The pain of those images coming out of South Africa is unbearable. Watching people so closely linked suck life out of another brother or sister is a shock.
- For now our prayer is that “Nkosi sikeleli SOUTH AFRICA”.
The month of March has come with some welcome surprises for our beloved continent.
The dates of interest when these events occurred are 8th, 26th and 31st March. Reviewing each of these casts some clear light on why this is positive for Africa.
Dear Mr President,
The drama, anxiety and tension is done. The Presidential by-election is behind us and Zambia has yet again ushered in a new Republican President.
Congratulations on your appointment and may God be your guide in this important job.
I take this opportunity to draw your attention to a few things that in my view are of critical and immediate importance.
1. Heal the nation
This election and the campaigns have exposed a delicate cancer we must wipe out. The nation has been left polarised on tribal lines. Never have we seen conversations, discussions and opinions degenerate to the tribe one is.
For the first time, we have witnessed colleagues that have co-existed all along differ and be at odds bitterly with tribe at the heart of these differences. This cannot be right and we must curb this for the sake of our future.
Your role Mr President is to bring this nation together. We must remember we are One Zambia, One Nation. We are Zambians and that is the most important thing. It is my hope that this will reflect in your approach, appointments and aspirations for this country. This must by all means be a priority.
2. New Constitution
The nation has spoken several times and the demand of we the people has been clear. We need a new a Constitution. It may not be perfect but it will be the beginning of a journey to correct some of the inherent flaws we have experienced as a nation.
It may not be far from the truth that we are fatigued because of this dragging process. Tired of the different Constitution commissions, roadmaps and pronouncements. It is time to execute and deliver. Mr President, you have the opportunity to make history by delivering a people driven constitution. The biggest test you face here is keeping your word.
The time has come for us to institutionalise our democracy. It has become imperative that we do so and there can be no better time than now. It will not only save costs but it will have significant bearing on strengthening our much cherished democracy.
We expectantly will keep an eye on you Mr President, believing that this too is a matter of priority.
3. International leadership
Once again Zambia has managed a leadership transition smoothly through the ballot. This makes good reading for us as a pioneer of democracy on the continent. This is a pole position to be maintained on a continent full of questionable power struggles and imposed leadership.
Similarly, for so many years Zambia played an instrumental role in continental affairs. During the liberation struggle and years after that, our country has been an active player in international affairs. But we have faded into obscurity somewhat.
It is time to review our foreign policy positioning. Times have changed since the liberation struggle days. But we have a lot to share in terms of democratic progress.
Likewise, there are various things critical for our nation, region and continent that we can now focus on. These are things beyond politics such as health, technology and agriculture among many. These are areas we must take a lead in which have an impact on our people.
3. Integrity and maturity
The reputation of most of our leaders lies in tatters. Redemption is inevitable and a loud call. There is an urgent need for a different brand of leadership. Progressive leadership.
This we hope to see in your conduct as well as the approach you take in managing yourself and what you demand of your team.
Many a time, our political leaders have fallen for an unfortunate egotistic manner of leadership. Failing to read the mood or appreciate what the people desire. We expect maturity from you. In the way you handle national affairs, non-partisan events and even engagement with other players you may not be in agreement with such as opposition leaders and the media.
4. Refreshed vision
Every party is guided by its manifesto and agenda. That is understandable and acceptable.
However, there has been a critical direction taken over the last few years. That of having a national roadmap that outlines our aspirations beyond a sitting government. The Vision 2030 is this comprehensive and cardinal blueprint.
Please refresh and review this blueprint to ensure we remain on track. Even more importantly, let it be a transparent journey where we will all be kept abreast as we progress.
It is time to aspire for greater heights as a nation.
5. Challenge our institutions
Yes we have made headway in so many areas. But a lot more remain. Mr President, please use your new privileged position to steer our core institutions in the right direction.
Our Civil service, public institutions, Legislative and Judicial arms among others. Outline your expectations and let it be known what will need to become the norm in the conduct of their business.
