Integrity at the workplace

The discussion on integrity in the workplace in the 21st century is one that draws proponents and opponents alike.Integrity is described as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.” In this fast pace world unfortunately,honesty can sometimes be difficult practice.Employer-employee relations have become tenuous because trust is at its lowest levels.

Unfortunately many assume that Integrity is a matter of whether you have it or not.Many do not consider that it can be learnt and practiced.We say this because people come from diverse backgrounds and what one views natural may seem unnatural even inhuman to another.

Individual integrity as a topic is important as it has a bearing on the collective.Somebody said that if you were to throw a bad apple in among good ones then the good apples are likely to go bad fast,but a good apple thrown among bad ones does not improve the bad ones.Work place toxicity increases because a leader is of low integrity and unfortunately influences others to behave in similar fashion.What is even harder at that point is to sift through the chaff and save the gems.It is therefore important to have proper conversations on what integrity means to you as an employer and or as an employee.

At its core Integrity is simply striving to pick the best choice in spite of you.

There is always a paradox because people without integrity can manage to find themselves in the upper echelons and you as one who is looking to start your career may struggle to affirm why integrity is important.It has to be said that it can be a lonely journey however,over time it does bear fruit and more importantly to the collective/community.

I was in a heated debate with”owners of capital” the other day in one of the socials and well somebody was describing how it has been a challenge for them to fill their job roles because of integrity issues.The conclusion of that discussion was to outsource certain positions outside the country so as to avoid such risks.It is telling therefore that despite the actions being of an individual the repercussions are felt at the community level.

In conclusion integrity is a personal choice but has a generational effect.Organizations and employers have to try and cultivate, motivate teach and incentivize integrity.They should also try and have a wholistic view when failures occur,and determine root causes and avoid as much as possible the 3-ings, blaming,naming and shaming.Individuals should learn relearn and emulate those who make better choices than the rest of us.

It is a complex yet simple topic,all in all do the best in any situation in spite of you. Good luck.

Ask An Executive®

We continue with our series as we meet and talk to industry leaders.Remember on this post we sample questions sent by you our reader and put it across to executives around the globe and ask them what makes them and how can one get to where they are.

Today we have the pleasure of sitting across a thought leader, a Managing Director,a family man,a trail blazer in the publishing world. Mr .Lucas W.

So here we go! Let’s put him to the paces

First question,let’s get to know you first.What does being a leader mean to you.?

I am a publisher, a writer and writing coach. For titles, I am Director and Lead Facilitator at Global Editorial Centre-Kenya and I run Booklyst Press Limited, that is a publishing firm, making me the MD. Being a leader means mentoring others to be better than you; that they can take charge when you are absent. Being a leader is thinking about the future now.

Recently we heard a story where nurses were denied an opportunity because they could not pass an English entry exam.What does this mean to us?

Sad, right? We must realise language and its use is a life skill. We have to note that you can’t separate language from any profession – especially the language of instruction. Scientists and artists require it. We should stop emphasizing the studying a particular subject (s) – we should emphasise the holistic development of our students. This thing of saying, you know we can excuse wrong spelling in science, is nonsense.

How would you describe publishing ?

Publishing is the process of preparing material that is eventually, consumed by an intended user, be it a reader, a viewer, or a listener.

Interesting.Do I need to be an expert in a language for me to write or join a publishing course?

No, but like in all other professions, language is important. You could train as an editor, a graphic designer, an artist/illustrator and so on. All these are parts of the publishing process. Language experts would train as editors or go teach linguistics. You need a bit of ‘attitude’ to be a publisher but arrogance can kill that dream. So, anything in-between the cathedral and the stock exchange is fine.

What about indigenous languages do you consider them as an area that one can venture into and how do you support this in publishing?

Culture is everything and this is carried in our local languages, which makes them very important. Culture affects the way we think hence, the way we write. I would encourage all of us to consider using our local languages as much as possible. I have published a number of books in local languages and nowadays, I translate everything I write in English into my mother tongue. A few years ago, we never liked Kenyan music or TV programs. How about today? You hear people talking about Maria, Zora and other. What happened to Mind Your Language or The Jefferson’s? Or The Rich Also Cry? It is the same for music and the local FM stations. Save for soap operas, Kenyans are consuming local content. It will be the same for books. This is an udder that is full of milk and I would encourage those that are wise to tap into this riches.

Insightful indeed.So what kind of job roles am I looking at if I was to join publishing today?

