Monthly Archives: December 2013

Learning to let go

A few days ago, I had the misfortune of my car getting broken to. Amongst the many thoughts of pain, negativity and feeling stupid – I was basically in a downward spiral of emotion. When you lose something that’s of value because of the content, significance and effort you made to get it, it can be quite painful, especially losing in such a manner. Just imagine a personal laptop with all your research, work and sentimental stuff, along with the tablet that was back up amongst others.

The most important part came a few hours later when I was more calm, rested and could clear my thoughts. I came to a resolve; that I am better off looking towards how I can improve my situation than stay in the puddle of pity I was in. This resolve forced me to think of new ways in which to not only prevent what happened but also see what ways I could improve in the way I do things.

These few lessons I have learned through this tragedy (which I rightly name so), and its easy to apply to any business, workplace or academic situation:

1) The manner you’d treat things at work, should be the same for your personal belongings.

I know I have a tendency to have a bit more indulgence and less discipline when it comes to my own personal belongings, because they’re mine. In as much as I respect my profession and my employer’s belongings, I should do the same with my own. This measure of consistency makes it easier to be committed both to myself and my employer/academic programme.

2) Digital storing.

Using online clouds (such as dropbox or google docs) to store your data is becoming an increasing trend. All that’s needed is good internet. This means you can virtually store and back up all your important information and mitigate many other risks and costs associated with these basic needs for data retention and protection. It makes it easier to access anytime and anywhere and can make life for an analyst or researcher so much easier. Technology rocks.

3) Letting go.

A loss is a loss, and getting to the point of accepting it is just as important as how fast you get to that point. I found that being in such a situation where all my research and data is gone, improved my skills dramatically. I was forced to act in a much quicker pace to gain all the time and work lost, I had to reevaluate my approach and sharpen the manner in which I do things. Guaranteed I learned other things I wasn’t aware of. Also understanding that there are consequences to loss, its important to move on from that as well, there is no value derived from continuously staying in pity or trying to figure out scenarios that would have had different results. The point is to learn from them in a positive manner and move on without repeating the same mistakes. As humans, we tend to diagnose the problem without ever looking to remedy it. If you’d have to choose between a default setting of diagnosing and remedying, you’d certainly stick to remedying.

These little things came about from such an incident, I must say that I still feel the loss, and probably shall for the next 3 months, but I’m glad to say I’ve managed to learn some lifelong lessons from that experience.


Full Disclosure

International reporting standards are becoming more narrative, rather than just financial. This has lead to increasing the fairness of reporting, addressing issues of the integrity of information and increasing the confidence stakeholders would have for what’s reported. In as much as I can write chapters about corporate disclosure, that is not the point of the article.

The main jist of of this article is highlighting a few areas in which job seeking professionals and HR practitioners alike, must consider:

 

Social Media:

This can be in any one’s personal capacity, but as history has repeated itself (FHM employees, Justine Sacco, etc.); the principles you uphold as an individual, must still mean something in your professional capacity. For an organisation to hire you, it must mean you share and can uphold its values, it must mean that you are reliable enough to be representative of its culture, products and ethics. Going back to corporate disclosure; investors, customers and interested parties (civil society, the state, etc.) are curious to know how companies engage within the societies they operate in, be it Corporate Social Responsibility issues, Staff Welfare or using “Green” materials in production. The importance of preserving the environment, state of democracy and improving the lives of citizens is as important to any organisation that is focused to sustainability as it is for the same entity to ensure that its employees are just as committed, if not more.

 

In the day and age of globalisation and twitter, one cannot ignore the implications one bad apple can have on the entire basket, be it from a global or national perspective. PR departments have their work cut out for them from a company’s standpoint, as products and offerings can spread easily through social media. It also is quite easy to quash or address bad news/reports through this medium, but its a different story when it comes to having an employee be the root of bad publicity. Not only does it seem like the company is merely ‘window dressing’ its principles but the people who are driving the strategic intent are just as fake/bad. This obviously affects revenue generating and any loyalty from a part of the market.

 

In as much as the recession/global credit crunch has brought about the needs for companies to have better corporate governance, accountability and transparency, so has the need for professionals to be just so, if not more. For if an investor is to part with their money for some kind of return (be it profit making or improving society), or regulators approve the policies of an entity, the people who drive the mandate of the organisation have to be of example for their colleagues, competitors and most importantly, the company’s sustainability. It is human nature to assume that we can be comfortable with someone once we know as much as we can about them. This is why I cannot stress the importance of a professional ensuring that they are desirable both in their professional and personal capacities.