Similarly, one of the institutions that must change its ways is the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ). They have done a commendable job in this election in spite of their challenging circumstances. But it must be noted that there are a lot of Zambians that have been disenfranchised.
Some have come of age but have not been registered. Others have moved from their last constituencies and registration points but could not be transferred to other stations. While still some may not have exercised their right to vote simply because of their hairstyles and nails!
Voter education is paramount. But even more necessary is for the ECZ to adhere to the law and ensure continuous voter registration is adopted. I believe failure to do this has been on account of a lack of political will as opposed to limited resources.
6. Talk to your people
Yes this may appear like a straight forward request. But it may also be an easily ignored undertaking. Take the necessary time to speak to your people.
Let us know what you are doing, achieving and planning. Let us know what you and your team are struggling with. Hear too what your people are seeing, experiencing and yearning to share with you.
Communication is paramount and we may not all have easy access to you or your office. Therefore, the more you reach out to us, the more we will willingly follow on our nation’s journey.
7. Infrastructure development must continue
We have over the last few years seen that it is possible to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. There has been debate about the source of these resources. That is another discussion.
However, we now know that time is not a factor and even within a year or three, so much can be done for our roads, health facilities, schools and even other high impact sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing.
We still face an uphill battle against poverty. You must not rest Mr President until you set in motion real momentum to reverse our ills. Our infrastructural development is a catalyst for the development we so much pursue.
8. Appoint on merit
You are but only one man, very human like all of us. Therefore, the people you surround yourself with will be the determinants of your success. Or failure.
This is where the wisdom you referred to during campaigns comes in. Pick people that are strong and will offer you the challenging support needed for you to deliver. This should also include as much as possible those people that can criticise you candidly when you need it.
By all means, do not surround yourself with praise singers and job seekers. This has been the failing of many gone before you.
Lastly, as you appoint your team, let this be meritorious and balanced. Search broadly and let your team be representative of our great nation’s diversity.
9.Meet the Opposition
This remains largely uncommon this part of the world. But the fact that it is rare does not entail it is impossible.
Extend an invitation and frequently engage the Opposition. For consultation and the exchange of ideas that will be helpful for our great nation. And this is not as a one off but as frequent as practically possible and value adding.
Yes even they want to win the next elections and you want to claim your own success, without outside influence.
But both your government and the opposition must remember that this is about Zambia. Not party or personal agendas. The nation’s progress must not be delayed until one is in office, Opposition or otherwise.
Extend the invitation and let it be accepted or rejected.
10. Humility and respect for the people
God grants leadership. This alone must always challenge you to remain humble and determined to serve to the best of your ability. Do not allow the trappings of power to steer you away from your noble job. Recognize God’s role in your current circumstances and let Him be your guide, no matter how difficult.
Additionally, if there is one thing this election has shown all of us, it is two things.
Firstly, that Zambians are tired of being taken for granted by our politicians and leaders. An average voter turnout of 32.36% is a source of huge concern. It is dangerous when the people decide not to care anymore and feel hopeless.
Secondly, it is the fact that Zambians are paying close attention to real issues and the quality of delivery. It is no longer about a road here and a clinic there. It is also about the commitment to honor promises or acknowledgement where delivery is delayed. Every leader must now pay close attention to this or ignore it at their own peril.
Please take note.
Once again, congratulations your Excellency and I can only wish you well. Yours is not an enviable role because of the enormity of expectations. It will not be easy. But it also is the best possible opportunity for you to make a mark and stand out as one of our exceptional leaders. In the end, it remains a choice you must make.
There will be no luxury of time as 2016 is but a few months away.
We will be watching closely. Make your mark on history Mr President.
God bless you and your government.
God bless our great nation, Zambia.
As at August 15, a total of 1,145 lives had been lost and approximately 2,127 cases reported according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The prominence of the disease this time has also arisen due to the much publicized attention given to the two American citizens, Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol. The duo were infected with the virus and evacuated to the US from West Africa. Also evacuated was Spanish priest Miguel Pajares, who eventually died.
