher, an engineer or a policeman. You had reasons for desiring to become what you wanted as early as when you were in lower primary. I am sure that the majority of you did not become what you wanted to become and have ended up in varied careers. For those who had the careers mentioned above as their childhood dreams, you may sigh with relief saying that those were mere fantasies and that you had made your impressions based on insufficient information.

For those who actually went beyond the fantasies and studied in certain careers, it often appears like they are in surviving in their second choice careers. With the proliferation of educational institutions in this country, many people have attained all manner of certification having studied in varied courses. The challenge however has been the lack of relevant work opportunities for many. Since they have to survive, they find themselves having to pick on whatever opportunity is available in the marketplace.

These second choice careers are what make some people feel short changed in life. Many wonder why they had to spend so much of their time and money studying for certain careers that could not absorb them after graduation. Such people feel disillusioned even as they embark on their new jobs since they feel they did not land their dream opportunities.

The so called second choice careers are not lesser careers after all. Life has a way of balancing itself and people are balanced off in the process. What you could have chosen as your first choice may not have been the best choice for you. You could have been naturally settled in the career that currently best suits your capacities. It is common knowledge that many people make career choices with minimal information about the expectations and demands of the said careers. They then struggle to become what they are not wired of becoming.

However, there are people who are truly suited for certain careers which they have even studied for but for lack of adequate opportunities, they end up in different sectors and jobs. To such people, falling in their second choice careers is a temporal engagement. They work in their current careers hoping that one day they would find their paths to their dream careers. It is interesting to note that some of such people have found themselves fitting well in their initially ‘temporal’ engagements as they find their satisfaction in those careers as they waited their dreams to come true.

A close interaction with people indicate that many are doing relatively well in their second choice careers. It is indeed refreshing to note that most people are excelling in their second choices compared to people who indeed pursued their first choices. For those of you who might be struggling with the feelings of loss and failure to clinch their first choices in careers, you may just want to look around you to gain the motivation from the millions who are forever grateful that their first choice careers did not work out. They say this as they bask in the glory of successes in their second choices.

Before you take up the extra job

Before you take up the extra job

Words by Francis Kahihu: kahihucareers@gmail.com

When Jesse lost his elder brother, he never knew the challenges that awaited him. Barely a week after the burial, his parents called for a family meeting that was attended by both the nuclear and a part of the close extended family members. As the agenda of the meeting had been kept secret, Jesse waited with bated breath for the discussions. True to his anxious thoughts, it was indicated that the family members had to consider plans of bearing the burden of educating and meeting the daily needs of the widow and the children.

As the meeting progressed, it was clear that most of the action points were terminated at Jesse. Being the only family member with a relatively stable source of income, it was decided that he takes over the education budget of the children as the other members raise resources to meet the subsistence needs for the late brother’s family. When the meeting dispersed, it was clear to Jesse that he would have to readjust his monthly budget to cater for the new budget line.

As the months rolled on, Jesse realized he could not manage the budget by relying on his monthly salary. With this, he decided to seek for other job engagements on the side. Within a week, he got an invitation to lecture at a local college. This was a highly welcome move as he negotiated with the management to have him take up evening classes. This was a great relief to his struggling budget as he was now able to comfortably meet all the expenses and had some balance for saving.

It was not all rosy though for his mainstream job. Due to the ever rising demands of the evening classes, with lessons to prepare, CATs to mark and exams to set and supervise, his energies started to dwindle. He realized a sharp decline in his performance due to the fatigue he was perpetually experiencing. He would report to work late and delay in meeting important deadlines. His supervisor noticed this trend and decided to have a chat with him on the probable cause of the decline in the quality of his output. Jesse was forthright and told the boss the truth about his extra engagement which was out rightly against the company policy. He received his first warning letter and promised to withdraw his services from the college.

Jesses’ experience mirrors what many workers go through today. With the rising rate of inflation and the feet-dragging salary review processes, many workers get motivated to seek for an extra source of income. Many prefer taking up evening duties when they are done with their main job. This can be a real challenge as the demands are never lesser than the demands of their mainstream engagement. It is an even bigger challenge when people take up such extra tasks without clearly appreciating the length and breadth of the responsibilities.

An appreciation of the level of investment in terms of time at the extra job could influence the decision made prior to taking up extra tasks. You would not to jeopardize your mainstream job as you pursue an aside engagement. Your main source of livelihood should always be granted the priority it. In cases where it does not meet all your demands, a job change could be better than burdening yourself with more work than you can handle. Another alternative would be to take up an engagement that you can delegate to someone else.

You too can achieve your resolutions

You too can achieve your resolutions

Words by Francis Kahihu (the author is an Organisational Development Practitioner)

kahihucareers@gmail.com

Can you recall two of your high priority resolutions you made in December last year or early January this year? Maybe, maybe not. You could be part of a growing team of people who confess of their struggle with managing their resolutions. Now, the end of the year is finally here. It seemed 12 months away in January when you sat to draft the all famous resolutions. You could have promised yourself a load of great engagements that you hoped to achieve within the 12 months the year had to offer. You feel very disappointed with yourself when you fail to realize these objectives.

One of the main reasons why we set ourselves up for failure is failure to develop realistic and measurable resolutions. Just how have many made resolutions they can now boast of having achieved?

1: Develop resolutions with pay offs. Realise the need to have the resolutions motivate you to work towards double gain. Instead of having a resolution like ‘I should lose weight since I am too fat’, you could develop one like ‘I should lose weight so that I can participate in my child’s sports day in the course of the year’. Such a resolution pushes you to work hard aiming at both goals. Since one goal depends on another, the motivation to address the initial resolution is high and possible to keep it sight. Every time you read through your child’s school report and realize how close the sports day is, you will seek to check on how you are faring in terms of weight loss.

2: Pick the priority 3 resolutions: There are times when we come across friends who have developed a list of resolutions they seek to attain in a period of 12 months. As you may realized by now, 12 months is not such a long period of time. As you work towards developing your resolutions, take time to reflect on how your year has been and the prospects that the New Year brings along. Brainstorm and develop as many resolutions as possible and then narrow them down to the priority three. You could consult your career objectives and other personal goals in the process of prioritizing. Consider factors such as cost and other resources required to implement the resolutions.

