The C-suite executives and HR leaders that will succeed in the era of digital change and global economic and political uncertainty will be those that are the most curious and adaptable rather than those that are rigid and hierarchical. That is one of the key insights to emerge in the first episode of Invisible Admin: Conversations about the future of work – a series of podcasts from Sage and Inquisition.
A good leader in the past was regarded as a person who was certain about what needed to be done. But with technology, economic and political change unfolding at such a rapid pace, today’s leaders operate in a world that is less certain, says Graeme Codrington, an expert on the future world of work and founder of TomorrowToday. Strategies developed today may need to change tomorrow in response to new competition, new technology or different economic circumstances.
Anja Van Beek, Vice President of People (HR) at Sage International (Africa, Middle East, Asia & Australia), says that as globalisation and new technology challenge managers’ traditional mindsets, they also need to relook the profile of the people they employ. They need to build teams that are comfortable with change and ambiguity – and that in turn demands that they think about training, recruitment and management in new ways.
The on-the-go workforce
The pace of change in today’s working environment and Millenials joining the workforce both demand a new approach to training and development. While it is important to deliver lifelong learning, organisations should make content available in a way that suits today’s on-the-go workforce—for example, digestible chunks of online video or audio content that can be listened to in the car on the way to work or at the gym.
“Rather than forcing employees to learn in classroom type training sessions, we should accommodate them by giving them access to materials on their mobile devices,” says Van Beek. “They should be able to learn at work or in their own time, at their own pace and in formats that meet their needs.”
It is also important to encourage innovation and experimentation on-the-job to create a responsive and innovative workforce. Leaders and employees should read widely and share what they learn with their teams. Van Beek suggests that this should be integrated into the company in the form or ‘book review’ sessions – or even a company ‘book club’.
Experimentation key to responsiveness
Many leaders know that they are facing uncertainty but aren’t quite sure how to start adapting to it. Codrington says that the easiest, simplest way to start this journey is to encourage teams to experiment. Experiments can be small or large, but the key is to start questioning long held assumptions about the way we work and why we things in a specific way.
For example, one could test out allowing people to work from home for two days a week and monitor productivity levels or do away with email updates and meetings for a week and see what happens. Over time, this approach will help companies become more responsive to changes in the environment.
The end of one-size-fits-all workplaces
Codrington says that another shift leaders must prepare for is the move to a more personalised work experience rather than the one-size-fits-all HR practices of the past. For example, people expect to learn on their own terms. Where training and development once needed to be standardised for the sake of efficiency and control, digital tools give organisations the flexibility to customise training programmes and track them efficiently.
In practice, says Van Beek, that may mean gathering data about employees and using analytics to see what they expect from the workplace and how they feel about the employer brand. Anonymous employee surveys can be a useful tool in this regard; it’s also important to communicate with employees using different mediums, whether that’s video or Twitter.
Ultimately, says Codrington, the behaviours that the millennial generation is bringing into the workforce will become pervasive. They are the customers and employees of the future and they expect to find a collaborative, connected and personalised work experience. Leaders that tap into their ability to multi-task, cope with uncertainty and leverage technology will be positioned for success.
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The recent study on youth entrepreneurship in Botswana has identified difficult access to funding, land, machinery, lack of entrepreneurial mindset and proper training as serious challenges that continue to hamper youth entrepreneurship development in this country.
The study conducted by Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) in collaboration with University of Botswana has confirmed that despite the government and private sector multi-billion pula entrepreneurship development initiatives, many young people in Botswana continue to fail to grow their businesses into sustainable and successful companies that can help reduce unemployment.
University of Botswana researchers Gaofetege Ganamotse and Rudolph Boy who compiled findings in the 2022 study report for Botswana stated that as part of the study interviews were conducted with successful youth entrepreneurs to understand their critical success factors.
According to the researchers other participants were community leaders, business mentors, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, financial institutions, higher education institutions, non-governmental institutions, policymakers, private organizations, and support structures such as legal and technical experts and accountants who were interviewed to understand how they facilitate successful youth entrepreneurship.
