Friday, October 2, 2009


Improving employee morale has over the years been one of the major challenges of employers and management of firms. When the morale of employees is high, productivity and attitude to work improves, but if their morale is low, the reverse becomes the case.

There has been a lot written in the past about how to improve the morale of people in the workplace. It involves making people feel valued for their contributions, being there to listen to them, and making sure that they get the support they need to carry out their duties.

However, sometimes what is overlooked is that low staff morale is often a build- up of lots of little issues that, as they accumulate, cause morale to drop because they have been ignored in the past. It may be as a result of the way approvals are delayed, no water always in the dispenser; employee contributions are not considered or valued, etc.

Working on the morale of staff is the duty of everybody who has a supervisory role – from the Team Leaders to the CEO. Part of their role is to watch and listen.

In these hard times, your staff morale is of paramount importance. They're worried about their jobs and making ends meet, having low morale on the job will compound their woes. The truth is that as you make the effort to boost staff morale, you'll be increasing productivity, lowering employee absenteeism as well as constant employee turnover.

Having seen the background that employees moral need to be worked on to get the best out of the employees. How then do we achieve this?

• Free Communication: Open communication should be encouraged. Employees feel cheated or demoralized when there is a gap between them and management. Employees want to be heard and contribute their own quota to the growth of the firm. It is also important to have regular meetings between management and members of staff which gives management the opportunity to discuss any new developments that may affect the workers but, more crucially, allows workers to express any opinions or problems that they might have with the work and how it is done. There may be regular monthly or quarterly meetings where staff and Management meet to listen to each other. The Management should also encourage an open door policy to enable staff have access to Management at will.

• Training: Every worker or employee wants to add value to himself while he s adding value to the company. Most employees complain of putting in their best but without commensurate reward to their efforts. Aside from paying an employee well, sponsoring an employee on useful trainings and courses related to his job is always a morale booster as it makes the staff believe that the company has his interest at heart. By offering training, they not only feel more valued but it also allows them to increase their skill base in the hope that they can achieve career progression, hopefully within the same company. This practice makes long-term staff retention far easier.

• Fairness: As a manager, supervisor, team leader, CEO Etc you need to be fair in your judgments. Most employees feel demoralized when they notice that some staff are treated better than others. In most cases these preferential treatments are not as a result of hard work or productivity. Always base your reward on merit and productivity because if you do otherwise you will be killing the morale of the hardworking and dedicated ones.

• Consider employee life outside the work environment: Most employers forget that their workers are people first before becoming their staff. This fact means that they have an existence before becoming an employee. There is need to balance both at all times otherwise the staff morale is affected negatively. The workforce will have other commitments, priorities, issues and problems to overcome outside of work as well as in the work place. Employers should always try to manage this with an attitude to make the employee know that their personal lives are considered.

• Recognition Schemes: It is always good to recognize and appreciate employees who are exceptional on their jobs. A simple well-done letter from the CEO of a company or Head of department to an employee can be a morale booster to the employee as well as his colleagues. This is always good for the employee’s ego, it also allows his peers to acknowledge his achievements too and this also creates an environment in which others can aspire to achieve recognition as well.

• Build in a Participative Management style: Workers often feel better when their input is requested in the workplace especially from their supervisors. Suggestion schemes should be encouraged. This enables the employee to come up with his own ideas that might improve the way in which the company does something which the management or departmental heads might have overlooked. Staff morale is always high when they feel important in their workplace. Workers feel bad when they are used just as tools to get job done. They want to be part of the decision making and want to share in the joy that we did it together.

• Employee Welfare: Employees needs should be taken care of. Most workers jump from one company to other seeking for better employee welfare packages. It is not always all about salary, employees feel valued and happy when the employer has their interest at heart. There are a lot of statutory employee welfare packages that most employers fail to provide for their staff. This in most cases account for the cause of over 80% employee turnover noticed in some companies. Things like staff medicals; pension, Life/Accident Insurance, Leave, housing, paid holidays etc should be extended to employees and made part of the company’s policy which should also be captured in the employee handbook.

• Monetary Rewards: Every employee is working to make money to take care of his/her immediate needs. Believe it or leave it, that’s the simple truth. In as much as monetary gains and incentives improve employee morale, balancing work and personal opportunities for career progression etc will often far outweigh the monetary gain. Especially for professions such has sales; employers rely mostly on financial incentives to motivate the sales force. Most companies have a policy of paying what is called the 13th month salary to all employees of the company. This money is always paid at the end of every year and that amounts to paying each staff double of his salary at the end of every year. You find out that staff working in such companies will always work hard to make sure that the company has money to pay this 13th month salary every year. That for sure is a morale booster.

• Promotion: Employees who are performing on their jobs should be encouraged through promotion to the next level in their department career path. Promotion for sure is a morale booster. On the other hand when an employee is putting in his best, adding value to the firm and still stays in his present position for a long time, demoralization sets in. The truth is that if a staff is demoralized, he will be adding little or no value to the company.

• Interact with Employees: Finally one of the best ways to boost staff morale as an employer, supervisor or head of department is to speak to the staff first. Feedback got from them will usually expose the kind of incentives you might consider to boost staff moral, increase motivation as well as increase general productivity.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Any time people talk about their careers, familiar expressions like ;

“My career goals”, “Career path”, “Career development”, “Career direction” etc usually come to mind. These expressions have one reasoning in common “the concept that a career is something that has an entity or existence of its own, that it’s something out there, a place or a destination or a means to reach a better place”.

