The Experiential Learning Academy (TEXLEA)

 

Unemployment rate in Nigeria is constantly on the rise, especially as Universities churn out thousands of graduates yearly.

The reason for this rise is hinged on two critical issues, lack of good job opportunities and lack of minimal required competency to get hired. This ranges from inability to perform well at interviews, lack of confidence in self, lack of exposure, in some cases inability of the candidates to communicate effectively amongst others.

While we do not have direct impact on the job opportunities, we can prepare you towards taking full advantage of the job opportunities that come your way.

At Fifth Quadrant Performance, we understand the problems associated with applicants not being able to perform outstandingly at job interviews and this has led us to create The Experiential Learning Academy (TEXLEA).

TEXLEA is a platform that trains job seekers in courses that helps develop their competencies to not only secure a job but also to perform well on the job, teaches them how to develop business ideas and most importantly, exposes them to existing job opportunities.

We have also partnered with organisations such as Chattyfy, Paystack, Aneolab and others to provide them with trained personnels that would fit their workforce requirements. Hence, you are not only getting trained but also stand a chance to get employed immediately after your training.

Are you interested in learning more about how TEXLEA works? Kindly send your enquiries to contactus@texlea.com or send us a direct message on our Instagram or Twitter page @fifthquadrant_ and Fifth Quadrant Performance on Facebook. We will be more than excited to fill you in on our services.

Watch this space for more information.

Building Organizational Culture in Developing Countries

One of the biggest questions that has bugged me over the last 2 years is “Can you truly build a world-class organization in a developing country?”. Before you try to answer this question, please take a few minutes to follow my thoughts. In Peter Drucker’s word, “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”. Simply put, it doesn’t matter how well-crafted an organization’s strategy is, it is bound to fail if the culture embedded in the organization is not aligned to the spirit of the strategy.

So, let’s look at what culture is. Organizational Culture, to be precise. Organizational culture is defined as a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organizations. These shared values have a strong influence on the people in the organization and dictate how they dress, act, and perform their jobs. In the article “Responding to organizational identity threats: Exploring the role of organizational culture”, Ravasi and Schultz (2006) defined organizational culture as “a set of shared assumptions that guide what happens in organizations by defining appropriate behaviour for various situations”.

My personal definition is ” Organizational Culture is the way things would normally work (or get done) in our organization“.

We may wonder why other people act the way they do at work? Well, a logical approach is to make use of the APCFB model. This model attempts to explain the cognitive process of linking external events to employee behaviour. Assumptions affect the perceptions people have. Those perceptions affect the conclusions. And those conclusions prompt feelings and ultimately, those feelings drive behaviours that we observe. By understanding this process, we may have a chance to influence positive behaviours.

So, let’s back up a bit answer the question “what forms assumptions?”. Let me bore you a bit, I remember my physics class (yeah! I had physics class…I am a chemical engineer but that’s a story for another day). Back to the thought, most calculations had phrases like “assume g to be 9.81 m/s2” or “assume the speed of light is 299,792,458 m/s”. These assumptions formed the basis of the calculations; abandon the assumption and whatever answer you get will be wrong. Same applies to an organization, trying to build organizational culture while ignoring the factors that drive assumptions. It is simply an exercise in futility.

This brings me to the concept of the Local Culture. Local Culture is commonly used to characterize the experience of everyday life in specific, identifiable localities or geographical locations. It reflects ordinary people’s feelings of appropriateness, comfort, and correctness — attributes that define personal preferences and changing tastes.

To contextualise this, if majority of the people in an organization have grown up believing that nothing works – public transportation, government, electricity to mention a few, how can they grasp a “CAN-DO” culture? Or how can a person who comes to work from a slum understand the importance of “Finesse”? One of my favourite parts of checking into any hotel is the “tissue test”. To explain this, I look for not-so-obvious areas and wipe them with tissue paper to see how much dust have gathered in those areas. And I must say that most hotels (and other public places) have failed the tissue test. The level of attention-to-detail that leads to that level of cleanliness is just not default mode for a majority of people who are cleaners in these places – many of whom live in the slums.

