People complain much about Nigerian civil servants and I don’t blame them for that. The problem with the civil service in Nigeria is that civil servants do not add values to the Nigerian system. In truth, policies are supposed to be made by these workers, but how can they do that when they don’t even know what to do?
This problem doesn’t end with the civil service, private sectors also suffer it. In most private organisations I know employees are expected to stick to a stipulated routine without being allowed to add or remove any of them. We also see companies where workers are paid for the time they spent, and not for the values they add. For instance, when a worker has finished the stipulated routine and still has like three or four hours before closing time, he will be asked to sit down and wait till the official closing hour before leaving. What this sort of employees usually do is sleep or ‘gossip’ with others that are ‘free’ too.
When I talk of values here, I meant the new things or ideas employees bring to their employers that will help in increasing their productivity and profit. I always believe that every employee has something new and unique to offer to the office if he is given the opportunity.
Adding values to the company is not only beneficial to employers, employees and customers also benefit from it. When, an employee has the opportunity to be innovative, he is indirectly training himself for better things to come. The customers will also benefit because the organisation will have something better to offer them.
I will like to point out here that it is not always the fault of the company when employees fail to add value, though companies bear bigger share in the blame. Why I said this is that if an employee really wants to bring in new ideas or make some changes to the way things are run in the organisation, he will put in his best to do so. All he needs to do is meet the management and try to sell his ideas to them. But no, they will rather keep that to themselves and have the ‘what is my business’ attitude towards their jobs and employers.
Anyway, here are some tips on how companies can encourage their employees to add values to their systems.
Tip 1: Communication
We constantly hear how important communication is and how to achieve effective communication in offices, but we hardly put them to practice. Both public and private sectors need to open up communication links in their various offices. These days, establishments create online forums where every staff member is allowed to contribute ideas towards the growth of the companies. But even these forums yield little results because the superior officers still use them to exhibit their authorities. This only ends up bringing more friction into the system.
Establishments also need to create rooms for feedbacks from both customers and employees. Some companies do that but they give more credits to customers’ feedback than their employees’ own.
Tip 2: Room for Growth and Development
Companies should create rooms for growth and development for their staff. It is only when staff are allowed to grow that they can add to the growth of the company. I know an establishment that wouldn’t allow her staff to go for further studies. In this company, any staff that wishes to go for further studies, irrespective of how long he has worked there, will have to resign. Some members of staff that secretly registered for part time and holiday programmes were discovered and dismissed.
Tip 3: Appropriate Staff Designation
Most times, employers post staff to positions where their talents and abilities are not fully utilised. For example, when a graduate of law is posted to accounting section, what is this person going to achieve? What contribution will he make to the company? This is the case of a square peg in a round hole, which exists in many offices.
Tip 4: Use of Incentives
Establishments can bring in incentives to encourage their staff to become innovative. For example, some private owned schools give staff members that bring in students a certain amount of money. This makes these staff work hard to bring in customers and indirectly try to bring in ideas that will make the schools attractive to prospective customers.
Tip 5: Flexibility in Company’s Routine
Companies need to be flexible in their routines. They should understand that change is a constant thing and that sticking to rigid routines and rules could cost the company some values. For example, a private school I know recruited an office driver who had another source of income. So, for this driver to be able to manage these income outlets properly, he starts very early in the morning to pick up students and comes back immediately school dismisses to drop them off. When parents whose children attend other schools saw how diligent this driver is (you know, there is no waiting for a long time before school bus comes to pick up students), they started enrolling their children into the school. And what was more, the driver is paid on part time basis. So, the school saved money and at the same time attracted more customers.
Tip 6: Tasking Staff
I believe it is necessary for employers to task their staff to be innovative. When I was the head teacher of a school, I always tell my colleagues that they have to bring in something new to the school. As long as the new ideas they bring aren’t selfish and too expensive to implement, I adopt them immediately. The effect of this strategy is that staff members discover that they too can add something to the growth of the company. And when they realize this, they are always happy to ‘help’.
Tip 7: Dislodging Non-Innovative Staff
The fear of dismissal can make some staff members sit up in their duties. This time, the staff to be dislodged are those that have nothing new and unique to offer the company. I strongly believe that when an employee knows that he will be dismissed after some duration of ‘unproductivity’, he will either sit up or leave so that better people will come in.
So, as an employee, do you add value to your employer? Or are you selfishly clinging to your ideas? Remember, if you don’t bring out that idea now so that it will be nurtured and developed, somebody else may do that in the nearest future. By then, you will be a ‘copycat’.
And you, an employer, do you give your staff room to be innovative? Are you clinging so tight to your old system of operation? What are you afraid of? Is it the cost of implementing new ideas? Remember, new companies are springing up every day and they have latest ideas to make their businesses grow and satisfy customers’ demands. Don’t wait for them to take over your business. Start today to set up routines that will encourage your staff to be responsive to growth.