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MTN Mobile Money users, who are also Ecobank customers in 12 African countries, will soon be able to withdraw cash from Ecobank ATMs. They will also be able to transfer money between their Mobile Money and Ecobank accounts.
The service was piloted in Ghana last month, and will soon be launched in Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, the Republic of Guinea, Liberia, Congo Brazzaville, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Zambia.
MTN and Ecobank have partnered to improve access to mobile financial services in the African continent. Both pan-African multinationals have vast experience in extending financial services in several of their markets, with MTN’s Mobile Money registered subscriber base growing 57,3% to 14,8 million in 2013.
“We are extending our co-operation in Africa to expand the range of services provided, as well as to further explore the development of mobile financial services in these countries. MTN is particularly excited by this agreement as it fits in perfectly with our on-going efforts to improve access to financial services for our customers and broader communities in the countries where we operate,” says Pieter Verkade, MTN Group Chief Commercial Officer.
MTN and Ecobank are also looking to partner in developing a unique mobile savings offering within their countries of mutual presence.
Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive Director for Domestic Banking, added: “This roll-out further demonstrates our commitment to make branchless banking a reality by activating multiple service channels in every country in which we operate. Our unique pan-African footprint will also enable us to be at the forefront of developing the market for cross-border mobile money services in Africa.”
The collaboration with Ecobank forms part of MTN’s renewed focus to deliver a distinct customer experience by providing value-added products and services.
MTN Mobile Money enables users to perform local and international money transfers, make utility and other service payments, purchase airtime and access range of mobile financial products. As of 31 December 2013, MTN Mobile Money had 14,8 million registered users, and was available in 14 countries.
© IT news Africa
A report by the African Economic Outlook 2013 describes Africa as a “growth pole in an ailing global economy”. The observation that the African continent has the potential to become the next global economic engine raises some pertinent questions. What are the constraints to making this happen? How do we ensure that we are equipped to take ownership of this reality? What role will the African workforce play in this development? And, most importantly, who will lead this fight for dominance?
The key to unlocking Africa’s endless possibilities lies in the creation of effective leaders. The critical skills deficit throughout Africa has to be addressed as a matter of urgency in order to allow the continent to compete with the rest of the world on an equal footing. Aside from the obvious benefits of extensive business acumen, competent leadership provides the necessary inspiration and motivation to drive an entire workforce to perform at new levels of excellence.
Upskilling a new generation of business leaders, through a combination of accredited syllabi and non-formal programmes, is essential if we wish to leverage our natural and mineral resources and balance our unequal trading platform.
There is ongoing discussion around how South African schools and universities are succeeding in terms of global ratings. However, dialogue regarding the ability to equip future leaders remains depressingly subdued. Developing a culture of entrepreneurship and a hunger for economic productivity among our youth should be one of the most important outcomes of our educational system.
But the responsibility to develop the appropriate curricula cannot be neatly assigned to our educational institutions and then ticked off the to-do list. Coherent, relevant training and education is only possible with the full co-operation and engagement of government and industry. Workplace-related programmes and regular input from all business sectors can provide invaluable practical information. Business delegations should routinely include educators who are able to apply knowledge gathered from other economic successes to the African landscape in an integrated, useful manner.
A strong vocational slant to educational and training programmes will ensure that the different types of entrepreneurs are identified and thoroughly researched in order to accommodate their individual educational requirements. In this way, we will be able to overcome any disconnect between business and academia that may hamper our continent’s progress.
As South African universities become more aware of the significance of research and publication to enhance global relevance, it is vital that this research incorporates the critical success factors of African business. The opportunity to develop Africa’s future leaders is one that shouldn’t be passed up.
© How we made It in Africa
While living in Uganda after graduating from college, Liz Forkin Bohannon says she realized women there needed more opportunities, according to a FoxBusiness report.
After trying out several ideas to make money including a chicken farm, Bohannon remembered a pair of sandals she’d made in college.
She searched the country for textiles and learned everything she could about sandal making. In 2010, she hired three young women, started a business — Sseko Designs — and their footwear now sells in the U.S. for $50 to $70.
Based in the U.S. and Uganda, Sseko Designs is helping lift women out of poverty and equipping them with artisanal and textile skills and funds for higher education, FoxBusiness reports. After working for the company, 36 women in Uganda have gone on to college and the first class of three has graduated.
Seventy percent of women in Uganda live below the poverty line, Bohannon said. Just 17 percent attend high school and less than 2 percent go to college. Ugandans traditionally seek ways to earn enough money for college during a nine-month period between high school and college, but it’s often hard to find jobs, according to the report.
Inspiration for the company’s name comes from enseko, the Luganda word for “laughter.” The Sseko brand has expanded from sandals to handbags, totes, scarves and jewelry. The company hires recent high school graduates in Uganda to live and work together making products for nine months, while earning money that goes towards college.