The reporting and coverage both in Africa and internationally has been intense. The impact of the disease has been immediate and cannot be ignored. But in the whole scheme of things, what does this merciless attack mean for Africa?
The Zmapp hope
An experimental and untested drug has been administered on the three named victims so far. It has further been reported that Liberia has received some doses of the drug as efforts intensify to contain the disease.
The Zmapp drug had not yet been tested on humans before this but due to the emergency nature of this latest attack, it seemingly became impossible to maintain the status quo while the disease spread rapidly. Especially when one considers the high mortality rate in the region of about 90%.
Africa equally has pinned her hope on this drug. No vaccine or treatment is available yet to fight Ebola. The supply of Zmapp may well be a challenge as it is believed the manufacturers had run short on supply already since it was produced to support ongoing tests, not to bring a catastrophic attack under control.
The two American aid workers are said to be improving after treatment. There also has been no uproar fortunately for using the drug before it could be tested on humans. Even when used in Africa, not much resistance or bad press is expected as the case would perhaps have been if it was first tried on Africans.
Short supply. Experimental drug. Rapid loss of life. This is the grim reality Africa faces and her hope requires her to look West. It is not in her hands at all.
A loss beyond the disease
Without a doubt, Ebola comes with an economic impact. West Africa and by extension most parts of Africa may experience a slump in the number of visitors to the continent. This inevitably will pose a challenge for the tourism sector on the continent.
Flights into West Africa have been cancelled in some cases until there is assurance that the Ebola outbreak is under control. Nigeria has been the latest country added to the list of countries under threat after Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Kenya was in the news as being a high risk destination.
While all this is happening, day to day activity has been derailed in some of these countries as citizens opt to remain home rather than be exposed to the virus. This disruption in productivity and economic activity will surely have unquantified impact in dollar terms.
A time for introspection
Most African countries cope poorly in times of crisis and this episode is no different. The World Bank is on record offering $200m to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This is meant to assist in the procurement of “medical supplies, pay healthcare staff and other priorities to contain and prevent future outbreaks”.
The Zmapp drug is a product of a Western laboratory and if at all there is steady supply secured, it will inevitably be from outside Africa.
While affected countries grapple with this deadly disease, we have seen media images of unburied corpses in streets. The Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf publicly apologised for the Ebola death toll of health workers and Government’s perceived insufficient action and slow response to the crisis.
These three scenarios above raise fundamental questions for our continent. Are we investing in our capacity to deal with the varying crises our countries face?
Historically and traditionally, we almost always will depend on the West and the East now,to bail us out. This is among the things that we must be actively aiming to change.
The World Bank’s assistance is appreciated and will likely make a difference in curbing the spread of Ebola. But where are our resources and is our will alive to fight our battles?
The experimental Zmapp will come from the West and Africa will receive whatever doses are available. The cost has not been made public as yet if at all there is one attached. The irony here again is how much Africa has purposed to invest in her capacity with strong consistent will.
Heeding the call of research and science
Has our research and scientific capability been enhanced to deal with our unique challenges? Ebola was first reported in Congo in 1976 and we have had reported cases since then, culminating in the current attack.
During this 30+ years window, are we able to show that we have accorded necessary attention to research and an active intention to find the vaccine and treatment for Ebola?
This may appear critical and ill-timed while efforts are put in place to fight Ebola. But it is the very loss of life and panicky dependence on international help that should spur us into self reliance.
It is our airports that will be shunned, our tourism that will take a plunge and national treasuries that will be blown to facilitate emergency expenditure.
And if that be the case, logically we must be the ones in the forefront in devising solutions.
Africa must now become a force in science and research. All this disease, poverty and death presents the opportunity to review our collective agenda. What treatments can we discover? What drugs can we manufacture? What resources can we galvanise to boldly face the challenges our continent comes up against every so often?
The missing voice
Information dissemination has been in overdrive since the current Ebola outbreak struck. We are being enlightened about what the disease is, how it is spread and how deadly it is. Tune to any of the international news channels and the reports are in your face. Locally in Zambia, the papers are running consistent messages about what the government is doing to prevent the outbreak and what we must all do to keep ourselves safe.