 

Talent:

The surge of Generation Y professionals is at the forefront of the kind of capital needed for innovation and game-changing products. The talent pool is largely neglected in the southern african region as young people are considered to either not have the appropriate skills for the workplace (even if they are graduates), that they are opportunists and that they cannot do routine work. This is the exact description that top companies like Google, Microsoft, Burberry, Groupon, Pharmaceuticals and Banks are gunning for. The individuals that want more responsibility, some level of risk and exposure.

 

Gone are the days when the number of years you’ve spent on a job warrant you a promotion. Education and professional development have become increasingly effective for addressing the needs of any business. It is the nature of recognising the leaders of tomorrow in the youth of today that is to determine how sustainable and competitive a organisation will be, and we are yet to realise this as a nation. Talent management is an ideal that was created to continuously develop human capital, just as any winning strategy would in continuously developing better products.

 

The cheapest and most optimizing investment an organisation can make is in its workforce, as employees are the very people who collect the data you analyse, provide the experience customers go through and implement the strategy you develop. This is something that not only senior management has to seriously consider, but reinforce through the HR function.


Customer Experience versus Customer Service (1 of 5)

One random morning in Mauritius, I found myself stuck at the airport waiting to check in as there was something wrong with my ticket.

This left me asking several questions:

1) No one could actually speak english properly, regardless for the fact that I couldn’t get an explanation and that it was an international airline with international clientele

2) Why was this issue not cleared when I first checked in the previous day when departing from Malaysia

3) How a customer is made to wait for almost 35mins with no feedback, indication of when a solution would be provided or if I might miss my flight

4) How a partner airline could allow for its standards to be compromised by another

These thoughts ran through my head, as well as that of not wanting to go through such an experience again. It leaves me to question how in Southern Africa, we’re only still talking about Customer Service. In 2013. Here’s why;

The kind man who was dropping me off happened to be in a similar situation, relatively. He stepped into a Starbucks shop, discovered the Hot White Chocolate option on the menu and asked if he could have a Cold White Chocolate.

The young waiter responded “We don’t offer that but let me just talk to my manager”… This in the end, resulted in my friend getting a cup of White Chocolate, cold.

The significance of that little tale is in what was explained after: “We strive to serve our customers our products certainly, but what’s more important is the experience. Our coffee is brewed even if there are no customers, its all about the lifestyle we offer”.

This, I thought to myself, is profound as ever. In a world that’s dominated by globalisation, recovery from the recession and increasing competition. Customer service can make all the difference; be it in aviation, restaurant or manufacturing. The experience your customer gets from that very service culture you instill in your staff is going to determine whether he or she will return, spend more or refer you to others.

The one thing I have learned from an employee’s perspective is that all the expertise and skills cannot make up for making someone feel undervalued or like they were shortchanged. It is through these kinds of bad experiences that I become a better service provider, but what solution is there for employees that don’t get the chance to be exposed to a different perspective? Simulation.

I cannot stress how, as a leader and follower, it is important for me to be in both sides of the story to get a true understanding of the bigger picture. All the processes, policies and communications may be there but as long as the human factor is not invested in, there shall be no added value in your product/service provision. This could be the difference between maximized profits and the bottom line, new customers and disgruntled individuals, customer service and customer experience.


The importance of belief

I am not one to think of arrogance and confidence as too similar.

The one common the two have is belief.

In whatever light, positive or negative, belief is the one representative of one’s convictions, virtues and aspirations.

This has both worked well for me, and quite bad.

For instance, when I thought that I would be able to loose weight over a sustained period of time, the result was just that – a thought. Not because I did not take action, but because of the fact that I treated it as a thought and not as a belief.

Belief institutes that a certain level of faith has been invested, that I could have also exercised discipline in my eating habits just as I had with gym.

There also is an example of understanding just how well prepared I am for a job posting as I did with PriceWaterhouseCoopers;

There was no advertisement and I did not have the minimum requirements they usually asked for, but I put in an application after having done my research, justified why I would be of use to the organization and left my application to do its job.

I also understood that submission is just the start of the whole process. Realising that you have to prove your capabilities on the 1st, 2nd interviews and still build capacity during probation, I knew that the road wouldn’t end or be easy, but I believed I belonged there, so it my future employer.

The significance of this article is that belief needs faith, just as it does need action.

If I can apply these simple principles in my personal life, imagine what I’d be able to do in my professional life.