If we think of a career in these terms, there are a number of hazards and influences that can throw a career off course. Career goals may conflict or be frustrated by other kinds of goals such as the demands of a busy family, academic pursuit or social life. The career path may have to wind its way through other tempting highways and byways. Career development may be stunted by a particular work environment that is hostile to its growth. A career direction may turn into a dead end if a new technology emerges.

Any one of these events can turn into a career threatening influence. And when they do, we can absolve ourselves of blame. ‘The organization didn’t support my career goals’. ‘I was poorly advised and took the wrong career path’. ‘My career development was blocked by a lack of funding for training and development’. ‘My career direction was influenced by circumstances beyond my control’. ‘The boss didn’t appreciate me, he hates me and never encouraged me to grow in my chosen career.’

If we think of our career as something out there, over there, at the end of the rainbow or whatever, there will always be something or someone else we can blame for its demise.

Here’s something for you to consider. If you must excel, “Take Control of Your Career.”

How do you do this?

• Consider that you are your career. Your career is who you are, here and now in this place. Everything about you; your competencies, your habits, your appearance, your education, your communication style, your relationships, your lifestyle, habits etc. All of these are attributes of you and comprise your career. Your career is who you are, what makes you unique as a person and as a worker.

Take a moment to reflect on this. How is your career going? Does it want to leap out of bed in the morning and rush itself off to the workplace to engage in something passionate and rewarding? Or is it somewhat self-conscious and inclined to waste of time and daydream of a safer or more interesting place along the way? How do others respond to its presence in the workplace? Do they look up to it, seek its advice and applaud its successes or do they seem a bit dissatisfied with its performance?

• Another way to look at this is to imagine your career as your brand. How would you market your brand? What are its best attributes? What can it do better than any competing brands? In what kind of environment will your brand add the most value to an organization? Do you need to enhance any features of your brand to improve its visibility and appeal in the marketplace? How do you better position your brand to attract customers? Do people around you know that the brand (you) exists? , how do you price your brand? How do you distribute your brand? etc

You can take control of your career. Your future is not ‘out there’. Your destiny is embedded in who you are, who you choose to be today and on each and every day to come. Take care of your brand. It’s your most valuable asset. Remeber, What ever name you call your dog, that is what it will answer.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Interview sessions are always very stressful and full of tension. It does not matter how many years working experiences you have or the number of interview sessions you have attended in the past. The simple truth is that no matter the number of interviews you have attended in the past, two interviews can never be the same. You meet different types of interviews at every interview. Some interviewers are naturally friendly and give you lead to answers to their questions and check out how you manage them, but others are unfriendly and harsh and put you under pressure even when you feel you are well prepared for the interview. The worst thing that can happen to an interviewee is when he is not prepared for an interview or when he does not know anything about the company he wants to work with or still when he does not even know the position he is about to be interviewed for. You may see this as strange but as an interviewer, we see these things happen every time. Before you go for any interview, take time to prepare. Ask your self this question, even if you are a genius, before you go in for an exam, don’t you read and get your self-ready for the exam? Of course you will otherwise you are doomed. There is this popular saying that "if one fails to plan, he has planned to fail". There are no two ways about success. YOU MUST PLAN.

Take time to review relevant job possible interview questions and answers. Give your self a mock interview. Prepare as many questions as possible that you expect to be asked and get ready answers to these questions.

It is very important to know all about the company you are being interviewed for. You will look like one who is not serious when you are asked simple questions like, what the company is into, and you don’t have an answer to that. It simply tells the interviewer that you are not ready for the interview and it also shows that you don’t even know what you want.

Make sure you are well qualified for the position you are being interviewed for. Be ready to know all your skills, competencies, abilities and how you can use them to add value to the company. Note that the company is not employing you because you are handsome/pretty, or because you have the necessary qualifications, no it is because you can fill the gap the have by adding value to them. It can be compared with somebody going to the market to buy a product. One buys a product because that product will be able to fill his need and give him satisfaction. If the need is not filled and satisfaction is not attained, the product is a waste.


· Make sure you are prepared.

· Be sure you know much about the company (what they do, their business, their Vision and Mission statements etc)

· Know the requirements for the position you are to be interviewed for.

· Arrive at worst 30 minutes before the interview time.(it will make you to relax and reduce tension in you)

· Don’t sit idle while waiting to be called in, you can read newspapers or ask questions about some things you want to know from either the receptionist or any one you meet in the company)

· A few minutes before you go in for the interview, visit the rest room, check your hair, suit, tie and practice that confident smile. (This will reassure you of your confidence).

· Men make sure your hair is well cut and ladies have a good hair do.

· When you walk into the Interview room, be confident and put on an attractive smile.

· Greet the panel members.

· PLEASE DO NOT SIT DOWN unless you are asked to.

· When they have returned your greetings and still did not ask you to sit, politely ask, “can I sit down sirs/Madam?”

· Manage the interview.

· Be in control (Talk only when you are asked to, but be in control and manage the interview by letting them know what you want them to know about you. Use every question to portray the value you are bringing into the firm).

· Sell your self. If you don’t say I am, remember no body can say “You Are” so go ahead and tell them what they want to hear.

· Talk about your achievements. Show value to the employer. That is what he wants to employ and not you, but your value.

· DON’T LIE. Say the truth only about your achievements. A lie may take care of the present, but remember a lie has no future. (Its better you say you don’t know but are willing to learn, than you know and they find out that you don’t know. (Integrity).

