We all say that we want to be leaders but many times we forget that to be a successful manager, you must learn to adapt your leadership style to suit different types of employee personalities.
Employees have a range of behaviours ranging from normal to extreme. When confronted with these different personalities, managers sometimes aren’t quite sure how to manage this. In this article, we look at seven types of employee personalities and how best to manage them.
The Employee Personalities
They can be found lingering in the break room, openly surfing the net, or parked in someone’s cubicle for a lengthy chat (which proves that slacking off can be contagious). They may find legitimate reasons to leave the office, then take time to run lengthy errands. This personality may be as a result of an under-developed work ethic and lack of good role models or they don’t just like their jobs so have trouble bringing any energy to it.
The Space Cadets
These employee personalities frequently seem to be lost, thinking of something else except the subject matter. They make seemingly off-the-wall comments in meetings and may start discussions in the middle of a thought. They may come up with ideas that, at least on the surface, seem rather impractical. They are usually abstract thinkers who are more focused on the future than the present.
The Power Takers
These employees tend to get into power struggles with their bosses. They often act like they’re managing you, instead of the other way around. These employee personalities would naturally take over a meeting or quickly step into the lead role on a project, brag about their accomplishments, so titles, perks, and public recognition are important to them. A strong fear of failure often lies behind this bravado.
They are quite easy to spot. Look out for those who prefer to spend the day working on the computer and talking to no one in a little corner they carved out for themselves. They never want to attend conferences, meetings or workshops, because they look for any excuse to duck out. They don’t dislike people – they just don’t find social interaction to be a very enjoyable activity.
The Drama Queens (or Kings)
The dramatic ones thrive on excitement and attention, so spotting them is easy. A calm, peaceful workday is just not very rewarding, so they try to spice things up with dramatic pronouncements, juicy gossip, ominous rumors, personal traumas, or emotional breakdowns. When talking with others, they are expressive and animated. More subdued coworkers find the dramatic employees exhausting and try to avoid them. They thrive on emotional stimulation, regardless of whether the emotions are positive or negative.
Challengers are programmed to be oppositional. When presented with a proposal, suggestion, directive, or idea, they automatically point out flaws, obstacles, and potential problems. In fact, they enjoy challenging management, because they feel it establishes their independence. They resent authority and never show respect just because the person has a title. Their focus is on winning arguments, not resolving the problem. Challengers have a high need for control.
The major quality of people with this personality is dependence. They like clear instructions, ongoing communication, and frequent positive reinforcement. Uncomfortable making independent decisions, because they are afraid of doing the wrong thing. Clingers are reluctant to express disagreement because they fear making others angry and losing their support. As a result, they sometimes withhold their opinions or harbor resentments that they never express. The Clinger’s main need is to feel safe.
It is important to note that in any organization or sector, asides from identifying the multiple personalities within you must first define the culture and type of leadership as a step to effectively manage for success. To be categorized as a Great leader, you must actively listen, build rapport, ask questions and give constructive feedback. Communication and flexibility are key.
There’s a common saying in the business world: “A business is only as good as its people.” This is why a high employee turnover rate, especially for good employees, can be detrimental to a business.
So what happens when one of your key employees wants to quit? This is not a piece of news any business owner wants to hear but it’s an inevitable part of doing business. I’ve learned that exits are always challenging for teams, their leaders, and for the company as a whole– and costly.
Here’s how you can handle exit/team member’s resigning in the start-up environment:
Study the employee turnover pattern
To understand how to stop a wave of departures from happening, you first need to understand why these waves happen in the first place. Are they leaving as a result of wages, minimal growth opportunities or culture?
In startups, most times whatever is bugging one person is usually bugging the others; they just haven’t told anyone yet (or you missed the signs). Over time, issues build on one another enough to lead people to consider leaving.
Create a habit of regular pulse check
Make a continuous habit of checking in with team members. Conduct anonymous surveys using tools that allow for this and regular coffee check-ins to discuss a variety of topics about how you are doing as a leader, things going on in the company, and so on.
You will be shocked at what people have to say. When you address the issues, you find that you are fixing something that everyone will appreciate.
Change your Mindset
Assume everyone is leaving and interviewing. Don’t set the standard that the only way to get attention is if you fear they’re interviewing. Realise as well that even those that stick around may only be doing it out of necessity.
Employees could also be staying due to any of the following reasons:
Visa or immigration restrictions
Big life event approaching–wedding, baby, buying a house, etc
The promotion they are hoping for before leaving so they can get a better title and salary elsewhere.