3: Seek a ‘resolutions mate’: Accountability is a key factor in successful achievement of any goal. This applies to both individual and corporate goals. One of the reasons why institutions make their strategic plans public is to seek for accountability on the achievement of the goals set. It is amazing to realize that there are even couples who don’t share their resolutions. This is a sure way of shooting yourself in the foot especially when some resolutions require reallocation of certain resources and changes in lifestyle. Look for someone who shares your resolve and seek their partnership throughout the implementation period.

4: Finally, work out the implementation plan in manageable chunks. With the vigor and fear of failure, many people have been known to earnestly seek to achieve all the indicated resolutions within the first quarter of the year. With this, they experience burn out even before a substantial amount of their resolutions have been realized. It is helpful to break down the resolutions into small bits and in a sequential manner. Seek for a way in which the achievement of one resolution paves the path for the rest of the resolutions. Do not start with resolution 3 when you could have been more logical to start with resolution number 1. Such wisdom could be clarified through open discussions with the resolution mate.

Time to take stock of your performance

Time to take stock of your performance

Words by Francis Kahihu (the author is an Organisational Development Practitioner)

kahihucareers@gmail.com

Twelve months ago, we were helping ourselves reflect on our performance through that year. We shared reasons why we should consider the value of reflections as we progress in our jobs and careers. It is said that a person who has no bench mark will never know when they progress. You can only identify progress when you are able to tell where you were against your current position.

The year 2010 is coming to a close. As we evaluate our performance this year, I would suggest using 4 parameters to gauge how we fared as we work on next year’s plans and resolutions.

Actually delivery: The easiest tool to use when facilitating self evaluations is the job description. Look through the expectations of your job description and check on how many of the expected tasks you have accomplished. You may want to go beyond the accomplishments by considering the degree of the achievement. Might there be issues you had struggled with the previous year that you have managed to conquer this year. Are there quantifiable results to can write home about? Have you exceeded the expectations or did you play safely within the requirements of your supervisors?

Work-life balance: You are expected to spend an average 8 hours at work, 8 hours of socialization and leisure and 8 hours of sleep. Thinking through the year, did you spend more or less time working? How was your time for socialization on weekdays or was most of it swallowed up by both your job and the incessant traffic jams in the cities? Considering your lunch hours, did you find time to take the necessary one hour lunch breaks to energise and break the monotony of the working days?

Career progression: You started off with certain career related inadequacies or targets for career growth. How far have you moved towards the realization of these goals? Are you closer to what you wanted to be or might you be where you were a year ago if not worse? Are there tasks at your workplace that you could not handle at the start of the year but you are now more than competent to manage? Might you have registered for further training or continuous professional development? This could be an indicator of career progression. This is regardless of whether you got a promotion or not. Promotions are not necessarily indicators of growth.

Social relations: We work with people either as workmates or clients. The way we relate with them speaks volumes about who we really are. How have we acted and reacted towards the people who came our way this year? If other people were to be asked about your relations with them, what percentage of the respondents will praise your professional engagements? Are you a people person or would you be said to have been more interested in the products other than the people? Were results more important to you than the people?

Against these benchmarks, give yourself a score on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest. Wishing you honest results.

This could be the time to move

This could be the time to move

Words by Francis Kahihu (the author is an Organisational Development Practitioner)

kahihucareers@gmail.com

The end of the year is one of the most lucrative moments with job interviews. The season reflects most of the characteristics of the transfer period in the football sector. This is a season when employees are ‘bought’ while others are released to join other ‘clubs’. It is almost expected that many staff desire starting new years at different work environments hence a natural reason to make that long overdue move. It is also a season when some employers seek to inject new blood and energy into their workforce as they strategise for the following year.

But just how do we position ourselves for the season? Do we seek to move because it is the right season to move or do we have adequate reason why a move may be the better thing to do? As much as this could be the most natural period to make the move, the plans to move should have been consolidated several months ago so that you utilise this season to basically make the final moves for the shift. You should not wake up and decide to move from club Z to X since the transfer period has dawned. But for those who are set for the move, you may want to consider the following tips as you get set for the anticipated migration.

Review your CV: Your CV is one of the key marketing tools that you possess. It is just time you made a review of the CV. In doing this, enumerate your achievements over the last 12 months. Think through all the targets and goals you had at the start of the year and critically think through your achievements in a manner that is quantifiable. Have measurable indicators of your achievements. Do not just indicate what you were meant to do as part of your job description. Develop a list of the critical achievements you had and show how the successes can be attributed to your efforts.

Show achievement of this year’s resolutions: making promises and keeping them is one of the challenges many people have. Remember the resolutions you made for this year that is about to close and evaluate how well or poorly you have fared. It is helpful to take a moment to analyse you own performance so that as you seek to make the move, you have indicators of success throughout this year should you be required to show proof of progress.

Show your motivation to move and your goals for the following year: People should not make career or job moves for the sake of moving. You should be able to show the reason why you really wish to take the step forward. This should be communicated in a manner that speaks of thought through reasons not just indicating you are tired and want to move. Indicating reasons related to how the move aligns with your career objectives could be acceptable before interview panels.

Finally, it should be clear to you that you are not moving either because it is good to move at the end of the year or because your colleagues and friends are moving. The motivation to move should be internal and should not be mounted by external forces. Internal motivation provides positive fuel and enhances confidence when accosted to explain why you wish to make the move.

Taking care of staff with special needs

Taking care of staff with special needs

Words by Francis Kahihu (the author is an Organisational Development Practitioner)

kahihucareers@gmail.com

Having a convenient working environment is one of the most motivating factors. Staff feel recognized when the employer provides for most of the requirements that would make their stay at the company convenient. To this end, employers should provide for office space either where staff can easily access by public means provide for joint staff transport. Some employers provide for staff meals and water and recreation facilities like TVs and video players. All these are meant to make the employees relax and settle in their minds as they go about their daily tasks.

What has been missing though is the provision of facilities to meet the special needs of some of the employees. The fact that this category of staff always forms the minority group often makes many employers not budget for the needs. A quick look at the architectural designs of most of the offices reveal the glaring fact that employers rarely consider the special needs of people living with disabilities.

How would an employer expect a staff to access an office in the 2nd floor of a building that is not fitted with elevators? Such employees have to struggle on their walking aids up the floors. The thought that an employee has to struggle up and down those floors makes a person desire less of mobility within the office. Making a trip to some facilities in the lower floor becomes a project that requires adequate mental planning. Someone must think of all the other needs he may have in the course of the day so that a single trip down stairs can be used to address other concerns.