· Ask a lot of questions relating to the jobs you will be doing. Show interest in working with them and prove your readiness to add value.

· VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure all you have in your resume/c.v are true and that you can defend them anywhere any time.

· Most interviewers invite you for an interview because of what you claim you have in your resume/C.V. (it will be too bad if you can’t prove what you have in your resume. (Integrity)

· Always have copies of your resume available during an interview.

· Always come with your credentials even if you are not told to bring them.(Originals and Photocopies of each).

· During the interview don’t avoid eye contact with the interviewers.

· Always put on a smile while answering questions (Employers like happy people).

· Do not ask about salary or remunerations unless you are asked to. (Otherwise it will seem as if you are only interested in money and not the job. Remember they want to hire you for what you will do for them).

· NEVER SAY BAD ABOUT YOUR FORMER OR CURRENT EMPLOYER. (Even if they are not treating you well).


Somebody that is experienced.

A responsible person

One who can be trusted

One who can be led or who can lead.

A team player or Team builder.

One that is willing and able to do his job.

One that has great listening and communication skills.

One that can fit into the culture, goal, dream and vision of the company with ease.


To get that your dream job, you should be able to expect such questions as these ones discussed here. There are no stereo typed ways of answering them. Make sure you prepare them before going for an interview and have ready answers to them incase they are asked during the interview session. Before you set off for an interview, make sure that you have gone through them and are very confident that if they come you can handle them with ease. The good thing about these interview questions is that even if they don’t come direct, you can figure them out and manage them in your own way.You should be able to handle such questions about;

Your employment History. (Name or names of companies you have worked with in the past, Positions you held, Dates of holding such positions, your remuneration packages, why you left those job/s, your achievements.)

You should be able to know the responsibilities you carried out, your achievements etc.

The major challenges you faced and how you where able to handle them.

Your greatest Strengths and Weaknesses.

Your biggest accomplishment and Failure in your last job.

Why you left your last job

What you have been doing since you left your last job

If you are still working, why do you want to leave your current job.

If you where fired, why where you fired?

You should be able to describe your typical day at work.(what you do from arrival at the office till you close for the day).

How do you handle stress from work and home and still keep afloat?

You should be able to know what motivates you. (Please never mention money).

If you are asked about yourself. (You should be able to manage the question well to say about your achievements so far).

You should be able to know your salary expectation. (Remember, do your enquiry before hand so that you will not under price or over price your self)

How can you describe your self as a team player ( Give examples of how you have been involved in team work and your contributions in that team.)

What do you want in a job? You should be able to establish the things that interest you in the job, but don’t forget to manage it to suit what the employer likes.

Why should we hire you? You should know your qualifications, your attributes, your skills, your competencies and job accomplishments.

What do you know about our company? Of course you should have done your research before hand, so you should be able to tell them what their business is, and lot more.

What can you contribute to this company? Just like the other question, your knowledge, competencies, skills and abilities are what they are looking for to fill that need.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?, What are your goals for the next 5 years?, etc These questions are just trying to find out if you have a plan to grow with them or just to get the job today and jump out tomorrow.

Interview questions are limitless. Just take your time and go through these questions. Prepare answers that will favour you, Manage the questions put to you to favour yourself and believe me, you are already waiting for your employment letter. But dont forget, the employers need you because of what you can do for them,because of that need they have which you can fill. So let them know how you can add value to their establishment


The most important job of a Human Resources person is the selection and hiring/recruitment of employees. It cannot be faulted that the success of any firm depends on the quality of human resources or talents in that firm. This is why it is very important for any human resources expert to be very sure of hiring the right staff without compromising anything from the onset. The questions behind your mind while sourcing for talents should be can these staff deliver? What are their strengths? Can they fit into the corporate goal and objectives of the firm? What are their competencies? Can they be trained? Can they pursue the vision of the firm? What values are they bringing into the organization? Are they coming to use our firm as a learning ground and move on with their career somewhere else? Can we count on them to fit into the succession plan of the company? Etc. Answers to these questions and more are why selection and recruitment seems to be an onerous task. It cannot be argued that most applicants fake their qualifications and experiences just to impress interviewers and get the job. It is very important then for interviewers to look beyond the physical to determine how suitable an applicant is. This brings us to the issue of the competency analysis of those to be interviewed. Competency test is always one of the important selection strategies. This is because it goes beyond what eyes can see. It checks the behaviours of the applicants as well as their characteristics, which influences and drives their performance on the job. A competency can then be seen as the underlying characteristics of a person which enables him to deliver or not deliver superior performances in a given job, role or situation.

The competency of a candidate can be seen in his Skills, educational qualifications, Knowledge, abilities, achievements, strengths, social roles, self image, Traits and Motives. Where the candidate’s skills, educational qualifications, knowledge, abilities, achievements, strengths and weaknesses can be easily identified, his Traits and Motives are always hidden in the core of the candidate. The Motive and Traits of different candidates are always what separates the chaff from the juice. This then means that interviewers should pay more attention during selection exercises in the motives and traits of candidates more than their qualifications and experiences.

When there is an opening in a firm, it is always very important for the Human resources department to check inwardly if there is any existing staff that can fit perfectly into that position. If none, the next step should be to look outwardly. While placing the advert, it is also very important for the HR person to know the job requirements for that position, the educational qualification needed, number of years of experiences on the job, the job description, the gender of the person needed etc. These will help in knowing the content of the advert placement.

