Poor work ethic and culture is a major challenge that businesses silently grapple with, whether remotely or in the workplace. It even tends to turn some employers into very mean people.
Workers show up late at work, drag feet to get things done, hardly reply to emails, fail at deliverables repeatedly, some keep making excuses to travel for one occasion or the other at the expense of the organization, and so on.
As much as it is important to be flexible as an employer, it is more important that you don’t unknowingly indulge the fundamental problem of poor work culture.
You need to design guidelines and processes that will help workers improve their work ethic and discipline over time and those who are unwilling to improve should be eased out.
If you create penalties for late coming and other issues, follow through with implementing those penalties so that your people don’t take your systems and processes for granted.
At a restaurant brand we manage, one staff had the habit of always making something different from what the client ordered thereby wasting resources. We implemented the penalty of salary deduction for two months to replace the materials that were wasted. He does not repeat the mistake any more.
You may be scared of losing those who really know the job, but indulging a bad attitude to work will cost your business greater harm eventually.
Be fair but also be firm.
EMPLOYEE INSIGHT: “DEDICATION IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE JOB THAT SPEAKS FOR YOU”- ANONYMOUS EMPLOYEE
Depending on how you perceive the workplace, it can be a learning platform for those willing and patient enough to be trained. One of the many things you learn while working is human relations and as we all know, humans could be quite dynamic and different in their ways. This has since been a major challenge for most persons in the corporate world since they have to constantly interact with colleagues in order to achieve the common goal of the company.
Now this task becomes more arduous when you are directly responsible for others within the workspace. You would realise that some people are easier to connect and work with than others. This week we interviewed a HSE Specialist who works at one of the reputable oil and gas companies in Nigeria and whose job specification entails supervision of workers in a bid to ensure they abide by safety rules, in order to maintain a safe working environment.
Even though this is a huge responsibility, our interviewee continues to learn better human relationship approaches with the aim to make the most out of his job. Let us take a glimpse of his work life…
Our interviewee when describing the impact of his work in his life indicated its enormous influence on him so far, “Working has given me a sense of responsibility. It teaches endurance especially with the fact that I meet different people with background and training different from mine. It increases my knowledge about life especially when I communicate with colleagues and those I supervise. The push to be better is also there,” he said.
Amazingly, he had studied a different course while in school and only developed interest for HSE along the line, “I studied Industrial Chemistry but during my Industrial Attachment in the HSE department, I picked interest in the field and equipped myself by undergoing a safety training during my NYSC,” he stated.
As regards his career trajectory, our respondent pointed out that he has been opportune to start with a higher position unlike his counterparts, “Compared to where most persons start from in building their HSE career, I started with a better position,” he indicated.
Though he seem to have had a smooth ride in his field, his experience came with many lessons to be learnt as regards relating with people in his workplace. He said, “I have learnt patience when building safety culture in people and realised that not everyone you are working with has your best interest at heart. At some point, you will get to understand that real life experiences are usually different from what you study in books. Also, dedication is an integral part of the job that speaks for you.”
Concerning his finances, he attested the positive impact working has made in his financial life thus far. “Really my financial life has improved tremendously. However the bad part is that you have to wait till month end to get that joy that good amount of money is entering your account.”
As we know, everything that has advantages also have a downside to it. Our respondent candidly expressed the disadvantages that accompanied his job, “You don’t get to rest as much as you would like. You are cut-off from what happens out there in the world because most times you are at work. There is also the aspect of someone talking to you as they please because they are above you. Blackmail is another thing that goes on around the worksite because certain persons want favours from their bosses,” he said.
Expressing his daily work struggles further, our interviewee said, “Some days you just want to sleep and not go to work but you have to show up anyway.”
When asked if he had a side hustle, he indicated he did and added it is simply based on the love he has for it and not necessarily for extra cash, “I teach in a foundation because I really love to teach,” he said
For his closing remark, our interviewee said, “Being a HSE Specialist is an interesting career that would teach you how to treat your own workers especially if you have it in mind one day to own your company.”
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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DO BUSINESS BETTER!
Imagine you’ve been working for an organisation for the past eight years. Within those years, you can count the number of times you have received a full salary while other times, your salary had been slashed without prior information or apologies. You are just expected to go with the flow and accept whatever comes your way. Uncertainty has become the order of the day for you as decisions are constantly taken randomly and impulsively. A change could happen in split seconds and everyone suffers for it.
If your memory serves you right, your first year was the fairest year you have experienced since you took on the role at the company. It was the only time your boss actually showed concern about your welfare. After that year, everything seemed to have changed within the flash speed of an eye blink. As time passed, you noticed your boss was the too authoritative type who never listened to other people’s opinion. Your boss could go on and on about what the company’s needs were rather than what was best for the employees. Anybody’s salary could be slashed at the slightest mistake. Everybody worked tirelessly and spoke in hush voices, not wanting to offend by speaking up against the harsh rules and unfair treatment in the organisation.
During the last meeting, you had tried speaking up about some concerns which you and some other staff had discussed some days before. Eyes grew wide and your voice trembled as you spoke. With the angry look on your boss’s face which was expected, you knew he wasn’t quite pleased by your boldness. Half way through your complaint, your boss had shut you up seeing that your opinion was entirely different. You now looked like the rebellious one for saying things that were an obvious truth.
Your anger was renewed yesterday when salaries were paid and what you feared most had happened, yours was incomplete. The HR manager had explained you were being punished for insubordination and for lack of conduct. You were amazed at her calmness while she spoke confidently about offenses you didn’t think would ever be associated to your name. You could sense your patience running out but then felt helpless as this job was your only source of income.
