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Business owners need to keep up with trends within their industry and incorporate positive changes to ensure continuity for their organizations. Many business leaders make the mistake of becoming lax when running their business, and little wonder many businesses are unable to survive beyond the first decade of the opening. A way to ensure the continued effective running of a business is adopting modern learning and development strategies into your organization.

A learning and development strategy is a tool that helps you align your business objectives with the necessary trainings. Learning and development are important because it enables an organization to teach its staff the necessary skills and knowledge needed to move the business’ vision forward.

To create an efficient learning and development strategy, you should set achievable training goals; what you want should not be impracticable and ensure you can measure your progress. Also, your strategy should be clear, and employees must see how it relates to the overall vision of the business. Let your strategy be flexible and user-friendly, and only then will you be able to get benefits. As trends, change, business owners are encouraged to be in touch and make the most of these changes. The major trends in learning and development include:

Communication

As emphasis is being placed on communication, workers and the management and should have a workable medium of exchanging information. Communication helps share ideas, information, and thoughts. A learning and development strategy should have this. If employees do not have the liberty to communicate, how will a manager know their minds? How will employees express their dissatisfaction with a particular activity? And how can the management share its vision?

Soft skills

While technical/hard skills can never be ignored, soft skills are becoming increasingly necessary. It is a pivotal aspect of employees’ development. Soft skills such as agile thinking, collaboration, emotional intelligence, listening, empathy, and patience will increase the ability of workers to serve clients effectively. A business need of the hour is that employees are adequately  equipped to help consumers.

Mobile learning

Learning and development will become more accessible and flexible. This flexibility allows learners to learn on their mobile devices at any time. Content materials are tailored to fit into mobile devices enabling users to learn at their own pace. Though in its nascent stage, this form of educational trend has come to stay.

Mixed learning

In addition to in-person training, social media tools are being maximized by business leaders to create an advanced learning culture. Mixed learning uses traditional teaching with an online method to train students. An employee gets to benefit from the use of both approaches. This type of learning is also called “Hybrid learning” or “blended learning”. Most organizations have fully settled into using this method of learning.

Virtual training

With the impact of the pandemic of 2020, virtual tools are now essential for the continuity of business operations. Employees can learn and get info via this medium. Most organizations are maximizing available tools to ensure that employees are up to date on information and equipped to carry out assigned responsibilities. This trend can be incorporated by any progressive firm that wants to stay ahead in the industry. One advantage of this trend is that companies are spending less, unlike physical training. This trend isn’t without disadvantages, one of which is that participants’ engagement is low.

 Conclusion

Every year, business leaders can harness different learning and development strategies to move their businesses forward. An organization can explore these trends for more remarkable growth. Equipping your employees with the required skills and knowledge directly influences productivity. Workers need the training to stay relevant, and they are searching for organizations invested in learning and development.

To ensure that the learning and development strategies reflect your business objectives, you need to select reliable providers of learning programs and engage your employees not as a group but individually. This way, you get insights into their unique abilities. Your firm can leverage learning and development as a form of incentive; by investing in your employees’ development. These will give employees reason to stay and promote the business goals of the organization.


Benefits-of-building-a-diverse-and-inclusive-workforce

Investing in a diverse and inclusive team brings innovative results. For some firms who have operated a homogenous group, transiting to an inclusive workforce may be challenging, but it also has immense benefits. Diversity in the workplace has to do with the understanding and acceptance of the differences between people. These differences could be religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, experience, language, ideologies, personalities, and race. Inclusion is the ability of a business to create an environment that is collaborative, supportive, and respective. This enhances the participation and performance of all parties involved. Operating a diverse workforce can attract top performers to your organization, and beyond attracting them, you can also retain their services. Diversity leads to higher value creation.