This simply means that if one of the cultures that an organization feels is important to its values is “attention-to-detail”, it is likely to struggle.

In order to understand how I became the tissue-tester, let me introduce Mrs. D. She is someone I had the privilege of working with some years back. Her role, as mundane as it seemed then, was a key part of building the culture of the organization. Her role was to conduct the tissue test after the cleaners were done cleaning – I would sit and watch in awe as she went around with her tissue paper checking the most awkward places for dust. And then watch the ensuing dialogue with the cleaners – many of who simply wondered why cleaning the top of a painting on the wall was remotely important. Slowly but surely, over time, I saw the cleaners evolved to become more efficient in their role. Why? Mrs. D had changed their assumption, which in essence changed their perception of cleanliness.

So back to my first question, “can you truly build a world-class organization in a developing country?”. The answer is “yes, but…”

Yes, you can. But you first you need to acknowledge that building the right culture is probably your Cost of Quality. The costs of doing a quality job, conducting quality improvements, and achieving goals must be carefully managed so that the long-term effect of quality on the organization is a desirable one. These costs must be a true measure of the quality effort, and they are best determined from an analysis of the costs of quality. Such an analysis provides a method of assessing the effectiveness of the management of quality and a means of determining problem areas, opportunities, savings, and action priorities.

“Can you truly build a world-class organization in a developing country?”. The answer is “yes, but…”

You have to be willing to invest in changing the assumptions that your local culture has created. One effective way to drive this, is investing in an Organizational Coaching programme that works with people at all levels to change their assumptions which in turn changes their perceptions, conclusions, feelings and behaviours. This change then drives the right organizational culture.

Organizational culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner so don’t leave it unattended to. Corporate culture is a hard thing to get right. It’s a moving target that means something different to everyone. It grows and evolves over time and is the result of action and reaction. It is the lingering effect of every interaction.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Rotimi Lijofi is Managing Partner at Fifth Quadrant Performance – a performance improvement company based in Lagos, Nigeria.

The team is dead…long live the team

I found this really interesting post on TrainingZone.co.uk and thought I should share

The team is dead… long live the team!

Blaire Palmer is CEO of That People Thing, a consultancy dedicated to inspiring leaders in fast-paced, ambitious businesses to drive change in their organisations in partnership with their people. Blaire has been described as a “secret weapon”, a “business muse” and “that lady who does the leadership and team stuff”. She is a regular guest expert on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show and has appeared on BBC Breakfast News and BBC Working Lunch.

For a long-time the most glamorous jobs in the professional development industry were up trees, in caves and hauling metres of hemp rope in a hard hat.

I’m talking about the outward-bound type team-builds that were all the rage in the 80s through to the noughties. If you weren’t going to drop a team off the sheer face of a cliff, challenge them to cross a river using only a pile of pallets and some baling twine, or dump them on a secluded hillside with a bag of tent poles, a tarpaulin and a can of beans (sans can-opener to see how the applied their ingenuity) then what kind of team-building fly-by-night did you think you were?

The whole concept of “team” is being re-thought. Because we all exist in the matrix now.

There’s still plenty of money to be made running these kinds of “experiential learnings” but these days most people are too busy and too cautious to spend their company’s money on a jolly.

The best type of team-building?

More than that, did they ever actually work? Is a team better able to address business critical topics, make tough decisions, identify root causes and inspire their people because they spent a very wet and very cold night together half way up Snowdon hacking at a tin of beans with a tent pole?

But more than that, the whole concept of “team” is being re-thought. Because we all exist in the matrix now.

Goodbye to cosy, functional teams

In the old days you will have spent most of your time in your cosy, functional team. You had little to do with “the business” which was an entity separate to your own. Instead, you sat with your HR colleagues all day, isolated from the rest of the company, with your opinions about what matters being reinforced by people who “get it”.

Your colleagues in Finance, IT and Sales felt the same, by the way – talking the same language as each other, seeing the business from the same angle, through the same lens, reassuring each other that, if only everyone else saw things as they did, the company would be far better off.

But those days are over. How much time do you get to chew that fat with your HR friends now? You’re part of a CBU, you’re a business partner, you’re attached to an affiliate or a product.