But there is a missing voice. Where are our African researchers and what part have they been playing in finding a treatment for this menacing disease?
It is time Africa paid attention to science. Time we became a researching continent that applies resources on proactive approaches to our unique circumstances. That calls for deliberate leadership, resource mobilization and a long overdue acceptance that we are our own solution.
Idealistic as it may sound, we need to start somewhere. That $200m should have been funding generated by Africa and invested in health care and research way before over 1,000 lives were lost. Africa should be the continent currently busy in the laboratory testing a “Zmapp”.
After all, it is in our best interest to do so. We remain thankful for all the help that is coming through to avoid further deaths. But we must now cast our sight on the next years and decades.
Africa must rise to this challenge urgently. Ebola has taught us this and continues to do so with the next life lost.
Will she learn and rise to face this challenge?
In an age where life expectancy is low, getting to anything beyond 50 is a great milestone. Zambia’s first President Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda (KK) is one privileged person that can taste this rarity as he turns 90 on 28th April 2014.
So much can be said about the man that ruled the Southern African nation for 27 years as the first post-Independence leader. Others have hailed him as an African statesman, others an authoritarian leader and dictator while yet others see him as an example of a revolutionary and visionary. My intention is not to discuss his classification as this is a matter of opinion. I have my personal views on this and remember his reign including my impression of it.
Rather, I delve into some of the lessons I have picked having read about or observed KK both in his heyday as a freedom fighter and as a national leader. Below I share the ten.
KK trained as a teacher and therefore was on his own career path. However, at some point in his life he was sucked into the fight against colonialism.
This took him away from home and his family. His motivation? To play his part ridding the country of colonial rule which disadvantaged his countrymen and women. And this all at the expense of things surely dear to him such as a normal family life.
2. Visionary and patriotic
The government post independence in 1964 has been credited with major strides the country made. The Railway system, strategic companies such as Mulungushi Textiles, Mansa Batteries among others are cited as some of the examples of the progress made then.
KK was at the helm when these things happened and it is evident that his team had their sight on an empowered and prosperous Zambia.
The country was the heart and soul of policy direction, another pointer to the spirit of patriotism that drove the need to develop the nation beyond what they had found.
A free region was also another area to see the semblance of the visionary in KK. The liberation struggle was heavily intertwined with the life of Zambia as he believed it was senseless for Zambia to be free while her neighbours were tangled in the web of colonialism and the toxic apartheid system.
This remains a key test for any leader. The bigger picture and the ultimate cause they support in their lifetime. KK seems to have gotten this right and it will inevitably always be part of his legacy.
3. A clear mind
Controversy undoubtedly was part of KK’s reign and to some extent his earlier days as a freedom fighter. This was the inevitable outcome of his missional clarity and position taken on contentious issues such as the need for present day Zambia to be free.
His protests saw him imprisoned just as his stance on the liberation of Southern Africa saw him castigated by some.
Regardless of the consequences and price paid for such decisions or actions, one thing he cannot be faulted for is his clarity of purpose. Any mention of his role and legacy will have a description of what he stood for.
Some decisions remain unpopular and even hurtful to this day but it is indisputable he was clear about what he stood for. Wrong or right.
4. Recording thoughts
KK in his lifetime has authored some books. These shared the thoughts he had and values he espoused.
This is a lost art to a large extent in Zambia today. We do not write much and it is evident how this has impacted our generation. Our history is at risk of either being adulterated or lost altogether.
KK showed on this path that the written word must remain even after one’s journey on earth is done. Books are important and will always be. But someone must record this.
This is yet another lost habit and art in our generation. Not so with KK. He without a doubt has done a lot of reading hence his related efforts in writing as well. His exposure to and positions taken on issues such as religion and socialism are evidence of a man that has taken time to read as well as think things through.