 

Employees shun companies that lack diversity because of the fear of being restricted. A non-inclusive workforce can also have damning consequences on your business as it could ruin your reputation and lead to the loss of clients. Representation is important, and people want to feel that represented in all spheres. To build a diverse and inclusive workforce, you can implement the following strategies; :

Create a sense of belonging

When employees feel left out or undervalued, this will lead to low performance. People thrive in an environment where they feel appreciated. It would help if you created a workspace where employees feel safe and included. You can’t have a diverse and inclusive environment and still promote favoritism. Pay attention to your bias; if you favor a particular group or person based on their gender, religion, sexual orientation, or race – you have to let go of this prejudice. Encourage people to speak up and welcome diverse views.

Continuous teaching about inclusion

Most firms might start by sensitizing their workforce on diversity and inclusion, but the fact remains that one-time teaching is not enough to change biases and stereotypes. Repetition is needed for people to make conscious efforts towards change. Organizations will see fundamental changes in different actions and a better mindset. Encourage workers to integrate non-discriminatory ideas and beliefs into their lives. Inclusion goes beyond words to the kind of practices in place. Check the process your business operates- are people prevented from talking in meetings because of their ages? Are people left out because of their sexual orientation or religion? These are vital questions that help you search for yourself and enhance your capacity to build a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Empathy

Empathy requires that you put yourself in someone’s shoes and feel what they are feeling. A business leader should reach within himself to recall a scenario when he might have dealt excluded or shamed. It is only then they can effectively relate to an excluded person’s state of mind. Even amongst employees, empathy is a requirement.

Develop Equal Access to all Individuals

Access to opportunities should be available to all. Employees can see impartiality, and it could cause resentment within your workforce. Your business needs a group of persons who can compete collaboratively. You do not want to have to break up fractions within your organization. Eliminate any practice that prevents some employees from accessing an opportunity when others can. If your intentions are genuine, make it known to everyone so they do not make assumptions.

Consider people’s preferences.

Not everyone likes the same food, drink, or movies, and people should not be forced to do what they don’t want. Take the diversity of employees into consideration when planning. Like in a social gathering, not everyone drinks the same beverage or eats the same food. Ask the right questions; this will show your employees that you are attentive to differences. The answers you garner will help you cater to people based on their needs.

Develop anti-discriminatory policies

A policy that is clearly against discrimination will keep employees in check. Develop a system that advocates for real change, especially when your business is newly incorporating diversity and inclusion. It may be challenging at the beginning, but it is achievable. Everyone needs to make conscious efforts. And do not forget that employees will respond when they see the leadership’s actions. So, it would be best if you endeavor to walk the talk.

Conclusion

Your firm can use diversity as a competitive edge. Give employees reasons to stay with your business. Be attentive to their needs. Employees drift towards inclusive workforces. You can attract top talents to your team by building a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Everyone wants to know that there is a place for them within an organization. it is a morale boost, which also enhance performance.

Please take care to create a workforce that does not only employ diverse talents but includes them. After recruiting, established practices that encourage inclusion should be seen.


employee

Recruiting and retaining good employees remains a major problem for many organisations. Finding the right talents that fit into the company’s goals and are willing to commit to these goals has proven to be an arduous task that many businesses haven’t found answers to. Employee retention is not an exercise to be treated nonchalantly because the consequences of not giving it attention can be very severe. Your employees are the drivers that move the vision and objectives of your business forward; now imagine getting a worker that doesn’t understand the vision or cannot get on board with goals? Tragic!

The quality of employees an organisation has, determines the corporate performance to a large extent. Many employees do not stay long with a business due to different reasons. It could be due to low benefits, no motivation from team leads, a hostile environment, unrealistic targets, etc. An organisation must be able to hold on to well-performing staff for a long time. There is competition within the industry, and any employee lost is a win for your competitors. To attract and retain competent employees, here are some tips to help you:

Connect with People

Your business needs the right talent, and many times they may not come to you. One effective way of spotting talents is by connecting with people at events. At such places, you get to meet quite a number of people, and you’ll be amazed at the quality of talents you’d find. Most organisations start to look out for students who are in the final stages of their education. They then groom them to fit into the company’s objectives.

Campus recruiting will never go out of vogue as it is a major sourcing centre. Most students may not be fully conscious of their capabilities, so if you can identify them and give them a platform to grow, they are likely to put in their best and generate good performance. Your business can therefore align with schools to organise job fairs or activities that showcase the best students’ abilities. Retaining a worker starts from the recruitment process; show a potential employee why your firm is the best place to be.

