Job Referrals

Most of us have gotten a job by being referred to the employer by probably a friend, a former colleague/boss or even a parent. Referrals are proving to be one of the best ways to fill up a position because of the fact that someone you know or trust has sent them to you and can vouch for them. Referrals are usually a matter of reputation, especially for senior positions, because should things go south, eyebrows are raised to the referrer.

Sometimes though, these referrals tend to become a pain on one’s backside, especially the recruiter. Someone recently referred an individual to me for a position that we were looking to fill up and as usual, I wanted to ‘get a feel of them’ first before I made a decision on suitability. So I reached out to them and scheduled a virtual interview, which the individual confirmed they would attend. On the day of the interview, he was a no show. There was no communication from them afterwards of what happened except them going back to their ‘referrer’ to ask, ‘what happens now?’ That train had unfortunately left the station. I’ve had a separate experience where the person being referred was late to the interview and I reached out to find out the and they told me they were just joining shortly, only for them to turn off their mobile phones so they couldn’t be reached. The person never attended the interview and I ended that communication at that point. These are just a few of my experiences.

The point I’m trying to put across with the above illustrations is that there is a responsibility on both parties; the referrer and the referred that must be met for any referral engagement to successful. To the referrer, it is important that you establish from the person seeking a job through you that they are actually interested in the job you are working very hard to secure for them. That they asked you 3months ago to help them find ‘any job’ does not mean that they are looking for any job. As a matter of fact, ‘any job’ is no job. Most HR professionals will tell you that inspite of their effort, they are yet to develop a job description for ‘any job’. So basically, it doesn’t exist! That notwithstanding, you need to inquire from the person exactly what area they would love to work in and when this opportunity arises, find out from them if they would be interested in the same before you forward their CVs to the potential employer. I say this specifically to parents who refer their children especially for employment. That you worked a secretarial job when you were your daughter’s age and rose through the ranks to become the CEO does not mean that your daughter is also looking to start out as an office admin. For example. Maybe she wants to become a social media executive, or a content creator or something else she considers ‘fun’. Forcing that admin job on them will most likely end in premium tears. Just find out from them first if they would consider it.

To the referred, that someone is vouching for you is not an assurance that you already have the job ‘in the bag’. ‘E’ is for Effort. You must still make the effort to show up and argue out your case. Let the potential employer see your desire, interest, drive and potential value that you could add to their organization; now or in future. Your attitude when you show up for the interview will determine a lot whether you get onboarded or not. I have been part of recruitments where the client has settled on a candidate not because they were the most qualified but they showed a great attitude of wanting to learn and generally wanting to be part of that organization.

Also, you must remember that arguing you case in this scenario doesn’t mean showing up at an interview with a sad sob story, hoping that someone will take pity on you and employ you. Every potential employer is looking to see what value you bring to the organization, which may be immediate or in the long term. So you telling them the way you are desperately seeking for this job because you have not paid your rent for 4months and the landlord has threatened to throw out your things this time or that you have been going through a difficult personal relationship and would really need to secure a source of income will not motivate the recruiter to hire you. Without being disrespectful, everyone is going through something, has gone through something or something is preparing to go through them, if you didn’t know. But that’s a conversation for other forums, not the interview room. Step up and show them that you are interested and can do it if given a chance.

To those seeking to onboard potential employees through referrals, I would still advocate for it, however, do the due diligence. Just the person has been referred to you by a friend you trust doesn’t make them the right fit for the job. You must also understand that no matter how much you love your friend, when it comes down to this type of engagement, you need to maintain a work relationship with the referred. Your personal relationship with the person who referred them must never be used as leverage to get away with mediocrity by them. This will help you create a fair and respectful work environment at the workplace.

Occupational Grief

When we speak about grief most of the time, we are probably speaking about someone passing away. But have you ever experienced occupational grief? Before you answer that, tell me, have you ever been fired from a job? Worse yet, have you ever been fired without actually being fired? You woke up one morning and the proverbial rag had been dragged from right under your feet and you didn’t even see it coming?

If you now get the gist of what I’m talking about, let’s get into it. Occupational grief in this context happens when you loose your job; suddenly most of the time. We all can agree that our jobs gives us an identity and when that is taken away from you so suddenly, you are literally robbed of who you are. If you doubt this, take a moment and write down the answer to this question; Who are you? As you write down your answers, make sure you do not mention you job title, the company you work for, your level of education or the positions you hold in various other organizations and stuff like that. Then read out loudly ‘who you are’.

