Thoughts on issues that matter the most in business and management



Driving the Culture of Learning in a Youthful Workforce

A learning culture is practiced to inspire, motivate and support employees; it also gives them the ability to gain new skills.

The responsibility of driving the culture of learning lies with both the employee and employer. Employees must recognise that improving themselves regularly by gaining new knowledge is a pre-requisite for improved performance in their workplace.

A key essential to organisational growth is for employers to provide opportunities for employees to learn. Companies should have a formal mentoring programme, job rotation, and job shadowing; these opportunities must be among their priorities. They should also use learning as a means of staff retention.

To successfully drive the learning culture in your organisation, you should implement the following:

Establish correlation between learning and achieving business objectives: It should be made known to members of staff that continuous learning and development is required to achieve business objectives and desired performance at work. Learning, achieving, and assessment are the three parts of a successful plan. Find out the major components of your learning programme, implement them, and assess them to measure performance. Learning is not a one-off thing, it should be daily and continuous — a core part of the company’s culture.

Provide modern content: For a youthful workforce, it is necessary to provide modern content they can relate to easily so they do not get bored and lose interest. Instead of using bulky paperbacks, learning resources like Youtube, audiobooks, and eBooks would be more appropriate for this category of people. The learning plans should be flexible and personalised to suit each employee’s preference and schedule. Doing these will encourage and inspire them because it shows their interests are being taken in to consideration.

Sustainment is important: The main aim of instituting a learning culture is to make employees better equipped to grow the company. It would, therefore, be a waste of time and resources if all that is learnt is not implemented. Make sure employees are able to apply what they learn on the job. Once the correlation between learning and achieving business objectives is established, heads of departments/managers should assess if the learning aligns with performance. Measurement should also be carried out to evaluate any changes and improvement. Impromptu assessments should be carried out frequently to ensure the newfound knowledge is retained and not forgotten. Employees need consistent opportunities to build on the skills and knowledge they have garnered after any training is over. Setting up assessments and study groups after training can help employees retain what they have learnt, thereby increasing their engagement and productivity.

Investing in your employees’ future by providing learning opportunities will set the stage for the company’s long-term success.

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Discover How Easily You Can Cut down Inefficiency and Cost from Your Assessment Centre

Assessment Centre (AC) as a selection methodology has been proven very effective above other methods. According to CIPD, AC has a predictive validity index of 0.7 which is the highest compared to other tools like a structured interview (0.6), and work sample/ability test (0.5).

While it is important that validity of a selection tool should be a prime factor in choosing what to use for a selection exercise, we cannot rule out other factors such as cost and the practicality of applying the tool.

As much as clients appreciate the value assessment centre brings to the table in candidate selection when discussing the implementation, they oftentimes ask us how to create efficiencies and bring cost/time savings to the process. This question is due, largely to the fact that assessment centre methodology is costly as it uses more resources than any other selection methodology. Assessment instruments have to be designed or purchased, multiple assessors must be well trained in observing and evaluating behaviour. There needs to be sufficient assessment rooms for the various activities, proper job analysis needs to be carried out and each competency must be measured at least twice, bearing in mind that about 6 to 8 competencies are being assessed.

Assessment centre, no doubt is very effective and costly, and perhaps, that is why most organisations use it at the last stage of their selection process when the number of candidates would have been reduced by other selection methods.
The concern of most recruiters that needs to be addressed is; what can I do to perfectly execute an efficient yet effective assessment centre?

Here are some of the advice we have given to our clients to effectively maximise the benefits the assessment centre brings to any selection process.

1. Consider Automating the Administration

One way to automate the administration process of an assessment centre is by hosting it virtually knowing that an assessment centre is a methodology, not a place. Most organisations would at this stage opt for face-to-face contact, but much of the administration can still be done remotely, virtually and/or automatically. For instance, you could have participants sit in front of a laptop and log them into a virtual inbox, designed to administer activities at standardised time through fly-in emails. This totally automates the instructions for the rest of the experience. You then only need to prompt assessors and role players (if applicable) to be in the right places at the right times (as specified in those emails).

