Hope even when hope is hopeless

I write about hope today as a special message to my friend who is currently hanging in there.

Sometimes life happens and everything falls apart. Life beats us so bad that we become so bruised and afraid to even hope for anything better. You are walking on the footpath and suddenly, a speeding motorbike hits you. You have a very stable and well paying job and boom! investors pull out and your position is declared redundant. One day you are living your best life, and then you get diagnosed with a life threatening illness.

Truth is, very bad things happen to very good people. There are days you will wake up feeling like running away from your life. Those days you wish you could vanish from the face of this earth, because life stresses have overwhelmed you.

As a Christian, I believe that God’s grace is always sufficient for us in our time of need. Sometimes I literally have to force myself to repeat that statement, until I begin to believe again. Hope is that faint voice in your heart that tells you ‘it will be okay’ when everything is literally falling apart in your life. Hope is the belief that the sun will shine again tomorrow.

Hope is one of the most important things in life and without it, one is as good as dead. You need to have hope that even when you fall, you will rise up again, that you will beat that illness, that you get that job, that you will graduate from college. Keep your hope alive!

Success Redefined

Your success in life is not determined by the number of cars you own, your job title at work, the designer clothes you wear, the kind of house you live in or the amount of money in your bank account.

As a human being, I believe that our level of humanity really speaks about how successful we are. When we accumulate so much wealth and become misers with the wealth, I believe the wealth doesn’t matter. When we are able to use the little or much that we got to help other people, we are truly successful.

When you hear summons in some churches these day, the ‘man of God’ emphasizes on how much you need to pray and fast so that God can bless you with a lot of money. You are asked and sometimes blackmailed into giving all that you have left in the promise that God will receive it and then riches will begin to follow you. When the seating arrangement is done in church, there is a section for the who’s and who’s in the community, the rest can fix themselves somewhere. My question is however, is material wealth all that’s important in our lives? If your job title, you car, house and money were stripped off you today, what would remain of you? I have nothing against the church, let’s be very clear on that. Let me tell you, God is a very good and just God. He will bless you not because you always give a tithe of Kshs. 100,000 in church monthly or because you have been fasting for the last two weeks, He will bless you because He wants to bless you.All you need to do is honor Him.

My opinion in this is that you are not truly successful until you have done something good for someone who does not have the ability to repay you.You are not truly successful until you have used your riches; small or huge to impact positively on someone else’s life. If your hearts stopped beating today, who will remember the luxury cars you owned, or the expensive designer suits you wore, not unless they want to grab them? Let us also not base the level of respect we accord other on their material possession.

It is not your title or the size of your pocket that makes you a human being, but your ability to show humanity to other people. When our financial success gets into our heads, it changes our perspective in life sometimes, we begin to imagine things, live with suspicion, treat others like lesser human beings. However, when all is said and done, all that will be left of us or be remembered for is how much positive impact we had on other people’s lives, and not all the trouble we caused.

Be humble, be successful!

The Power of Persistence

There have been so many stories of great men today who had doors shut on their faces several times before they became successful.

Persistence is what differentiates a successful person from a not so successful one, whether it’s financial success or otherwise. When you step out to seek a job, there is a less than 1% chance that you will be hired on the first try. It is however your persistence that will get you even an interview or the job.

When I was hired at a certain company a while back, I found that everyone was doing everything HR related. It was my duty to collect all the HR functions in one basket and get on with the job. I must say it was not easy, at some point, I wanted to quit because of the resistance. I however swore to ensure I run a functioning HR department, not just by name, but by the functions. So I persistently pushed until there were tremendous changes.

As a karateka, I can tell you that I have been beaten by an opponent severally and I almost swore not to return to the tatami. Then again, I don’t like to quit on things half way so I have made a choice to put on that Gi and walk into the Dojo often, so I can perfect my technique.

The Holy Bible tells the story of a woman who went to seek justice from an unjust Judge. When he didn’t attend to her, she just kept coming until the Judge was so tired of her, he decided to grant her justice, just to get rid of her. That’s the spirit of persistence we all must have while in pursuit of our dreams.

Persistence the ability to wake up in the morning and face that challenge one more time with a renewed spirit. It is the decision to never quit regardless of the circumstances. So just before you make a decision to hang your gloves, make sure that you have given it your all.

How important is your job to you?