One moment you are a respected member of staff in an organization and then you wake up and find yourself in the streets. Literally! And now you don’t know where to start from or what to do. And before you can wrap your head around what’s going on, the few or many friends you thought you had start vanishing. Your allies at work become distant, you can feel them judging you. People start to whisper when you pass. Then there are the ones who give you the ‘woiye!’ look. You can’t trust anyone at this point and you feel alone, embarrassed, ashamed and confused. Before you know it, everything turns dark around you and you sink into depression!

Grief is something very complex and we all experience it differently. In this moment of confusion, there is always the general feeling of anger and betrayal, especially when you feel that you did everything right, but you still got ‘burnt’. I write about this because I have been here, I have felt this. I was at the ‘peak’ of my young career when one evening I was called to the boardroom and what I thought was our usual management meeting turned into a case against me. At the time, I did not even understand clearly what I was being accused of. The charges were read out and the verdict was given, ‘come for your suspension letter tomorrow’. I did not even have time to cry. It was irreconcilable. That chapter closed. Just like that! Looking back right now, that was a very pivotal moment in my life and career because it shaped a lot how I perform my work as a professional.

But how do you deal with moments like this? Truth of the matter is, in your career, you will most like experience such storms. Would it be better that you shut everyone out and just ‘handle it’? Or would you recommend therapy during this grief? How about just venting to everyone who cares to listen and getting it all out? I don’t have the right answers. What I know however is that when you get here, you will need to dig deep into your soul and figure out how to stay alive. Survival! This is a storm and the only way to get to the other side it to walk through it. Or crawl if you like, but you must move to the other side. Acceptance only comes after you have dealt with the pain that you feel, because no matter how well you pretend outwardly, when the sun goes down, the lights go off, the curtains have been shut and it is just you and yourself, the entire weight of your loss and grief remains on your shoulders. It is important to grieve that loss. Before you even start sending out your CV to potential employers, be sure that you are handling your anger, lest you carry it over to your next engagement.

Blaming everyone around you does not change the reality. Drinking yourself to death won’t either and trying to act numb will only postpone your healing. Find one or two people you can trust and talk to them, seek wise counsel, but in your own self reflection, look deeply into yourself and see what you could have done differently because this shall inform how you move forward more carefully. Then gather your strength and start over again. There is no shame in starting over. And when you do, make sure that you never get too comfortable again, because that rag can come off anytime.

So my dear lady and gentleman, if you are facing an occupational storm right now, remember that the only way to the other side is by going through that storm. Go on and do it, because time waits for no man…..or woman!

The BIG Conversation around Period Poverty

When the nominated senator Gloria Orwoba walked into the senate while wearing a suit stained in fake menstrual blood, there was a huge uproar across social media platforms. How dare she expose women like that? How could she shame herself in that manner? As unconventional as her tactic was, it actually raised a conversation around menstruation and women.

Period poverty simply refers to the struggle women and girls from low income backgrounds go through while trying to access menstrual hygiene products. It does remind me of a scenario back in the village when I was in primary school. There is this one lady in my class who would stain her uniform monthly. She could not afford a sanitary pad. In the village, our parents worry about school fees and what the children will eat, not pads. There were days during her menstrual cycle that she could sit in class the whole day without moving except when going home in the evening so that she did not expose her soiled dress. Ofcourse at the time, the whole scene looked weird to us as most of the girls had not started having our menstrual periods. She was mocked by her fellow pupils and at some point, the whole scenario would be used to put her down. Looking back at that, I can only imagine the mental torture she must have gone through each time her cycle approached.

When Joyce, Lona, Phanice and myself started actively working on Power Girl, one of the conversations we had aside from improving the technical skills of our female karatekas and providing mental health support to the ladies was what we could do to raise awareness on period shaming. As such, we decided to be running a pads drive in our events just to make sure that the ladies attending the sessions would atleast receive sanitary pads each time they came. We had no money or budget for this but just enough faith that w e would do it (sometimes we are overly ambitious and passionate. Lol!). Power Girl is an all girls initiative organized and run by the four of us that targets female karatekas on matters around mental health, offering technical karate support and everything around empowering, educating and elevating the female karatekas to be the best versions of themselves. We have recently held a joint training at the Nairobi Arboretum and thanks to Proaction Sports, a sports apparel company, we managed to distribute sanitary pads to all the attendees.