He quite often spoke about humanism and also shared his thoughts on this. It was and remains evident that this is a man that has invested in a library. He yet again quietly sets an example of how important this rich habit is for us to build our knowledge base and learn as much as we can from others on varying issues.
Our nation must get this culture going for the sake of progress and if there is one critical lesson to pick from KK, reading is one of them.
6. Dare to be different
KK has been criticized or questioned within and outside Zambia over some decisions he made whilst in power. This includes supporting the liberation struggle in Southern Africa, a fight that had consequences on the nation as well. Similarly, other decisions such as the fight against colonialism, a One party state or nationalization have all been questioned before.
But the one thing to acknowledge is the courage to believe and be different. With the clear risk of being unpopular, he still took the more difficult route as opposed to the easier one. This worked for him as well during the transition to multipartism when he responded to people pressure then.
That set the tone and opened the door for democratic change in Zambia leading to his defeat at the hands of second President Dr. Frederick Titus Jacob Chiluba and the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) in 1991.
There have been varying views about how he arrived at that decision. But the critical thing is he chose to act even if it meant disadvantage for him.
7. Stand for what is right
One of the commitments he has been credited for is that of the liberation struggle. This is especially so outside Zambia.
There will be times when we are faced with questions of the conscience. Regardless of our motivation, views or advice taken, our ideal choice must be to do the right thing.
When looked at in terms of brotherliness, the liberation struggle was an action based on conscience undoubtedly. A classic example too of the end justifying the means.
8. Mistakes are human
KK’s rule had its dark days and it took the advent of multipartism for most to see what we did not have or enjoy. I have my detest for those days. It may well also be true that KK has been effectively and successfully rebranded as a democrat and statesman by the media.
Yet there are several people that still hold a different view on this. Those that remember him for being intolerant, autocratic and responsible for driving Zambia into the suffocating economic ditch the nation ended up in. A man that overstayed his welcome in power and one with a hard heart.
Whichever view one holds, it cannot be argued that he made mistakes. Some costly and painful. Forgettable too.
The man was and is human. Mistakes are a part of our journey in life, with rich value if we choose to admit them and learn.
One hopes at 90, KK can look back at this and share his learnings with others. One hopes even more that we have also learned from his failures and will avoid them in our leadership roles and life in general.
9. Good prevails and lasts
It is always easier to list the bad and negative but a daunting task to state the good.
With the good that KK did or what has been attributed to him, this has helped in painting him in a more positive light in his latter days.
One simply has to look at the mood, activities and statements that have come through prior to his 90th birthday. It is easy to believe others have simply wanted to be associated with this goodwill for personal or collective motives and mileage. For such people, it has been an attempt to do or say the politically correct things in line with a perceived overarching agenda. This is usually the case in Zambia these days when people are swayed by what’s popularly held either by politicians, public figures or editorial commentaries.
But the biggest lesson for me is that where good can be found, it can see the light and overshadow the dark. KK’s story is a more positive one now because of some of the good he did.
Love or hate the man but he played his part to get us where we are as a nation.
10. Serve the nation
Finally, the most important calling for any citizen. We must serve our nation.
A young KK got himself in the thick of things for Zambia to be free. At 40, he was citizen #1.
We may not all end up in public office or politics but we all must serve our country. This can be in any small way in our communities for instance and even our homes. What is critical even now is how we galvanise to build pride in our country. To consolidate our identity as Zambians, standing tall, proud and free.
Once we start on this journey, it is inevitable that we will aim to improve where we have to and make our mark as an emerging nation. This is even more important now as we take stock of our half century as an independent nation.
KK and his lot have played their part. It now turns on us. And there is no age limit.
What pride can we point to for our effort to serve the nation?
After all is said and done and KK celebrates his 90th birthday, we will have to look back. To ask ourselves what we have learned from such a long life. The successes and failures alike.
Then we must ask ourself how different we are or will be in our different roles.
What lessons have you learned and how are they shaping your life?
One of the most paradoxical things about management is dealing with people and team dynamics. On one hand, it gives one immense satisfaction when progress is noted. On the flip side, it may well be the most stressful assignment when it appears to be a huge tyre being rolled uphill.