It is also always very important for the advert to specify that each candidate should have his profile and career summary in the first page of the resume. This will make the short-listing job simple.

Bearing all these in mind, the selection and recruitment process will flow as easy as ABC. For a guide, a typical selection and recruitment process should follow the sequence below:

Be aware that there is a vacancy / opening in your organization.

Analyze the position/s requirements. Learn everything about the job, the processes, performance; the skills needed, the traits, the competencies, salary range etc.

Vacancy announcement. Place the vacancy in your website as well as in one or two dailies as the case may be. Be sure the daily you are to use has wide readership.

Start your short listing, having in mind the job description and requirements.

Depending on the number you have in mind, shortlist many candidates for the pretest selection to give you a variety of choice.

Conduct the test exercise (for entry job levels mostly).

Prepare interview questions for the pre-screening interview.

Conduct the pre-screening interview (to trim down the number of candidates.)

Prepare more practical questions for the next stage of the interview.

Make your selection and present to the Management for the final selection.

Conduct your background checks/reference checks on the successful candidates.

Recruit the successful candidates.

Conduct employee orientation.

Hand over a copy of the employee Handbook to each of them.

Place them on probationary period before confirmation of appointments.


Performance management, Performance review or performance appraisal as used by different establishments are all talking about the same thing, it has to do with aligning the human resources with the corporate goals of the firm, evaluate their performances and recommend commensurate rewards. It involves skill planning, skill development, and maintaining a good pay for performance culture in an organization.

Over the years, effective performance management has been proven to improve employee loyalty, morale and general productivity. Due mainly to the highly competitive business environment today, there is the need for firms to boost the morale and loyalty of their employees in order to stand the heat of competition. Because of the high cost of selection, recruitment, training and developing new employees, it is imperative for firms to motivate and retain their high performing employees. What am I saying in essence as a Human resources expert, you are to have in place a good performance management system in your firm to help motivate and retain top performers, align individual performances with corporate goals thereby creating a more involved workforce, which will lead to greater productivity. A very good Performance management system must include employee and management participation for it to be non biased and fair.

There are different steps involved in performance management or appraisal depending on the type of firm or size. These steps may not be followed rigidly, but they will assist in having a good review result. The following steps will act as a guide to a good performance management;

Define different jobs. Each job or duty should have a name. The department each duty reports to should be established and known.

Define Job Duties. There should be clearly defined duties and responsibilities for each defined job. It should be done in a clear manner to avoid clash and interference between different jobs.

Define Performance Goals: Performance goals should be defined with measurable outcomes.

Define Priority for each job goal and responsibility. The main priority for each job goal should be clearly stated for easy assessment and measurement of result/outcome.

Define performance standard: For each key component of the job, a performance standard should be defined to know when a staff has performed below or above the given standard.

Keep Record of all staff performances before during and after every appraisal exercise. It is always good to have records kept for each staff in his file. Discussions with staff supervisors and with staff should be noted even when appraisal exercise is not on. It sure will be of help during any appraisal exercise.

The Appraisal form should be elaborate: The form should have columns for the appraiser and a part for appraisee’s agreement or disagreement with the appraisers comments about him as well as the appriasee’s comments (Self Assessment).

You May Provide a feedback column: This column will be used to get feedback from employee’s peers, customers or subordinates if need be.

Very Important to have a training need column in the form: A very important aspect of an appraisal is to find out how an employee is performing in his present responsibility and if not why he is not performing as well as training needs that may be used to improve performance.

Reasons For Performance Appraisal in a Firm:

Apart from the general reason of increasing the morale, motivation, involvement and productivity of staff, there are other streamlined reasons why firms carry out performance appraisal exercises. These reasons include;

To provide feedback on individual performance in a given period: Firms employ because of the need they want met. During appraisals, firms find out if employees are adding value to the firm or not.

To plan for future Promotion: As a reward for performance, employees are promoted and given greater responsibilities and authorities. Performance appraisal or review is needed to know staff who are due for promotion.

As a succession Planning tool: Dynamic and future oriented firms plan for tomorrow leaders today by planning how to hand over power, authority, and running of the firm in advance. Perfomance appraisal exercise showcases employees who are future leaders.

To assess Training and Development needs of employees: A good performance appraisal exercise reveals training needs of employees.

Provides Information for salary planning: After appraisal, some staff are promoted to the next level, which attracts salary and allowances increment. Also some staff who are not promoted are rewarded with gifts or salary increment too. This assists in planning for staff salaries.

Career Planning: Career planning is a corporate organizational issue. After appraisals, it is always found out that most employees are working in departments they have little or no flair for. This generally affects their individual as well as general corporate performance. Performance appraisal results help in planning and repositioning employees career.

It should be noted that performance appraisal is a very important aspect of organization future growth and positioning as such it should be carried out with all seriousness and sincerity. The Human resources person should be able to advice all supervisors and managers before every appraisal exercise to avoid getting a biased result, which will ultimately affect the general productivity of the firm. Supervisor /Managers should avoid elements of favoritism or emotions during appraisals. Most Managers use appraisal exercise as a time to get back at subordinates. This is a wrong approach to appraisal. Appraisal exercises should be fair and without bias. Before a manager can appraise his subordinate, he should be able to know the employee very well, the company goals, the products /services they are handling, their customers, other colleagues, the target given to the staff etc before a fair and non biased judgment can be given.