According to the Ministry of Health figures in 2020, only 65% of women and girls in urban areas and 46% of those in rural areas have access to disposable menstrual pads. I was born and raised in the village and I can tell you for sure, the situation back there is dire. I cannot remember how many times I ran out of sanitary pads while in high school and had to borrow from colleagues. In the absence of the disposable menstrual pads, girls resort to using pieces of clothing or mattress. You can imagine how uncomfortable that can be. But you know, wo-Man must live! so you do what you got to do. In 2019, a 14 year old girl committed suicide after a teacher reportedly shamed her when she stained her uniform in her first period. Scenarios like this hit home for me because I recall very well when I first had my first period. 26th December, 2002. I recall this day because the following day was the much awaited General Elections in Kenya. The confusion that came with having my first period is something I cannot explain in a single therapy session. So to think that someone would shame me with it is another level of humiliation.

A sanitary pad is a basic need in the life of a woman. People ask why the government provides free condoms but insists that we must buy sanitary pads when having sex is a choice but menstrual period isn’t and I totally understand their sentiments. As a society, it is imperative that we teach our young women that having their monthly period is absolutely normal and there is nothing to be ashamed about. That there could be days that you will stain your clothing unintentionally and that is okay too. You go, clean up and move on. And to our men, how many of you can walk into a supermarket with your daughter or younger sister and pick a sanitary pad from the shelve for them without feeling like a piece of your ‘man-hood’ is lost? Think about that!

And finally, Power Girl strives to restore dignity to ladies in karate and our desire is to build and rebuild the self confidence of our ladies one girl at a time. Running a pads drive and conducting menstrual hygiene talks is part of the program. We seek to work with like minded individuals who are able to come on board and support us as we elevate, educate and mentor our ladies to be all they can be and even more. Welcome on board!

Your financial health in 2023

It’s a new year and we are back to the grind, ‘chasing the bag’. Fantastic! But do you know how to manage ‘the bag’ once you get it? This one’s gonna be a long read.

When we speak about financial management, people think about managing millions of shillings. The good Book says, if you cannot be trusted with a little, you cannot be trusted with much. It doesn’t matter whether you are a millionaire or a ‘thousandnaire’, learning how to manage your money is critical. I come from a family of two accountants, both of whom have played a critical role in my life as far as managing my finances. My experience with these two has been that of accountability. As a young adult, if my brother gave me Kshs. 50 to buy him a newspaper that costed Kshs. 45 at the time, he expected me to return the Kshs. 5 change, without him having to ask. If I ever tried to be smart and didn’t, he would simply give me Kshs. 40 the following day and expect his newspaper. No negotiations. If borrow money from my other brother, we generally agree firsthand on whether it’s a loan or it should be written off and vice versa with me. Accountants can be a pain on your back side. (my brother is going to read this article and will reach out to call me ungrateful. Lol). From this experience and many others, I have learnt to expect the same level of accountability from every person I interact financially with; friends or family. No questions asked. If you ever try to shortchange me, you can be sure that you will never see my money again (my friends are probably rolling their eyes at this. They think I’m too uptight but they also know that they can trust me with their money. Lol).

When I moved out and started living alone, I realised that by mid month, I’d be flat broke. I wasn’t earning much, but the money would have been enough to meet my needs at the time yet I found myself reaching out for financial assistance  every month. My brother sat me down and was like, where does your money go because if you keep up like this, you need to stop working. He then asked me to prepare an excel sheet of all my recurring expenses per month. I was required to religiously follow that sheet monthly and only start spending on other things after the excel sheet stuff were paid. I was also required to prepare a list of all items I intended to purchase in a month and stick to that. Point is, I needed to know how I’d spend my money before I received  it and not vice versa. Long story short, I’ve done this for the longest time now and to date, I can tell you how much money I spent in March 2016, item by item, because it’s all accounted for.

As we start this year, one of the best decisions you can make for you is learn how to manage your finances. I’m not a rich person or a financial expert, so anything I share here is practically what has worked for me. Some of the habits you may want to avoid this year is borrowing money left, right and center. I know people who have borrowed money from family and all their friends and not paid back, so much so that they now have to find new friends because the relationship with the old ones has soured. Pay back your debts, without waiting to be reminded. It is part of financial discipline.