2. Cut Down on the Move-Around Time

A lot of time is unaccounted for or lost in transit during the administration of several activities in the assessment centre. This is one of the biggest causes of schedule slippage. The virtual approach naturally enhances efficiency, having participants stay in the same place for any one-to-one activity reduces movement time. Going a step further is hosting activities like role plays on conferencing platforms. All you need to do is provide assessors and /or role players and their assigned participant log-in / dial-in details. Bear in mind, from a candidate experience perspective; it is good to strike a balance between face-to-face and virtual interactions.

3. Alleviate the assessors’ workload

Another element of assessment centres easily overlooked is the workload. For the most part, the well-defined procedure would require a written summary of feedback following each activity given by the assessors, but their ability to deliver this quickly and to quality standards can often be inhibited by busy schedules. The schedule should be skillfully mapped out with time between activities to score a candidate’s performance, e.g. as the candidate prepares for the next activity. Besides, scheduling activities too close to one-another is risky, as assessors may not be available for the next exercise if their first was subject to delays.

4. Automate the scoring
Assessment centre scoring is commonly seen as open to bias because of the human element of interpreting observations from the simulations. Also, it is the most time-consuming (and potentially expensive) duty of an assessor. However, both issues can be addressed with an online scoring system. Workforce online assessment centre is a good example of an online scoring system. It calculates scores per competency based on how an assessor has rated each specific behavioural criterion: demonstrated, not demonstrated or strongly demonstrated. You can also generate feedback comments automatically based on these ratings, speeding up the process drastically.

There are several other ways you can make your assessment centre more effective, these are just a few tips. Get in touch with any of our consultants for complimentary advice on how you can make your assessment centre more effective.

Improve the quality of your hires by more than 78% with our Virtual Assessment Centre. Click here to request a demo.

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Organisation Design Principles

Organisational design ensures that the performance of all work activities align with the strategy of the organisation. All members of the workforce of an organisation must know and clearly understand the design they make use of.

To achieve this, several principles must be adhered to;

Focus on the Future: Do not dwell in the past, focus on how to forge ahead; the past should be for reflection purposes. Be clear on what the goals/objectives are and the expectations of the design. Ask the right questions to maintain a forward-looking view.

Build Blocks of Change: Here, the right framework is deliberated on and chosen to prioritise the necessary elements. Conduct an analysis and decide on the type of building blocks to be used for your organisational design.

Design Proper Structure: This should be the last stage of the process to ensure sustainability. When creating/upgrading the organisational design, you must take the organisational chart into consideration because it is important. It clearly defines reporting relationships which might be emotional for some.

Utilise Top Talent: All job positions should be designed in favour of the strengths and skills of the employees assigned to them. For effective results, it is ideal for there to be an optimal span of control for all senior/key positions in the organisation while the organisational design is on-going.

Identify & Focus On What You Can Change/Control: Identify all the obstacles and challenges that your organisation faces and how to avoid/solve them. Compiling this list will give you the right pathway in your design and help you perform better. The organisation will be able to focus on what can be changed.

Encourage Accountability: Encourage accountability within your workforce; employees should be able to perform their job duties without being micromanaged at every step. This should be encouraged and nurtured constantly so that it becomes part and parcel of the organisation’s culture and the lifestyle of the employees.

Benchmark Sparingly: It will also be helpful to know what your competitors are also implementing that knowledge in the creation of your organisational design. Tailor this to your capabilities, unique features and strengths.

Identify the Golden Mean: Every organisation has a favourable pattern of lines and boxes, known as the golden mean. It entails the strategy, capabilities and unique features they implement. Therefore, two organisations cannot have the same golden mean.

Highlight the Informal Elements: Organisations are drawn to formal elements like information and structure. This is because they are valuable and easy to define and evaluate. They end up ignoring the informal elements like commitments, mind-sets, and norms which are very important for the smooth running of an organisation. Goal-oriented organisations strive to make sure there is a balance; the formal and informal elements are in sync.

Build on your strengths: It is always advisable to focus on the positive than the negative. This applies to organisational overhauling; focus on the strengths that can be developed rather than the weaknesses. Doing this will encourage a positive atmosphere within the organisation. Do not be the boss that only notices mistakes, acknowledge victories/wins no matter how little.

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Why You Should Outsource

“Today, outsourcing is not just a trend; it is an integral part of how smart companies do business. A company concentrates on its core business and relies on outsourcing partnerships to get the rest done.” — Harvard Business Review.