Finally for any Performance appraisal exercise to be successful and without prejudice, the Goals set must be “SMART”. This means that the goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and with a Time Frame. Individual goals must be aligned with corporate organizational goals. Employee self-evaluation/assessment must be included in the assessment form. The Supervisor and subordinate must be allowed to participate in the review. The ratings must be clearly stated with reasons for each rating. There must be a final column for the Human Resources personnel to evaluate the review and make a final recommendation for Managements approval.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Job description is an essential part of every job in every organized working environment. Writing and compiling job descriptions is another very important job of a Human Resources person in an organization. It is very important because it covers details of the day-to-day duties expected from each employee in all departments of a given firm. While writing job descriptions for each position, it should cover such areas as skills, tasks, functions and general responsibilities to be carried out by employees of that department.

A typical job description should cover and clearly state the following;

The title of the position

The department under which the position is

The duties/tasks/functions/responsibilities expected of the occupant of that position

Educational qualifications needed for the position

Experiences needed

General and particular skills needed

Membership of Professional bodies required

The reporting format (who reports to who, in what order)

Before a complete job description is prepared, there is need for the HR person to conduct a comprehensive job analysis. This analysis will expose answers to each of these items above and help in getting the job done faster.

Aside from the above, abilities and competencies of the candidate is also put into consideration and has a place in the job description.

In compiling and preparing a job description, the HR person always has an onerous task to prepare the description for each position in all departments. The HR personnel gets these information by interviewing existing staff, conducting research, asking employees to fill in an already prepared questionnaire, observing performance of certain tasks etc.

A very good and well-prepared job description is a valuable asset to the firm because it saves cost in the long run for the firm. Summarily, a good job description can do the following for the firm;

Helps during vacancy placement. It will assist the HR person to know exactly what to write in the advert to attract the experienced employees.

Helps in preparing interview questions and to monitor answers given by interviewees.

Helps to match employee skills, experiences and competencies during interview before employment.

Draws a clear line between duties of one position from another position.

Clarifies the issue of who reports to who.

Helps in career path planning as well as succession planning.

Helps to make the appraisal exercise simple and straightforward.

It helps to draw a clear line between achievers and non-achievers in a department.

In summary, job description is prepared to explain to employees what their duties/tasks are in the workplace. It also tells an employee where his duties ends and where the duty of another employee starts in order to avoid duty conflict and employee job duty related grievances.


Discipline is a most for every organization that wants to move forward. It is very essential for the smooth running of any firm. It is also very important for peace and harmony in an organization. Peace between employees, customers and clients. It is always necessary for discipline to be instilled in employees to get the best out of your workforce. Before I go on with why we should have discipline and disciplinary actions incase of defaulters, its right to find out what discipline is. Discipline can be seen or defined as a force that prompts individuals, organizations, nation etc to observe rules and regulations stipulated which are deemed necessary for the effective and efficient running of the group, organization or nation. In this article discipline in firms can be seen as an orderly conduct by employees of an organization to adhere to the rules and regulations as well as policies guiding the activities and running of the organization.

How can one instill discipline in organization?

• Rules and regulations should be clearly stated: For discipline to be instilled in employees there should be clear rules and regulations that stipulates what is expected of each employee and what is not expected of them. The employee handbook for instance should be clear in the dos and don’ts of the firm.

• The rules and regulations should be constantly updated and reviewed. This will make it possible to do away with rules that are no more necessary and addition of new ones that are needed.

• There should be no discrimination in enforcing rules and regulations. To make sure that there is discipline in an organization there should be a general rule for every defaulter. What ever applies to A when he defaults should also be applicable to B.

• Another important thing is that things that will prevent employees from getting involved in indiscipline should be discouraged and prevented.

• There should be proper communication of the rules concerning discipline in the firm. These rules should be written in the employee handbook and also put in notice boards. By so doing no employee can say he or she is not aware of the rules.

• Disciplinary actions should be in such a way that defaulters will not want to be disciplined a second time after defaulting for a first time.

Causes of indiscipline in firms:

Despite the fact that most firms have laid down rules and regulations, and disciplinary actions taken against defaulters, still indiscipline persists. The following are causes of indiscipline in firms;

• Favoritism: Most managers and discipline enforcers in firms favour some staff in their decision making. There are cases where some staff will commit and offence and will not be punished for it while if it is another person he goes in for it. When such a fellow knows that he will not be punished for an offence, he goes own to commit more offense.

• Lack of Communication: If the laws and rules governing the employment of staff is not clearly communicated or is not communicated at all, there is bound to be several cases of indiscipline in that organization.

• Lack of leadership: For every department, there should be a leader who is to supervise the activities of that department. He monitors and instills discipline in his subordinates. Where there is no one like that to lead and control the others, indiscipline abounds.

• Low morale and Motivation among staff. When employees are not motivated and their morale is low, they tend to work haphazardly. This will affect their discipline and way of work.

• Bad Habit: Some employees have bad habits inbuilt in them that they may or may not be able to change. Once some one for instance has formed the habit of coming to work late, it will take termination of his appointment atimes for h to change.

Disciplinary Actions in firm:

While disciplining an employee, it is always important to make sure that the disciplinary action meted out to the offender is always commensurate to the offence committed. Like earlier said too, it is important to mete out the same punishment to the same category of offenders. Another important thing in punishing offenders is that the person must be given the opportunity to be heard. He must explain reasons for his action before a decision is taken against him. Certain mild offences should also be punished with mild penalties. Some disciplinary actions in firms include;

• Oral warning; when an offence is not that serious or when an offender is a first offender, he can be given oral warning. The human resources person invites him, talks to him, cautions him and warns him to desist from such actions in the future.