Learn to live within your means. Forget all that glam and lit life you see on Instagram. It is fake. People who are serious and genuinely making their money don’t even have time to constantly post that on Instagram. They are busy. All that show is just that. A show! Live the life you can afford. Most of those people behind the scenes are swimming in debt. Do you.

Save and invest your money. You cannot be eating all your salary every month. I consider that gluttony. It is one of the seven deadly sins. I will not also tell you how much you should save per month. Just make sure you are saving something because rainy days are there and they are coming. Stay woke! There are very many avenues you can invest your money through. Don’t wait to make millions to invest. You may be waiting forever. Take up a retirement cover. An insurance plan. Explore the money markets. One of my favourite people in the gym is my workout partner. She is an amazing soul. We don’t just crush weights together. We discuss financial independence. She introduced me to some amazing financial investment options. Make your money earn something for you. Keeping your money in the bank will not earn you the kind of interest you hope.

Help people who are in need. This year, commit to supporting one person who is struggling financially even if it’s per quarter. All that good you do for others will come back to you one way or the other. I’m not asking you to enable lazy people. There are so many worthy causes out here you may wanna be a part of. Step up. Taking your entire salary to your Pastor to buy a new car does not equate to charity work. It is stupidity. Again, stay woke!

Finally, as you chase the bag, be intentional about your emotional wellbeing. Take care of yourself.  Don’t be so focused on making money that you forget to rest and appreciate yourself for all the hardwork you are putting in. Don’t just make money so you can take care of other people. You are also people. Appreciate yourself. Give yourself some TLC.

Happy New Year everyone and may this be THE year for you. Blessings.

Handling counter offers upon resignation

What would you do if your current employer were to offer you a salary raise after you told them that you are resigning from your job because you have received a better offer from another company?

This is a very common occurrence in organizations when your employer ‘suddenly’ realizes that they actually needed to review your salary. This realization however comes a little late though. Some employees, if not most, find it difficult to make a decision especially if this move catches them off guard. There are however some fundamentals that you need to keep in mind should you ever find yourself in such a situation.

First, there is a reason why you chose to look for an new job opportunity. This could be a higher salary, a greater challenge, opportunity to change work environment, poor work culture at your currently job or maybe you are just not okay with how your boss treats you or how the company operates, among other very valid reasons. The decision then to take up or not the counter offer from your current employer should put into account the above factors. The question is, is the salary increment the only thing you were looking for? Sometimes, money alone is not enough to keep an employee on the job. Will things change if I stay back? What will happen to me two, three months down the line? Is my job even safe at this point? What will my working relationship be with my employer going forward if I accept this?

A word of caution though. It is extremely dangerous (and to be bluntly put, dumb!) to resign from your job as a way of ‘threatening’ your employer or blackmailing them into giving you a better salary offer. I know of instances where this move has worked, but it can only work once, or twice if you are very lucky. They might just decide to accept your resignation and leave you out in the cold.

You need to keep in mind that accepting a counter offer under these circumstances may put you in a vulnerable position where the employer may feel that they can ‘buy’ you. Everyone has a price, so they say! This opens the door to manipulation. I’m not sure you are ready for this. There may also be employers who may use this move to ‘tie a noose around your neck’. What this means is that this conversation will keep coming up even where it shouldn’t. You’ll start hearing things like, ‘…see, last time we gave you a salary increment just to keep you here. We expect more from you..’ The amount of pressure this puts on you is unimaginable. In the end, just when you start to get comfortable, they may dispose off you, because they now know the other offer you were considering is off the table.

As an employer, you do not need to receive a resignation notice from your employee for you to reward or recognize their contribution to the business. Performance appraisals are conducted to determine an employee’s level of performance vis a viz the targets and establish areas of improvement. This will give you a clear picture of how well the employee is doing. Salary increment should be tied to value and the contribution the employee is bringing to the business. When you determine the value contribution, reward it without having to be prompted or coerced. Once you create a high performing culture that is rewarded, coupled with a good working environment, your employees will not be catching you off guard with resignations. Continuous employee engagement to establish levels of job satisfaction is also important in helping to determine the ‘health’ of the manpower.