Sseko Designs recently won the Social Impact category of the 2013 SXSW Eco Startup
Showcase. The long-term goal, Bohannon said, is to have the company managed entirely by its Ugandan employees. Bohannon also wants to take Sseko business model into new
“There is so much need and opportunity to provide employment to vulnerable groups of women and the impact is undeniable,” Bohannon said. “As we continue to grow our brand and distribution, our potential for impact in each community becomes greater and that is very exciting to us.”
Fortune 500 companies with the highest number of females in management enjoy a 34-percent higher return than those with the lowest number, according to UN Women, an entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women. If women’s wages were raised to the same level as men’s, the U.S. gross domestic product would be an estimated 9 percent higher, said Nanette Braun, communications and advocacy chief at UN Women, FoxBusiness reports.
Women earned about 81 percent of the median wages of male workers in 2012,
according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the same year, a U.S. Department of
Labor report showed that women’s participation in the labor force accounted for 57.7 percent of the working age population, compared to a 70.2-percent participation rate for men.
One of the biggest challenges Sseko encountered is limited infrastructure for production
and logistics in East Africa. The company is trying to tackle these through training, by identifying partners on the ground and introducing new technology.
Bohannon said she hopes to contribute to business in East Africa.
“We have hopes of not just impacting our immediate community of women, but also being a
positive contributor to the regional economy and industry development,” she said.
© Afk Insider
Over the last decade a great deal of focus has been put on the entrepreneurial spirit of this generation of young Africans. It has led to articles with grandiose titles such as “African dawn: Meet the entrepreneurs transforming their continent” and “The Rise of the Pan-African Entrepreneur.”
Analysts have made wide-ranging predictions on the dearth of entrepreneurial expertise coming from the continent, fueled by necessity and increased access to education through massive open-online courses (MOOCs).
Another of the major reasons given for the growth in entrepreneurship is the tremendous expansion of mobile phone technology. In 2000 it was estimated that a mere 2 percent of the continent had mobile phones. In 2009 that number had grown to 25 percent. While that growth seems to be an explosion, it pales in comparison to the four years since.
Recent estimates have mobile phone ownership eclipsing 80% across the continent. In 14 years the percentage of mobile phone users across the African continent has grown 40 fold.
Using this expanding mobile network has been a major key to successful businesses across the continent.
One such success story is M-Pesa, a mobile banking service in Kenya. The service uses mobile telephony to make payments, bypassing ordinary banks or the transactions of hard currency.
Founded less than a decade ago, in 2007, the system is now used in an astounding 70 percernt of Kenya’s transactions. The service has also expanded beyond standard transactions, allowing remittances through a number of money transfer services and micro-lending. M-Pesa has also been launched in a number of other sub-Saharan countries.
While there is no doubt that entrepreneurial ventures are creating unprecedented growth throughout the continent and lifting many out of poverty, it is important to remember that the much lauded entrepreneurial spirit extends to far more than just business.
It is not only entrepreneurs looking to make money that have exploited the growth of mobile technology. Social entrepreneurs, or those looking to use development talent for the public good, have also taken notice.
Zambian Draft Constitution
Among these is Gilbert Mwiinga, a 26 year old mobile software developer from Zambia. As the Zambian government writes a new constitution, Mwiinga recognized an all-too-common problem. It was difficult, either intentionally or not, for the country’s populace to be kept informed on the progress of the Technical Committee on Drafting the Zambian Constitution. There was also no way for ordinary citizens to give input on the process or potential provisions. To remedy this, Mwiinga drew up a mobile app.
The app, simply entitled “Zambian Draft Constitution” aims to both inform and solicit input from Zambians on what will become their state’s highest law. It allows individuals to view the progress of the Technical Committee and give comments on articles.
The app was developed through BongoHive, a technology and innovation hub for developers in Zambia. The funding for this important project comes from infoDev, a World Bank project hoping to spur innovation worldwide.
While those of us living in the developed world, with near-complete internet access and a 24 hour news cycle may see this type of government oversight as a commonality, it is a revolutionary idea for countries with limited press freedom and internet access.
While Zambia’s current constitution officially guarantees freedom of speech and privately owned media operates alongside state-owned, Freedom House reports high levels of physical and legal intimidation of journalists. This, according to reports, leads to self-censorship.
Remedying this problem by creating a direct line to the government as a mobile app fits well within the explosion of mobile phone technology across the continent and the limited access to laptops or other means of internet communication.
Mwiinga will not be done at the conclusion of the constitutional drafting process. He says he envisions the app as a sort of “dictionary for the government,” giving citizens access to a wide array of information. This will include information on taxation, tariffs and many other areas where corruption and graft are immensely common across the globe.
As the world lauds the entrepreneurial spirit of young Africans, it is important to remember that not all problems can be solved by business.The explosion in mobile phone technology has given developers a convenient means to combat this problem.
infoDev is not the only major funder that has taken notice of this fundamental truth. The effectiveness of mobile apps in combating chronic problems has also spawned the Apps4Africa program.