When multiple team members are leaving, it’s a sign that change is needed. Accept that this change must start with you and embrace that mindset. If your employees are leaving, it’s a huge signal fire that there are problems to be dealt with.
Be open to their feedback and the issues they bring up (especially if they’re about things you do) It may be difficult to hear, and the solutions may be difficult to implement, but realise that the situation is dire.
Follow-through & take action
The best way to build trust with employees that might leave or as a whole is to swing into action on the feedback they give you. You may not be able to fix all the problems, but even small, incremental progress can improve morale and decrease employee turnover.
Make a counteroffer when necessary
If the employee is extremely valuable to your business, you may consider making a counter-offer depending on the situation (it could be that they have opted for a career change that you cannot accommodate).
When making a counteroffer, you must consider your budget, do the right market research and compare this with the cost of hiring fresh talent. The good news is that counter-offers are not only about money as they might be leaving for different reasons. So you can get creative and think of ways to solve that person’s problem in a way that helps them to stay with you.
Fix your processes
An example of a process could be your onboarding methods. Research shows that new employees are 58% more likely to stay longer at their employer if they had an effective onboarding experience. Make them feel welcomed and accepted as a new team member. Give them everything they need to get off to a fast start.
Set clear objectives and expectations
Clear objectives and key results (OKRs) on a company-wide level will enable aligned clarity and prioritization throughout the organization. Share long-term product roadmaps, to enable greater visibility (and excitement) about growth trajectory and development plans. This encourages team members to feel like a part of the business development and success story.
Reform your Human Capital Initiatives
This involves taking a closer look at the people you are working with. Proactively weeding out low performers and people whose skills/goals were misaligned with the company’s needs/goals plays an important role in reducing future turnover rates.
In summary, If you’re working on a huge employee turnover problem, you’re probably under a lot of stress and have a lot on your plate. The best thing you can do to help yourself and reduce your employee turnover rate is to be attentive to issues within, intentional, and diligent in your communication methods.
In reality, all startups are built on change, and change is good. To create something where nothing existed before, growing companies need to experiment, to give new ideas a chance to fuel exponential growth. What this means is that the focus of the business might change often.
As much as hiring new talent at a startup can bring a new level of skill and expertise, if you aren’t making the most of the talent you have at each stage, it can leave a negative impact on your business.
Despite the misconception that team building is lame and barely seen as relevant, did you know that team building is the most important investments you can make for your team?
It builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication, and increases collaboration. Effective team building means more engaged employees, which is good for company culture and boosting the bottom line.
In this article, I will be talking about the importance of team building and sharing some valuable tips on how to plan effective team building activities.
Why Team Building?
1. Networking and socializing
Socializing and getting to know your team in the workplace is one of the best ways to increase productivity in the office. Team building boosts morale and also allows for team members to work better at solving everyday workplace issues.
2. Teamwork and boosting overall performance
Employees tend to understand each other better after completing a team-building activity. It becomes easier to identify each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests. This collaborative spirit and team effort helps everyone work even better together on future projects vital to a company’s progress.
3. Fostering of innovation and creativity
Successful team building events not only bring people closer together, but they also contribute to a more successful and creative workplace. Games and competitive exercises become more challenging as people tend to have a larger imagination when they are around people they are comfortable with.
To no surprise, communication and working better together is the top reason why people choose team bonding. Everybody desires a friendly work environment, where people are comfortable and happy to talk to and collaborate with anyone. One of the results of team bonding is that the activities actually work to improve communication.
Are you looking to improve your team’s communication skills, collaborativeness and performance? Why don’t you try these tips when planning your next team building soiree:
Identify the goal of this event
This includes identifying what you want the focus to be on. It is best to plan an entire team-building session around key objectives. For example, if you want to foster better communication among group members, then your activities should include initiatives that call for various combinations of players taking a leadership role in giving directions, commands, or ideas in both verbal and non-verbal mediums.
Replace the usual team dinner with something new
Choosing something unique and slightly outside of people’s comfort zones can encourage them to come together in new ways. Take your team paintballing or maybe to a boxing ring to let off some steam. A little physically challenging activity might be all you need to get people to destress.
Quit looking at it as a favor but as an investment
Most team-building events fall flat because it’s a one-time activity that is done and then forgotten. It’s key to find ways to keep organizing these events.
The challenge is creating opportunities for people to connect and interact in meaningful ways, outside of regular meetings or presentations. One way we do this is to have a monthly team hurdle. At this event, team members can celebrate achievements and show appreciation to their co-workers.