“What do you do next?” you continue to ask yourself…
The scenario painted above is the case of so many employees in organisations where it is a taboo to speak about wrong happenings. In places like that there are no objections only silent nods and a forced dance to the rhythm set by the boss. In such organisations, a slash in salary is seen as the perfect punishment for any staff regardless of the position. What would you say is going to be the fate of the fellow in the description?
As an employer, it is important to do a review about how you treat your employees. If your plan is to build a brand that will outlive you, then the welfare of your employees should be your priority. As it is often said, “respect is reciprocal”, so also when you put your employees’ welfare first, they will in turn put your business first.
However, this doesn’t mean you should always dance to the tune of your employees or run your business based on their decisions. Rather it is a way to say you should be more intentional about building an organisation where everyone feels secured. Remember NO TEAM, NO BRAND.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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While most employees these days struggle to pursue a career and retain a job for a few years, Engr. Boladale Abiodun Adegbenro has followed his career through for over thirty five years.
“I actually started working before I left the university; I was doing a part-time job then. Ever since, which is over thirty five years now, I’ve always been working,” he said at the beginning of the interview in his office at Aero Contractors’ branch in Port Harcourt.
Engr. Boladale admitted that during the course of working with both machines and human beings, he has learnt patience and to build relationships with several people from all walks of life. “I have worked with all kinds of individuals, some easy going and some as tough as a nut, but in all those experiences, I have become better at building relationships.”
He went further to share his first experience as a project leader, “another thing I have learnt while working is how to handle challenges. During my early years in practice, I was put in charge as a trainer to manage the assembling of an aircraft, Air Beetle, which was new in Nigeria as at that time. I had never done anything like that before and by far the most challenging project I had ever faced.”
The Growth Process…
When asked about his career trajectory, Engr Boladale admitted that he had to flow with the tides of change that came with his career and simply embraced the opportunities that came across his path.
“There is no straight way in life and that goes the same for career path. You can change your career and explore other options along the line if the need arises,” he said. “I was trained to be an Aerospace Engineer but later on, I switched to aircraft and helicopter maintenance engineering then went on to become an administrator of operations.”
“I have also had to change my location several times. I first relocated from the United States back to Nigeria, then from Kaduna to Lagos, and down to Port Harcourt. So you see, it hasn’t been a one way traffic,” he added.
His View on Side Hustle…
Unlike most people who believe one cannot live on a single salary income and that a side job is needed to sustain one’s self and their family, Engr. Abiodun begged to differ, “when you are passionate about what you do, it pays you and meets all your needs. You have to be satisfied with your job.”
He noted that the reason why most workers have financial issues is as a result of their way of life. “Your way of life will determine how you spend your money. Be contented with what you have, plan within what you earn, and go for things within your reach. For me, working has made positive impact on my financial life.”
And on Job Security….
From his confidence level, one would think Engr. Abiodun is one whose life is banked on job security believing that the job is always available. However, he debugged this ideology. “No job is secure,” he said. “From the first day you are employed, you should be prepared to pack up and leave as well. Which is why I say, ‘always have a plan for your life in case anything happens’.
To end his interview Engr. Abiodun shared some words of wisdom to young people looking a career path. “I think many young people are too ambitious and want to make fast money,” he pointed out. “They need to be ready to learn and listen attentively because there is no rush in life.”
Like they usually say, it’s different strokes for different folks. What’s your perspective? Please leave a comment.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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During the era of Nazi Germany, a secret-police organization was created to deal with persons suspected of disloyalty; they employed even crude means in carrying out this task.
While extreme measures may not be employed in their case, employers often treat their employees as corporate slaves. They pay the salaries, so employees should just keep quiet and do the bidding of the masters. Anything outside that is perceived as disloyalty or even treachery in worse cases. Such employers are not concerned about the reservations employees may have about the operations of the organization, and that is where they start missing out on crucial feedback that could help in shaping the organization better.
When the employers eventually get to ask employees if they have any comments or opinions to share, the employees opt to stay mute for fear of being victimized unless such a comment is in favour of the powers that be, just like the Gestapo operated. Supposed team members would rather stomach their reservations than risk being in the black book of the masters, that’s if their jobs aren’t even threatened. This is so because the culture of feedback is in actual sense non-existent in the organization, and I daresay many Nigerian and African organizations. Our understanding of power seems be a function of might and self-assertion.
And so, the unexpressed reservations eventually reflect in the form of nonchalance, it’s sometimes the reason why customer care representatives don’t give their all in serving clients, asides personal attitudinal flaws. A team that is less passionate about driving the organization’s vision, functioning in a more or less dispirited environment, and working the job just to earn a living and nothing more, truly cannot be as outstanding as the organization desire.
Let’s consider the personal relationships in our lives. It is at the point people no longer feel free to express their reservations that our relationship starts going awry. Our associates, friends and family owe it to us as a duty to express their reservations in line with the terms of engagement, so adjustments can be made where necessary and corrections taken as well and we also have the responsibility of giving them our ears so they can let it all out.
Stronger relationships can only be forged when we can freely express both the pleasant and unpleasant observations and also be willing to listen to others when they do same. This should not be mistaken for being swayed by the expectations of others, no. It also doesn’t mean organizations should pander to the dictates of their employees, far from that. What this means is that we value relationships, even with organizations, so much that we don’t take for granted anything that could possibly threaten it.
There should be a feedback system that ensures no one is victimized for expressing concerns that doesn’t conform to the soothing desires of management. Corporate organizations must have that moment of truth within its team, that’s how solid and well bonded teams are built.
It is profitable to harness strength out of divergent viewpoints instead of bludgeoning people into acquiescence.
Written by Maple Dappa
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