This program seeks to give seed money and guidance to app developers continent-wide. Previous winners of the Apps4Africa challenge include apps designed to improve agricultural productivity, make remittances easier, enhance “upstream” transparency in mineral exploitation and crowd-fund startups.
Entrepreneurial skills have helped many throughout the continent lift themselves and others up out of poverty. When paired with modern technology and the rising prevalence of mobile phones, these skills can also solve seemingly intractable problems like accountability, transparency, food security and many others. Luckily, people like Gilbert Mwiinga possess the spirit, skills and desire.
© Afk Insider
Searching for a job just isn’t what it used to be. Until a few years ago, all a job search involved was handing a CV or application form into the place you were applying to. The jobs market then began to centre on online applications, and this trend has continued up to the present day. The influence of social media on job applications has increased dramatically during this period, too.
While several social media websites, including LinkedIn and enthuse.me, are geared towards providing a platform for jobseekers to show off their skills and make themselves attractive to potential employers, others, such as Facebook and Twitter, can be equally as crucial to a job search, for a variety of reasons.
Here are a number of tips for enhancing your social profiles prior to starting your job search, all of which will make you more attractive to potential employers, and are relevant to any social profiles you may have.
Take Out the Bad Stuff
Do a few photographs or tweets give an accurate picture of the person you are? Probably not, but the reality is that anyone looking at your profiles and seeing you falling out of a club is likely to take that as a summary of who you are. Fair? No, but it’s a game you have to play if you want the job.
This is better than just making all your profiles private, too, as people will adopt a “what are they trying to hide” approach, and you’ll have the same negative result.
With that dealt with, we can start to focus on the positives.
Your Profile Picture
This needs to be professional, clear, and friendly looking. Avoid anything that resembles a driving licence or a passport photo; you want to look fresh and ready to work, not drained and poorly!
This is critical if you’re using a professional network and need to display an accurate job history or overview of your skills, as many employers will check that it actually matches with what you’ve sent them. Don’t underestimate the power of a witty Twitter bio, for example, either, as that can demonstrate your wit and nature brilliantly.
Join and Manage Your Groups
If you didn’t do so when taking out the bad stuff, now is the time to look at the Facebook pages you’ve liked and unlike some of them.
However, the biggest enhancing factor here is going to be the types of group you’re a part of on LinkedIn and other professional networks. Not only can you demonstrate your knowledge and influence, you might even have the opportunity to reach out directly to potential employers.
One final point while we’re looking specifically at LinkedIn: be careful who you’ve recommended and what you’ve written about them, you don’t want your profile to look like you’re recommending people just to get a recommendation back!
Be Professional Yet Personal
This might surprise you, but you don’t need to be all about ‘work’ to appeal to employers. In fact, most of them want to see that you do have a life, and aren’t obsessed only with your job; recruiters want humans and friendly faces, not robots, remember.
As long as you’re keeping it clean, mix personal and professional stuff as much as you want. Just avoid posting pictures of dinner or tonight’s glass of red wine too regularly!
Enhance Your Profiles
A thoughtful and professional collection of social media profiles can work wonders for your job search. Ensure yours are working as hard as they should be on your behalf, and employers will ensure your application is always the one they look for in their inbox.
Afrodealing.com-The dream of every enterprise born is to make it and stand the taste of time. That same dream is shared by African real estates and Hotel Entrepreneurs. Many say it is a difficult sector to venture business into especially with difficult banking systems and heavy taxes of many African Governments.
Most of the businesses are self made or family made. Managing, developing and recruiting the right staffs are among their numerous challenges they face.
The Major challenge experts believe is to get both national and international exposure, many do not know the possible solutions they can take to increase their visibility and sales at the same time. Getting to sell the products after investment is never an easy road to take.
Some days ago real estate’s entrepreneur from Kenya, Daniel Kimeli CEO & Founder of Horllum Suppliers and Horllum Homes raised a series of concerns about getting to expose his company, products and services within Kenya and across the continent. In his brief exchange with Mr. Nyoh Israel Bionyi, Communications Officer at Afrodealing.com, He was strongly advised to advertise at Afrodealing.com.
According to Mr. Nyoh the following reason, best explains why advertising at Afrodealing is the next best strategy an African entrepreneur in the sectors of real Estates and Hotel must adopt.
Brand Valorizing and great Business exposure
Afrodealing is a great knit for brand valorization. It is an opening that followers adopt to gain both national and international influence. Afrodealing is visited by professionals from all continents and is present in more than 54 countries of the world. With a great part of African Diaspora from: Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, Senegal, Cameroon, South Africa, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea Ivory Coast and more greatly attached to it.