For such staff, the employer should ensure they either provide them with space downstairs in cases where the building has no lifts or ensure office space is only procured in buildings that provide the lifts. This should also apply to the venues that the employers for instances hosts workshops. The special needs of the staff and clients should always be at the back of the mind of the person in charge of managing the office facilities.

For staff with hearing and speaking challenges, special consideration should be made to ensure they are provided with appropriate infrastructure to enable them express themselves with minimal inconvenience. Having computer software that aid with both listening and speaking could just be a simple way of making staff life easier and productive.

Finally, the life of a nursing mother can be such a nightmare at work. As much as the Employment Act 2008 provides the mother of a new born 3 months for maternity leave without forfeiting their annual leave days, it is usually a challenge for many mothers upon return to work after the leave. Child rearing and nutrition specialists encourage the mothers to exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months. This means that the mothers have to seek for creative ways of managing this desire without compromising their service to the employer. One of the ways out is through expressing the breast milk and storing it. This then requires that the mother should be provided with a private facility from where she can comfortably express and a cooling facility where the expressed breast milk can be stored. It is not fair for mothers to be forced to express breast milk from the toilets due to concerns of hygiene and privacy.

My MBA does not help me.

My MBA does not help me.

Words by Francis Kahihu (the author is an Organisational Development Practitioner)

kahihucareers@gmail.com

The story of a recent MBA graduate. Six months ago, I graduated with an MBA from one of the leading local universities. It was all excitement as family and friends congregated to celebrate my feat and wish me well in my future endeavors. It had been a great race characterized by both high and low moments. At certain points in the journey, thoughts of quitting had visited my mind and I was considering either deferring my studies or calling it quits. I however got the encouragement from within and without to push on and have now been rewarded.

But the reward seems to have been short lived. Since I submitted my MBA certificate to my employer, I have been experiencing an upsurge of higher level tasks being thrown my way. My immediate supervisor tells me that since I am now qualified as an MBA, I should be in a position to help with most of the tasks other staff are unable to resolve. I feel overwhelmed and wonder why I am unable to undertake tasks that my superiors think I can manage.

Over the last couple of weeks, my mind has clarified and now realizes the cause of my concerns. I am truly half baked. As much as I went through the MBA program, I am not sure I got more than just the certificate from the university. Tell me, how could you expect me to claim that I went through a learning process when we had over 200 students in one MBA class? I never had a one to one chat with the lecturer due to the pressure that the class size exerted on both the students and the lecturers.

The university seemed to have put more emphasis on the teaching and very little on the expected learning. Lecturers expected that by dictating notes in front of the class and telling ‘Akuku Danger’ stories, somehow, learning should have been happening that would have transformed us from amateurs to blue chip executives. That objective may not have been achieved. I remember my lecturers more for the stories and the assignments they gave us and rarely for any substantive issues they helped us resolve.

When I think about the engagements I had with my colleagues in class, I feel like it was a hit and run relationship. I remember with nostalgia the relationships I had with college mates when I was undertaking my bachelors degree and wonder how come I don’t have similar memories of my MBA class mates. The few times I had engagements with them was when we were working on the ‘harambee’ assignments. Each person worked on a section of the assignment and only met to compile the final output to the lecturer.

With this level of preparation, I realize that I surely got more of the MBA certificate than the intended learning. Whenever I indicate that I have an MBA, people around me expect more than I can deliver and this tends to affect my image and esteem. Sometimes I wonder whether I should remove all references to the MBA from my CV since I feel I am not up to the task associated with the degree.

I however hope that my brief testimony might be an inspiration to those of you currently undertaking your MBAs to consider more of the expected learning than the final certificate you will get. Congratulations to the 2010 MBA graduands.

How did the interview go?

How did the interview go?

Words by Francis Kahihu (the author is an Organisational Development Practitioner)

kahihucareers@gmail.com

We get very excited when we receive the call inviting us for an interview. Out of the excitement, we seek for anyone who cares to hear us out on the great news we carry until the day of the interview. After the interview, people ask us how the interview was as they seek to encourage us as we await the results.

In most cases however, we are unable to respond with confidence how we thought the interviews went. Here are some tips on how you can tell if an interview went on well.

Were the panelists smiling and nodding as you spoke? This is one of the cues to tell whether there was a level of positive impression with your interview. Body language speaks volumes about the panelists’ perception about you. Think through the body communication of the panelists to tell whether your session may have been exciting to them.

Did you interview last more than 25 minutes? Ideally, the length of time that an interview takes can be used to determine a level of interest that the panel could have had on you. Interview panels have been known to take slightly longer time engaging with candidates with whom they have extra interest in. They follow through some of the issues you speak at the interview alongside what you have indicated in your CV. In such cases, they even require you to narrate how you would handle certain situations if they were presented your way. For candidates that the panelists have little interest in, they rush through the processes so as to create time for the next potential employee.

Did you feel a real connection? There are interviews that you attend and feel like your responses were hitting a hard wall. You leave the interview room feeling like you had been in a quarry extracting hard rock. You actually wondered why the interview took so long. This could be an indication of a lack of a real connection. If you attend an interview and you feel like there was seamless and natural flow between yourself and the panelists, it could just be that your responses might have impressed them and they naturally opened themselves up to you to interact with as real potential colleague. The panel gets real in terms of the questions they ask, making enquiries aimed at supporting you to say more about yourself as opposed to seeking to trick you into dead ends.

However, it does not necessarily flow that if you have had a bomb with an interview panel you will get the job. Recruitment as a process depends on various other factors other than your impression. Remember that the panel would have had to engage several other candidates some of whom may have better skills sets compared to yours. In such cases, failure to clinch the job should not reflect a failure on you since it could be that the panel just found a better match. As you leave the interview room with confidence, stick to your confidence even if the panel does not contact you within the indicated notice period. Keep up your job search until you land the real job. Landing great interviews should not be your end goal, signing the contract should be your joy.

Time to help parents manage exam anxiety

Time to help parents manage exam anxiety

Words by Francis Kahihu (the author is an Organisational Development Practitioner)

kahihucareers@gmail.com

The exams season is underway. Parents and candidates alike are united in the hope that the performance will be a happy ending to the many years of hard work. Schools are organizing for prayer meetings and other such forums to help boost the courage of both the candidates and parents as they face a defining moment of their lives. As the stakeholders go through the motions of taking the exams, focus has always been on the candidates. They have been interacting with the school curriculum and have been prepared throughout the year for the exams.