Team management is a cardinal part of business success. People form the very foundation that sustains what businesses and companies achieve or strive to attain.
How you manage people and galvanize this strategic resource plays a great part in your success……or failure.
Let us look at some of the things managers do (or don’t) that estrange them from their own teams.
1. Its all about you
A leader, which a manager is, takes the front seat when things are well and even more when not. However, many a time, it is not unusual to see managers that want the limelight and glory while their team remains oblique in the background. This “I’m the man” syndrome seeks to cast the spotlight on one person at the expense of a team that has committed their best to achieve.
2. I’m the boss mentality
The other dampener is the bossy type. The type that does not seem to have come to terms with their managerial or leadership role and status. As a result, this flawed ego seeks to be massaged at all times. One way to achieve this is by flaunting the authority one derives from their position so everyone is aware who they are.
This is even used to stifle opinion because people are forced to be politically correct so as not to attract the wrath of a displeased boss. It is “my way or the highway so make up your mind, which side are you on?”
3. Not walking the talk
Competence is critical in any role. Coupled with that is the need not only for a manager to exhibit this. It is also the demand to stand for something and not fail to lead by example.
Many a time, managers are vocal on time management and work ethic for instance. Yet they do not themselves keep time or show much quality in their work or approach to work. This is what renders credence to statements such as “managers are never late, just delayed”. In most cases, especially to do with values, a leader must show the way rather breathe the law with fear and authority to enforce good practice.
4. An empty head
No one expects that a manager will know it all. In fact, it offers a perfect engagement opportunity when a leader also learns from his team.
But when a manager or leader is full of airs and radiates a “know it all” attitude, it is almost certainly an ingredient to disengage the team. It may even result in them distancing themselves and setting the manager up for failure.
Being a manager comes with inherent authority. But in no way does it mean all knowledge and wisdom is reposed in you. It is acceptable to ask where you need to. It is entirely detestable for a manager that is all “show and noise” but in reality is incompetent, insecure and uninspiring. It does turn out in some instances that managers conduct themselves in this manner as a facade to hide their ignorance, inferiority complex and insecurity.
5. Stingy with applauds
One area one can do well to improve on is applause. Most managers are very stingy when it comes to this.
Some believe that praise should not be given for what one is paid for and expected to do. Others believe it will simply slide the team into laziness and therefore whips are the best motivation.
This could not be far from the truth. Motivation is dynamic and complex. It is not “one size fits all” or expected to be done the same way all the time. There are cases that require a pat on the back for milestones and not always wait for that “big feat” to be attained. This is certainly the case when executing a project, reinforcing positive behaviour and attitude or just carrying the team when it is easier for them to feel like mere tools grinding away.
Most importantly, this praise must at all times be genuine or at least reflect a semblance of authenticity.
6. Being Impersonal
This is one prominent factor that largely goes unnoticed. In our present work culture, it has worsened due to work demands, limitations on time and the quest for KPI delivery.
In all this, the forgotten but critical fact is that at the centre of all is the staff……people.
People have personal lives, stresses and needs that they bring to work. Others manage to minimise the negative impact of these factors on their work output. Still others transfer their toxicity to the workplace and make it a nightmare for all.
The point for a Manager however is the importance of how you manage the team. I remember once calling a member of my team to enquire how they were coping in a new role. Mine was a simple question of “how are you doing?”. The response I received taught me that we must always take an interest in the “person” behind our staff to an acceptable and basic extent at least.
The information my team member shared made me appreciate the distraction I had noted in his execution of duties. After the chat, things seemed to smoothen.
I have dealt with or seen “bosses” that are informed about a team member’s bereavement or personal setback. When he or she is called or returns for work, the first question or statement is about some important report or task needed urgently!!!!
7. Low self esteem
Every manager needs to challenge themselves to keep learning and improving how they work. This helps with the necessary workplace evolution and even self development.