Encourage Growth

One major mistake most organisations make, is not encouraging their employees to evolve. A stagnant worker will soon become a liability to even your business. Encourage growth amongst your workforce. If possible, organise teachings sessions that help employees bring on board the latest developments. Every strong organisation must focus on educating its employees because it sets the employees for higher responsibilities. By training an employee, there will be no need for you to recruit for higher positions, as you’d have someone within the firm who is capable.

Encourage Feedback 

Create an environment where employees can speak freely. This should be done consciously. Employees will most likely stay in a business where they see their inputs being acknowledged. No one will want to stay in a place that they fear their words will bring retribution. Employees should be able to call attention to a plan that may be disastrous. Promote feedback and contributions from your employees, and you’ll be surprised at the quality of ideas you will find.

Juicy Benefits

To reduce the chances of an employee leaving the job, offer more than they can get from competitors. Benefits encourage workers to stay on. Flexible job hours, incentives, paid leaves are all ways to retain top performers. With the recent turn of events globally, you can try to sustain remote work among workers. An unsatisfied worker will always seek other opportunities to move. Do not give employees the opportunity to leave your business, especially when they are high performers. Good benefits can also attract employees from other firms to yours.

Motivation

Motivation can sustain employees for a long time. Show appreciation to workers for work well done. This technique is an effective form of motivation. When your employees performs beyond expectation, motivate them. In doing this, you are also encouraging others to put in their best. If the offer of a gift upon performance further enhances even higher performance, make such a purchase. Happy employees perform better. No disgruntled person will be effective at work.

Transparency 

Employees will thrive in a workplace where openness is encouraged. When workers see that transparency is a value, it creates a safe space for them to work. The management should strive to remove every embargo that discourages the community within the organisation. Where employees can see the impact of their output, they will be encouraged to work harder. If, for example, an employee makes a positive observation and sees the management implement such input, such an individual will be encouraged to put in his best knowing that effort is appreciated and is not discarded.

Conclusion 

The recruitment process is not an easy one. Finding the right candidate and ensuring they stay with your organisation can sometimes be hard to achieve. Employees are usually on the outlook for firms that offer more to them. And competitors are equally looking for how to snatch your best performers. With these two possibilities, the onus lies on business leaders to ensure they can get high performers to stay with them. The exit of a competent employee will surely tell on your business. The tips given above are some ways to attract and retain the services of high flyers.

 


grow-your-business-in-a-recession

A recession as we all know, is defined as the decline over two or more consecutive quarters, in the market value of the goods and services produced within the country in a given period of time, this being the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Recessions often pose serious challenges to corporate leadership, as by the definition, they are known to be characterized by tough economic and market conditions which result in operational and financial difficulties to the institution. This could be attributable to factors such as the decline in demand and therefore threats to production orders, sales and resulting profits.

With the Covid-19 pandemic-driven recession, the leadership of companies across Africa, would likely try several solutions to keeping earnings and profits from nose-diving. In some cases, the leadership challenge is even tougher and would include keeping the company from collapse.

The key issue for leaders of companies therefore, would be how to keep their organizations afloat during these challenging periods, and possibly how to  perform well as the economy emerges into more positive territory.

One of the key strategies will include managing what could be called the Cost Minimization Temptation. Here the natural inclination for leaders is to cut costs to minimal levels, especially through aggressive lay-offs, as well as investment and assets down-sizing. While there may be some logic to this line of thought, the reality is that companies may need to consider doing this more sensibly. This means focusing more on cutting costs that create operational efficiencies while maintaining costs that give them a competitive advantage and the capacity to exploit unique opportunities that emerge as the economy climbs out of the recession. Action points here will involve scrutinizing the entire business model for areas that require efficiency enhancements and provide significant cost-savings, including organization, structure, etc. Also included here are areas of duplicated activities and processes that in the past were key, but currently have little relevance or value. The message therefore is to be careful of extreme cost cutting that kills capacity.