You could be a writer (kill the poor writer image in your mind and think of the writer from Zanzibar who recently won the Nobel for Literature and pocketed 1 million US dollars), an editor, a graphic designer, an illustrator, a proof reader the list is endless. FYI: we don’t have many proper proof readers in this country.

Before we let you go last fun question.. It’s the end of the world, societies are crumbling and you can only choose one  item which would you choose, any book in the world or an axe and why?

Ha ha. I would choose a book. Words are more powerful and inspiring than an axe. Besides, if the world is coming to an end, you might end up before God and I think He might not take it kindly, seeing you standing before him with an axe, no?

Well put.

So folks there you have it.If you want to venture into publishing,now you know.Look out for the gentleman and enroll into one of the courses currently being offered

What an insightful conversation with Lucas,feel free to comment and you could even throw in suggestions on questions, people and or industry that you would like to get feedback from.

Soft Skills and their role in the work place

There are a variety of soft skills that people either develop or learn over time that are important in the workplace.If hard skills are the bread then soft skills are the butter that makes the bread melt easily in your mouth.It behoves would be recruits to identify which soft skills are necessary when applying for a job role.Recruiters will explore questions to check whether they have demonstrable work experiences that allowed them to use those skills.

Job role and soft skills

Take for example a marketing role,top of your head if you are to list soft skills that would be essential, you would probably think, communication,persuasion,confidence, ideation or creativity,dilligence, resilience and teamwork as your top picks. As a recruit, you have to find scenarios that you can put forward that demonstrate your abilities using those specific soft skills

Recruiters and soft skills

Each and every role has a specific trait, if you take your time to consider, that lets you grow in that area.Recruiters will spare no expense to find out whether you have those traits.The most common methods used are personality tests,situational judgement tests or cognitive tests These tests take note of your personality strengths, how you would judge or react to situations through scenarios and cognitive abilities like critical thinking or your attention to detail.

“Think of soft skills as the road that lets you relate with others as you apply your hard skills in the workplace.”was one recruiters advice to me.

Another trick that recruiters use is to pose open ended questions.”Tell us of a situation where you had a different opinion to someone and they had influence over something you were to do”. Look ! there is no right answer to such questions and the most creative of us fare better than most.However you can try as much as possible to anticipate these questions by listing qualities that you feel would best suit that role and think through situations that you have either faced or sometimes heard of that would have required you to use those qualities.

The cost

Hiring someone for a role that they lack the soft skills for has an impact.Tabulate the associated costs with hiring, training and the dwindling productivity levels of either the team or the hiree as real costs and you would see why recruiters struggle to get the right fit as much as possible.

The recruit also suffers because he or she cannot relate to their job role. I know some of these skills can be learned over time,however this also requires a level of resilience and patience from both ends.

In conclusion

Albert Einstein put it ” Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree,it will live its whole life believing its stupid.” The best thing you can do for your self as you apply for a role is to picture yourself doing it,prepare yourself,(consider taking some tests -visit our web page and click on career test) as best as you can because once you are in there it is always all systems go and there will be no hiding.

Good luck

A peep into the busy world: Internship

Internships have a significant role in the world of work.They introduce the newbies into the rigours (should I say routine), in the world of work and office setting.It is therefore important that as an organization to have laid out policies on how to treat interns and their expectations.

And because many organizations have their own way of looking at interns,many joiners may end up leaving an attachment feeling underwhelmed.This may lead to disinterest in future careers and or working for certain organizations.

Here are some suggestions when dealing with interns and internships, and how organizations can draw value.

Internships are an opportunity to learn

1.Have a concrete internship policy.The policy would include items such as, stipulate the roles you expect to fill,the lifecycle of the internship,the level of education you expect to attract and the stipend or not if available.

2.Advertise your internship roles: This allows the interns to go through the process of application and possibly interviewing for a role.It allows the intern to feel valued and it also allows the organization to engage with its market.

3.Plan out the engagement:Remember the intern is not a source of cheap labor.Treated well they can be a way to introduce your organization to the younger market and also a source of talent.Include items like meet and greet to enrich the internship.

4.Look out for subsidies and government rebates: Governments do offer tax breaks and rebates for hiring of interns and it can be a source of revenue.Recently Kenya gave tax breaks in the case of hiring students from TVET institutions See article

5.Recognition is key: Offer certificates,vouchers and other incentives after a job role.Everyone wants to feel valued and it is proper to recognize the efforts of the students. They are after all your future talent or client!