Making Quick sales
He believes advertising on afrodealing is a means of getting to meet with the people who always need hotel services during holidays and willing to buy houses in their home countries. These categories of people are likely to bring tourists and host big events in Africa
Appear First on a Google search
To Mr. Nyoh Afrodealing offer a great possibility for a company making advertising on Afrodealing to make quick sales. He explains an advert on Afrodealing will offer a better Search Engine Optimisation(SEO) placement on Google search, permitting products to be easily found. Also each Ad done At Afrodealing is also published on Afrodealing’s other social media Pages thus multiplying the chances for your products or services to be seen. He adds
Earn a Recommendation
Afrodealing offers another great opportunity in the business club. He explains when advertising at Afrodealing.com, you have the possibility to raise brand awareness by posting on the business club home page.The Unique positioning of every Ad made on Afrodealing is that your products can be recommended directly by other registered members of the website.
There are some simple things we can do to steer our career into the right direction and find the next dream job. As we now live in a world where we can collect and analyse data on everything, we can use that data to power our career. Here are three easy ways to do that:
1. Ensure you have what employers are looking for.
When it comes to your career, you want to make sure that you stay in touch with the latest developments, newest tools and general trends. You have to keep your skills fresh and your career current. Understanding the latest trends in your job and industry will allow you to identify the next best career moves to make as well as the top development and training opportunities for you to take. Three really good ways to keep up with trends are:
Google Trends: A free service that allows you to map out how the worldwide search volume for your chosen key terms is changing. You can also compare a number of terms to see the relative trends.
Elance: A site that helps to find freelancers for different jobs also analyses the global job market and provides trends on jobs by skills required with an analysis of whether demand has risen or fallen in the last quarter.
ILO: The International Labour Organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, publishes a lot of really useful data on labour markets and global employment trends.
Topsy: A social media search engine that features a Twitter analytics tool. Youcan compare up to three subjects to understand which one is trending the most.
Google Alerts: Set it up so you get the latest news about your industry and job directly to your inbox. You can not only check out the latest news and trends but also get alerts for job offerings as soon as they come up.
2. Find the job opportunities.
Many websites provide job offers and alerts. One I particularly like is Glassdoor. It helps you find relevant jobs but also provides a look inside the company. The site provides data and information about salaries and interviews at the company as well as reviews of what it is like to work there. Indeed allows you to set up a profile and automatically alerts you about relevant openings. Having this setup allows you to regularly read the relevant job offers and see what companies are looking for in their job specs. This way you let data and analytics do the hard work in the background, while you focus on picking the most relevant job for you.
3. Make yourself visible and interesting for a potential employer.
Employers and recruiters expect established professionals to have an online and social media presence. It is difficult to argue that you have a proven track record in your industry if no reference to yourself is found anywhere. Make sure you maintain a strong profile and social media presence.
LinkedIn is my preferred tool to do that. LinkedIn is often a first port of call for employers in their search for new talent and for individuals it is a great place to grow your network, find and interact with like-minded people and market yourself to a potential employer. Sites such as LinkedIn allow you to collect data on how your network is growing, how many of your skills have been endorsed and how many people have looked at your profile, among other things. Used well, it can provide valuable insight about how attractive you are for potential employers.
Here are some key tips to increase your attractiveness on LinkedIn:
Ensure your profile is professional and up-to-date: First, clean up any thing that is not relevant, out of date or un-professional. Then make sure your profile includes an appropriate picture and your most relevant skills are listed and endorsed: Don’t put all your skills on the list. Pick the ones you believe employers are looking for. Then ask your network to endorse those skills. Employers and recruiters are constantly trawling profiles for the right skills mix.
Grow your network: Send personalized invitations to key people in your industry asking to connect. Even if you haven’t yet met them personally, I find that if you make it personal and explain why you would like to connect, you often get a positive response.
Seek recommendations: These are great ways to show potential employers that you are doing a good job.
Engage with the community (and potential employers) : Join relevant LinkedIn groups and participate in conversations. This will show that you are actively involved in your industry and will help to boost your score on Klout, which measures influence by analysing your social media activities. Recruiters are increasingly looking at social media engagement and influence when recruiting new people.
Another great tool is blogging. You don’t have to be a trained writer or global guru to start making an impact in your industry. Many well-known bloggers are ordinary people that just started to share their thoughts and ideas. Even if you only do it two or three times a month, it gives you material to share with your network and increases your visibility significantly.
What do you think? Do these tips make sense? Have you got any others to add? Please share your views and stories…
© Bernard Marr
Success doesn’t come by accident. It comes from consistent hard work in pursuit of a dream. It comes from a passion that drives you, day and night. And it also comes from constantly and diligently employing some key habits that position you for greatness.
Over the past four years my new venture, RadiumOne, has in every way surpassed my previous two businesses combined. This success comes from an innate desire to win.
I’ve often been asked about the internal steps I took in order to have achieved such success at such a young age. I tried to boil down my top 10 healthy habits that I believe account for success both professionally and personally.