After team bonding exercises, you must evaluate and measure impact. For you to measure a team member’s ability to collaborate with other departments on projects, I would recommend that this be evaluated or assessed during performance appraisal.
This can be done in the form of a questionnaire, survey or during 1-on-1s with other team members. This is the easiest way to track improvement when it involves showing team effort.
How do you know you’ve gotten team building right? If there was laughter, a sense of excitement and accomplishment, and maybe a few Instagram moments, you’re definitely on the right track! A little adventure can unlock many levels of creativity.
As Sub-saharan Africa lags behind in the World Bank’s 2020 ease of doing business report, one woman-led startup thinks it can help entrepreneurs grow their companies in this tough environment.
After years of mentoring startups and running businesses in Ghana and Nigeria, Munachim Chukwuma started IB Consultingin February 2019 to help founders overcome operating challenges she also had to face as a young entrepreneur.
According to experts from Harvard University, startups that want to stand the test of time must learn new ways of operating and behaving. This is difficult for a lot of entrepreneurs because these new ways tend to be completely different from their start-up roots.
Most startups struggle to grow and scale either because they do not know how or lack the proper structure and strategy. This is where we come in.
Munachim Chukwuma – Founder, Ibobo Consulting
IB Consulting believes that African entrepreneurs struggling to grow their businesses must realize they are in a different phase of their business life cycle, and therefore must change.
IB Consulting’s growth recipe for startups.
To help entrepreneurs struggling to scale, Munachim and her partners created a service model that combines strategy consultation, negotiation, and content creation.
IB Consulting bets its 3 service tentpoles are what entrepreneurs need to grow faster despite the difficulty of doing business in Africa.
We decided to focus on strategy consultation, negotiations and content creation as a company because we realized most of the challenges most businesses face in today’s society are tied to those three areas in one way or another.
Munachim Chukwuma – Founder, Ibobo Consulting
In addition to its unique service model, IB Consulting promises clients efficiency, personalization, and great service.
Why you should watch out for IB Consulting.
In less than a year, IB Consulting is proving it is not just all talk. The company reports that since February, it has helped over 10 business owners rebuild their structures and execute action growth plans.
It’s also not just about the money for this company this woman-led company. They have done some pro bono work for new entrepreneurs who could not afford to pay for some of our services.
In 2020, the company plans to expand aggressively to reach, help and educate help businesses across Africa.
We intend to grow over the next year of business and reach more people across the continent, as we also reinvent our business and launch more products that can meet the needs of our prospective clients.
SheaMoisture is the enduring and beautiful legacy of Sofi Tucker. Widowed with five children at 19, Grandma Sofi supported her family by selling handcrafted shea butter soaps and other creations in the village market in Sierra Leone.
Sofi became known as a healer who shared the power of shea and African black soap with families throughout the countryside.
She handed down her recipes to grandson Richelieu Dennis, who founded SheaMoisture and incorporated her wisdom into the brand’s hair and skin care innovations.
SheaMoisture products and collections are formulated with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients, with the shea butter ethically-sourced from 15 co-ops in Northern Ghana as part of the company’s purpose-driven Community Commerce business model.
SheaMoisture has partnered with She Leads Africa to support and showcase Nigerian women who support their communities.
About Tolu Adeleke-Aire
Tolu Adeleke-Aire is the CEO and founder of ToluTheMidwife.
She is an internationally trained, dual-qualified healthcare professional. Tolu is an accomplished senior midwife and nurse. Tolu has over ten years of clinical and management experience.
She completed an MSc in Healthcare Management, after which she worked with the reputable UCL (Department of Nutrition).
Tolu founded ToluTheMidwife to create a holistic experience for families. One that included preparing, supporting and empowering expectant parents as they transition to parenthood. She does this through evidence-based health education.
One parent at a time, Tolu is living her business mantra, “save a mother, save a child, save a community.”
ToluTheMidwife Healthcare Solutions, how did you start?
I started ToluTheMidwife Healthcare Solutions (officially) in 2018. The aim is to prepare, support and empower expectant parents as they transition to parenthood through evidence-based health education.
As an example, I write the handbooks for the classes and have them updated throughout the year.
I gave the first book to a printer and I didn’t receive them on time for the very first class. It made me upset because when I did receive them, they were not fit for purpose.
So when I updated the books again and sent them to the printer, I monitored every single step to avoid a repeat of what happened before.
It was a really helpful learning experience for me because as a startup, I can’t afford to have a stain on my reputation, so I take all the necessary steps to ensure it doesn’t repeat itself.
What impact have you made on your community since starting this business?