As the candidates settle down to write the exams, there is anxiety brewing at an unlikely quarter. The parents are holding their breath as they hope against hope that their children will perform well. Little or no attention is given to this group of ‘candidates’ as they prepare for the exams. It seems like anxiety is concentrated more among the parents than among the actual candidates. Throughout the next couple of weeks, the parents require psychosocial support to enable them go through the exams period in peace and in one piece.

Just why do parents get so gripped by the exam fever even more than the candidates? Several reasons could be fronted for this interesting scenario.

First: As parents grapple with the pressure of fending for their families, less time is being invested in their relationships with the children. There is an increasing number of parents who are opting to take their children to boarding schools early in life so that they can better ‘concentrate’ in their studies. Parents argue that learners rarely concentrate in their studies when at home. As exams approach, many parents realize that they can’t vouch on their children’s performance since they have not interacted with their real academic capacity. Other than glancing at the grade that their children get at the end of the term, many parents can never speak with confidence about what their children are indeed capable of doing.

Second: As much as the kids are the ones taking the exams, the pressure of ‘what next’ lies with the parents. All that the candidates have to do is sit for the exams and wait for the results which they pass on to their parents for advice on the next move. It is clear in the minds of the parents that poor performance on the part of their kids translates to busy and expensive moments early next year. Parents of kids who fail to secure good grades are engaged in rigorous and costly school search.

Third: My final reason why parents have a reason to worry about the performance of their children relates to the social pressure they are under. It is common knowledge that parents can succumb to peer pressure, just like their children do. Every parent wants to brag about the great performance of their child hence the anxiety as their children take the exams. Parents expect without fail that the first question they will be asked by friends and relatives after the results are released will relate to the performance of their child. No one wants to keep telling their friends that ‘they have not yet gone to the school to collect the results.’ In this era of technology, results are delivered on the handset with no hassle.

We then need to appreciate the pressure that parents are under and offer them appropriate support during this anxious moment.

Can you take up just any job?

Can you take up just any job?

Words by Francis Kahihu (the author is an Organisational Development Practitioner)

kahihucareers@gmail.com

Can you really take up just any job? This is one of the questions that many job seekers are required to respond to when accosted by potential employers. I have met several persons looking for a job and asked about the kind of a job they are seeking for they indicate that they are ready to take up just any job. What does it really mean to declare that you can take up just any job?

In most cases, admitting to the fact that you are ready to take up just any job could be interpreted to mean you are willing to start off from whichever entry point. The desperation that comes with sustained job search makes many people opt for any point of entry. However, the fact that someone says they can take up just any job should never be taken to mean they can literally take up just any job. Veiled in the admission that they can take up any job is the desire to take up jobs that are within certain limits and expectations.

By the time you express interest in taking up just any job that comes along, you should have considered the ramifications of such a plan since there are many people who pick out a certain job that eventually leads them far away from their career desires. A person who takes up just any job at the start should be careful to remain focused on what the final goal is so that they do not lose focus once on the ‘temporary’ engagement.

It is however worth noting that many people are finding their dream jobs through the ‘just any job’ approach. The fact that many people are never sure about their future career prospects by the time they leave school leave the persons free to venture into virtually any opportunity that seems to match their capacities and interests. Many people have successfully dumped their childhood dreams in favor of more fulfilling opportunities. In this case, having gone for just any job proved fruitful since desire, passion and productivity meet.

It has been said that many people, especially the learned young, are getting choosy of the kind of jobs they will get into as a result of pressure from parents and peers. Many young people will not want to be heard as having undertaking certain tasks that are regarded low class. The mentality has been since they have been to school, they are not worth taking up certain tasks. They have successfully compartmentalized the job market and are aware of what should be their portion and what should be undertaken by the persons who failed to make it in school.

With such an approach to life, several persons have languished in despair as they are unable to reconcile the dream with the reality. Several have delved into crime and other malpractices since they feel they need to either initiate or maintain a certain level of lifestyle. Their inability to raise the requisite resources to manage such lifestyles lead to heightened frustration.

When they take up just any job as a result of this pressure and frustration, they are unable to give the tasks their best shot leading to dismal performance. This initiates a vicious cycle since they are hardly able to sustain any job and are hence ever in motion, moving from job to job.

Preparing for a new employee

Preparing for a new employee

Words by Francis Kahihu (the author is an Organisational Development Practitioner)

kahihucareers@gmail.com

A renowned company placed a large advert in the media that attracted hundreds of letters of interest. After the short listing process, they picked a candidate they considered the best among those interviewed. The process of negotiation and contracting went on well and had the reporting date agreed upon. When Anita eventually reported to her new job after the one month notice she had to give to her previous employer, she was in for a rude shock.

The day she reported, she was kept at the reception for more than an hour as the workers awaited for a certain person who was said could be her supervisor. Apparently, all the other staff in the company were not aware of such a person joining them. When the supervisor eventually showed up, he requested Anita to wait in the office boardroom as they set her desk and facilities. While there, she was served with a newspaper, a cup of tea and the TV was switched on to entertain her. Unbeknown to her, that was a strategy to keep her waiting for a while.

It later emerged to her that the company was not ready for her. The supervisor had to move a staff from a work station to provide space for Anita, and took a computer away from another. As Anita settled down, she wondered whether she was really in the right place. She felt so unwelcome. It seemed like a baby born into a family that had not bought the clothing and appropriate beddings. The baby has to wait at the hospital a little longer while the parents run through shopping malls making hasty purchases. Unless the baby was born prematurely when least expected, the parents should not be forgiven for not being prepared.

In case you are planning to hire a staff, you may want to be keen on the preparations you make for the person. It is a highly motivating factor for an employee who joins the team and finds the environment ready. It makes the staff feel that they were being expected, a feeling that they are valued and welcome to the team. The staff feel they have not intruded into other people’s personal spaces or trespassed into the offices.

The employer should ensure they have put in place structures to accommodate the person. The reporting lines for the new employee should be clear so that the office does not get into panic mode as it seeks to clarify who will supervise the new staff. This clarity is helpful so that the staff feels part of the system from the onset. No one wants to feel suspended in a system.