1. Have a Laser-Like Focus
Never lose sight of the ball. Your eyes should be firmly glued on your target or end result. Don’t deviate from achieving that goal, whether it is hiring the best talent, developing a new product, or opening a new office. The more you focus on the key goal of the moment the more likely you are to nail it.
2. Do What You Do Best
Concentrate on your strengths. Understand and utilize your God-given talents. Don’t let success go to your head. I have driven the growth of three huge internet-based businesses. That doesn’t mean I know how to create and build a chain of grocery stores or auto dealerships. Focus on improving the ability you have in your own niche.
3. Be Frugal
It pays to watch every penny. It’s important when it’s your livelihood that’s at stake, and it’s even more important when you have employees and shareholders. My first office was the bedroom of the small home I shared with my father, mother, grandmother and three siblings. My second office, acquired only after revenues hit $300,000 a month, was 1,200 square feet of space. I never let superficiality win, as the only person I needed to impress, was myself.
4. Work with the Winners, Not the Losers
It’s essential to surround yourself with honest, smart and hard-working people who share your dream. You want people with the same positive attitude who are equally as determined. Inevitably, there will be times when you discover someone is not living up to your expectations – such is life. They might be dragging everyone else down. You can’t afford to be sentimental. You have to cut your losses. Fail fast, learn quickly.
5. Think About It
At the end of the day reflect on the events of the day. Mull them over, sifting through the phone calls and correspondence and meetings. Take some time to reflect on everything you’ve learned. You’ll be surprised how often a moment of quiet reflection will turn up the gem of an idea or the solution to a problem that earlier seemed insurmountable.
6. Plan Your Day
Be strategic with how you attack your day. Arrange your projects so that you tackle the most challenging one first—when your energy level is going to be at its highest and your mind is at its sharpest. Once you’ve got the big one out of the way, it will make it much easier to accomplish the lesser tasks.
7. Persistence Pays
Being persistent is a quality that cannot be over-estimated. Doggedly pursuing your goal is a must-do for every business leader. Many people make the mistake of giving up at the first major setback. The one surefire thing I can tell you is that there will be many setbacks and many low points before you reach even a glimmer of success. The quicker you can dust yourself off and put one foot in front of the other, the sooner you will achieve your desired end result.
8. Be a Responsible Risk-Taker
Business is not for the faint of heart. If you are averse to taking risks you are probably too cautious to make it in the big league. So step out of your comfort zone. Be adventurous. Push the envelope and make intelligent risks. As they say, the only regret in life sometimes becomes the risk you should have taken.
9. Go with Your Gut
I’m a firm believer in trusting your own instincts. Intuition should never be underestimated. Of course, you gather all the information that you can about any given project or enterprise before making a business decision. But ultimately it’s up to you to make the decision and sometimes it just comes down to how you feel about it. Your gut feeling is not an empty sense; it’s based on all of the experiential knowledge you have gathered throughout your years (both in and out of the office). It’s your sixth sense. Trust it.
10. Understand Sacrifice
Yes, it’s true. You have to be ready to work harder than the next guy if you want to be the one who wins. You have to be willing to put in longer hours and make all kinds of sacrifices. You’re going to have to go the proverbial extra mile. This isn’t the lottery and there’s no such thing as overnight success.
Success is often short-lived, but the journey lasts forever. Make your journey count without regret.
According to a recent poll by Gallup, 70 percent of American workers aren’t engaged in their workplace. So if you suddenly became a mind reader, it’s unlikely everything you’d hear would be positive. Knowing what employees secretly think about your company and leadership, however, could help you improve your company culture. While these lessons might be hard to take, they would actually be useful in making the office a happier and more productive workplace.
So let’s queue up our mind-reading ability and see what your employees are really thinking:
1. “I hate meetings.”
While you might think your weekly or quarterly meetings are an essential tool to get everyone on the same page, most of your employees probably see them as giant time wasters. And your worker bees aren’t alone in their hatred of meetings. Executive coach Rick Gilbert found 67 percent of executives actually hate meetings too.
Cut down the amount of meetings you need with clearer and more actionable communication. When you do need to hold a meeting, invite only the necessary individuals, and put a hard stop time in place so employees know they won’t be stuck there all day.
2. “I’m not getting paid enough.”
It’s likely your employees feel they’re worth more than they’re being paid. After all, a recent study found 76 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck with little or no emergency savings. According to Gallup research, 22 percent of employee turnover can be ascribed to pay and benefits.
If your employees are doing a great job, reward them with a little extra cash. Bumping up the salaries of your best people can save you in the long run, since employee turnover can set you back one-fifth of a worker’s annual salary.
3. “I didn’t actually mean it when I said I’d be willing to take your call on vacation.”