There is a reason 94% of Fortune 500 companies outsource at least one major business function, outsourcing helps organisations cut their expenses and gain the much-needed flexibility and competitiveness they require to focus on their core business.

In Nigeria, most organisations, especially in the three most economically vibrant sectors; oil and gas, telecommunications & IT and financial sectors use outsourcing services. Little wonder outsourcing has become an important and strategic business model in present-day Nigeria.

In today’s market, businesses are confronted with unprecedented challenges such as economic uncertainty, intense competition and rapidly changing consumer behaviour. Organisations are continually juggling their core competencies with other business functions, thereby resulting in distractions and avoidable dissipation of energy and resources that could otherwise be channeled to more productive ventures.

Therefore, there is the need for more organisations to embrace outsourcing, if they must cope with the myriads of challenges they are constantly faced with.

A careful look at the goals that your organisation would like to achieve this year or in the near future will reveal that these goals can only be achieved with adequate support of excellent partners. This is the difference between the most successful companies in Nigeria today and the strugglers across different industries. Modern business does not require that you own all the facilities and resources required for production. Smart businesses leverage the resources and capabilities of reliable partners, and Outsourcing is the business model that makes that happen.

Outsourcing keeps you focused on your strengths; your area of expertise while also putting your mind at peace because your non-core functions are being taken care of by partners who possess the required knowledge, skills, culture, resources and experience to deliver.

With almost 7,000 outsourced employees, Workforce Outsourcing offers value-driven and sustainable solutions that support and allow organisations to leverage high-value innovation and project delivery competence while focusing on their core business.

When it absolutely matters to have unquestionable competency in turn-key, end-to-end human resources management delivery, organisations talk to Workforce Group.

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4 ways to Isolate the Effect of Training

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” ― Henry Ford

One of the greatest challenges confronting learning and development professionals and by extension, organisations at large is how to isolate the effect of training programmes. Training is not an end in itself but a means to an end.

The end of training is learning, and proof of learning is a change in behaviour. While learning and development professionals strive to complete their employee training hours to earn great performance appraisal scores, line managers marvel at how the perceived performance of the Training Department does not cascade to departmental performance. The behaviour of employees to a large extent remains unaltered after training programmes and this remains one of the greatest dilemmas of training.

How then do we push the frontiers of training from the classroom to the workplace? How do we design and deploy training programmes targeted at altering employee behaviour on-the-job, and how do we track such changes?

The four-step process below helps isolate the effect of training programmes

1. Identify Desired Behavioural Changes: The first step is to systematically identify the specific gaps to be addressed by the training programme, and document definite behaviours that would underscore learning. The most critical stakeholder to delineate desired behaviours is the line manager, as he is the one who would monitor the employee behaviour post-training.

2. Tie Desired Behaviours to Training Curriculum: Every desired behaviour to be addressed by the training programme must be carefully tied to the training curriculum.

3. Adapt the Training Material/Methodology to the Culture of the Organisation: Training like every other aspect of human resources does not occur in a vacuum but in the context of the culture of the organisation where it takes place. The culture of an organisation plays a determinant role in deciding the learning styles of the participants, and the instructional system design. A deep understanding of adult learning principles and cultural dimensions could help in this area.

4. Track Using Control Groups: Control group is a simple but powerful technique to confirm that the behavioural change observed in employees who partook in a training programme is not by mere happenstance. It involves evaluating the behaviour of those who partook in the training against those who did not, so as to isolate the specific effect of the training programme.


Isolating the effect of training starts with a laid out plan. A proactive approach to it is much better than a reactive approach.

You can only know what doesn’t work if you can isolate what works.

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5 Questions To Consider Before Choosing An Outsourcing Partner

You have gone past the indecision stage and have now decided on using outsourcing for one or more of your non-core functions.

Now, you must find the right HR outsourcing company to handle these areas of your business. This is a critical decision that should not be taken with levity or rushed into as hiring the wrong outsourcing partner could spell doom for your business.

So, how do you ensure you are about to do business with the outsourcing firm that not only understands your business and what you are trying to achieve by outsourcing but is dependable and capable of helping you reach your strategic organisational goals?

Whether you are outsourcing your business process or a task, here are the crucial questions you should have the right answers to before hiring an outsourcing partner:

Are they reliable?