The other helpful consideration for new staff relates to what Anita had to suffer. The need for adequate infrastructure including office space and office facilities. The support to be provided should include advice on how to access the facilities. In cases where staff have to access the office by use of special security cards for instance, the recruiting office should ensure the security cards are ready by the time the staff report. The staff should also be introduced to key persons including the security officers and cleaners so that they are not denied support the following day when they diligently report to work.

Getting back to paid employment

Getting back to paid employment

Words by Francis Kahihu: kahihucareers@gmail.com

The grass is usually greener on the other side, so many people say. For Peter, the other side meant leaving paid employment five years ago to go into consultancy. He had been lured by his friends to get to consultancy as many opportunities were availed by the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan. In the initial months, he got great contracts for a whole set of tasks ranging from monitoring and evaluation of projects, training trainers in various fields and facilitating design of projects. All this was possible due to the linkages he got from some of his friends.

As time went by however, the opportunities seemed to find other routes. He would go for up to five months without getting a single consultancy contract. Life started getting rough on him as he had to support his family as the wife had resigned to take care of his family since he was away from home most of the times. As reality downed on him, he decided to reconsider his decision of leaving paid employment and started seeking for jobs as a paid worker. His was an experience whose lessons would benefit many people seeking to leave paid employment and for freelance consultants planning to get back to paid jobs.

The main advantage of getting into consultancies emanate from the fact that the returns can be handsome within a very short time. You do not have to wait for the end of the month to get your pay cheque so long as you perform. In most cases, you determine the payment rates and terms. This can be enticing to most people. If you land on a great opportunity, you can earn in a month what employed people earn in several months. And the fact that you get this as a windfall, you can easily determine the project to invest the cash in.

There are, however, several challenges that come with ditching paid jobs for consultancies. As much as you could get paid well in consultancies, there is no guarantee that you will find a task on any given month. This uncertainty leads many people unable to budget for their expenditure. ‘It can get really dry’, says one consultant. This lack of confidence in the availability of opportunities leads to frustration as the consultant hopes against hope that the following month would bring with it glad tidings. This is however not guaranteed.

As people go through this uncertainty, they reconsider their moves and head back to paid employment. This could be equated to eating the humble pie. It is however one of the best decisions one can make the moment you realize that your initial plans have not borne fruit. One of the questions you may have to contend with at the interview panel is how you would adjust from freedom to ‘restriction’. It would hence be helpful for you to be clear on how you would honestly prepare yourself for the huge change as your systems and schedules will be affected.

One of the greatest challenges that persons leaving consultancies for paid employment go through is the allure of consultancies even after they have been engaged on a full time job. The worker will then want to be content and advise potential clients of their move so that they reduce instances of meddling in conflicts of interest. Finally, the person would want to get counsel on how to best work under authority having being their own authority during consultancies.

When the panel asks: Who are you?

When the panel asks: Who are you?

Words by Francis Kahihu

Kahihucareers@gmail.com

One of the surest questions that a job seeker will be asked at any interview is ‘tell us about yourself?’ As common as this question has become, many people still grapple with what is expected of them. This is one question that people are unable to rehearse for since it could be posed in a variety of ways. It is however necessary for every job seeker to be prepared with the appropriate responses should the panel start off the panel discussion with a request for you to explain more about yourself. The following could be some of the issues you may want to focus on when asked this question.

First, indicate your personal details. This could include your name and a brief summary of your resume. Make sure that all the information you provide at this point is helpful to your job search process. Be keen not to over disclose yourself as this may work against you. Don’t be seen to boast about the place you hail from. You could also keep issues related to your religious or party affiliations to yourself just in case they are used to block the minds of the panelists. Do realize that this opportunity is used to break ice at the interview hence the need to be precise.

Secondly, present a brief about your education background. On this brief, focus on the qualifications that relate to the job you are being interviewed for. You must not mention all the courses you have gone through. Be keen to mention all training opportunities that would present you as the best candidate for the job. Always remember that this is an opportunity to market yourself. It helps to influence the panel’s decision on whether to listen to you for longer or to encourage you out of the door with little engagement. You want at this point to whet the panel’s appetite to hear more about you.

Thirdly, seek to dwell on your work experience and how it gels with the requirements of the position. This speaks to the need for proper analysis of the requirements of the job so that you can be clear on what experience bits to withdraw from your catalogue. Be brief and to the point on your experience, ensuring that you emphasize on the components that you realize resonate most to the panel. Mention the actual achievements, not what you had been employed to do. Get actual figures that speak to achievements that can be quantified. In all these, be careful to show attribution. What was your role on the various achievements so that your personal role can be clarified?

Finally, never give false or fabricated information at this point. It is good to realize that panelists are keen on background and reference checks these days hence the need to tell the truth. Falsehood or exaggerated information can easily disqualify you from a very early stage in the recruitment process.

Time to brand the staff

Time to brand the staff

Words by Francis Kahihu

Kahihucareers@gmail.com

Employers have gotten into the craze that is branding. There is a fight for space with every employer seeking to be noticed. The development of sustainable brands seem to have gripped many CEOs that they would do whatever thing possible thing to ensure their brand shines out there. Many companies are being established to support with the certification of the brands and this has continued to exert pressure for enhanced branding. Companies are suddenly changing their corporate colors, refining their logos and even shifting physical locations to neighborhoods they consider more representative of their brand. It seems like a race against time. Which brand will eventually carry the day?

As this entire branding craze sweeps the market, there seems to be one great omission. The concentration seems to be on the product. Little or no attention is being given to the producers of the product. There has not been a keen interest in branding the staff, except branding them with T Shirts and insisting they must drive cars branded in company colors. The company logo becomes the most important thing for the managers that they fail to appreciate who carries the inside information about the quality behind the brand name.

A comprehensive brand management strategy is one that considers all aspects of branding especially the role that staff play in promoting the brand. I have had some engagement with a staff of a certain blue chip company who advised me not to purchase a certain product from his employer as it only had a great name and price tag yet the quality was similar to that of a competitor. I heeded the advise and purchased the competitor’s product and sure enough, I spent less for the same quality of product. This served to advise me that as much as companies spend so much in advertising, they should consider the level of staff branding since staff are the real marketers. They confirm the real quality of what has been packaged and when they express doubts to clients, regardless of how flashy the adverts are, the clients will take the staff more seriously than the advert.