You might offer employees vacation time, but if their phone is still ringing with questions, it’s vacation in name only. In fact, America is the only advanced economy which doesn’t require paid vacations. So when your people take a few days off as a break, put down the phone and let them enjoy their time in the sun.
4. “I’d love to give you feedback but I’m afraid of being honest.”
Employees don’t just crave feedback, they’d also like to give honest criticisms as well. Unfortunately, most employees just don’t feel comfortable enough to share their real feelings with bosses, managers, and executives. Your employees might have great ideas and innovative concepts for how to improve your workplace, but you’ll never know unless you create a safe space to share these thoughts.
5. “I don’t want to go to the office party.”
You might think your office parties are fun, but they can be torture for the people who attend. While some employees just want to escape the workplace on off hours, others will have a little too much fun and hurt their professional image.
According to a 2010 Adecco survey, 40 percent of employees have seen or suffered a major indiscretion at a work party. Instead of large-scale parties, have optional events and happy hours so your employees who want to sit the party out can feel comfortable skipping.
6. “I wish you kept us in the loop.”
Employees want to feel involved, but often your communication skills leave a lot to be desired. In a CNN survey, 32 percent of respondents said the written and verbal communication in their company was poor. Miscommunication can cost an organization 25 to 40 percent of its annual budget.
You need to find a way to improve communication. Clearly communicate your company goals with all workers and make sure to touch base frequently, so everyone understands which direction the company is moving.
7. “I don’t feel like you trust your employees.”
Researcher John F. Helliwell found there’s an extremely high correlation between life satisfaction and levels of trust in the workplace. Employees who feel trusted feel empowered to provide feedback and make suggestions. They also feel as if they’re an instrumental part in the success of failure of your company, leading to higher engagement and intrinsic motivation.
“Just moving up one point on a 10-point scale of trust in your management has the life satisfaction equivalence of something like a one-third increase in income,” Helliwell said in an interview with Gallup Business Journal.
You might think your company culture is top notch, but it’s likely you’re falling down on the job. You don’t need mind-reading skills in order to address some of these common employee complaints. By rewarding your best people, trusting them, and improving communication, you can get your company back on track.
© Ilya Pozin
Effective leadership is a crucial element in addressing these intractable challenges. Unfortunately, the old rules of leadership are no longer valid. Why? Because the context in which leaders operate has changed. At the WEF’s Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership, we have boiled down these changes—and what they mean for leaders—to a shortlist of four.
1. Globalization means cross-border collaboration
In the past, leaders needed only to be concerned about issues in their own country. Due to globalization, they now have to collaborate with other countries’ leaders as a matter of routine. More and more issues today have a cross-border element. Think, for example, of the Euro crisis.
2. Multiple stakeholders have to be addressed
Leaders need to engage with multiple stakeholders. Again, take the Euro crisis as an example. Finance ministers had to deal not only with their counterparts in other Euro countries, but with the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, financial markets, hedge funds and, of course, their own voters. The presence of so many stakeholders necessarily makes issues harder to solve.
3. Technology demands speedy response
With the Internet and mobile devices, everybody now knows everything the instant it happens. (Think of the explosions at the nuclear power station in Fukushima after the earthquake and tsunami. These were shown worldwide in real time on TV, then replayed countless times on PCs, tablets and smartphones.) Governments no longer have the luxury of time when crafting their response in a crisis. Ditto with CEOs, addressing faulty-product issues. Unless a fast response is forthcoming, discontent can spread like wild fire through the online community.
4. Social media and people power
Until the advent of Web-based social media, the “old media” disseminated information one way. Now, news and information has become a two-way street. Leaders have to engage not just with the conventional mass media but with ordinary people active on social media. As the Arab Spring showed, social media can genuinely empower the people. Modern leaders need to treat it with respect.
At the Global Agenda Council, we have been exploring the issue of leadership for a few years. Our conclusion: the old paradigm needs to evolve.
It used to be said that a good leader needed “a warm heart and a cool head”. Now, in addition to the ability to build emotional connections and make rational decisions, leaders require a third skill: the ability to communicate in a smart and timely fashion via multiple media.
This is just another evolutionary step. In the days of radio, the voice was enough; then, with TV, overall image became important. Now, with the Internet, speed and two-way interaction have become crucial.
Smart and timely communication means addressing multiple stakeholders’ concerns swiftly through a range of channels in a global language. The message will then generate its own momentum, through sharing, retweeting and liking, and calm the mood of crisis.
Listen, learn and lead
The old “warm heart” aspect of leadership is evolving too. Formerly, leaders tended to belong to the dominant caste. In the Western world, for example, they were usually white males. Clearly this is no longer true. Think of U.S. president Barack Obama, German chancellor Angela Merkel, or the dean of Harvard Business School, Nitin Nohria.
Since a single dominant group can no longer lead by imposing its values, leaders now have to develop a different style. In a diverse world, a leader’s role is to understand different groups’ motivations and differences, and, based on this understanding, to build rapport and common ground.