I would say being able to make pregnant couples feel informed and empowered about their pregnancy, birthing options, and postnatal care. Most of them report feeling less anxious and worried because they know we are one call away.
They also ask the midwives and doctors to complete all aspects of their antenatal check-up. The women have their personal antenatal handheld notes, so they keep track of the important numbers in pregnancy.
All in all, I have been able to support more parents and help them become more informed and prepared to welcome their children to the world.
What is your major goal for 2019, and what have you done so far to achieve it?
My major goal is to add new services to ToluTheMidwife. This is partially completed but we would love to regularise the frequency of the classes.
We are also working hard to open The Maternity Hub. A one-stop hub for maternity, with services from conception to 6 weeks postpartum.
Can you share with us three interesting facts about yourself?
I am a real foodie and funny too, so you’ll usually catch me chilling and laughing.
Another interesting thing about me is that I prefer a good movie and company, over living it up in the clubs and bars on a Friday night.
How do you feel about this opportunity to promote your brand on SLA sponsored by SheaMoisture?
Absolutely ecstatic. SLA is an awesome platform for amazing African women.
To have our services featured on your sites, sponsored by SheaMoisture is truly an honor.
You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia.
A highly diversified workplace comprises of people from different culture and backgrounds.
This gives room for increased exposure as employees learn from each other.
Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market. You can never run out of ideas when you have a diverse team.
Why? This is b Juditecause they all bring something to the table. Having different cultural backgrounds means the way they think differ; the beliefs that shape their thoughts are not the same.
This vast difference, even between gender breeds innovation.
Creative concepts are born out of each one offering a solution or suggestion. People from different backgrounds have different experiences and perspectives. This leads to creativity.
3. Grows the organization’s talent pool
Embracing diversity means you’ll attract a large number of candidates from all walks of life. These are people well versed in different diverse skills set and knowledge.
As the number of candidates increases, the chances of finding a suitable candidate will increase too.
4. Employee retention
Who doesn’t want to work for a company that embraces diversity? They don’t discriminate but accept employees from all backgrounds. In the long run, this promotes quality and boosts the morale of the employee.
5. Employee performance
The chances of being happy in an environment that is open and inclusive are higher than one which isn’t.
Employees are more likely to feel comfortable, happy and safe in an organization that embraces diversity. This boosts the confidence of the employee as they feel confident in putting their best.
The higher your employee’s morale, the more productive he or she is.
Organizations who have a range of employees enjoy the benefits of having a broad skill set and experience. All of these gives the company an advantage over others.
Join our Facebook Live on August 22nd to learn how to drive social change through your business/ Career. Click here to sign up.
She shares her experience of volunteering overseas and advocates for intercultural awareness to be at the heart of charity and aid efforts to improve foreign assistance in the motherland.
In this article, she also provides consultancy for sustainability advice, strategy development and/or content creation.
Shika, as she is fondly called, believes it is important for NGOs to develop empowering stories of self-managed income/resources to challenge the mindset that success derives from external donors as opposed to the people themselves.
In 2015, when she returned home from a volunteer placement in Tanzania, she founded “Becoming Africquainted” as an initiative to candidly recounting the life-changing memories she made, including some difficult observations of when Western intercultural communication goes badly wrong.
Since then, it has grown into a platform of its own that provides discussion and resources to all aspiring volunteers or expats, encouraging them to undertake their service overseas responsibly and respectfully.
Shika on Intercultural Awareness
For Shika, intercultural awareness is an unmissable step that any foreign volunteer must be willing to take to better know their own cultural limitations and how to healthily navigate new ones.
However, this must be reciprocated by host communities within Africa too, by ensuring they take responsibility for their own narrative and how they wish for it to be told and remembered long after any volunteer exchange has ended.
It will take time to help visitors to form new associations of Africa they see, but the benefits to sewing two-way intercultural connections are fruitful and increasingly necessary for the prosperity of the interconnected world we live in.
To be a successful foreign volunteer, Shika believes it begins with an understanding of yourself / skillset and a genuine desire to be of service to someone. Such a person is often thought to be self-sacrificing with care for their wider community and an unrelenting passion to contribute to a cause bigger than themselves.
However, to be able to add accountability and value to foreign volunteering efforts in Africa, one needs to;
1. Have a good knowledge of the country and organization whose aims you would like to champion.
Each summer in Africa, this ‘higher cause’ has all too often displayed itself as ‘saviourism’, ‘privilege’ and ‘Western ideas’ – to name a few.
What usually begins as a selfless summer trip quickly manifests itself into self-serving behavior when culture shock takes over, conditions become unfavorable to live in and personal expectations are not met.