The researchers said they found that although Botswana government is perceived as the most supportive to businesses when compared to other governments in sub-Saharan Africa, youth entrepreneurs still face challenges when accessing government funding. “Several finance-related challenges were identified by youth entrepreneurs. Some respondents lamented the lack of access to start-up finance, whereas others mentioned lack of access to infrastructure.”
The researchers stated that in Botswana entrepreneurship is not yet perceived as a field or career of choice by many youth “Participants in the study emphasized that the many youth are more of necessity entrepreneurs, seeing business venturing as a “fall back. Other facilitators mentioned that some youth do not display creativity, mind-blowing innovative solutions, and business management skills. Some youth entrepreneurs like to take shortcuts like selling sweets or muffins.”
According to the researchers, some of the youth do not display perseverance when they are faced with adversity in business. “Young people lack of an entrepreneurial mindset is a common challenge among youth in business. Some have a mindset focused on free services, handouts, and rapid gains. They want overnight success. As such, they give up easily when faced with challenges. On the other hand, some participants argue that they may opt for quick wins because they do not have access to any land, machinery, offices, and vehicles.”
The researchers stated that most youth involved in business ventures do not have the necessary training or skills to maintain a business. “Poor financial management has also been cited as one of the challenges for youth entrepreneurs, such as using profit for personal reasons rather than investing in the business. Also some are not being able to separate their livelihood from their businesses.
Lastly, youth entrepreneurs reported a lack of experience as one of the challenges. For example, the experience of running a business with projections, sticking to the projections, having an accounting system, maintaining a clean and clear billing system, and sound administration system.”
According to the researchers, the participants in the study emphasized that there is fragmentation within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, whereby there is replication of business activities without any differentiation. “There is no integration of the ecosystem players. As such, they end up with duplicate programs targeting the same objectives. The financial sector recommended that there is a need for an intermediary body that will bring all the ecosystem actors together and serve as a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs and build mentorship programs that accommodate the business lifecycle from inception to growth.”
Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is said to have recorded an operating surplus of P61 Million, an improvement compared to the previous year. The housing, office and other building needs giant met with stakeholders recently to share how the business has been.
The P61 million is a significant increase against the P6 million operating loss realized in the prior year. Profit before income tax also increased significantly from P2 million in the prior year to P72 million which resulted in an overall increase in surplus after tax from P1 million prior year to P64 million for the year under review.
Chief of Finance Officer, Diratsagae Kgamanyane disclosed; “This growth in surplus was driven mainly by rental revenue that increased by 15% from P209 million to P240 million and reduction in expenditure from P272 million to P214 million on the back of cost containment.” He further stated that sales of high margin investment properties also contributed significantly to the growth in surplus as well as impairment reversals on receivables amounting to P25 million.
It is said that the Corporation recorded a total revenue of P702 million, an 8% decrease when compared to the P760 million recorded in the prior year. “Sales revenue which is one of the major revenue streams returned impressive margins, contributing to the overall growth in the gross margin,” added Kgamanyane.
He further stated professional fees revenue line declined significantly by 64% to P5 million from P14 million in the prior year which attributed to suspension of planned projects by their clients due to Covid-19 pandemic. “Facilities Management revenue decreased by P 24 million from P69 million recorded in prior year to P45 million due to reduction in projects,” Kgamanyane said.
The Corporation’s strength is on its investment properties portfolio that stood at P1.4 billion at the end of the reporting period. “The Corporation continues its strategy to diversify revenue streams despite both facilities management income and professional fees being challenged by the prevailing economic conditions that have seen its major clients curtailing spending,” added the CEO.
On the one hand, the Corporation’s Strategic Performance which intended to build 12 300 houses by 2023 has so far managed to build 4 830 houses under their SHHA funding scheme, 1 240 houses for commercial or external use which includes use by government and 1 970 houses to rent to individuals.
BHC Acting CEO Pascaline Sefawe noted that; BHC’s planned projects are said to include building 336 flat units in Gaborone Block 7 at approximately P224 million, 100 units in Maun at approximately P78 million, 13 units in Phakalane at approximately P26 million, 212 units in Kazungula at approximately P160 million, 96 units at approximately P42 million in Francistown and 84 units at approximately P61 million in Letlhakane. Emphasing; “People tend to accuse us of only building houses in Gaborone, so here we are, including other areas in our planned projects.”