The organisation you are outsourcing an aspect of your business to should be one that has a pedigree. Do due diligence and ensure they have a proven track record of dependability. It’s also important that you do a background check on them to confirm information such as their history, address, staff strength, and financial standing. The result of your findings will help you determine their capabilities and level of reliability.

What other projects have they handled?

The last thing you want is a rookie outsourcing company handling your critical business processes, therefore, you need to find out how experienced the outsourcing firm is in your specific industry. A suitable outsourcing partner should be knowledgeable about the rules, regulations, and practices governing operations in your industry and must have the requisite skills and experience needed to execute your project.

How flexible are they?

It is not enough for the outsourcing company to possess the experience and be reliable enough to handle projects. In addition, they must be capable of adapting to your peculiar work ethic and mode of operation. An outsourcing partner that is stuck in their ways or rigid will do your organisation no good when you need to make urgent changes or adjustments to the brief.

How well do they communicate?

As a business, you want to be kept in the loop of how things are going with your project. Do they reply to your queries and enquires on time? While an outsourcing vendor’s competencies, experience, skill, and adaptability may not be in doubt, their poor level of communication may be an indicator that you are going to have a hard time working with them.

How affordable are they?

Outsourcing is often recommended as a way of reducing spending while also allowing an organisation to focus on its core. However, a reputable outsourcing company’s rates may be way beyond your budget and you have to come to terms with that reality. Therefore, compare the pricing structure/quotation of a shortlist of vendors before making a decision on who to give the job.

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Blended Learning: Enjoy the Best of Two Worlds

Classroom learning or eLearning? This is one decision quite a few organisations still grapple with. While it may appear to be dwindling in popularity, many still crave the physicality of traditional learning, while others prefer learning via the online world.

But what if you didn’t have to choose between the two? What if you could combine elements of the physical and online space in learning? What if you could get the best of two worlds?

Indeed, you can have a blended form of learning that caters to your organisation’s learning needs using a variety of mediums and techniques.

This mode of learning corrects the gaps in traditional teaching that do not work for all students. Having a mixture of both offline and online training activities gets you the best of strategies. It is also a more natural way to learn and work at the same time.

For instance, Peerless LMS uses blended learning to help organisations give their staff the opportunity to cater to different learning needs and preferences. Teaching methods and learning capabilities vary from individual to individual and your employees get a combination of self-paced eLearning and face-to-face training.

They also gain access to materials and resources from all over the globe to cater to their various levels of knowledge and interest. The platform also allows more effective interactions between the employees and trainers through the use of emails, discussion boards and instant messaging among others.

Self-pacing is especially good for slow learners because it reduces pressure, stress increases information and data retention. Peerless LMS drives better employee engagement.

The information on the Learning Management System is broken into modules and the employees are given a deadline for completion. Complex topics are taught in the classroom while others are made available online. This helps to increase learning flexibility and convenience.

Blended Learning provides a seamless transition from the traditional classroom to online learning and vice versa. The training is designed to suit your employees’ job, interests, and your organisation’s goals and delivers a rich experience that helps your workforce retain knowledge better.

It also employs blended learning as a means of saving cost for your organisation. Provision of online options in the training programme eliminates unnecessary cost on travel and missed work.

Flexibility is a feature of Peerless LMS and gives organisations complete control over the training of their employees while developing their skillsets and boost their performance at work.

The platform also has a reporting feature that allows you to update information used for the training of your employees. Data can be updated as often as possible depending on the organisation’s preference.

Remember, satisfied employees, equal less costly turnovers and more income for your organisation.

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The Importance Of Customer Focus

The success of any business can be attributed to its customers. The customer indirectly call the shots and have the power to send any CEO or business owner packing if they are unhappy with the services rendered to them.


Demystifying Performance

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is here and too many it is just a series of games. However, football, like many other sports is a theatre of learning profound principles which can be applied in everyday life. Like many sports, performance is a key factor in attaining success.

Anyone who doubles as a passionate lover of football and the HR professional has observed that embedded in the fun and thrill of the round leather game are answers to some of the biggest challenges confronting performance management and talent management professionals in day-to-day organisational life.

A classic epitome of high performance is the iconic Cristiano Ronaldo – a footballer per excellence whose stellar performances one cannot deny even if he’s scored against their team in the past (and he most likely has). The ongoing tournament has further reinforced many people’s respect for the phenomenal player whose football wizardry is nothing short of epic.