These circumstances fuel a type of instinctive desire to fix things that do not exist ‘back home’.
Though the intention may come from a good place, the means by which it is executed becomes misplaced and frequently results in misunderstanding and conflict.
A lack of intercultural awareness. A large number of young people in the West – diaspora included – are conditioned into thinking that volunteering overseas is a worthy extra-curricular life experience or a means of personal development.
These reasons are problematic because they refer to an underlying tone of personal gain that volunteering is based upon.
The emphasis is rarely ever to learn about culture itself – something which really should underpin any healthy volunteer exchange.
2. Acquire traits that enable you to observe, recognize, perceive and positively respond to new and unfamiliar intercultural interactions.
Some markers of intercultural awareness within international development are:
Humility – being receptive to, and accepting of, new and unfamiliar situations
Patience – in recognizing that positive outcomes take time to reveal themselves
Humanity – acting humanely with a trusted concern for the community being served.
These traits are not something we can quantify or expect anyone to learn quickly in a crash-course.
But volunteer exchanges can be measured by the quality of relationships being built, along with their participation and respect for our cultures once they arrive.
One indication of this lies in how well volunteer behaviors are recognized and reciprocated by the communities which they serve.
3. Volunteers should be given guided self-reflection time.
This is to serve like one-to-one inductions in a paid workplace where their observations and experiences are discussed to foster a dialogue which enables them to explain their realities so that they can be better understood.
Doing this not only prevents them from distancing themselves from problems they see by claiming ignorance, but it also provides a space for healthy goals to be set, contributions to be assessed and accountability to take place.
This is important to help redefine the negative African post-colonial perceptions that many foreign volunteers have unconsciously grown up with.
After all, what better way to rewrite the story than if told it ourselves to those who do have a desire to listen, by virtue of visiting the continent first-hand?
A good start for non-profit-organisations is to offer their own guides into standards of behavior that outlines an interpretation of volunteer ideas and expectations during their stay.
This formalizes the process whilst mitigating the risk of volunteers unhelpfully referring back to their (often biased) perception of problems and methods of solving them.
Join our Facebook Live on August 22nd to learn how to drive social change through your business/ Career. Click here to sign up.
Tamiko Cuellar is the CEO and Founder of Pursue Your Purpose LLC, – a global coaching, consulting and training firm for emerging entrepreneurs, corporate intrapreneurs, and leaders.
She spends at least 6 months each year traveling throughout the continent of Africa where she speaks, coaches, and trains leaders, entrepreneurs, students, and women.
In addition, Tamiko was appointed as a mentor to emerging entrepreneurs in Africa as part of the Tony Elumelu’s Entrepreneurship Programme in 2016.
Tamiko has been a guest contributor on Forbes, The Huffington Post, amongst other publications.
In this article, Tamiko shares with us her journey to becoming a smart boss lady, and how she’s helping ladies on the continent do the same.
What made you decide to launch your own business?
There were multiple catalysts that compelled me to launch my own businessI had survived three rounds of layoffs (retrenchments) at my corporate job in the United States as a result of the 2008 economy.
My job was becoming more stressful and adversely impacted my health, and I was only given a $700 bonus after helping to acquire a $30 million client for my company.
Besides all of that, I felt that my potential was being stifled and I was not fulfilled.
I then decided to monetize my gifts and skillset on my own terms, by launching my business to help other women transition from corporate and grow their businesses.
On your journey to becoming a Smart Boss Lady, What are some exciting things while launching your business?
Since there weren’t many coaches that were doing what I was doing when I first started, I looked for as many existing coaches as a template and tried to emulate them.
I later realized that it was my uniqueness that caused my brand to soar internationally. I would encourage aspiring and emerging boss ladies to harness what’s unique about you.
That’s your sweet spot. People don’t need a clone. They need you to show up in your authenticity
What are some of the common problems entrepreneurs hire you to solve?
The most common problems that women hire me for are helping them to narrow their focus, defining their target market, creating/refining a brand that attracts their target market, and also how to sell and make money consistently
Established larger organizations usually hire me to develop their leaders.
Why did you choose the business name – Pursue Your Purpose LLC?
My company’s name was birthed from a common answer to a question that I would often ask people, which is, “What would you be doing if you could do something other than your current job?”
The answer was always something different than what they were currently doing! Then my follow-up question would be, “Then why aren’t you doing that?”
This was usually followed by a blank stare because people didn’t know why they weren’t getting paid to do what they love. It was then that I realized that most people that are working are doing what they have to do rather than what they want to do.
