How teamwork powers staff performance

Paul K

In getting the best out of everybody, it is good to ensure that personal development focuses on what the person needs to do in order to not only deliver the present but also the future.

By SAMMI NDERITU

As you enter Safaricom Care Center, a four-point portrait hangs prominently on the wall bearing the inscription; “When we come together, great things happen.”

On the sixth floor, where I get off the lift, I see a similar portrait with the same wording.

Then there is this other which bears a different message; “Driving a culture of coaching for optimal performance and encouraging continuous powerful and effective feedback conversations.”

Then there is yet another with exhortation to staff; “Driving your own development through a personal development plan and creating four to five simple, clear, SMART objectives.”

Once I was ushered into the C-suite that is Human Resource Director Paul Kasimu’s office, my eye picked out a hand-written list on the white board which reads; “Setting smart goals. Receiving feedback. Employee coaching.”

Curious, I asked him why those statements take the pride of place at Safaricom offices.

“Every organisation lists their missions and visions as well as their strategies. From these, they will come up with objectives which are in turn cascaded from the CEO down to the person lowest in the organisation. This includes guards at the gate, even if they are contracted. In management, this is referred to as having a clear line of sight,” he explains.

Kasimu boasts a colourful CV and has under his belt vast local and international experience.

He joined Safaricom in July this year from East African Breweries where was the Group Human Resource (HR) Director since May 2011. He previously worked as HR Director for Kenya Airways. He has also held several senior roles at Barclays Bank in various positions including HR Director in Botswana, HR Business Partner in the UK, and HR Director Barclays Bank, East Africa.

In his current role, the HR practitioner is expected to provide overall leadership for Safaricom’s Resources Division portfolio. The company employs 6200 staff members out of who about 4200 serve on a permanent basis while the rest are on fixed term contracts.

As an accredited executive coach and HR professional with expertise in the implementation of HR strategy, leadership and talent development, and employer branding, Kasimu advises that line managers should be equipped to get the best out of their teams.

This, he says, is the reason why personal development, objective setting, ongoing coaching and mentoring are important.

“In getting the best out of everybody, it is good to ensure that personal development focuses on what the person needs to do in order to not only deliver the present but also the future. That is in addition to achieving their personal goals,” he says.

Key Questions to ask

According Carter McNamara, a management consultant, performance is when an employee is achieving a goal in a highly effective and efficient manner and when that goal is closely aligned with achieving the overall goals of the organisation. A common problem for supervisors is having no clear, strong sense of whether their employees are high performing or not.

Kasimu says that teamwork that is driven by the overall objectives is great recipe for success.

“As a basic minimum, a line manager should ask, how do I select the best and onboard them effectively for success? Secondly, how do I partner with my team for success? How do I set objectives, coach, get and receive feedback on an ongoing basis? Thirdly, how do I create an environment that is fully engaged and well paid to drive the right behavior of my team? When you answer those questions, then that becomes a tool kit for any leader who wants to succeed,” says Kasimu.

He advises on the importance of a company’s leaders to be aware of their role towards being part of the overall team that drives success. “When I say, people need to work as a team, sometimes, those in leadership roles tend to pull themselves out of it. First and foremost, they are part of that equation and they are critical in steering the organisation in the right direction,” he says.

Kasimu explains that organisations require different leaders to manage various situations at any given time. “For example, there are CEOs who will be right for an organisation when it is going through downturn and the kind of leadership will also be different when that organisation is going through growth. In addition, when the company is going through expansion, you will find the leadership required is slightly different. One size fits all does not work in organisations,” he says.

Appraise performance not activities

Although job evaluations and appraisals are widely used to determine what positions and job responsibilities are similar for purposes of pay, promotions, lateral moves, transfers, assignments and other internal parity issues, Kasimu thinks that performance management in organisations has not achieved the outcome it’s meant to.

“There are organisations that are moving away from ratings, and ranks. What they do is look at individual’s job output and they focus on that. When you go into an appraisal with rewards, then people will be chasing correlations, so that someone says if you rate me lower, that affects my rewards. And it should,” he explains.

He adds that many organisations have realised the importance of having very clear focus on individual’s job outcome as opposed to activities.

“Once you make sure that the setting of objectives is outcome based, as opposed to activities, it reduces the subjectivity of appraisals and enables individuals to appraise themselves and admit if they have delivered or not.”

In addition, Kasimu advises on the need for line managers to appraise someone’s performance. He says it is important to look at the outcome By doing that, he says it removes emotions to a large extent. “I tell guys, hard on facts, soft on reason. Once you have answered if your performance was achieved or not, then you can go into the reasons why.”

By showing guidance through mentoring and coaching, Kasimu says that leaders have an opportunity to transform their teams to become amazing performers at the work place. As he reflects on this, he says he has been fortunate to work with strong mentors who have journeyed with him and helped him to redefine his purpose in life, achieve his goals and look at his leadership possibilities from new perspectives.

With over 20 years of work experience, Kasimu advises leaders on the importance of bringing out the best in others. This he says is what drives him.

“My purpose in life is to inspire possibility in others and that is how I want to remembered. As Mahatma Gandhi said; ‘the greatest legacy is to enable others to be the best they can be,’ that is the kind of legacy I want to leave behind. It is the reason I keep asking myself; which life have I impacted positively?” he says.

Email: snderitu@kim.ac.ke

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