Rio Ferdinand, an ex-England and Manchester United player had this to say about the football maestro: “He was the first person I saw employing a nutritionist, a doctor, a personal physio, a chef. He invested in himself to become the best in the world…”

C. Ronaldo, as he is fondly called, does not just excel through his personal performances; he also possesses almost mystical competencies in catalysing his team’s performance to the point where they become the best. This is evident in his unrelenting efforts at pushing his national team beyond the limit to conquer the rest of Europe.

In a world where talent is overrated and hard work is often given the back seat, Ronaldo has demonstrated what the latter can achieve. As a result, his life has become a learning institution which everyone who desires a successful career must attend.

The lesson from his enviable career, especially his mesmerising performance at the ongoing World Cup is that while talent is important, hard work trumps talent.

The Lesson For HR Professionals

As an HR professional, you cannot become a successful business partner and ultimately, business driver to your organisation without a strict and consistent commitment to learning and development.

The HR leaders we admire greatly today have mastered this basic discipline – a die-hard commitment to continuous learning and development even when it’s most inconvenient and without obvious results.

It is never going to be easy, but like Ronaldo, we will need a blend of talent, dedication, grit and a hunger to be nothing but the best to thrive in the HR profession.

Remember – If you learn to work hard when you don’t see results, very soon, you will see huge results when you don’t work as hard.

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Strategies for Retaining your Best Employees

Human resource departments know that when it comes to managing employees, it does not end at recruitment and hiring; it also extends to retention. As an employer, you have to find adequate ways to make them want to remain in your organisation for a long time.

Having long-term employees that double as top talent is beneficial to a success-driven organisation.

You do not want your top talent to be active “town criers” of the popular “I don port o” jingle.

As a proactive organisation, here are a few strategies you can implement to retain your best employees:

Attractive Benefits: Is your benefits package competitive? Do these packages fit the needs of your employees? Employees will always value an attractive benefits package. The non-negotiable benefits they look out for are, health insurance, life insurance, and retirement plan. To stay ahead of competitors, an organisation demonstrates its commitment to the welfare of its employees by offering extra benefits such as flexible time, longer maternity leave, amongst others.

Regular Incentives & Competitions/Contests: Organising contests and competitions regularly for your staff not only gives them the opportunity to get incentives/prizes but also creates an atmosphere of team building in the organisation. It also keeps them excited and focused.

Prioritise the Little Things: In relationships and friendships, we say “It is the little things that matter”; this should be applied to our working relationship with our employees. Free coffee and pastries might be insignificant to you as a boss but appear as thoughtful to your staff.

Promote Internal Recruitment: When there is a vacant position in the organisation, external recruitment should be the last resort. Promoting from within gives employees a clear path of career advancement. If your employees know they can achieve career growth and advancement in the same organisation, they will be willing to stay and give their best to the advantage of the organisation.

Make Learning & Development Compulsory: Making a benefit that is not available everywhere accessible to your staff is a great way to show you care about them. Learning can also be in the form of training to learn a new job, skill or tuition loan.

Encourage Open Communication: Open communication is key to a people-focused organisation. Regular meetings should be held where employees table their complaints, ideas, questions, and suggestions. Operate an open door policy that encourages employees to express themselves without the fear of victimisation.

Give Rewards & Feedback: Hardworking employees should not go unrewarded; they should be recognised and encouraged. Monetary gifts are often preferred as they give recipients the leeway to get what they really want for themselves. If an employee’s hard work goes unnoticed, it is only natural for him to lose motivation and ultimately, interest in the organisation. Stellar employees should be recognised and rewarded in the presence of other members of staff to appreciate them and also encourage others to do better on their job.

Salary should be Subject to Satisfaction and Increment: Salaries should be reviewed constantly; quarterly or biannually. An upward review of salaries is the best way to retain your best employees because they desire to get the monetary equivalent of their input. This can be merged with career advancement. An organisation that prioritises the finance and promotion of its best employees is more likely to retain them on a long-term basis.

It is very possible for top talent to be in an organisation for 10 years without developing lethargy. As long as his career advancement and salary are commensurate with his role, he will not see any reason to “port” to another organisation.

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