Some of the aspects of staff branding that could be considered relate to development of institutional values as a team. All the staff should subscribe to certain minimum organizational values that should be developed by the team. This helps lay the foundation for performance and engagement among staff and with the outer world. The staff should be made to appreciate why the company behaves in certain ways, why it relates to certain parties and not with others.

An appreciation of staff welfare is another critical component of staff branding. Employers should show concerns about the welfare of their staff so that staff feel more important than the products. With this, morale rises and staff willingly talk about their employer to anyone who cares to listen. They go out of their way to market the company’s products. Researches indicate that word of mouth plays a greater role in marketing than commercials especially with regard to quality and reliability.

I am unable to take leave

I am unable to take leave

Words by Francis Kahihu

Kahihucareers@gmail.com

Peter has been working at a blue chip company for the last five years. He was recently voted as the most hardworking staff during the last annual staff party and this has motivated him to put in extra hours into the office work, at least to maintain the reputation. The other day, he received a call from his upcountry family requesting him to take a week leave to attend to certain matters. As he pondered through the excuses he would give for his inability to attend to the family request, he decided to confide in a close friend at work. During their tea time chat, the friend made Peter appreciate the fact that over the past two years, he had not taken leave from work and was hence necessary for him to take a break to attend to personal matters.

It’s at this point that Peter realized how married he had become to his workplace. He rarely had time for his friends, had little time for his wife and children. Upon deeper reflections, he actually realized that even when he physically had his family around him, he was mentally engaged on the next project and the potential clients he should have been cultivating for his portfolio. He was indeed married to his job. The desire to provide for his family had gripped him so much that he abandoned them to seek material wealth to make their life comfortable. The only challenge was that he went out and was unable to get back home. He only sent cash and gifts to his family to represent him in his absence.

Taking leave is one of the opportunities that many people take for granted. There has been a perception that taking leave is wasting precious time that could have been spent making more contacts for business or serving a few more clients. We get tempted to postpone our leave till an emergency forces us out of the office.

In ideal human resources management, all staff should be advised to develop and implement leave schedules. The provision for leave days was not meant to punish staff by having them away from their work stations. It is with the realization that staff require time to refuel and rejuvenate that the leave provision was introduced. It is also an opportunity to take stock of the achievements in life as opposed to gains at work only. For staff to be productive at work, they need to consider the growth in other aspects of their lives, including finding time to utilize their skills in certain hobbies.

HR managers should be vigilant to ensure that their staff team appreciates the importance of taking leave. Part of the performance management system should seek to award employees who take their leave as planned. Taking time to pause and reenergize oneself serves to improve one’s performance and hence should be the concern of every supervisor. The challenge however is for supervisors who fail to go on leave for fear that their juniors could outshine them in their absence. This is a common fear among many supervisors. It is a reflection of the level of discomfort some people have. The feeling of insecurity makes the staff fear that the work place can stall without them. In these cases however, the main fear could be that certain issues might be exposed in their absence. In some cases, there could be some deals that people fear could be laid bare in their absence hence the grip they hold on their offices.

Battle for the interview shortlist

Battle for the interview shortlist

Words by Francis Kahihu

kahihucareers@gmail.com

I have over the years empathized with many job seekers who indicate how frustrated they have been for months. Many of these are people who have been sending out job applications with no replies inviting them for interviews. They even wonder whether anyone bothers to read their applications, leave alone look at their ‘greatly’ formatted CVs. Being shortlisted for an interview is no mean feat. It is a real battle fought by thousands of potential workers for the few slots available.

When applications are received by the advertising organization, they go through two main processes. The first one is called the compliance review in which basic details are confirmed to comply with the requirements. Some of these could be the length of the CV, the attachments requested for, the date the application is received and the form in which the application is received. The applications that go through this stage are later subjected to the technical review that entails critical analysis of the suitability of the candidates for the job. The applications that go through this stage could get considered for interviews which serve as the next level of technical reviews. Reflecting on the main reasons why many people are rarely shortlisted for interviews, I have put together three pointers that you may want to use as a check list.

1: Relevance of your qualifications

Out of desperation, many job seekers tend to broadcast their CVs to all advertisers. They develop a CV that apparently should fit all occasions. They use the CV to apply for any job that gets advertised with the hope that one of them could bear some fruit. Before applying for any job, be keen to interact with the nitty gritties of the expected job qualifications in terms of training and experience. This is helpful in the development of your motivational letter indicating how you fit in the bill being sought for the position. Don’t apply for jobs that you out rightly know you do not qualify for. Doing this only serves to frustrate you.

2: Apply in the form requested

Some of the employers would request for job applications in certain formats. There are those who request for the applications in soft copies, while others require them in hard copies. Some want them in both hard and soft copy. In other instances, applications are to be sent in specified templates available on the employer’s website. Adherence to these requirements tends to position your CV on the route for potential consideration. Do not disregard the requirement of the form since an employer will not ‘waste’ their time reading through your hard copy application if they were clear that they wanted all applications in soft form.

3: Date and time of receipt

This may sound like a long gone challenge but to the shock of many people, applications are ever being dumped for being received late. For whatever reason, even with clear indications by the employer that applications must be received by a certain hour and date, many people still send their applications late. This is a sure way of losing potential opportunities. Send the applications early enough. Do not wait for the last hour. Technology can fail you in the hour of need.

Finding opportunities in mistreatment

Finding opportunities in mistreatment

Words by Francis Kahihu: Kahihucareers@gmail.com

You must have heard from friends about their experiences at work in the hands of bosses who apparently misuse them by forcing them to do more than they are expected to do. Or you must be currently working under a supervisor who coerces you to work more than what is in your job description. These are all familiar stories from the theatre called the workplace. There is talk of bosses who have decided they will have to progress in their pursuits regardless of what it takes. In most cases, they lump up most of their tasks on their juniors, forcing them to work extra hours so as to meet targets that are being adjusted ever so often.

In most of these cases, the employees are rarely recognized as having put in extra effort for the achievement of their milestones. Getting a formal appreciation at the performance appraisal is a remote expectation. There is indeed a lot of misuse of staff by their superiors and this has made many to develop thick skin. The relationship between the boss and the junior gets characterized by mistrust and degenerates into a competition for space and favor. The bosses make it clear that the future of the junior is dependent on their favorable evaluation while the juniors feel so helpless since they would not imagine losing the job which could be their only source of livelihood.

