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The East African : Mar 16th 2015
The EastAfrican 40 BUSINESS MARCH 14-20,2015 MANAG E R Needed: Bette≥ t≥ained manage≥s A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT The EastAfrican SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA may be one of the fastest growing regions in the world, but it will have to overcome a number of obstacles if it is to achieve goals set for the coming years. The Africa Managers In an analysis of 1.4 million college students, millenials were found to have not only more anxiety and a higher need for praise but also more self esteem. A good manager needs to understand young people’s psyche. Picture: File What millenials want is help with pe≥sonal development I magine showing up to play an important college basketball game on a fabled rival’s home court, only to discover that you’ve forgotten your shoes. Now consider what you’d expect from your coach after losing the game. A royal chewing out? The cold shoulder? Worse? Neither, according to NBA Hall-of-Famer Grant Hill, as he recalls the incident. His coach was Mike Krzyzewski (aka “Coach K”) of Duke University, winner of over 1,000 games, not to mention a 1992 Olympic gold medal. Instead of getting yelled at by Coach K, the team was treated to ice cream sundaes and another practice session to help it recover from the humiliation of the loss. Coach K’s focus wasn’t on defeat, but on team building and getting his young players ready for the next game. And recover they did, winning two national titles in 1991 and 1992. The young people in your office aren’t so very different from the young Grant Hill at Duke. They crave and respond to a positive coach who can make all the difference in their success. In a global survey that we at SuccessFactors conducted in 2014 in partnership with Oxford Economics, 1,400 millennials told us that they want more feedback from their managers. Most millennials want feedback at least monthly, whereas non-millennials are comfortable with feedback less often. Overall, millennials want feedback 50 per cent more often than other employees. They also told us that their COMMENTARY KARIE WILLYERD “They crave and respond to a positive coach who can make all the difference in their success.” number one source of development is their manager, but only 46 per cent agreed that their managers delivered on their feedback expectations. Clearly, there’s a lot of room for improvement. Our subsequent conversa- tions with hundreds of millennials made it clear that what they want most from their managers isn’t more direction, per se, but more help with their own personal development. One millennial we spoke with summed up a theme we heard again and again: “I would like to move ahead in my career. And to do that, it’s very important to be in touch with my manager, constantly getting coaching and feedback from him so that I can be more efficient and proficient.” For coaching to resonate, managers should consider a young person’s psyche. In an analysis of psychological tests of 1.4 million college students from 1938 to the present, millennials were found to have more self-esteem while also having more anxiety and a higher need for praise. Great coaches understand this, and know that to create a winning team they need to meet people halfway when it comes to their coaching requirements. Specifically, millen- nials have told us that they want managers to: Inspire them. In all aspects of their lives, millennials engage with causes that help people, not institutions. The team and the mission are far more compelling motivators for them than a message of “Do this for the company,” or “Work on departmental goals.” As Hill reminisced, “One of the things that really impressed me [about Coach K] ... was his ability to motivate and inspire ... before games, in the locker room, having that right message to get you fired up, ready to run out there, and run through a wall. And that’s not an easy thing.” Surround them with great people. As Coach K said, “All the players who arrive at Duke are immediately humbled in some ways because of the level of the work, the speed at which they have to play and the fact that they are not always the best player on the court. A lot of them have never had to work that hard before because they had always been the best player.” The same situation can play out today with a new college graduate who shows up at your office to find herself surrounded by extraordinary talent. Your job as a manager is to coach that new person while she is at her most fragile, rather than fostering a sinkor-swim environment. Take a lesson from Coach K, who uses techniques such as asking more experienced players to boost the egos of newer ones. And remember that even a small increase in confidence can go a long way toward reducing anxiety and improving performance. Be authentic. Millennials seek an approachable manager — one they can emulate. Telling stories of your own failures and struggles, as well as your victories, makes you more approachable. Whenever he would see a new player daunted by the skills of those around him, Coach K would share his own stories about the times he felt overwhelmed. Good coaches aren’t afraid to show real emotion, whether it’s the rush of victory or the disappointment of defeat. And what an honour it is to share those deep human feelings with our co-workers. Managers who are authentic coaches and good listeners build trust — an essential foundation upon which they can build great teams. Ka≥ie Willye≥d is the co-autho≥ of The 2020 Wo≥kplace and the senio≥ vice p≥esident of lea≥ning and social adoption at SuccessFacto≥s, an SAP company University students. If Africa is to achieve its goals it needs more effective and better trained managers. Picture: File Initiative (AMI) believes that more effective and better trained managers are needed if the continent is to reach its economic potential. Having reached 10,000 managers and entrepreneurs in 25 African countries since its establishment in 2012, AMI said that its goal is to train one million skilled managers across the continent within the next decade. The “lack of manage- ment skills is a constraint” to economic growth, said Rebecca Harrison, the chief executive of the Nairobibased AMI. Companies and investors are struggling to find managers with the skills needed to take their businesses forward while millions of degree-holding Africans lack the tools to get a good job or start a business. Unable to hire local talent, companies and charities are faced with the option of expensive training or bringing in expatriates. AMI, which was formed in 2012, is a pan-African online social learning platform. It is the brainchild of Ms Harrison, a former Reuters journalist, and Jonathan Cook, the former chair of the Association of African Business Schools. Ms Harrison said that good management is the missing link to making African economies more competitive; creating jobs; developing strong, growing small and medium-sized businesses and closing the skills gap. “Our goal is to empower African entrepreneurs,” she said. Overcoming the skills gap is one of the main challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s generation of young Kenyans for exam- ple, is the most highly educated — yet the presence of thousands of unemployed graduates in a booming economy suggests that students are not coming out of university with the skills businesses need. A report by AMI back in 2012 on Africa’s management gap showed that companies were hiring graduates who seemed “stuck in a lecture theatre.” “It’s not just about skills, but about mindset,” Ms Harrison added, stressing the need to instill “personal initiative to make sure things get done.” Management education But despite the need for management education and training in sub-Saharan Africa, often what is on offer is either too expensive or inaccessible. The average MBA course in the region costs around $3,500 per year, and the whole of Africa has just about 90 business schools offering an MBA, compared with more than 1,500 in India alone. “Initially we thought we might put new business schools all over Africa but we don’t need to put in place more bricks and mortar,” said Ms Harrison. Instead, the concept be- hind AMI was to plug this gap in the market and to break down the barriers of elitism and expense associated with studying for an MBA. “(We saw) a lack of anything that was affordable and accessible,” Ms Harrison said. As a result, much of the programme’s content is available to individuals for free, while programmes for companies start at a mere $10 per month per person. The courses themselves are run from a Virtual Campus featuring more than 30 different course modules ranging from people and money management, to communication. The course material is available by video and audio, and at low bandwidth so that people can access it from their smart-phones.
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