As former Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously said “it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
Uganda has an incredibly high level of unemployment not many managers and leaders care since they can hire and fire anytime with no repercussions at all. In fact, even the most qualified people for the job rather be told what to do to please the boss since opportunities are far and limited.
This is where Uganda goes wrong. In all of the taking advantage of high unemployment, they do not care to retain talent. AND they pay a great price for it. For some reason, people do not seem to understand that employee turn over costs money. Every engineer you hire and train and then fire costs you money. So because in your comfort, given the desperate poverty and high unemployment, you will hire an engineer who dares tell you that improvements could be done. Fire him or her or it and then bring in another one and restart to train.
Generally, MPT (Management Professional Techinical) take a minimum of 6 months to train on the job. Because Universities do not teach your particular standards but teach kids to learn when you put them on the job. So you spend minimum 6 months training a graduate and then frustrate them to watch them quit or if you are Ugandan, you tell them to walk off the job. AND then you will later say your bottom line is eroded? Were you to put numbers beside the training you gave, you would know that it is wrong to hire, train and fire.
This is where some of my best managers come in. I once made a presentation and was so bloody nervous because school had not really taught me to present to senior big people about financial statements (which had nothing to do with my job) and more so because I only had to tell how I had arrived at the application I had built.
To this day, I remember how badly I did. And since I had shown that I was incapable of explaining things and saying what I had done, it was time to upgrade my CV and go back looking.
The next day, my project manager walks in saying I must attend some courses. I was not fired…come on.. what was she hiding from me? Turns out the reality was (at that time), computer programmers are lousy at presentations. So off I had to go and take courses to take me out of my comfort zone. But if you think about it. You cannot build software which you cannot explain to the users and neither can you avoid presentations (public speaking) to the people who will fund the project so you can retain your job.
One day, in tears. My Project Manager had come into my office to check on me because I was locking myself away while planning for my future. That is the first manager that watched me cry. Oh YES, I cried on the job. Considered very wimpy. But it had to come out. I asked her “why do you not just tell me what to do? Tell me it and I will do it”.
She first helped me wipe away the tears and then said something I will never forget. “Martha, the company does not hire the best graduates to tell them what they must do. The company hires the best students who can challenge and tell us what we need to do and we expect to improve by people like you telling us what we are not doing right”.
JUST imagine that. A company hires you so you can teach them. AND mind you, that company will train you and care for you but they want and need you to also teach them what you know that they might not know already. Hallelujah!
Of course, naturally, not many teach their employers anything but just imagine the open space where people with ideas can just fly into their managers’ offices with ideas because the work environment has already told you that you are hired to teach what the company might not know.
FUTURE of great jobs depends on what you can bring to the table for the employer. AND remember, a company which gives you speaking room is the company which will also ensure they train you and support you to also learn more, become stronger and become a better contributor to their bottom line. EVEN better, many companies now look at you as a person. “Supposing for some reason our company goes under, will my employees be able to find work elsewhere?”.
STOP looking at base salary. Many companies out there are offering opportunities for you to work with them or elsewhere and will train you and give you so much which is not on paper as your salary. Always look at the benefits and work culture. There is a lot more than the $$.
Martha Leah Nangalama
PS: I am only a writer because my manager insisted that I write all documentation for all the software I built, write user guides, write training manuals…AND make presentations. That good. Amen.