I once listened to Myles Munroe, one of my favorite motivational speakers, talk about opportunities. He argues that every mountain of messes is an environment full of opportunities. In his talk, he encourages people who are seeking for jobs not to go out there seeking for rosy engagements but to look around them for the problems that people face. Munroe says that every problem is an opportunity for business and rightly so, consider the millions that people are minting from dirty estates, dirty cars and strewn plastic paper bags. In short, what Munroe attempts to help us appreciate is that opportunities do not always present themselves in velvet attires.

Back to the workplace and the fact that your boss considers you a doormat or the bin that takes in every tasks he does not desire to do should not always bring you down. As much as the boss has a negative attitude in their delegation, you should learn to employ the power of reverse attitude and consider the ‘mess’ as an opportunity for growth and learning. It has been said that bosses excel in delegating less attractive ventures. Some would delegate engagements to speak to delegates at a local city hotel but would never allow you to make presentations to delegates in the up market hotels.

Regardless of the motive, it pays dividends to decide that it is your time to learn. What someone may be presenting as an opportunity to humiliate you could easily be turned into an opportunity to raise your profile. The reason we are unable to capitalize on the opportunities that life presents arises from the fact that we get so sucked into the attitude war. We sulk at the thoughts that someone considered us so insignificant that they delegated menial tasks to us and refuse to enjoy whatever falls on our plate.

In the midst of some unfavorable experiences could be jewels of career enhancing opportunities that only the keen get hold of. You get what you are looking for. If you are keen to get relevant work experience, you would look for it in every available environment. You would not let a certain individual’s gesturing distract you from laying your hand on the nuggets you so badly need. Always remember that your boss may already have gotten to their peak and your resolve to terminate your progress momentum because of their character or attitude is a perfect illustration of how many have shot themselves in the foot.

When the resume misrepresents you

When the resume misrepresents you

Words by Francis Kahihu

kahihucareers@gmail.com

The CV is one of the requirements that potential employers ask for. As much as the CV is usually sent alongside a cover letter, there are many cases when an employer requests only for the CV. This is with the understanding that from it an employer can decipher what the candidate’s interests and competencies are even without the cover letter. Employers use the CVs to shortlist candidates for interviews when they find some hints in the CV indicating that the person it represents could possess the characteristics they are looking for.

Appreciating the role a CV plays in enhancing your chances of being called for an interview, it is then necessary for job applicants to prepare professionally in the development of their CVs. The irony I have witnessed among many job seekers is that they make great preparations for interviews yet do little when developing their marketing tools. Whenever you send out a CV in response to an advert, the main reason is not to get the job but an opportunity for an interview. If you send a poorly done CV, you shoot yourself in the foot as you may not make it to the shortlist.

The shortlist is basically a short list from a long list of applicants. Given that any job advert attracts many applications, employers subject all applications to three main levels of appraisal. One is the compliance review that seeks to check on whether the candidate has met the basic requirements of the process. These could include: Was the application received within the deadline? Does the application package contain all the accompanying documentation requested for? Does the candidate meet the minimum requirements?

All the candidates who meet the minimum requirements are later subjected to a more thorough review checking the relevance of the academic qualifications and work experience to the work being set out for hire. The intention of this process is to develop a short list. Those who make it to the short list are the candidates in whom the employer has extra interest in and would want to have a face to face or telephone interview with. Being called for an interview is then a feat we all should celebrate since in the ideal sense, it communicates that the potential employer has a specific interest in the applicant.

Out of my experience in recruitment processes, there are two main errors with regard to the CVs being used to create the shortlist. First, there are those candidates whose CVs are thrown into the dustbins when they should have made their way to the next level. Secondly, there are CVs that make their way to the short list when they should not have in the first place. In this case, the blame is never on the employer but on the candidates since the employer only relies on the CV to make a judgement. The CV is all the employer has and his opinion is shaped by the contents therein.

On several occasions, I have been shocked when I reviewed people’s CVs only to realize how grossly some misrepresent themselves. There are occasions when job seekers have created a ‘bigger than themselves’ picture in their CVs. They have been tempted to copy and paste competencies from other people’s CVs or have gone for the generic CV templates and picked not only the formats but also certain contents.

On the other hand, many highly skilled job seekers have so inadequately represented their great potential leading for failure by potential employers to consider them for the short lists. Interviewers are often times shocked when they interact with persons at the interview panel that leave them either wondering how they made it to the interview, or how great people so grossly misrepresent themselves in the CV.

My considered opinion in this process is to have all job seekers seek professional input in the development and packaging of their CVs. If you invest in interview processes, you better also consider investing in good marketing tools.

The 90/10 principle at work

The 90/10 principle at work

Words by Francis Kahihu

kahihucareers@gmail.com

According to one famed author Stephen Covey, many people spend 90% of their time reacting to what happens to them. He gives an illustration of a father who just before leaving the house is spilled with tea by the daughter. He gets so angry and pushes the girl off the path as he rushes up the staircase to change the shirt. Before leaving the house, he hurls a few words at the wife who he indicates should not have placed the cup where she had since that led to the daughter hitting it onto his shirt.

By the time he is done with the change and the insults, he is already late yet has to drop the daughter in school on his way to work. In the angry mood, he overspeeds and is booked by the traffic police. He wastes more time sorting out the traffic mess and by the time he gets to the office, he is late and frustrated. He spends most of the time in the morning wondering why his day had to start the way it did.

By evening when he returns home, the gate is opened by the daughter and a cup of tea served by the wife. He wonders how to go about reconciling with the people he had been unfair to in the morning yet are his only company back home. The wife and daughter seem to have no ill feelings and come closer to him to engage in small family talk. He is embarrassed from within. He realizes that all the mess had been a result of his reactions. He had the option of ruining his day as he did or making light of what had happened and moved on with life. Covey says that the man could have told the daughter not to worry about the splashed tea and encouraged her to be a little careful the next time, hugged the wife and left the house in peace. With this, he would have escaped the traffic mess and got to the office a happy man.

Does this scenario sound familiar? The work place is one of the environments that have the potential of testing our resiliency to the fullest. There are many opportunities for us to react in anger and curse those around us. The challenge though is that, just like in the family set up, you are bound by various factors to the workplace hence have no choice but to report back to work the day after.