How important is our job to us is one big question we must all be willing to ask ourselves and what exactly are we willing to sacrifice in order to maintain that status.

We all have been jobless, hopeless and yearning for any kind of work. We are ready to do anything to get the job and keep it. Sometimes, we overdo things in order to impress our employers, families and ourselves and end up making certain compromises that hurt us for the rest of our lives. It’s however very simple, your job should never make you sacrifice these aspects of your life:

Family:
When all is said and done, it is family that stands by us. When we hit rock bottom and need someone to slap the reality back into our lives, we look to family. Family is not just¬† parents, spouse, children, brothers and sisters but also those true friends who stand by you through thick and thin. When your job makes you ignore your family, you start to get to work when the children are asleep, weekends are no longer family times anymore, your real friends take a back seat, etc, it is time to rethink. When you keep getting invited to family functions but you can’t show up constantly because there is still some pending job in the office or you are afraid the boss might look for you and you are not available, before you know it, the invites stop to come and everyone forgets about you. You only realize how important your family is when you finally receive that termination letter from the HR office and you don’t have anyone else to turn to. Family will push you to be the best you can be, they will cheer you on, hold you down when there is need, but once you get to the top, it’s important you do not forget their sacrifices.

Health:
Sometimes, we overwork ourselves so much that it impacts our health. We begin to suffer from fatigue, back pains, migraines and sometimes very serious health issues. We then spend so much money seeing specialists after specialists for ‘illnesses’ that would be treated by simply taking some time off and resting. The truth of the matter is that you will never be able to complete all the work in one day, so live to fight again tomorrow. The other truth is that if you died today from health complications arising from overworking yourself or natural causes, your employer will not close down. A good one will mourn you for a week or so, probably purchase your coffin and attend your funeral. Then they will come back and start looking for your replacement. Learn to love yourself enough to rest because you are more useful to yourself and your family when you are alive and healthy. Work is not always a matter of life and death.

Values:
Our values is what makes us who we are. We are all known in our circles, work places and families by the values we stand for. When your job requires you to lie, cut corners and roll over everyone on your way, you are headed the wrong path. Integrity is one of the most important values any human being must have. An employee without integrity is corruptible and will sell you to your competitors without blinking an eye. The legacy you leave behind when you are gone is from the values you live by. We all admire someone and wish to be like them, and that’s because of the values they uphold.

So love your job, do it with all your heart, stay honest and true to yourself and others and most importantly, uphold justice and fairness in your work. Jobs come and go but family, health and values, not quite! Do not compromise on them or apologize for staying true to them.

Micromanagement

Why do we hire very smart employees and then start to treat them like they are stupid?

When I joined a certain company sometime back, we sat down with my employer and agreed on what the expectations were on both sides before I began. We started off well, however, it wasn’t long afterwards that I started feeling useless. I literally did not like where I was and soon, my mental health started to deteriorate. My employer monitored my every action; they told me what to do and how to do it, all I was required to say was ‘yes’. I did not have any authority to make any decision. As a matter of fact, I was the HR only by name, the rest of the HR decisions would be made by the ‘management’ and then the same was communicated to me, that’s if they remembered. I felt trapped, I hated my job, to some extent I began to hate myself and soon realized that I was not doing myself a favor so I quit. The question however remained; why would you hire me to help you but still hold on too tightly?

The problem with micromanagement is that it breaks the trust between an employee and employer. You begin to treat each other with suspicion and then commitment and loyalty stops to exist. My boss did not have faith in my capabilities and I on the other hand treated them suspiciously and only interacted with them when I really had to.

Micromanagement makes employees to depend entirely on you. It sips the creativity juice off of an individual. They no longer have the ability to think on their own and even when they have a great idea to share, they would rather keep it to themselves because after all, you have shown them that you know it all. The extra effort that any employee puts in their work stops. They begin to show up only because they need a salary at the end of the month.

It results into increased employee turnover. As a matter of fact, this particular employer had very high turnover rates, I did not know when the next staff would leave. Of course, they would be replaced but the replacement would soon exit before the rest of the staff even knew their middle name.

Micromanaging staff leads to reduced performance as the organization remains on the same spot it were before. When you hire a professional to do a job, certain changes are expected. However, when you keep telling the professional to maintain doing things as they have been done before, there will not be any improvements.