Also, recessions create new dynamics in the market place, such as shifts in customer needs and buying behaviour. The ability of the leadership to quickly scope these changes in customer needs and position the institution to exploit such emerging needs through new products and new markets, is fundamental. This calls for intelligent investment in innovation, research and development, as well as digital sales and marketing. These are very key in providing the needed visibility and capacity needed as the tides turn.

Against this background of changing customer needs and opportunities, there would be need for the organization to carefully identify and implement requirements for strategic staff hirings as well as training and staff development. Interestingly, these tend to be the first doors that get shut, in the aggressive cost cutting reaction that comes with the onslaught of a recession.

Finally, in implementing the above, leaders of African companies may be running their strategies around the economic forecasts that indicate that their economies will begin to see significant economic turnaround from this year 2021.

World Economic Situation

Source: World Economic Situation and Prospects 2021: Africa

While this is a positive perspective to work with, with the global nature of the recession and the global linkage of world economies and Africa’s peculiar debt and  policy challenges, one will advise that leaders also work with a parallel scenario of  a slow 2021-2022  recovery.

 

ShaiyenExecutive Vice Chairman, H. Pierson Associates Hpierson.com


AI and Risk Enterprise-wide Risk Management (ERM) is the holistic approach to managing an organization’s upside and downside risks towards meeting its objectives. Its primary aim is to maximize risk-adjusted returns by giving consideration to the organization’s risks and their dependencies. Some of the traditional approaches used in risk management have been impeded by challenges such as dealing with unstructured data which limits risk management capabilities. In a bid to advance the goal of ERM, therefore, Artificial Intelligence (AI) based solutions have been increasingly deployed such as for risk identification, risk assessment and risk management. Using AI, current unstructured data is used to identify patterns and behaviours that then provide indications of future actions such as through advanced predictive analytics. The increasing trend in the deployment of AI in risk management can be found in areas such as Credit Risk where the use of machine learning algorithms are used to conduct better assessments of customers’ credit histories and identify other vulnerabilities or patterns that may not have been captured. This capability through AI aids more reliable credit scoring and the achievement of better default rates for lending institutions. Also for Market Risk, the deployment of AI has aided the reduction of the risks in trading while increasing returns. Also, for Fraud Risk, AI models are able to analyze large data volumes, observe patterns across channels and catch potentially fraudulent activity across numerous clients all at the same time. Major benefits accruing to organizations from deploying AI in risk management include:
  • Increased focus on analytics and more proactive mitigation of losses as against the normal tendency to expend time managing the risks in operational processes
  • Better identification of new and hidden risks
  • Faster and more accurate risk assessments using financial and non-financial data
  • New risk management approaches
  • Better model risk management including back-testing and model validation
  • Better risk oversight and monitoring
  • Quicker and more cost-effective predictive analytics-based fraud detection across multiple channels
AI could however come with potential consequences. This could include Stakeholder Risk whereby its output could portend redundancies for certain categories of staff or with customers resistance such as in dealing with chatbots. AI could also pose Model Risk with its ability to re-calibrate after roll-out, following the initial calibration. It could also impact the overall Risk Profile of the organization. This potential collateral or consequential risks posed by AI can be mitigated through close monitoring initiatives. They do not, therefore, diminish the strong transformation that AI is driving in risk management. In general, with the deployment of AI tools in risk management, organizations achieve higher levels of risk management efficiency. Overall benefits to the organization include speed and time savings, lower operational costs, lower regulatory and compliance costs and then, revenue optimization. Shaiyen – Executive Vice Chairman, H. Pierson Associates

H. Pierson Associates Limited and XPLANE Consulting are delighted to announce that they have entered into a partnership, combining H. Pierson’s industry-leading management consulting services with XPLANE’s world-class design-led approach to Strategy Development & Activation. The partnership is focused on supporting companies in Africa and select emerging market institutions.

With uncertainty, technology, and innovation playing an increasingly critical role in every aspect of business especially with the COVID pandemic, organizations across the continent are recognizing that they need to more than ever before, anticipate disruptions, and respond quicker to market dynamics in articulating and executing their strategies.