To the employee, if you decide that it’s time to move on, do just that. Keep moving. Your growth may just come from the next phase of your career. When you have reached the point of irreconcilable differences with your employer, the best decision is to separate; money must not be the reason you extend that relationship. It might end in premium tears! Weigh all the pros and cons of your decision very carefully. Should you however choose to accept it, ensure that you go over, thoroughly the details of the counter offer; salary, benefits, any changes in terms of engagement and any other thing that was offered and negotiated. And if you’ve been an avid reader of my articles, you now know that my advise still remains; if it is not written, it did not happen. Ensure they write it down and sign it. You too must sign acceptance. A gentleman’s agreement does not work in this instance.

Merry Christmas my lovely people and Happy New Year. Enjoy your holidays, stay safe, drink responsibly, spend time with your family and loved ones and let’s all meet here in 2023 because there is still a lot to share and learn. Blessings!

Toxic Employees

So much has been said about toxic employers that I don’t think there is a single person out there who has not experienced toxicity.

A toxic workplace is very hard to work in. There is low morale, endless unresolved conflicts, employees are anxious all the time and generally, the entire working atmosphere is full of negativity. However, what if the toxicity is not from the employer but the employee? Have we ever stopped and considered that sometimes, employees are the ones that create a toxic workplace? We may argue that it is the organization’s culture that enables such employees to exist in workplaces. True. We must also take into consideration that employees are different, with very different personalities and in the spirit of diversity and inclusion, sometimes employers end up with such toxic people. This is why the aspect of cultural fit cannot be over emphasized when it comes to matters recruitment.

Toxic employees come in many forms; from the outright narcissists, the workplace bullies, the chronic complainers and ofcourse the passive-aggressive colleagues. Have you ever worked with an employee or colleague that complains about anything and everything? When the sun shines, they complain, if it rains, they do too. They will look at you and complain about the color of your eyes, show up to a scheduled meeting 30minutes late and instead of apologizing first, they’ll be complaining about the security guard who took one minute to open the gate and that’s why they are late. These are the kinds of people you stay clear of because each time they open their mouth there is always something they don’t like that comes out. They ooze negativity throughout and are always the prophets/prophetesses of doom.

Then we have the narcissists. These ones suffer from what I call superiority complex; they feel that they are better than everyone else, will manipulate everyone to get what they want and yes, they expect to be praised for everything they do. As far as a narcissist is concerned, your opinion on anything doesn’t count and they will shut you down in a heartbeat. They will kill any useful initiative you come up with not because it can’t work, but simply because it didn’t originate from them. They always have to be the center of attention in the company. They will try to pit you and your colleague against each other and you won’t even see it coming until he ‘hits you below the belly’.

Workplace bullies are very common though and very easy to spot. They are normally dominant, loud and will not shy away from embarrassing or shouting at their colleague in the presence of others with the aim of embarrassing them. They operate from a point of jealousy and insecurity and for this reason they feel the need to tear down others so that they can stand out. A bully will also use reverse psychology on you, where they give you the silent treatment, exclude you from meetings and act in ways that make you feel that they are ignoring you especially in instances where you need their input the most.

A passive-aggressive person is that employee will test your level of intelligence by making you look crazy. Whenever you confront them with an issue, they’ll act like you are overreacting or they have no idea what you are talking about, when you ask them about their opinion about a project, they’ll say they are okay with whatever you decide and once the meeting is over, that’s when they’ll go round the office talking to everyone and anyone about how they felt that your idea was rubbish and you should have done this or that. They say one thing and mean the other and when things get thick they will suddenly develop selective amnesia and leave you to ‘fry’.

All these personalities and many others make up our workplaces. I know you after reading each one of the above, you are already seeing some of your colleagues (please don’t say it out loudly, lol!) The reality is that dealing with a toxic employee is as hard as dealing with a toxic employer. They will drain all the energy and patience in you and in the end, impact the organization and team productivity negatively. As a Manager, you have to be very tactful when dealing with them otherwise; you will end up falling into the trap they have set for you.