Harvard provides a good example of the difference between old- and new-style leadership. Remember when university president Lawrence Summers resigned in 2006 after igniting a storm with ill-judged remarks about women’s aptitude for science and clashes with black faculty members? His was the old top-down, less diversity-tolerant style of leadership. Summer’s successor, Drew Faust, a woman, is quite different: cautious, tactful and sensitive to difference. I don’t regard either approach as intrinsically better, but Harvard is undeniably calmer and more stable now than it was on Summers’ watch.
© Yoshito Hori
It’s a mantra hammered into the heads of anyone who has ever owned a business, worked in a service industry or stepped foot in the world of sales: “The customer is always right.”
Beyond simply placating customers, however, the modern take on this tried-and-true saying has evolved into what some refer to as "relationship marketing," or the art of building connections, rapport and personal relationships with customers. Today, customer relationship management (CRM) is an increasingly important aspect of running a business — and a successful strategy is an extremely useful tool for almost any business model.
Here's what six different entrepreneurs offer as advice about cultivating customer relationships, building customer rapport and CRM best practices.
1. Know That Happy Customers = Returning Customers
Lee Hnetinka, co-founder and CEO of WunWun, has strong customer relationships to thank for his growing business. “Most of our business comes from relationships. Most of our users come from current users,” says Hnetinka. “Relationships are huge.”
Making (and keeping) customers happy has benefits that stretch beyond simply having satisfied patrons. Happy customers are more likely to refer your service, product or business to their friends, family and colleagues — and this grapevine effect is invaluable.
In turn, a great CRM strategy builds brand loyalty and improves your business' reputation. Satisfied customers who feel as if their needs are being met — or ideally, exceeded — are more likely to speak positively of your business, or review and rate it highly online.
2. Set and Manage Realistic Expectations
One of the most important factors that goes into an effective CRM strategy is providing customers and clients with realistic expectations — and following through with them, says Alexandre Winter, co-founder and CEO of Placemeter. "The worst you can do is disappoint your users or customers. You might think you will sound lame if you under-promise, but you will never regret it," says Winter.
When in doubt, under-promising and over-delivering is preferable to setting wildly unrealistic expectations that you — or your company — simply can't deliver.
3. Be a Connector
Allyson Downey, weeSpringco-founder and CEO, offered advice for maintaining professional relationships in a recent article on business networking:
"Be a connector. The first thing you should ask yourself when meeting someone new is, 'What can I do for this person?' The first thing you should ask yourself when meeting someone new is, 'What can I do for this person?' It sounds a little self-helpy, but everyone needs something: a dentist, a lunch suggestion, help fixing their Wi-Fi network. Be the person who can make those introductions, and these connections will pay dividends to you for decades," says Downey.
4. Keep Documentation
Downey also suggests keeping track of important customer details (names, birthdays, kids' names and other relevant information), as well as sending cards or personal notes to customers at least once every year.
Downey urges business owners to go beyond the typical address book or spreadsheet to track customer or client information. "Entrepreneurs are managing hundreds — thousands! — of relationships, and I'm always astounded when I hear they're just using Google spreadsheets. A CRM isn't just for customer relationship management; we use Salesforce (with Cirrus Insight) to keep track of reporters, investors, prospective hires and more."
5. Respond Promptly
Elliot Hirsch, founder and CEO of AdYapper, believes that quick responses can leave a lasting impact on customers. Prompt responses to customer inquiries, feedback or comments can be the difference between a mediocre client relationship and a great one.
"We live in a real-time world, and our clients have diverse schedules, so we feel strongly that immediate responses to requests — personal and within minutes, even a simple 'message received, can we help you with anything else in the meantime?' acknowledgement — are very important and deliver a big Wow. It seems minor, but it goes a very long way to demonstrate not only how much we truly care, but also showcases the clear benefits of using young nimble companies like us, as opposed to old incumbents," says Hirsch.
6. Think Like a Salesperson
Matt Hartman, founder of ReferBoost, previously worked on the tech side of startups. While he recruited a few ReferBoost customers through personal relationships, he struggled when it came to referrals. "As a product person and engineer, I was not used to traditional 'sales.' Simple things like setting calendar reminders to follow up made the difference between success and failure," he says. Landlords who'd said no to his startup had fallen off his radar.
But things changed when he started acting like a salesperson. "Employing even the most rudimentary customer relationship management of touching base and following-up regularly, I was surprised at how many of those Nos eventually became Yeses. Even when the pitch and product weren't materially different — the only thing that changed was persistence."
Your boss has a lot to do with whether you like your work.
That may sound blindingly obvious, but surprisingly few companies treat direct supervisors and team leaders as the key to employee engagement. Instead, they delegate responsibility for engagement to corporate staff, usually HR. It’s a shame, because engaged, loyal employees play a critical role in delivering the kind of innovative and responsive service that earns customer loyalty.