• Written warning: When the offence committed by the employee is not an offence that you can just warn him verbally and let him go, he is issued a query. He replies the query and explains reasons for his action. The query and his response are filed in the staff file for future references. After considering his response, a written warning also is issued to him and a copy of the warning letter also documented in the staff file.

• Loss of entitlement: Some indiscipline is cautioned by denying the offender his or her entitlement as a reprimand for the action. In some cases, the offender may not be paid any allowance or bonus due to him to punish him for an offence or indiscipline committed.

• Suspension: If an offence is strong, they employee may be suspended without pay. Depending on the level of offence the suspension may take up to two months or more without pay.

• Demotion: A staff can be demoted from his position because of indiscipline. If a manager for instance keeps on coming to work late, how will he lead and control his subordinates? The best thing is to demote him if he has been advised about it and he fells to change.

• Termination of appointment: When an employee commits an offence that the company cannot condone, his appointment may be terminated.

• Dismissal: This is the strongest action that can be carried out on an offender. When an employee gets involved in fraud, stealing, illegal business etc the firm may have no other option left than to dismiss him out rightly.

Disciplinary action is always carried out in sequence. For instance if one is a first offender, and the offence is not so bad, he can be warned verbally. Then if he commits another offence, he is queried and probably suspended from duty without pay. If another offence is committed by the same staff, his appointment may be terminated. On the other hand when a staff commits a grievous offence like fraud, the punishment is summary dismissal.


Contract of employment like every other contract is an agreement between and employer and an employee which describes and states the condition of employment. It is always advisable for one to be sure of what the contract states before signing and accepting the contract as once signed it is binding on both parties. A well prepared contract of employment is a statement of the capacity in which the employee is employed, it covers and shows the name of the job, pay, allowances, hours of work, holidays, leave, pension arrangements, and should refer to the relevant company laws and policies as is applicable to the employee.

In a more refined way, a contract of employment is defined as an employment agreement voluntarily entered into by the employer and employee which stipulates and defines the conditions of employment. Most contracts of employment are in written form which makes it applicable and governed to the general law of contract. This then means that every contract of employment should be binding on both parties as well as valid. It then means that for the contract of employment to be binding just as I general law of contract, there should be an offer, an acceptance and a furnished consideration. In this case the offer is the written employment letter which is accepted by the employee and the consideration being the wage the employer is ready to pay the employee.


A well written contract of employment should include all of the following;

• Parties to the contract should be clearly stated: The name and contact address of the employee who is being employed should be clearly stated as well as the name and address of the employer.

• Date of employment should be clearly stated: The resumption date of the employment should be stated in the contract of employment. This will help in knowing when to start calculating the employee’s entitlements.

• Remuneration: The salary agreed on should be put down in writing. The scale or method of calculating the remuneration should also be put down in writing. Also the interval of payment should be written, either bi weekly or monthly depending on the policy of the firm.

• Terms and conditions of work relating to hours a day: The expected number of hours to be put in by the employee per day should be clearly stated in the contract of employment.

• Leave entitlements: The employees leave entitlement should be stated, number of days he is entitled to, his leave allowance, other types of leave he may be entitled to (sick leave, casual etc).

• Pension entitlements: The employee’s pension entitlements should be clearly stated if any.

• The job title: The title of the job being offered should be stated. The job tasks as well should be written.

• Confirmation: The number of months or years as the case may be the employee will serve successfully before his/her appointment will be confirmed should be stated.

• Disengagement: The number of days or months notice required by either of the parties before the contract will be terminated should be written as well.

After the contract of employment has been established, the employer and employer as well have duties to perform to keep to the terms of the contract. In the case of the employee, he has to keep to all of the following;

• Has to do his job personally: The employer was employed to work and carry out his duties by himself. It then means that by the terms of the contract, he has to do his job and duties by himself.

• Has to abide by the laws and policies of the firm: For every organization, there are laid down rules and regulations as well as policy guides that direct the affairs of the organization. The employee is bound by the contract of his employment to abide by the rules and regulations surrounding his employment contract. Disobedience to any of this may result to outright dismissal or termination of appointment.

• The employee should not by any means compete with his employer. He should not have any interest that will be against that of his employer.

• He is to conduct himself well and properly at all times. He should not be involved in any action that will be detrimental to the firm. He should come to work early and comport himself during office hours.

• He should be accountable to his employer on all assignments given to him during his period of employment.

• An employee should add value to his employer which is the main reason for his employment. He should be able to prove the skills he claimed to have prior to employment.

On the other hand the employer has some duties to perform for the employee to make sure that the contract of employment between them is sustained. The following are expected to be carried out by the employer;

• The employer is expected to pay the wages of the employee. As part of the employment contract, there is an amount that was agreed by both parties as wages for the employee. The employer is expected to pay such wages and as when due.

• He should provide the necessary and required tools to enable the employee carry out his duties effectively.

• The employer should also make sure that there is an enabling environment and good working conditions for the employee to perform his duties.

• The safety and safe working conditions should also be assured by the employer to avoid putting the employee at risk during his period of employment.