Managing toxic employees, among other things, requires dealing with the specific issue and not attacking the individual because some of them are so smart that they will turn around the entire conversation and end up making you look bad. Also, give direct feedback to such employees, without trying to beat about the bushes. Your decisions about them must be based on facts and not assumptions. Ensure everything is documented, especially conversations around their behavior, lest they develop amnesia. Finally, do not be afraid of cutting ties with a toxic employee. The cost of keeping such an employee in your workplace is much higher than releasing them. Their impact on the mental health of their colleagues cannot even be quantified. There are some employers who believe that employees who exhibit such behaviors as I’ve mentioned are the ones who are actually the hardest working in the organization. The reality is that they are doing more harm than good to the company. So don’t just sit there, do something!

Quiet Quitting

We were at the gym when my workout partner came to me very excited and told me of these videos she had watched about quiet quitting and I was like, ‘what’s that?’. She said, ‘go watch tiktok!’. I’m not on tiktok and I had no interest in joining this social media app (I still don’t!) but I had to pay attention to this one.

First of all, this is an aspect that has existed for a very long time, it is just now that someone has named it. It’s a term that has taken shape in 2022 following a video done by someone on tiktok on the subject. Basically, it refers to when employees do the bare minimum with regards to the performance of their duties and to do see or feel the need to go the extra mile to get the job done even if that’s what’s necessary. Someone has simply defined it as acting your wage. It is a form of disengagement that happens when employees are dissatisfied and as a result, they report to work, do their job and go home. Nothing more, nothing less. Generation Zers have popularized quiet quitting as it is believed that this is a generation that is not interested in breaking their back in order to please their employer.

Realistically speaking though, this happens to most employees, not necessarily Generation Zers, especially when they are dissatisfied. Dissatisfaction may arise from various reasons, including but not limited to, organizational culture, the job itself, poor leadership, lack of appreciation of employees and low salaries among others. When employees start to feel like going the extra mile doesn’t really pay or add value to the way their employer views their contribution to the organization, they rebel by putting in just enough effort to get the job done. They will ensure that they restrict their work to the normal office hours, refuse to take up calls outside of their working hours or even respond to what some employers refer to as ‘work emergencies’. Lack of belonging among employees, unclear communication from the employer, mistrust, feeling undervalued and inconsistencies with regards to how processes are handled would very easily result into quiet quitting.

This kind of attitude is not acceptable in any organization though. In the end, employment is a mutual agreement between two parties based on set expectations. Employers expect employees to go all in or go home all the time while employees expect their employers to provide them with the resources, environment financial and non financial support required for this. It doesn’t always happen like this though. There are several ways employers can support the employees so they feel valued. Recognition, promotion from within, financial appreciation for targets met etc. are among such ways. Creating ownership in the company amongst the employees would promote more a culture of pro-activeness and always doing their best. Sometimes it takes a simple ‘thank you’ from an employee for an employee to feel like they are actually doing something right. There are employers who will never tell their employees that they are doing a good job no matter how excellent the employee does it.

Post Covid-19, employers have realized that some roles don’t require employees to be physically present in the office for the job to get done. Remote or hybrid work arrangement has taken shape since the pandemic and companies are actually thriving in it. In an era where more and more employees are paying attention to their mental health, employers must craft workable arrangements that suit both parties. I cannot over emphasize the need for a conducive work environment. As employers, when you undertake those employee surveys and read responses like, ‘the work environment is toxic’, you need to establish exactly what toxicity means to your employees and do something about it.

As for employees, quiet quitting may a form of rebellion towards your employer, but it is also your duty to speak out on your concerns and expectations so that they may be addressed. Open communication is important because believe it or not, some employers don’t even realize that employees are feeling dissatisfied until it is expressly brought to their attention. You may call it lack of employee engagement but it is the reality in a number of companies.

Salary Negotiations; what you need to know

I was recently invited to speak at a webinar and when my host asked me what subject I wanted to speak on and mentioned salary negotiations, she was like, ‘I like it! That’s a very touchy subject for very many people. Are you sure you are ready for the questions?’. We laughed.

If you have ever been employed, I bet you have found yourself in this situation where you have to negotiate a package with a potential or existing employer. When it comes to salary negotiations, many people become very shy. Why? Because you are not sure whether you may be over or under quoting. In most instances in Kenya, jobs do not have the salary package on the advertisement and so it’s up to the candidate to negotiate their way to what they hope to get.