Micromanagement causes stress to the employee. This is the reason some staff suffer from depression, especially those who feel there are no other options for them other than stay there and ‘manage’. When an employee comes in with great expectations and the will to do great things and challenge themselves only to realize the employer does not desire any changes, it’s a huge disappointment.

If you want to have workers in your company, micromanage your staff but if you need leaders, trust and train your employees.

Dear Mentor II

When I think about the great influences in my career, I think about one J.N Musomba.

JN was my Director and literally held my hand and taught me a lot of the things that I know as a HRP. Apart from his awful driving skills, our professional relationship was great. He once gave me a lift along Masaba road and I regretted saying yes. He literally sped through all those potholes. When he finally parked the car, I jumped out like someone was chasing me and swore never to get in his vehicle when he was the one on the steering wheel.

When I went to look for a job, JN told me to leave my CV and wait for his call. After two weeks, he hadn’t called so I went back to check. I literally hounded the guy for the job. A month or so later, he had no other choice but to hire me after a series of interviews. You see, when I want something, I push for it like my life depends on it. ‘No’ has not always been one of those responses I like to hear.

JN would always answer his office phone with, ‘Musomba here…’ I would however hear, ‘Musomba dear….’ so I went to ask his PA why he always said dear. Since then, I just referred to him as Musomba dearest.

We once met with members of a Union regarding some staff case and the manner in which the guys were shouting, threatening us and quoting sections after sections of employment laws, I wanted to run and hide. JN just sat there, so calm and when he finally spoke, he told them ‘this is my offer, take it or leave it’. They took the offer and left. That was my first lesson in handling Union representatives: never loose your cool, it makes you look weak.

Then there was a case of staff who decided to ‘report me’ to him because he felt only the Director could handle his case better. I take it very personally when a staff or client threaten me using my bosses’ name, when they try to show me that they know the big boss. It’s demeaning to me to a certain degree. So when JN summoned us to his office, he listened to both sides and told the staff, ‘go back with the HR, she will deal with your case’. Lesson no. 2: when you train your apprentice well, trust them and their decision.

So today I celebrate Musomba Dearest with a lot of respect and pride.

Financial Discipline

One of the issues that HRMs grapple with on a daily basis are employees with poor financial planning skills.

Over the period of my practise, I have met great planners and some of the worst. There are those employees who always have ‘financial emergencies’ monthly. Sometimes even twice a month. They are the kind that receive their salaries today and two days later, you find an advance request letter on your desk.

The problem with this advance requests habit is that each time you get a salary advance (which is supposed to be recovered from your salary in one installment), it already interferes with how much you will receive at the end of the month. It is highly likely that you will request for another advance the following month.

Having grown up with Accountants in my family, I received a crash program on financial accounting and discipline as I literally had to account for every coin I received. Infact, in order to get any money, you needed to explain it’s use first. I therefore decided to ‘free myself from this bondage’ by earning my money so I could spend however I chose.

The key lesson in financial discipline however is learning to live within your means. When you depend on your Kshs. 50,000 salary to pay your Kshs. 25,000 rental house, take care of household and miscellaneous expenses, entertain your long list of lovers, drink at the bar daily, you will always be broke. It doesn’t make economic sense.

It’s important to have a list of your expenditure monthly, before you even receive your salary. This will help you to budget the money accordingly. To the ladies,it is important to learn to tilt your neck repeatedly from left to right each time you see that nice pair of shoe that you are about to purchase with money you don’t have. Impulse buying is very dangerous. This however doesn’t stop you from indulging yourself once in a while. This life hard and it doesn’t hurt to thank yourself for all the hard work and endurance.

There are those once in a while cases where an employee can approach the employer for an advance and financial assistance. It however doesn’t need to be a habit. When it’s a habit, some employees consider it an entitlement or right and this complicate matters. On that note therefore, I highly recommend that we learn to live within our means.

You are Fired!

If you have practised human resource management, you have probably worked with a boss who has at one point told you ‘I need so and so fired immediately’.

Any reasonable and properly trained HR Practitioner knows that you cannot do that. It is one thing to want to impress the boss and it’s another to do so while still upholding the law. A HRM must be smart. And that’s why the Employment Act 2007 is a HRP’s bible.

An employee can separate from an employer in different ways: through summary dismissal, termination, resignation, death, retirement or redundancy. Summary Dismissal is a punishment on grounds of gross misconduct and you cannot claim notice pay from your employer.