I’ve mastered a system that creates entrepreneurs who get paid to do what they love and I simply coach others on how to profit from their God-given purpose.
Tell us about your experience working almost exclusively on the continent of Africa.
I absolutely love it! I am called to Africa. The Africa I see is very different than the Africa that is portrayed in the media.
Africa is rising
It’s ripe with potential because the majority of the population in many African nations is very young (ages 15-25) and emerging leaders are going to be at the helm of solving Africa’s problems very soon.
Someone needs to develop and train these emerging leaders. I also feel a deeply personal and cultural connection to Africa being an
African-American women of the Diaspora who can also bring a high level of skills to the continent that I’ve acquired in the States.
Who is your dream client/partner?
First and foremost, my dream partnership would be with SLA in some way to build capacity in its community of professional business women from a global perspective.
As a former Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management in the U.S., I also love working with Universities throughout Africa on entrepreneurship curriculum development as well as being a guest lecturer to business and entrepreneurship students.
Additionally, I love working with agencies and the Ministries of Trade & Industry to teach sub-Saharan African businesses on how to export their products into the U.S. duty-free.
Lastly, I love training corporate leaders and HR managers on how they develop innovative entrepreneurial thinking in order to be on the cutting edge of what the rest of the world is doing.
I would love to do more of these three types of training and coaching. I’m very open to being contacted by your readers for partnership and speaking opportunities throughout Africa.
What’s the most exciting project you’re currently working on?
I’m very happy to say that my fourth book, “Cultivating An Entrepreneurial Mindset” should be out by the fourth quarter of 2019.
This will help thousands of aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs both inside and outside the classroom to develop the right thinking that leads to having successful, profitable and sustainable businesses.
My calendar for 2020 is filling up quickly with organizational partnerships, speaking and training opportunities with universities, corporations, and government agencies throughout Africa, so I welcome as many strategic alignments as my company can accommodate.
I am also adding new Global Brand Ambassadors to my team all over Africa who are highly influential and can help us impact more people.
The topic of parental leave in Africa is a commonly contested issue that is brought to question time and time again. In many parts of the continent, actual maternity and paternity leave are non-existent.
Distiller giant, Diageo have made a huge step in a positive direction regarding parental leave by being the first large scale employer in Africa to provide their staff with six months paid maternity leave and four weeks paternity leave on full rate pay in all their markets across the continent.
Diageo made this announcement in conjunction with their move to increase parental leave in their Western and Asian markets as well.
This is a big step in the corporate world given that very few (if any) employers in Africa are permitting six months of paid leave – which makes it easier for women in the workplace to be both mothers and have a career with little stringent time complications.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) states that 80% of women in Africa and Asia are deprived of maternity leave. In terms of paternity leave, the numbers are even lower with only eight countries out of 54 giving fathers more than a week’s paternity leave.
This debacle has made it difficult for African women who are/want to be mothers to progress in the workplace because it forces them to choose one or the other but never both.
SLA contributor – Diana had a sit down with HR director of the Diageo Africa division, Caroline Hirst, and Clemmie Raynsford, Head of Market Communications to learn about the steps taken and reasons for making such an empowering initiative come alive.
Why did Diageo decide to do this now as opposed to say 2 – 4yrs ago?
Caroline: We have been really progressing on the gender diversity perspective, we’ve worked really heavily on representation on a leadership level and in every aspect of our business and in particular generally where women are underrepresented.
That has been really successful. However, we have recognized that the gender diversity agenda can’t just be about how many people of which gender you’ve got doing what things.
It’s much more a breakdown of stereotypes, how do you create an environment where everybody can succeed, that’s really our aim.
I was really keen to bring this policy in Africa because I think you can be forgiven for thinking that the gender diversity agenda is all about enabling women in Africa to do what men do which is not the case.
It’s about all of us think differently about how we work together and so having this shift around parental leave and particularly the shift around paternity leave across Africa has not only given men more benefits and women too but it’s also got people talking about the diversity agenda as something that’s relevant and a means to change for everybody.
Clemmie: It’s about us being a supportive employer and saying you can take more time with your family.
With the beverage industry being such an old fashioned industry, most of our big breweries in parts of Africa took it positively commenting that it’s a really pioneering step that’s actually saying we are an employer first and we care about our people and giving them the right to the environment to do their work in the best way possible.
If they need to be at home they can be and have their family and have that balance.
As a working mum, what does this new initiative by Diageo mean to you and your family?
Caroline: I was fortunate enough that when I had my children, the UK legislation already allowed mothers to take up to 40 weeks off.