The fact of the matter is that what you will be paid by any employer depends on a number of factors, some of which may include; the size of the company, the health of the industry it’s operating in, the availability of the talent you possess, the position itself and ofcourse what you are able to negotiate. So whether you are negotiating for a new position or a salary increment, there are basic fundamental items you must keep in mind:

  1. Know your worth: you determine your worth by taking into considerations your academic qualifications, years of experience in the role, your skills and competencies and any other qualities you may possess that are required for the role.
  2. Do your research: have some background information about the company, how long they’ve been operating, the industry and health of the sector at the time, who their biggest competitors are, what’s the reporting structure of the role to determine seniority etc. This will give you a rough idea of how much you can quote.
  3. Prepare a presentation: this is very important especially when it comes to asking for salary increment. Your presentation should include what you have done in the company for a given period, your successes / achievements, areas of improvement, plans for the coming months etc. Ensure you build a strong business case that communicates to the employer the value they are looking to see. There has to be a return on investment. If the employer fails to see the value you have brought, is bringing and intends to continue bringing, your request is considered an additional burden as opposed to an investment. Your years of service to the company should be the last thing you mention as the reason your salary should be revised (I personally prefer you leave that out as I consider it irrelevant). It is the quality of those years that you should be discussing, not the number.
  4. Be flexible and open minded: Do not be focused only on the basic pay. Stay open to other benefits that could come with the position that may be beneficial to you like health cover, transport allowance, airtime allowance, paid vacation, flexible working arrangements etc. All the above if added into the salary could be higher than the basic amount you had intended to ask for.
  5. Do not issue ultimatums: Ultimatums close all the doors and windows to effective negotiations. Infact, it’s no longer a negotiation but rather a take it or leave it affair. No employer appreciates ultimatums no matter how great they are. In addition to that, it’s a very risky affair as you may end up on the loosing side as they employer may take it as a threat. No one likes being threatened. The only time you may issue an ultimatum is when you are sure you are okay with getting a “NO” as an answer and in this case then, you have a fall back plan which may include quitting the job or not taking up an offer if it’s still at the point of recruitment.
  6. Do not fear walking away: When you have done everything you can possibly do and you feel in your heart of hearts that the offer being presented to you is way below your worth and you’d not be at peace with taking it up, respectfully ‘walk away from the table’. It’s nothing personal, just that you and your potential or existing employer could not agree. It doesn’t make you a bad person either but someone who understands their worth and doen’t want to settle for less.

All the above factors taken into consideration, as a candidate or existing employee, you must remember that using personal problems as a reason to ask for more money is probably the worst way to go about it. That you have just added another wife and family financial responsibilities have increased is absolutely non of your employer’s business. They simply don’t care! And I mean this in most respectful but realistic way. Or that the cost of living has gone up and that’s the only factor you are bringing to the table to negotiate is a No! As I have stated above, you must always build a business case. Let your (potential) employer see the value you are bringing and plan to bring on board so that it can be tied to the financial aspect.

Finally, the part most people forget is this: if it is not written, it did not happen! Verbal salary increment promises from your boss remain just that. Promises! Selective amnesia is a very serious disease especially when it comes to money. Doctors are yet to find a cure for it. In the meantime however, remember that people will ‘forget’ what they said very easily especially when it’s convenient for them to do so. Whether it’s an offer you have negotiated during recruitment or it’s a salary increment offer, always ensure that it is documented for future reference. If the potential employer indicates that your salary will be revised after successful completion of probation period, that too needs to go into the Contract, otherwise, consider it just another one of those nice bedtime stories they tell babies at night before they fall asleep. It has been tested and tried in most organizations that when such promises are made verbally, by the end of the probation, the story is always different. Ask them to put it down in writing!

All the best in your next salary negotiation.

What Labour Day really means to an employee

Labour Day is celebrated globally by workers on the 1st of May.

In Kenya specifically, aside from being an additional rest day, it is a very important day as workers await the President’s (or Representative’s) big announcement; the revision of salaries. You will notice that a few weeks to Labour Day, the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General, Bro. Atwoli is normally very vocal on worker issues. For employers, every 1st May is a headache because it means they have to dig deeper into their pockets in order to accommodate the new directive. This year, the President announced a wage increment of 12% as you are all aware. It’s an election year you know!!!