6.Allow the student to network and showcase their talent: Most students are hoping that their roles would translate into future careers.Offering them a platform to network allows them to have the opportunity to consider what their future career would look like.

7.Feedback and Metrics: Ensure you give the interns feedback on what they have accomplished.Metrics are a welcome inclusion.It will let them understand that performance is treasured at the workplace.

These are just but a few tips, feel free to comment and add to the conversation.

Interns can therefore be a source of light and a way for organizations to consider what the new generation is expecting.So whether you consider them as a source of talent or as a market it is important to plan their journey and engage.

Career growth and tracking

There has always been a misconception that the word or term careers goes hand in hand with a formal white collar job.Most in the informal sector would therefore argue that career growth is not a topic they would indulge in. Wrong! To convince you,consider the definition. A career “is an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress.” Doesn’t the term cover everyone looking to venture into a profitable area.

Better yet, the things that determine and drive your career are universal.Your passion and interest,the level of education and or availability of apprenticeship, personality,benefits such as money,Mentors or people you look up to, availabililty of a job opening,the people who are closest to you formally referred to as your network, and the list goes on.

The general idea is a path and success

Careers are therefore diverse and cut across all sectors. There is a claim that people change their careers up to 7 to 12 times in their lifetime.We are yet to see the data on this, though it is clear that change does occur.It is therefore advisable that as you look to start your career as a newbie looking to join the ranks or one who intends to change, to do a formal internal investigation on what path you would want to follow.

And to start with engage in a personality or career test(available on our site-click careers link) that lets you know your strengths and weaknesses.The tests which we shall talk on a bit more help you get a semi clear picture on where you could put your attention.

The rider is that if you are a hands on guy and end up as a carpenter,please be the best carpenter ever, the grass can only be greener if it is watered.Research,re-skill and re-purpose align yourself with other skills like book keeping,marketing etc and you will dine with the Kings on the table you made for them.

A career is therefore what you make it and not what others succeed in.After all success is as personal as the hair folicles inside your nose.You can only pick it yourself.

Ask an Executive®

On this post we sample questions sent by you our reader and put it across to executives around the globe and ask them what makes them and how can one get to where they are.

Our interviewee today is a professional IT freelancer David K, who has a company that produces websites and services them.He has a portfolio of clients built over the years.Let us to put him to the paces then shall we?

Let us go to the heart.First question,Why did you decide to become a freelance IT professional?

Wow..Uhm. I have to say the autonomy and the unstructured way of life did pull me into freelancing.I am not a morning person and part of me does dislike routines.So I said I will set my own parameters and try to raise my own bars.And so far so good.

How hard or easy is it then to make your own way and create your own path? The downside of freelancing is that then you have to work doubly hard to get your clients,create a brand so to speak and also get to a point where things are a bit comfortable.It is a trade off,but obviously there is sacrifice in everything.I would say it is not for the faint of heart but its not impossible either.

Do you create everything on your own or do you have partners that you rely on at the work level?Excellent questions.Well mostly I do work alone meaning I service mots of my clients.However I do find projects that I have to collaborate with other partners.So yes its a mix and match.

What would you say would keep you going in the darkest of nights in terms of your work? One of my stronger personality traits is the ability to persevere.Coupled together with my optimistic view on anything,I lean on my vision to create something better than myself everyday and soldier on when there are problems such as tight schedules customer mis-allignment, lack of clients and the ocassional customer payment delays.

As a freelancer what other skills other than IT related, do you need to survive and thrive? Heheheh…..That is actually an excellent question.I will let you know that though I have developed this skills later in my career,I will tel you that documentation, marketing,Project management,financial planning and more importantly setting your own vision and mission.The last one lets you get clients retain them and offer them services into the future.Those other four are crucial as they allow you to grow and attain financial freedom.

Last but not least what is the one question you would not want me to ask you and why? Wow……..Let me think about it…..well knowing what I know now given a choice would I still have done what I am doing today? I think this is a tough question as it has always made me reflect on my journey a bit more.My conclusion is that yes there are some certain elements that I could have loved to change given the opportunity.All in all though I still believe I am where I should be and I would not throw away the journey for the process…hehehe….so no regrets.

Wow what an insightful conversation with David,feel free to comment and you could even throw in suggestions on questions, people and or industry that you would like to get feedback from.