The absence of this leads to some of the management challenges we encounter. It appears unrelated but have you not seen managers that use intimidation, authority and duress to get things done? This ” I am the boss and have spoken” approach may just be a case of poor self esteem.
A manager that has their ego demons to face may struggle with people and team management. Especially a team consisting of vastly experienced or brilliant staff. All they are likely to see in such cases is a competitor that can take their place or expose their ineptitude.
A manager is a part of the team. Therefore it is critical that they enhance their competence through constantly learning and challenging themselves. This learning can well be bottom up and must not be downplayed.
Low self esteem will always be a knock on team management. It will not win a manager any confidence or trust with the team. The inevitable consequence is the manager exhibiting traits that alienate them from the team.
8. Lack of objectivity
One of a manager’s notorious pitfalls,especially new ones, is that of not starting on a clean slate. More often than not we pay so much attention to what our predecessors, peers or other staff have to say about our teams. Make no mistake, briefs are necessary and help one to formulate a view of their team, new or otherwise.
But the brief must in no way entail that you develop a prejudicial approach. Different people will have had varying interactions and influences. As such it becomes imperative that you formulate your own perception and determine the appropriate engagement method(s).
The danger of adopting perceptions is how it impacts your interactions with team members. I recall in a previous job when I first had the opportunity to lead a team. I was told how challenging the team I had inherited was and typically one or two members were singled out as “difficult”. From that point on, my thinking and planning tried to sideline these particular members. After all, I did not want to court any stress.
My objectivity had been clouded by the views of others. However, with time I learnt that I needed to deal with individuals as they came and at least take them on based on my independent view and assessment of them. People are different and exhibit personalities influenced by different factors. It is true that we do not go to work in these roles as psychologists or counsellors. But we do get into these roles to manage people and the least they deserve is the opportunity to be viewed as people, not tools.
When we fail to demonstrate objectivity, fairness or consistency as managers we lose the confidence of the team. This spills over to most aspects of what we do or need to do. A classic example of such a case is the view of performance management systems that need to be transparent or objective. They however quickly earn a reputation as tools or systems that work for the boss’ favorites and adversely for those in the “unappreciated” ranks.
9. Failure to just shut up
One common folly is managers believing they have to show they are wise or have solutions to everything presented to them. As a result even when team members approach them seeking a listening ear or to just air some views, the manager will chip in with an opinion possibly in belief that they have to provide answers.
The rule here is for managers to learn to be perceptive and also appreciate the basics of coaching. To listen more, talk less and let it be the team member on stage. The feeling of having gone to someone to share and pour out to a listening ear but leave unfulfilled is a negative one. It inevitably will lead to staff thinking twice about talking to you about anything at all.
It may sound crude and harsh but every manager must learn to shut up. This is one factor that could positively endear one to the team, assuring them that they have someone empathetic and accommodating even when you have not provided any solution at all.
10. Not taking time to think
So much happens in the workplace and many things that influence the environment are rarely openly discussed. It is for that simple reason that a manager must take time “out” to analyse their team and environment. What makes staff do what they do? What silent reaction is seen towards pronouncements, changes or strategy etc?
The cultural element is extremely critical and all managers must pay attention to it. They should also seek to determine the influencers, their motivation for counter-productivity and its offshoots.
Every manager must pay attention to the unspoken or corridor talk whichever form it takes. A manager must create time to observe and learn. This offers insights into the effectiveness of communication and even the approach towards managing the team.
When this does not happen, we usually see a seemingly aloof manager that is so detached from the goings-on in their midst. Even as the link with the team weakens, a manager with no time to think will not perceive this. Perhaps not until it is too late.
Thinking gives you a view of your team dynamics and also an opportunity for one to review their team management capabilities. This can result in identification of strengths, sources of negative energy and even talent.
It would then be virtually improbable for a manager to be taken by surprise when it becomes evident he or she has lost his team along the way.
These are only ten factors to study in order to avoid losing your team. Any more you can add to the list as you manage your team?
Critical thinking. Analysis. Change. Progress
Ideas. Analysis. Change.
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