There are workmates and bosses who would push you to the brim and how you manage your life depend on how you react to what happens to you. The clients are no better. There are times when they hurl insults at workers and the worst is when the bosses decide to side with the clients instead of considering the opinion of the staff. Employers push the statement that ‘the client is always right’ rather so far. With all the pressure on your system, it is advisable to recognize that you have the capacity to determine how to live your life after these experiences.

You can decide to have these issues push you to the end of your endurance and force you to react in ways that will make you will regret later. Alternatively, you could decide to make light of what happens around you and live your life like a child. Have you ever realized that children go through condemnation in one minute and laugh with you the next moment? They live their life to the fullest leaving the past behind them. The challenge we have as adults is the desire to appear right and to be recognized as having being on the right. There however are some people who are so determined to sulk even with the best of apologies. They derive their joy in being recognized as having being the subjects of injustices. The sympathy that accrues gives them satisfaction. Developing the desire from within to control how we react to what happens to us could just be another ingredient to happy work life.

Interviews must not be horrific

Interviews must not be horrific

Words by Francis Kahihu: kahihucareers@gmail.com

As much as many people look forward to being invited for interviews after sending out the CVs and cover letters, not many really look forward to the actual interview process. This results from experiences that many people have gone through at the hands of the interview panelists. Some of the experiences have been horrific, to say the least. Interviewees have been subjected to very embarrassing scenarios that have made many people loath opportunities to appear before panelists.

When it comes to interviewing, the truth of the matter is that not everyone can be a good interviewer. Interviewing, just like any other professional engagement, requires speciliased skills to get the best of the candidates that are shortlisted for consideration. During the recruitment process, the employer is usually in need of good candidates just as the job seeker is in need of a good job. There exists a desire both ways hence the employer should seek to present the company in the best light before the potential employees.

For the panel to get the best out of interview interactions, the panelists should be well prepared for the exercise. There are situations when interviewees have gotten into the interview room only to realize how ill prepared the panelists are. Panelists should keenly read the candidates’ CVs and cover letters to acquaint themselves with the basic information about the specific candidates. This arms them with relevant questions for probing during the actual interview. Interviewees easily tell between a well and an ill prepared panel.

As a way of making the interview process memorable for both the panel and the interviewer, it is recommended that the panel should desist from asking irrelevant questions. Any probing that the panel does should be strategic and aimed at enhancing the panel’s appreciation of the candidate’s capacities. In the process of asking questions during the panel discussions, the panelists should never ask questions aimed at pulling the candidate down. It is worth noting on the part of the interviewers that job seekers are human beings with feelings and expectations. These are people who are seeking opportunities to manage their livelihoods and enhance their professional development. They should be respected and not taunted.

In the event a candidate does not seem to possess the requisite skills and knowledge on any specific subject matter, the panel would only want to note it as such and not pursue certain discussions with the sole aim of embarrassing the candidate. I have overheard of panelists who ask candidates why they had even applied for the job based on the panelist’s perception of inadequacies resident in the candidate.

Even in cases where the candidates are weak and you do not intend to hire them, it is healthy to note a few outstanding traits in the candidates and capitalize on them at the point of parting. Seek to encourage the candidates along their lines of potential and encourage them that as much as they may not be successful. Their future still has a lot of potential that could be well harnessed for a great life.

Interviewers should seek to appreciate the interviewees’ entry behavior for them to appreciate the level of psychological position they usually are. By the time someone arrives at the interview venue, you would note that they would have gone through moments of hoping for the best in the process. They attend the interview having all the hope that they will at least succeed in this one thing. It is therefore necessary to treat them honorably and with the respect they deserve.

Good interview processes have been known to make potential employees consider lower levels in the company resulting from the first impression they get from the panelists. Companies have also enhanced their sales as a result of goodwill gotten from humane treatment of the persons they interact with at the interviews.

Extra duties with the same pay

Extra duties with the same pay

Words by Francis Kahihu:

kahihucareers@gmail.com

At the start of a job engagement, employees are engaged in salary negotiations as the company determines the value of the employee. There are various considerations that could be used in the determination of the starting salary for an employee. Many employers consider the nature of the work, the level of training and experience, and the availability of funding to set the salary and benefits that would support a certain position. The negotiation process is usually the opportunity for both the employer and employee to agree on salary expectations.

Long after the employee has taken up a job with the agreed salary, there arises cases when the employee has to take up extra duties. It could be that the company has expanded or another employee has exited the company and takes a while to be replaced. It could also be that the employer has realized extra capacities in the employee that would call for them to undertake extra responsibilities at work.

The question has been whether extra tasks should always result in the adjustment of the employees’ salaries. Not always, but should be an issue for discussion between the employee and the employer. In the event that an employee gets extra duties, there is usually a natural, almost a reflex expectation, to demand for a renegotiation of the salary. Normally, for those employees who serve in an acting capacity for a period of one month continuously, there should be a consideration of an acting allowance. This happens when one of the team members, mainly the boss, has left for extra engagements yet the job has to be done. Many employers rarely consider some extra allowance for employees acting for persons either in similar or lower levels yet their responsibilities would have been added.

Many employers have been uncomfortable with employees who request for salary adjustments to match the added responsibilities. They have branded them as not willing to offer extra service to the company and this has led to the misuse of staff in various incidences. It is worth noting that the employer would have continued paying the salaries of the staff who either depart or the one who should have been employed to take up the extra tasks. It is then not fair for those employees who request for a pay rise to be branded as not willing to go the extra mile.

Negotiation of salary adjustments should however be made in a manner that seeks to justify the request. The employee must show how the extra tasks make them go out of their way to meet the extra targets and not just indicate that they have more work. There are incidences when the employees would have been under worked in the first place and the availability of extra tasks only places them on the level of workload they should have been at the start.

Employees should not always seek for a pay adjustment every time they have extra tasks. Extra duties at work mean extra thinking and creativity to undertake new engagements. These should always be taken as learning opportunities that enhance exposure and skill building that is critical in an employee’s professional development. I have heard of employees who actually seek for extra tasks from their bosses at no extra pay as they seek to expand their experience base hence building on their competencies. Opportunities to act on behalf of colleagues who have left the organizations could be great learning points especially if the opportunities involve tasks different from what you have been doing. This could be an opportunity for you to prove to the management that you can actually undertake greater responsibilities hence enhancing your prospects of future consideration for promotions as opportunities arise.