When I had my daughter and took 6 months off leave, the main consideration for me as the primary bread-winner in my household was how would I afford to take that much time off?
When I had my son, I took a year off, most of it being unpaid so I feel that if this policy was in existence then, it would have made a lot more financial sense.
This new policy will make a difference for women across Africa. I also hope that more men will feel welcome to take the 4 weeks paternity leave and spend time at home with their families.
One of the things that we are seeking to do in our business is to make it okay for anybody to be a parent as opposed to it being something that only women can talk about or experience fully.
Clemmie: I think what’s great about this policy is that not only does it take the financial pressure off which probably is sort of 70-80% of the main factor.
But also, in saying that your company will give you full pay for 26 weeks off, it’s also saying that slightly the company is expecting you to want to and is absolutely fine with you taking that extended period of time off.
It’s the combination of being allowed and your employer saying – we support you and we know that you have a family, this is a crazy new stage in your life so not only will we help you financially but here is some extra time you most likely need.
The feedback from a lot of our African markets included people just suddenly feeling that sense of support that never existed before.
It has been very positive from our various East and West Africa businesses.
Why can’t fathers get the same amount of time off as mothers do?
Caroline: In the future, we could look at a possible potential for that.
Our intention is to create an environment where men can be fathers. And we think that moving to four weeks paternity leave whereas before in most markets it’s usually just two weeks or less, signals a progressive step forward.
We have operationally a few constraints around how we would extend that to six months here where the majority of the workforce is male, but aspirationally, would we like to change that in the future of course.
Do you think this move will eventually result in a more motivated employee/worker?
Caroline: We definitely hope so. I guess it is part of a broader package that is contributing to an environment where everyone can do their best work.
And we think that everybody can do their best work when they are treated as a complete human being, when their home life is respected and when we enable people to make choices to have a fulfilled life.
Clemmie: I think that is the main point of the policy. We feel it is quite pioneering in where we are taking it around the world but equally, it is just one policy and there are many within a business that are designed to support people around our values and how we think people should be treated.
You can see that specifically in the female empowerment space. This policy has become a game changer for a lot of people who want to have families or are thinking about having another child etc.
To add to Caroline’s point – it’s got to be more than a policy, it’s got to be how people are feeling in the workplace and how they go through experiences with their line managers and their colleagues and with other opportunities.
When handling maternity/paternity breaks in your various establishments, do you include an additional labor cost or do you look at it as a way of scouting for new talent?
Caroline: Any policy has a cost, but this hasn’t been a discussion which has been driven by cost, it’s about who we want to be as an employer at a global level and some things are worth spending money on – this is something worth spending money on.
Plus we feel that the benefits outweigh any cost in terms of the retention of people, the attraction of people and really the living proof in one more manifestation of who we are as an organization and what it means to work for us, so yes it is a cost but it is worth it.
How do we handle workers not being around?
When you have those gaps, you have the opportunity to give other people more experience and more learning opportunities, so we see that as a definite opportunity and it can be managed in that way.
In Diageo, we are a company that invests very heavily and at the simplest level we believe that people learn the most and grow the most by doing different things and therefore maternity or paternity leave naturally creates an environment/opportunity for someone else.
We are also committed to the notion that when people go out on maternity leave and they leave a job, they come back to their job. We’ve not had a reaction where anybody thinks it’s insurmountable and certainly, if you look across Europe where longer maternity leaves have been mandated for many years people still manage it fine with no qualms at all.
Have you ever had an experience where the employee came back from maternity and couldn’t handle the work/mom life balance and didn’t perform as well as she used to?
Caroline: When you come back from having a baby, your life is different. From my own experience, I came back to a new job that demanded more time from me for travel and the like, so it was a massive change in my working environment and it was the hardest in my professional career.
I doubted myself and I had to work really hard to find a way to be a mum and to also do my job.
In Africa, it’s really the same kind of balance struggle, we all have to find our own way of reconciling those different life aspects.
We try as best as we can to be considerate and to give people permission to do what they need to do to cater to what is a huge transition in life.
We try and sort of humanize our workplace and have people share their stories so that other people feel that everything doesn’t have to be perfect all the time.
We also encourage men to tell the same stories and to feel that they can also do those things. It is important to have an environment where people can talk about their home life, and that counts for men and women and we are certainly trying to work towards an environment of gender parity. Our intention with all of this change is not just about women but it’s for both genders to progress in both their professional and personal lives.
What do you envision for the future of parental leave in Africa?
Caroline: We really hope that it does encourage other organizations to think about that provision.