• The employee should be rewarded when he has performed well. He should also be motivated by the employer at all times. The employer should not see the employee as a slave, rather as a partner in progress, because without the employee, the employer will not succeed.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Great firms and entrepreneurs always plan for the future of their businesses today. There is one popular Ibo saying that says, “Nothing stays forever”. Check out all the successful businesses in the world today, the secret of their success stories will not be far from good leadership and governance. The question then is what happens to these businesses when these good leaders are no more? The truth is that one day, somehow they will leave these businesses. That very agile and hardworking Director today will someday grow old, weak and retire. On the other hand, death they say is a necessary and an inevitable end, which must come when it must. We are also faced with that same question, “what happens to these companies when these good, vibrant, successful and hardworking Directors, Managers, Supervisors and Officers are no more active or in the system? This brings us to issue of Succession Planning. I have said it before in one of my blogs that he who fails to plan is planning to fail.

Succession planning can be defined in many ways, but they all boil down to making the necessary preparations and dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s towards who steps into a given position in a company at any future time. In a more professional approach, Succession planning can be seen as the process of preparing in advance to hand over power, authority, responsibilities and control in a professional manner without disrupting the operations, values, culture and goals of the organization.

It is always advisable to have succession plans written and documented in advance so that at any future time it will not be a Herculean task to have somebody succeeding another if the need arises. Succession plans should not be made available to all staff to avoid people pushing their ways through to a given position.

The ugly truth is that most businesses in the world today do not have formal and written succession plans. This normally causes problems when there is need for replacement of an exiting Officer.

In most cases succession planning is more difficult in one-man businesses. Succession plans should be of paramount importance to family businesses because of the informal ways such businesses are carried out. Assuming the sole owner of a vibrant business is retiring, the question is what happens to the business when he retires? Does he have grown up children who can manage the business? If yes, which of them will hold which position? What if the youngest of them all has the best experience and most hardworking of the children? On the other hand, does he want to sell the business? Well all these questions will be taken care of through a very thorough succession plan. Even if the sole owner dies without informing his family about this plan, the company lawyer can still implement this plan when he is no more. Succession plan is even of high importance in a one-man business because of the family attachment and emotions involved. Most one-man businesses die with the sudden death of their owners because of non-existence of a formal succession plan. There is no doubt that succession plans give way to smooth transition programs.

In case of a sole proprietorship, the plan takes care of who takes up which Management position, who inherits what share of the business and so on. The owner may decide to hand over the Management to his last child if he shows the best trait of leadership and have all his children share equally in the shares of the business.

In public firms, succession planning helps the firm to identify talented staff and develop them for future higher responsibilities through trainings and development especially when they show leadership traits. The plan ensures you can fill the key roles of your organization within the talents you have in the organization.

In other words, we can say that succession plan entails choosing tomorrows leaders today. Due to changes in technology and advancements in global strategies, there is the need to identify future managers who can meet up with such challenges.

This is also true for small firms as well as large ones. It's not just succession to the top positions. It's about getting the right person in place for every job. It may happen that some of tomorrow's key jobs may not even exist now. If a firm plans to double in size and business line say in the next five or ten years, they will need more talented managers to take over during the growth period.

Succession plan involves leadership development. The only way to attract and keep good staff is to have a good career plan that has good succession plan in place, which will make them not to look elsewhere.

It is very important for firms to see succession plan as a very important organizational growth strategy. It is always a job that is carried out by the Human Resources department in conjunction with the Directors, CEO’s and Management team as the case may be depending on the type and size of the firm.

When there is a formal succession plan in place, it builds confidence in employees and reduces incessant employee turnover as what they are looking for elsewhere is already in the organization they are working for.

Like earlier said, Succession planning is the job of top executives in conjunction with the HR department and some times, some consultants are engaged to contribute in the decision. It is supposed to be updated periodically because an employee who is found eligible today may not be in the next few months or years. We can also notice a situation where those eligible staff who have been drafted to take over certain positions in the future leaving the company before that time.

From the foregoing, we can conveniently say that Succession planning involves identifying and monitoring the pool of talent in the organization and matching them with the future needs.

In succession planning, those who are always considered fit to be in the system are always decided through their inbuilt talents, competencies (both hidden and clear cut competencies), their leadership traits, their exposure to new technologies and innovations, the ability to develop themselves (educationally, training wise etc), their inbuilt potentials, ability to lean new things and to adapt to changes etc.

While planning for succession, gender, tribe ,age or number of years put in the organization should never be a yardstick for decision making.

In a nutshell, Succession planning should be carried out systematically for a good result following the steps below;

Deploy a succession management process.Make it a corporate issue in the organization that will be linked with the general organizational goals and objectives.

Human resources department should be responsible for the tools and processes associated with successful succession planning and should liaise and work hand in hand with the line managers for best results.

Identify your talent pool and discover the future leaders. (Note that this should be a continuous exercise).

Start focusing on the identified future leaders.

Engage the identified future leaders with greater responsibilities than they had before.

Keep an eye on them to match their results with the assignments given to them.

Always find out what they have flair for and try to align their responsibilities in that direction.

Train and develop where necessary for better results.

Monitor and assess performance and make your decision.

The truth is that most companies today do not have any succession plan. That is really a wrong approach to business, especially for those businesses that want to grow and stand the test of time. Today is the right time to start. Start planning today to avoid future organizational wreck.

See you next time.


The human resources department is one of the most important departments in an organization. Almost all the activities of an organization revolve around the HR department. A Human resource professional must perform a lot of functions and roles in an organization towards the actualization of the corporate goals and objectives of the firm in a way to drive the organization’s vision and mission.

