Our Thoughts

Leading in uncertain times

Posted by Patrick Manyanza on Mar 18 2015

The one thing certain about times ahead is uncertainty. Uncertainty in business is always inevitable and it is in uncertain times that leadership is required the most. In other words, uncertainty really surfaces the need for Leadership. Generally, when things are predictable, all you need for an organization is good management but you don't really need people who look beyond what is in order to think about what could or even should be. In a sense uncertainty is really what gives leaders their job security as they make organizations continue to perform amidst strenuous rigors of uncertainty. The fact is that, when troubles loom, leaders who have the capability to make organizations withstand sudden blows, avail themselves to steer the organization in a new direction. Problems are really the result of uncertainty within the organization and more so within the circumstances that impact the organization. This means that the fundamentals must be carefully and well managed.

In particular, leaders in uncertain times must be able to exalt:

What kind of education does Tanzania really need?

Posted by David Manyanza on Jan 28 2015

Image source in2eastafrica.net

In recent years we have seen numerous commentaries in newspapers and on television about the declining quality of education in Tanzania. We have heard or read about concerns, particularly from foreign investors and various other private sector players with regards to some graduates of tertiary and higher institutions of learning not being adequately equipped with skills required by industry. Universities have argued that the said decline in the standard of university education is due, in part, to deterioration in the educational system starting with basic education at primary and secondary school levels. Consequently, universities have had to lower their entry requirements but at the risk of sabotaging their own integrity as prestigious academic institutions. While this discussion and contemplation is going on, the problem is having telling impact on people and the economy. Sadly, there is considerable time lag before the impact of a poor education system becomes evident while reversing the trend also requires a number of years before positive changes can be seen.

When people complain about poor education quality, it means that they feel and see that education or training they get does not meet their expectations. Like beauty, quality is in the eyes of the beholder. These complaints are inextricably linked to the core basis of education itself. Education is never provided in a vacuum. Continue reading...

Listening in leadership

Posted by Patrick Manyanza, David Manyanza on Jan 14 2015

To lead organizations effectively, leaders need to develop a number of skills. Among them, listening is a skill that every leader needs to pay attention to so as to avoid falling in the trap of always telling their followers. This know-it-all attitude is not only repugnant but also repels good ideas at the peril of organizational success. Although listening is a skill that is important for everybody it is particularly crucial for leaders. It is vital for influencing people, learning and making decisions. Leaders are responsible for making all sorts of decisions related to organizational success and this requires good understanding of the situation at hand.

As much as every employee is executing their roles, they are simultaneously learning and continuously amassing a wealth of knowledge that is undoubtedly vital for organizational success. Much of this vital knowledge often remains undocumented as such it is held in people's memories as their experience. Although this wealth of knowledge occurs at all levels of the organization, its complexity and importance tends to increase upwards in the organizational ladder. Accessing it is critical but the most important pathway is the often-elusive listening skill. Continue reading...

Customer service and organizational performance

Posted by David Manyanza on Nov 20 2014

In any organization every employee is serving someone. Every employee has customers to serve. Customers are the very reason for everyone's employment. For each employee, the most important thing is not knowing what to do but knowing what service to deliver to one's customers. It is very easy for employees to get swamped into implementing activities without clarity of the customers they serve and the service they deliver. Knowing the customers and the service to be delivered is key to understanding the value customers and the organization as a whole attach to the employee. Most employees think that they are employed to do things instead of to deliver services.

Understanding one's customers, the services to be delivered and delivering them in the right quantities, quality, time, and in the most economical way possible is key. It is a sure way of not only commanding one's relevance and demand in the organization but also contributing to organizational success. Invariably, an organization has two types of customers; external customers and internal customers. External customers are found in the market place and they are the primary reason for the organization's existence. Any organization exists to create and serve external customers. Organizations create and increase external customers by delivering what they value. Continue reading...

Just start

Posted by Patrick Manyanza on Aug 13 2014

Reading different books and listening to various podcasts on entrepreneurship and personal development is something I enjoy doing often. The information I get from these sources greatly aids me in expanding my thinking and it also continuously serves as a reminder that life is full of many possibilities if one is willing to put forth the work.

One podcast I particularly like is "Entrepreneur on Fire" hosted by John Lee Dumas, which can easily be found on iTunes. His whole podcast is based on interviewing successful entrepreneurs who have and are continuing to make a significant impact in the world. I have noticed two practices that have been very consistent amongst successful entrepreneurs in the 50 or so episodes that I have listened to. As you will see shortly, these two practices or qualities will greatly aid any person who wants to be successful in any endeavor.