This policy is generally trying to create a discussion on how men and women work together and gender stereotypes and what does a progressive business look like… so hopefully it’ll create more of debate beyond should we be spending money on parental leave.
Historically, the approach that we took here in Diageo is we had benchmarked other companies and markets in Africa and Diageo’s aim was to be better than the market, but we decided to take a break from the past and said forget the market because the market wasn’t going to get us anywhere, let’s focus on what do we think is right, let’s do that and everybody else can follow.
Clemmie: The onus is really on us now because when we announced it, the focus was on making sure everybody internally really understood because this is primarily for our employees and it’s important that they feel good about it and about the fact that they work for a company that is thinking about this and about them.
Now the onus on us is to make sure that people like Jane Karuku (our MD in Kenya’s EABL); when they’re out attending major events, that they are referencing the kind of progressive stance that we as Diageo want to take.
It’s not about a policy and a cost, it’s about a culture that is making your employees happy and to want to do great work because they have the flexibility and the support that they need, so the return on investment is exponentially better.
There is a bit of work to be done in making bigger awareness of this change and this initiative around Africa, and hopefully it does get more people thinking and gets African businesses to fully understand that it’s not just a large international company that can afford this but they can as well and they can see what the benefit is from an employee engagement and activity perspective.
This month of July, we’re telling stories about boss ladies breaking boundaries, and how you also can hit your #BossLadyGoals. Got a boss lady story to share with us? Click here.
Being a boss babe leader and managing others is not easy. I remember when I was first starting off as a manager, and I had to make my first hires.
I overthought everything.
I did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but at the same time, I wanted to get the most out of the people I hired.
Here are three basic statements I kept in mind when reflecting on my ability to engage and mobilize anyone working with me.
They are useful to think about whether you manage one intern or twenty individuals.
1. Understand the goals and aspirations of each member of your team.
I used to think that I had to approach each member of my team the same. I would provide them the same information and respond to them in similar ways, expecting the same output from each. It did not get me very far.
Each person needs to be treated as an individual. Understanding how each member of your team ticks will help you get the most out of them.
With just a bit of work and understanding, you can get a lot more out of a team member, because you will be speaking their language. No two people are motivated the same way, so you cannot always expect the same result from different individuals.
If you are an employee…
Tell your manager what motivates you.
Tell them what you want to get out of your experience working with them and how you prefer to be approached.
If you are confused about your role or objectives, ask or show them what you think they should be.
They might not always listen, but you can at least demonstrate how self-aware you are. Some managers will appreciate it.
Those who don’t probably shouldn’t be managers.
2. Each member of your team knows what you expect, and where they are in terms of performance
I was notorious and continued to have issues with communicating what I want from others. Even when we think we have done an excellent job, we usually have not.
Making sure each member of your team understands their place (even if it changes monthly) is key to making sure you are getting the most out of them.
They should be getting feedback from you regularly, and you should periodically inquire about making sure they are on the right track.
If they are not, its either you haven’t done an excellent job being explicit or the role does not suit them.
If you are an employee and your company has a formal performance review process, nothing your manager says during the performance review process should come as a surprise.
Ask for regular feedback and make sure you get clarity if you are confused.
Send your manager an email with what you discussed, even if its feedback, to make sure you both are on the same page.
3. You actively act on advice and feedback on how you come across to your team, and how you can be a more motivating leader
No one is perfect but spending a few hours a week on seeking and receiving feedback can make you a more effective leader.
You can ask for input in various ways: informally at group meetings or formally through surveys. Take some time to read about different approaches to leadership and reflect on who you admire as a manager.
Write down the traits and feedback you want to embody and try them out. Want to check how you are doing? Continue to ask for feedback over time.
If you are an employee…
Ask your manager if you can give them constructive feedback.
Think about what you can learn from your manager and make the best of the situation.
If there is something that doesn’t sit well with you, keep it in mind for when you have a chance to manage others.
How can you use these statements to make a change or move forward?
With each element, try to rate yourself. I would suggest on a scale from 1 to 10. 1 meaning disagree strongly and 10, strongly agree.
Ask your teammates for feedback to help you decide where you stand.
For the statements you rate less than 5, you might want to spend some time thinking through how to bridge the gap. You can start by asking yourself these questions:
Where do you want to be?
What is the first thing you can do to make progress in that particular element?
That one small step you take can help you get closer to the leader you want to be and get even more out of your team.
This month of July, we’re telling stories about boss ladies breaking boundaries, and how you also can hit your #BossLadyGoals. Got a boss lady story to share with us? Click here.