I’ve been contacted by a couple of people seeking advise on whether they should expect salary revisions from their employers to this effect. To answer that, you need to understand a few things about this announcement. The President’s (or Representative’s) declaration on Labour Day gives birth to what we call the Regulation of Wages Order under the Labour Institutions Act 2007, which determines the minimum wage for certain categories of employees. The announcement affects those who we sometimes like to refer to as ‘low income earners’. Management staff are exempted from this Order. Once the declaration is made, the government printer publishes a Gazette Notice on the specifics of the increment. The last Gazette Notice on this was made I believe in 2018 when the last increment was done (you may google Regulation of Wages (General) Order 2018). The Gazette Notice rarely comes out immediately after the announcement even though the implementation is effected as directed during the announcement. For employers who insist on seeing the Gazette Notice before implementation (which mostly comes out around August), the challenge is that they may be forced to backdate the payments to 1st May, especially when they are dealing with unionized staff. Do not even get me started on dealing with Union officials because these guys can hunt and haunt you in your sleep.

Salaries under the Wages Order vary depending on where you work. If your job location is in the city (Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa and Nakuru), your salary is different from (higher than) those working in former Municipalities and Town Councils. If your location is outside of the areas indicated, the wages are much lower. The argument behind this arrangement is that the cost of living in these areas are not the same. When you read through the Wages Order, you will also notice that some amounts have been computed inclusive of the House Allowance while others are exclusive of so you must take this into account when effecting the changes. House Allowance is 15% of the Basic salary.

As an employee therefore, if you do not fall under the categories stated in the Wages Order, you may want to negotiate your salary with the employer (without making reference to the President’s announcement) as this does not affect you. Alternatively, for employees who work where employers do an annual salary review for all the staff, you may want to wait for that.

Happy belated Labour Day my fellow workers!

Your Employment Contract; the contention

I know this might sound very basic but it’s important for me to state it here. An Employment Contract is simply an agreement between you and your employer setting out the terms and conditions of engagement. It’s a legal document that is used as a point of reference in instances of labour or industrial complaints. Some employees get jittery when issued with an Employment Contract and argue that if it’s written down, it will be too binding. Well, even if it is not written down, it is still binding.

There are three types of contracts; written, verbal and implied. The first two are self explanatory. As for the third one, it is based on assumptions. For instance, if come and start working in your company even though you didn’t formally hire me and you do not stop me and you proceed to pay my salary for say the next 3yrs then one day wake up and claim that I’m not your employee, you’d have gone against the implied contract we entered into. That I worked for you for that long and you paid me in exchange even though we’ve never sat down to discuss the terms simply means that we were in some form of agreement.

There are two aspects of an employment contract that have continued to be contentious between employers and employees; annual leave and probation. This is what Part V, Section 28 1 (a) of the Employment Act 2007 says about annual leave; ‘An employee shall be entitled after every twelve consecutive months of service with his employer to not less than twenty one working days of leave with full pay‘. What this simply means is that for every completed month, an employee earns 1.75leave days. In essence, an employee begins to accrue leave immediately they get employed and NOT after they complete their probation. It therefore means that I were to apply for 1day after the first month of service, I’d have rightfully earned it. Company policies however vary of how this leave is taken. That’s why in most employment contracts, it will be indicated that leave will be granted in agreement between the employer and the employee. There are companies that grant express leave; the 21days run consecutively while others, due to the nature of work would like employees to take their leaves in bits.

On matters probation, Part VI, Section 42, 2 & 3 of the Employment Act 2007 says the following; ‘2 – A probation period shall not be more than six months but it may be extended for further period of not more than six months with the agreement of the employee. 3 – No employer shall employ an employee under a probationary contract for more than the aggregate period provided under section 2‘. There is the part of the employment contract where employers indicate that upon successful completion of the probation period, a confirmation letter will be issued to the employee. Then they proceed not to issue this confirmation letter because of one reason or the other.

Let’s be clear about something here, the minute as an employer you fail to issue this confirmation letter and does not also inform the employee in writing that their probation has been extended for a given period of time, what you have implied as an employer is that the employee has been confirmed into employment. Your silence in essence means ‘yes’. Therefore in future should you claim that the employee was still under probation even though the six months had elapsed, you’d be pushing the envelope.

As an employee, it is important that you read that Contract once issued to you and ensure you seek clarification on areas of contention as much as possible. As for employers, remember that there is the law and then there is policy. Company policy does not supersede the law. Be advised accordingly!