These entrepreneurs had a basic idea of what they wanted to accomplish, surprisingly in most cases, it wasn't so clear but they started fast and they stayed focused. The two key words I want to bring to your attention here is start and focus. Continue reading...

What are KPAs and KPIs?

Posted by David Manyanza on Jun 17 2014

I have, often enough, come across the terms Key Performance Areas (KPAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used in organizational planning particularly in strategic planning by public or service organizations. However, quite often they are used incorrectly something that has prompted me to make this small contribution. So, what are KPAs and KPIs?

To understand KPIs one has to first understand KPAs, in terms of what they are and where they are found, which then paves the way to understanding KPIs. The key word in both terms is performance. Performance is a description of achievement in the market place or in relation to customers. An athlete will have put up excellent performance if they won a gold medal. The medal is symbolic but the real value is the pleasure they give the fans and spectators for running the fastest. The service provided is entertainment.

In organizational terms performance is about delivery of products or services that have economic value to beneficiaries or customers. Continue reading...

Performance is total

Posted by David Manyanza on Apr 8 2014

We all agree that performance is about results. It is about delivering the results or service expected by customers. Depending on your position in the organization you may be serving external or internal customers. Both have similar needs in that they need your service; and they need it so much that they are desperate if you do not deliver it in time. However, the service delivery process has considerable interconnections that need consideration in ensuring an employee's effective and sustained performance.

Performance is not just delivering that service or results. Effective and sustained performance is also about relationships; it is about connections and networking as much as it is also about accountability. In this multi-dimensional context, performance is not just about being accountable to your boss about deliverables and their deadlines. It is first and foremost about timely meeting customer needs, which one often achieves in the absence of the boss, and about relationships with peers, reports and suppliers of products or services because they matter in the effective service delivery process.

Under the circumstances it is not enough to account for results to one's "boss" during a performance appraisal as this is done in the absence of the customer. To get a good and total employee performance picture the boss needs to know what results or services were delivered, speed of delivery, the extent of customer and stakeholder satisfaction. This requires the various stakeholders attesting the individual's performance in terms of customer service and work relationships. Continue reading...

Value based staff performance appraisal

Posted by David Manyanza on Feb 18 2014

One thing I particularly like about staff performance appraisal is that designed properly it is the one thing that is an indicator of how well many other things are harmoniously working in the organization. Performance does not simply happen; it is a result of many systems working well together in the organization. For example it is an indicator of how well staff training, coaching, planning, delegation and leadership are working together by re-enforcing one another.

An effective staff performance appraisal is also an indicator of change as it should be able to show performance trend of the organization over a given period of time. Such performance trend would indicate the extent to which the various interventions the organization has put in place are working well together. And where else is the best place to check for this rather than at the organization's unit of performance; the individual staff level? So what can and should determine value of a performance appraisal system?

First of all a staff performance appraisal should be viewed as an integral part of the whole performance management system. Continue reading...

The importance of selling

Posted by Patrick Manyanza on Jan 30 2014

Often when people hear the word "sales", they immediately think of the pushy sales person who is trying to pressure and convince them into buying a product or a service. Many people have certainly bought things unintentionally from such pressures only to regret on the expense later. However, the fact of the matter is that, people like to be sold but they don't like to be pressured. People enjoy getting value for their time and money and therefore, having the right sales people is quite important. From this premise, I would like to argue that we are all in sales. Whether we know it or not we are always selling something; a product, a service, a story, an idea, a principle or even ourselves just to name a few things.

Do you know that in any conversation one is selling and another is buying something? This makes the ability to sell a very important skill because without it, virtually nothing will get done. Continue reading...

2 tips to propel yourself higher in employment

Posted by Patrick Manyanza on Dec 11 2013

Whatever career path you embark on whether it be entrepreneurship, being a doctor, being a teacher or what have you; most people will engage in employment for a period of time in their lives. Although time spent in employment varies, most people spend the greatest part of their life in employment as they work to retirement. In this sense employment is one's business in which it is imperative to work strategically to ensure a rewarding work life. The fact, as I have mentioned in a previous post , is that employment is not just a place for one to get a paycheck but rather a platform that can and should be used to propel one to greater career advances and personal success.

Below are 2 tips to propel you higher in employment:

Tip #1: Keep improving your abilities.

In employment you are required to deliver certain results and you currently have a certain level of ability in delivering those results. When you improve your abilities by strategically gaining more key skills and working with the right attitude, the quality of your results will automatically improve. Continue reading...