However, an employee is entitled to a fair hearing before dismissal takes place regardless of the offence. An employee must first be issued with a Show Cause Why letter outlining the nature of the offense with very clear time lines on when the response is required. Upon receiving a response from him or her, a formal disciplinary hearing must be conducted in the presence of a Shop Steward (in case of Unionized employee) or a representative of an employee’s choosing. You may choose a representative for the employee if by any chance they cannot find either of the above.

A decision is thereafter made on whether to dismiss or warn the employee. Then there is the issue of Double Punishment; this is when you punish an employee twice for the same offence, for instance, summary dismissal and a surcharge. Most privately owned companies do this in order to avoid incurring losses, however, it is still against the law.

So the next time you say to someone, ‘you are fired!’ be sure that you are not Donald Trump, you are not on the ‘Apprentice Show’ and a fair hearing has been conducted for the employee. We all deserve a fair hearing.

Are you about to be conned?

There are increased cases of job seekers being conned by very organized individuals/institutions who promise to employ them.

I almost fell victim recently when one ‘Prof’ asked to pay 9,500 in order for a referral to undergo medical test before being hired as a Cabin Crew. But my third eye is very sharp, I ask lots of questions so let’s just say, it didn’t end well for the ‘Professor’.

It is very common to be conned these days especially with the growing unemployment rate in Kenya. However, even with so many cases recorded, people have refused to learn. So how do you know the potential job is a con?

Whenever you are asked to pay money in order to get employed, it is highly likely that the job in question doesn’t exist. This does not include any recruitment fees paid to a recruitment agency for services rendered.

Any genuine job advertisement will give you an official email address to apply to. Beware of gmail and personal email accounts as most conmen use the same.

If the company’s main offices are in Upperhill and interviews are being held in Rongai, be very careful. It is common for companies to hold interviews in hotels. However, check the layout and establish the genuinness of the place. At the same time, if you are being interviewed in an office, check the office out for the normal items you’ll find in an office. It is your duty to do the due diligence and conduct some background check on the company just to be sure.

After successfully passing the interview, when you start to get requests to pay for ‘placement fees’, you are about to get conned. There is nothing like placement fees.

Sometimes, the offer itself on the advertisement is very suspicious. Different jobs attract different salaries depending on so many factors. For instance, if you see an advertisement for, let’s say, a HR Assistant position in a small company claiming that the starting salary is Kshs. 100,000, it’s time to activate your third eye. This is next to impossible.

Trust your gut feeling, it doesn’t lie. The problem is that even with a very clear gut feeling about a con job, we still go ahead and make the mistake because of desperation. If you feel within your heart that there is something wrong with that job, do not go for it because it is probably true. Desperation is no excuse for being dumb or out rightly (for lack of a better word), stupid.

I have always believed that one should not pay money in order to get a job. That’s corruption. People should be hired based on their competencies and capabilities. However, should you choose to ignore all the above signs and any others that you notice, you have only yourself to thank when you realize you have been conned.

Mother tongue in the Workplace

For those who shop in open air markets, you have probably found yourself asking for the price of an item but the owner ignores you and continues to speak to their colleague in a language you don’t understand.

In most organizations, the policy is that all staff are required to speak the national languages while at work. Unfortunately, some staff choose to ignore this requirement and the HR Manager is forced to keep reminding them.

I personally do not speak my mother tongue while at work and in the places I’ve worked before, some staff never really can tell where I come from. It’s not because I’m not proud of my native language or I can’t speak it properly. I grew up in the village and in lower primary, mother tongue was one of the subjects. I just choose to treat everyone equally.

The problem with speaking your mothertongue with the staff is that they re-group and they start to consider you ‘their person’. You can never be successful in HR practise when other staff consider you to be their person simply because you speak the same native language. The pressures and expectations that come with that assumption is never really worth it.

If you enter an office and everyone there start to speak in a language you don’t understand, you start to have so many thoughts in your head. And if they punctuate that conversation with laughter, you will definitely think they are talking about you and laughing at you, even if they are not.

We are a very tribal nation and that’s the truth, whether you choose to believe it or not. However, I believe that no native language is superior than the other. No human being is better than the other and as such, we should treat each other with respect and when at work, act with utmost professionalism.

So if you are one of those people who prefer to transform their work places into a village gathering, it’s time to reconsider. It is disrespectful, offensive and unprofessional. Let’s all learn to mind about the welfare of our neighbours.