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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Exclusive! Okere advocates business leaders must run inclusive enterprises - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:
The founder of the CWG Plc, Mr. Austin Okere has charged Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders on improving business climate by ensuring and running an inclusive enterprise, reports ITREALMS.

Okere in a keynote address to the Indian Professional Association (IPA) at the December 2018 monthly Forum, while dwelling on ‘Re-Imagining the Workplace for Greater Productivity’ advocated an inclusive business climate that disabuses employees suspicious of the leadership of their organisations.

He noted that over 70 per cent of the delegates had a deep distrust of their employees, stressing that staff is usually suspicious of the motives of the leadership initiating change.

“This is accentuated when the change does not seem to have the three distinctive characteristics of – Intensity, Integrity and Intelligence,” he said.

Okere said that many organizations do not clearly define their purpose or their cause, that is, why they exist and why anybody should care, to an extent that they become “a purpose and vision that employees can believe in and want to be a part of.”

According to him, it is not all about the pay but also about self-worth and pride in the job; the notion of being part of something special.

“Employees reported having more trust in their companies when the organization recognizes them for their contributions, provides opportunities for involvement and communicates effectively,” Okere said.

In some cases, he said, staffs are not loyal, ungrateful and always disgruntled, stealing or doing underhand deals, resigning without notice and consideration as well as the biggest complaint by far was that staffs are running their own businesses on the side; most times in the same business segment.

On the other hand, business leaders, he said, are forced to change from both internal and external pressures.

He cited some of the external pressures to include markets and customers, technology, competitive pressures and with leadership as internal.

Leadership, he said, is about change, management is about preservation; and therein lies the source of internal conflict.

The staff is usually suspicious of the motives of the leadership initiating change. This is accentuated when the change does not seem to have the three distinctive characteristics of – Intensity, Integrity and Intelligence.

The survey showed that change at work was linked to Employee Stress, Distrust and Intent to Quit. So, let us say the distrust between employers and employees is mutual. Why is this so, and could there a balance?

Employees reported having more trust in their companies when the organization recognizes them for their contributions, provides opportunities for involvement and communicates effectively.

Many management books, he said, talk about pride in working for great companies such as Coca-Cola, Chrysler and IBM; and more recently, Google, Tesla, and Facebook and Infosys. I recently read that it will be hard to tempt anybody working for Elon Musk even with a 50 per cent additional salary offer.

He further cited an instance in Nigeria with GT Bank, which is a good example of what could qualify as corporate apostles, maintaining that the GT Bank Staff were so proud to belong to the company, and so loyal to the brand, even when they left the bank.

“It is exactly this culture that we created at CWG Plc; the culture of touching a heart and asking for a hand,” he said.

Many employers are so disconnected from their employees that they would easily miss a major tragedy in their personal circumstances, which is not to say that we should run a nursery, but at the same time, employees are not machines, they are emotional beings.

“A little empathy can go a long way. I call it gathering coins of goodwill in your pocket. People joined our company because they believed in our why – providing technology solutions that enable growth.

“It greatly helped that we run an open and equitable system. Nothing is hidden. Nothing needs to be; if we are co-travellers on a common journey to a common destination.

“Openness engenders trust and engagement – lack of effective communication leaves room for dangerous rumours. Everybody knows when we are doing well, and also when the tide is against us.

“At one of our most challenging periods, following the global financial meltdown, we all agreed to a temporary 30 per cent cut in commissions, which will be accumulated and paid when our fortune turned (and Yes; everybody had a fixed and variable salary as part of skin in the game). Our contemporaries asked jokingly what I had given the staff at CWG that made them so loyal to the company.

“Perhaps it is this something about CWG that interested both Columbia Business School (CBS) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to write case studies on the company for their MBA curricula. I speak about CWG Plc because this is the company I know.

“Our mantra was to treat everybody as an owner so that they see the big picture. The staffs have very high autonomy and there is a deep alignment, and therefore they displayed a deep sense of responsibility and accountability. We embrace mistakes as part of learning, albeit you cannot make the same mistake twice!”

Remmy Nweke/ED, Ops

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