The H. Pierson-XPLANE partnership is a powerful combination. XPLANE’s diverse global team based out of Portland Oregon, USA, combines its strategy expertise as a Fortune-500-focused management consulting firm, with the creative power of a design studio. This derives from its renowned trademark as a “Visual Thinking Company”. Its unique approach combines hands-on visual thinking, engaging workshops, and collaborative co-creation with stakeholders.

This is complementary to the H. Pierson team’s agile approach to focused strategy execution monitoring and evaluation, which bridges the gaps between strategy development and execution, and uniquely assures fast strategy adoption, institutionalization, and impact optimization.  

Speaking on the partnership, the Executive Vice Chairman/Founder Mrs. Eileen Shaiyen had this to say: “we are delighted with the XPLANE/H. Pierson partnership, and are certain that it will deliver very superior solutions to our clients across Africa and select emerging markets.” 

While speaking on the partnership, the CEO of XPLANE Aric Wood said that both firms were very aligned in the type of work they do “we are thrilled to partner with one of the continent’s leading firms, H. Pierson, to support their clients’ efforts to accelerate positive change”.


Oil-production-in-Nigeria-1200x675.jpg

The Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) recently lent support to the global strive for the achievement of the sustainability principles, particularly gender parity.
This came to the fore at its recent workshop on gender mainstreaming, which was facilitated by the Emerging Businesses & Sustainability Unit of H. Pierson Associates, a leading management consulting firm.

The workshop was in furtherance of the declaration made by the Executive Secretary of the Board Engineer Simbi Wabote, at their 2018 Practical Nigerian Content Workshop, to promote affirmative action in the oil and gas industry and engender the participation of more women.

The aim of the workshop was to provide a platform for women in the oil and gas industry to deliberate on issues affecting their entry into the sector as employees or entrepreneurs, their career advancement to top positions, their peculiar challenges, as well as showcase role models and share their success stories.

The Executive Vice Chairman, H. Pierson Associates, Mrs. Eileen Shaiyen, outlined key success factors for female corporate executives and entrepreneurs in the oil and gas sector.

She stated during a panel session that the reasons why most women crashed out along the way was their inability to effectively balance their desires for a career, with the demands of motherhood, building a family and responding to adverse societal stereotypes about the role of women.

To get to the top, she encouraged women to set clear career targets for themselves, build a strong support system and stay very focused. She also emphasized the need for them to abhor mediocrity and strive for excellence always.

On his part, Wabote stated in his welcome address that the NCDMB would use its platform to drive subtle policy decisions that could give women some edge in their activities in the oil and gas sector. Also in his closing remarks he emphasised that the NCDMB would put together a robust implementation strategy, which would address the outcomes of the workshop in the short, medium and long term.

Speaking also at the event during a panel session was a sustainability expert, Dr. Natalie Beinisch, which focused on “Overcoming barriers to career progression and mentoring the next generation”. She shed great insight on how women can overcome barriers as they progress in their careers.

Beinisch, highlighted that women should be more aggressive in taking advantage of opportunities. They should erase the thought that top positions in the oil and gas industry are for men alone. Women should be more authentic, show capacity and interest each time they are called upon, and very importantly women should possess the virtue of integrity in their careers and business progression.
The event also witnessed the presence of some important dignitaries, which included Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, who presented a keynote address. Goodwill messages were also received from Mrs. Hadiza Bala-Usman Managing Director, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and Engr. Mrs. Joana Olutunmbi Maduka, Rep. Women in Energy Board of Trustees.

H. Pierson Associates, is a boutique-consulting firm with over 60 seasoned professionals with varied experiences in both the private and public sectors. The firm has been in operation for over 29 years, playing a leading role in providing consulting and capacity building solutions in various sectors of the economy (power, oil & gas, financial services, manufacturing, agriculture, etc) in Nigeria and the West Coast.
It provides uncommon value-adding solutions to its clients towards the achievement of their business objectives.


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In times of uncertain economics, organisations are forced into making or considering changes. Some opt for simple radical surgery and cut out unnecessary or redundant resources. Others try a more complex solution and restructure their operations. Both approaches are fraught with difficulty – and as we know from history, the majority of organisation changes fail to reach their objectives. Professor John Kotter at Harvard Business school identifies eight key causes, most of which pointed to a dis-connect between the leaders and employees in an organisation – the leaders had good ideas but failed to get them across effectively.

This research, along with other studies, confirms that organisations are not like machines, which can be

‘re-engineered’, but are complex social processes. Some of which are determined by structures and formal systems of the organisation, but most of which are ‘informal.

So with either approach, there are likely to be difficulties. Radical surgery leaves people feeling ‘survivor sickness’ and exhibiting lower productivity. People are displaced and disgruntled, worrying about their own future rather than focusing on the development of the new organisation. In more complex changes, people take time – often too long – to come to terms with the new realities and relationships and the main opportunity is lost.

We know from other studies that people are affected personally by change in different ways. To be successful, a change programme needs to take account of these effects and work to minimise the negative impact.

The key to success therefore lies in engaging with the informal processes, the interactions between everyone in the organisation which constitute the way the organisation actually works.


The questions

Strategies that will yield success are those that motivate and stimulate employees. We also know that the knowledge of what to do is not confined to the executive suite. More often than not, the solutions are already known, but lack the commitment to be implemented (as the GE WorkOut™ process has proven over many years). How can you involve employees in the creation of these change strategies?

Involvement of all stakeholders interests in the organisation, not just the financial shareholders’, is critical in creating a viable strategy. Pursuing an inclusive agenda that focuses on the needs of its customers, employees, suppliers and the wider community is one that has the greater chance of success. How do you create real dialogue with the stakeholders and reconcile differences that will generate that inclusive, successful strategy?

In times of difficulty we often forget that a lot of what we do actually does work. There is a danger of throwing the good out with the bad, especially when involved in surgical change. Again, research identifies that working with strengths and enhancing what works has greater success than trying to fix weaknesses and what doesn’t work. How can you identify the root of success rather than the root causes of failure?

There is always the difficult problem of engaging people and getting them committed to the future. How do you translate negative fear and apprehension into positive energy working to succeed through the troubled times?

And there is the problem of time and money – or lack of it! Many re-organisation and change processes are known to take months, if not years of concentrated effort, and a lot of resources. So, how do you manage to engage people, develop strategies and get commitment to implementation in a fast and cost effective manner?


The answers

The answers to these questions lie in engaging in whole system participation events.

The events – Appreciative Inquiry Summits, Future Search Conferences, Real Time Strategic Change, Open Space Conferences, World Café, etc – utilise systems thinking and allow everyone associated with the problem or organisation to be involved, employees and stakeholders alike. Simultaneous involvement of hundreds of people allows for exchange of ideas, gathering of strategic information, decision making and planning in a single event – or linked series – of events typically lasting 2-3 days.

By focusing on positive outcomes and best practice, participants in these events experience enjoyable ways of working that release creativity and breakthrough results. They replace the passive ‘tell and sell’ model with high levels of participation and co-creating, so generating commitment – there is no need to get ‘buy in’, the participants are the joint architects of the strategy, so they are highly committed and motivated to it. Implementation starts immediately.

For example, in one company, Appreciative Inquiry was used to conduct analysis of the total system which was completed in less than two weeks by the employees themselves. In another, a summit meeting brought together all 750 employees, the company’s leadership, and 100 customers to create a new business model – a year on, profits were up over 200 percent and absenteeism down 300 percent. In another application, IKEA simultaneously doubled sales, improved quality and cut the price 30% without cutting profit of it Ektorp range whilst making sofa shopping easier for customers, and cutting delivery times – all in a concentrated three day event involving 52 stakeholders including suppliers, executives and workers from Sweden, Canada, the U.S. and other countries, and several customers.

Fast – and cost effective – solutions. These events utilise internal experience and expertise with consultants providing the expert design and facilitation of the events themselves. Thus the consultancy cost is vastly less than traditional change consultancy where the consultants become integrated in the organisation to advise expert solutions. And the outcomes are achieved more quickly – and are more acceptable to the workforce.

Culled from hr.com


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