Solid and dotted lines are the norm

You’ve got a solid line in to the function head but a dotted line in to the local head. You’re part of a couple of project teams, each with their own project leader.

Maybe you’re lucky enough to have two line managers. Or you report to the head of your function within your business but you’ve also got an equivalent at group headquarters.

And perhaps your organization is structured by solution but your internal customer is structured by region (or vice versa) so you are part of a range of regional teams representing your solution alongside other people in your function who are representing theirs.

When I initially predicted the end of conventional hierarchies, the first question I got was ‘But who will do my appraisal?’ Of course, as we now know, who does your appraisal is the least of your concerns if you now live in the world I’ve described.

In a matrix, our conventional understanding of teams is blown to pieces. And this is a Good Thing.

Silos are terrible for creativity

Stagnant functional teams create silos and silos keep information and ideas trapped in disparate parts of the organization. That’s very bad for creativity. Creativity occurs when two seemingly unrelated concepts collide. And that can’t happen when information and ideas are locked within stagnant teams.

In a matrix, our conventional understanding of teams is blown to pieces

Of course, we know that the matrix, which was intended to overcome the disease of silos and create a more agile, responsive structure, has it’s own issues.

“Orphans looking for a family”

People don’t feel they have a home. They are orphans looking for a family to adopt them but instead are moved from one temporary foster home to another.

They can’t see their career path clearly because the hierarchy has been disrupted and the business is no longer made up of straight vertical lines.

They are managing conflicting priorities from multiple stakeholders who all have their own pressures and deadlines. And they are lonely – who do they talk to who really understands their world?

In reality, there is no structure that works perfectly. No matter how you organize your people you’ll gain some benefits and lose others.

The real problem is that the traditional hierarchy created families with parents and children, while the new matrix requires everyone to grow up and be adults. And we’re at the point in most companies where the kids are behaving like teenagers – they want their freedom, their autonomy, their voice to be heard. But they also want someone else to do their laundry and keep the fridge well-stocked.

“Struggling to let go”

Meanwhile the parents are struggling to let go and give their teens the space to learn by making mistakes because they may destroy the house and, anyway, they’ll always be your babies, right? What if they grow up and don’t need mummy and daddy any more?

In reality, there is no structure that works perfectly.

The matrix presents a cultural challenge not a structural one.

Making the matrix structure work for all

It only works when individuals see a connection between their behavior, their decisions, their attitudes and the results of the company.

It only works when they take responsibility for their contribution and make their own decisions about how they are going to make a difference.

It only works when they care enough about the company and its customers to know where they need to invest their energy and what they can neglect for now. In other words, it only works when the kids grow up.

And it only works when the senior leaders realize that their job is to turn their children in to productive adults and guide them through their teenage years without worrying that doing this successfully will diminish their own authority.

The matrix presents a cultural challenge not a structural one.

Rethink how you develop your people

It means a rethink of how you develop your people – your leaders and those they lead. Because any intervention that reinforces childlike and parent-like behaviours and mindsets undermines the structure you’ve intentionally created.

Any traditional “training”, any tell-and-sell style communication, any competition between functional heads, indeed any team building, risks sending conflicting messages. If you’re going to treat your people like children, how can they ever grow up?

The bravery needs to come from HR. When a team begs you for training where an external trainer will simply tell them what to do differently, you need to resist.

Instead, provide a talented coach for them who will challenge their way of thinking about the problem and prod them to have their own ideas that address the specific challenges they face in their organization at this time.

When a leader wants to run a roadshow where they present the strategy followed by a nod towards participation – the 10 minute Q&A – you need to resist. That’s how you treat children, not to teenagers, let alone adults.

When a team (you still have them, they just look and operate differently today) thinks that an hour of paintballing followed by dinner together is going to resolve the challenges they’re facing, you need to resist. Invest in giving them time together to put the elephants on the table and have the conversations they’ve been avoiding.

Then they can go to dinner.

Re-thinking the team is the right thing to do. But you can’t just break a structure that has become part of people’s DNA and expect them to embrace it.

There’s some growing up to do.

And the growing up has to start with you.