The core roles of a human resources person are grouped into four broad roles that must be carried out professionally. The Human resources professional must be all of these;





As a strategic partner, the HR professional must be able to partner with the organization in developing plans that will align the human resources of the firm with the long term corporate goals and vision of the firm. He should be able to contribute to business strategy development by aligning HR jobs with strategic goals. He should be able to provide tools and create an enabling environment to actualize these goals. He is the eyes of his firm in the outside world and should be a liaison between his firm and the society, environment and government. He should be able to analyze work processes and recommend improvements where necessary. He should develop policies that will benefit the firm, Management and employees alike.

As an Administrative expert, the HR professional is expected to carry out administrative duties like providing the necessary tools needed for the organization to operate successfully. He should be able to manage the overall labour costs in his organization and plan for administrative budgets. As an administrative expert, the HR person should be an information manager. He should have at all times all data relating to employees and make same available at all times. The HR person should be able to discover new and evolving trends that will be beneficial to the company and advise Management accordingly. He should always conduct research to find out what is obtainable in other firms that makes them tick and advise management. The HR person should be able to manage HR budgets (recruitment, selection, training and development, etc. He should be a good negotiator in times of salary decisions.

As a Change agent, he should be able to find out new ways of doing things that can move the company forward. He should be able to convince Management on the need for the change and address employees about changes. He should coordinate and facilitate the change process. He is to provide the tools and structures needed during change period. As an expert, he should be able to create a new organizational change without disrupting the firms business.

As an Employee Champion, the HR professional should be able to manage the selection, recruitment, training, development, career planning, performance management, succession planning, and Staff retention exercises. He is to determine the long term human resources needs, assess current resources and determine area of changes. He is to determine whether human resources needs can be sourced internally or externally. He is to conduct training needs assessment, to determine the type of training that will benefit the staff and organization. Conduct and arrange for trainings and determine the training results on the productivity of the firm. The HR professional manages and carries out career management in a way to align the employees’ dreams with the organizational requirements. Also as an employee champion, the HR expert is to carry out performance appraisal exercises to determine staff performances in their present responsibilities a well as determining those that will be rewarded, promoted, demoted and recognized. As an employee champion he should be involved in grievance handling and disciplinary issues in the firm. He is to handle all employee related matters like leave issues, medicals, pension matters, housing and general welfare issues.

In summary a HR professional should be able to perform the following functions; Manpower planning, recruitment, compensation and salary issues, employee development and administration, Training and career development, labour relations and discipline management, personnel transfer and movement, performance management Human resources information system, payroll, organizational development etc.


The labour market is growing everyday. A lot of graduates are pushed out every year into the labour market while little or no effort is made to create more jobs to absorb these job seekers. There is also intense competition to grab and retain the available offers employers are willing and able to give out. There is then the need for every employee to work hard in order to be relevant and competitive in the workplace. Once an employee is seen as relevant in his firm, he has a good chance to grow in the company and attain the highest possible position that will be open for him. In the global economy today a lot of downsizing and layoffs are going on in companies. Despite the level of the economic downturn, employees who are relevant in their firms will not be affected. There is need for every employee to develop himself to a level that despite what is going on in the economy, it will be almost impossible for them to be dispensable.

How then can one develop himself in order to be relevant in the workplace?

• Develop your skills: Your skills are those competencies you have that can help you deliver or not deliver quality services to your organization. Your skills can be seen from your educational qualifications, competencies, abilities, talents and general experiences. To be relevant and always remain so in your organization, you need to work hard to improve your skills always. Do not just stop at being a graduate. Remember you are not the only one who is eligible for that position you are occupying in your firm. Have you asked your self why two people are employed in the same department at the same time and within a few years one of them has already become a manager while the other still struggles to get promotion to the next level? Yes the answer is not far fetched. The one who is moving on may have developed his skills and positioned himself well for the promotion he got.

• Invest in yourself: What is the most profitable investment you can make? Some may tell you shares, bonds, landed properties, high yielding investment projects etc. Yes they are not wrong, but the truth is that the greatest investment anybody can make is to invest in oneself. An investment you make on your self is for ever; it continues to appreciate in value and always positions you for greater heights. It makes you to be more valuable, helps you to actualize your dreams and goals in life and most especially positions you to become your own boss at the right time.

• Always update yourself: It is good to go to school. It is good to have as many degrees as you can handle. The world itself is a dynamic place and changes occur every now and then. Trends on how things are done are always evolving. There is the need for one to always keep abreast with the changing technologies and lifestyle. The computer today and use of the internet has turned the entire world into a global village. There is the need for every employee to be computer literate and grow with the trend.

• Discover who you are: Find out your key skills and areas you are best at and try to specialize in that area. Find out those things you have flair for as you will easily excel in that area.

• Increase your worth: Training and development is a very important way to improve your self. Most employees wait for their firms to send them on trainings and most people wait indefinitely as there are a lot of people to train. You need not wait for your employer to send you on training. Find out the area you are deficient and enroll for training.

• Build good relationship with your colleagues: Peaceful and serene working environment is always as a result of good working relationship among colleagues. Make sure you are in the good books of your supervisors and subordinates too.

• Make sure you fit into the succession plan of your company: Those who fit into the succession plan of their firms are seen to be always relevant in the firm. They are such staff that can fit into the long term goal and objectives of the firm, those who can be trained, those who learn fast, those who are ready to add value and above all things ready and able to make a difference in their department and the company at large.


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