Yet a broad study of 200,000 employees in 60 countries by my colleagues at Bain & Company in partnership with Netsurvey found that sales and service employees—those responsible for the most customer interactions—have the lowest level of engagement.
The same study found that 87% of employees who were promoters of their company also gave their supervisors high marks. Makes sense, right? You’re more likely to enjoy your job if your boss pays attention to your work, gives you the right tools for the job and listens to and addresses your concerns. A company that wants engaged employees, then, would make sure supervisors receive regular employee feedback, encourage them to discuss that feedback and give them the authority to immediately address any concerns on their staff.
These are, of course, nearly identical to the techniques that build loyalty among customers—regularly seek feedback (using short surveys that respect a customer’s time), communicate to understand root causes, address their issues and close the loop with them so they know their opinion mattered.
Although many companies embrace this approach for customers, too many still treat employee engagement as a corporate responsibility. Employees get a mind-numbingly long survey once a year and, after a few months of data crunching, the HR department distributes aggregated results that give supervisors little more than a general sense of the level of contentment among the staff—and little indication about why.
Imagine, instead, if employees were regularly asked if they’d recommend their company as a place to work—and why—and that information went directly to supervisors. Those surveys need to be anonymous to encourage candid feedback, but they give supervisors a continuous pulse check on employee concerns and level of engagement. And, more important than the score, verbatim responses—the “Why?” answers—allow supervisors to hold dialogues with employees that can get quickly to the heart of their actual concerns. Those regular huddles also give supervisors the opportunity—and incentive—to let employees know how their concerns were addressed.
Not every supervisor is skilled at that sort of dialogue, of course, and that’s where the corporate center can play a useful role, providing training and ensuring that supervisors do have the resources to respond to employee concerns.
Sometimes, simple fixes can make a big difference. In one case I’m familiar with, night shift employees responsible for after-hours customer service noted that the restaurants in the area were all closed and their only food options were standard company vending machines. Would you want employees responsible for your customer service to be battling their circadian rhythms—and hungry? The company worked with its vending machine supplier to begin supplying fresh fruit and other healthy fare.
That’s not an issue that would be likely to pop up on a company-wide survey, but it’s one that made a big difference to those employees, and ultimately, to the customers they serve.
© Fred Reichheld
By any measure, we are communicating at an explosive rate. We spend hours weeding through our in-boxes, preparing reports and attending meetings. We talk, we text, we tweet. But, for all of the channels we have to reach each other — many of our most impassioned messages remain "lost in translation". Why?
One explanation is that we simply haven't built the required skills to make effective communication a sure bet. We invest in strategies to design engaging office spaces, flatten bureaucracies and develop the technological capacity to receive those messages. But have we devoted ample time to the development of our communication skills?
We can begin to address this shortfall in a numbers of ways. A few to consider:
Set the tone. Communication skills should be re-discovered as a core competency in today's organizations. (Building awareness concerning the so-called "softer skills" sends a strong cultural message.) Identify "communicating" as a priority within your organization or team. Re-focusing on this skill set (effective collaboration, presentations skills, etc.) can build confidence and empowerment.
Make room for development. Building (and maintaining) strong oral and written communication skills is critical to success. Unfortunately, we work under the assumption that these skills develop spontaneously — and we all have weaknesses. When was the last time you completed a skills refresher in this area? What are your "communication" shortfalls? Make plans to work on them. (View a few skill-building options here at Udemy.)
Support ideas. We all value innovation. There isn't a single idea, waiting in the wings, that wouldn't benefit from a healthy dose of effective communication. We must have the ability to convey our thoughts completely to others. Communication techniques that help us present our ideas (and the inspiration behind them) could figure prominently in launching the next great product, service or start-up. (See idea mapping tool RooJoom and presentation/storytelling tool Prezi here.)
Support performance. Communication skills directly impact the quality of our daily work lives. We should all have the skills to relay what we need from our work, even if these conversations are difficult. On the other hand, managers need to be skilled at delivering meaningful feedback that directs behavior.
Build in face time. If possible, build in opportunities to meet in-person. If you've ever received a cryptic e-mail (What?) or experienced an awkward conference call (Has she finished speaking?) — you realize how the absence of facial expressions and body language, limit the quality of a conversation. By and large, context is key to understanding.
Antennas up. There is the receiving end of the communication spectrum to consider, as well. (We receive just as many messages as we send), Borrow a page from the "effective listening" handbook, to determine if you are open to absorbing sent messages. Often our own "filters" can impact that reception.
Complete that "sound check". Take time to determine if your message has been fully understood. Ask more questions: Is there anything that you do not fully understand? Do you need to hear more? All in all, communicating your ideas should always be considered a valued workplace opportunity. Having the skills to feel confident that your message was clearly heard — that's priceless.
© Dr. Marla G.
"The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude".