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Suggesting change to your seniors in the workplace…

Gabriel Tlagae

Corporate Acumen

A year or so ago, a friend sent me an article about corporate progression; just that this article was about cars but making relevance to our ever evolving working environments. Somewhere on a high way in South Africa, amidst peak traffic, was a driver in a Range Rover SUV, driving around 100km/h on a 120km/h zone.

 

Behind this powerful machine was another driver on a sleek BMW travelling slightly faster than the Range Rover driver. Fast forward, whenever the BMW driver tried to overtake on the right shoulder the Range Rover driver moved onto that lane and purred more with power. This went on for a while until both cars were travelling well over 180km/h. To cut the story short, for those who drive, you know the keep left, pass right rule right? Well, the BMW driver took to the left lane, which could be frowned upon and sped off past the majestic Range Rover driver.


Moral of the story is the Range Rover with its powerful stature represents a mature, vastly experienced and almost stuck in ‘what has been tried and tested works’ senior executives. The BMW with its sleek agile nature resembled the younger executives who want things done, and done right now. Your techno savvies if you may.

 

In summation, the Range Rover kept changing lanes in front of the BMW if not at the same time holding the latter back. This was until the BMW took an unorthodox decision and decided to pass the massive machine in an unexpected fashion. We can learn from the behavior of these two drivers and their cars without knowing them.


The above inquiry is often what we see in the workplace, you have senior supervisors who want things done in a particular fashion as it has worked and given the business great results. Whenever a junior executive pitches an idea that is new and foreign to the business, the senior executives aren’t quick or eager to adopt it.

 

The junior executives may want to go toe to toe with the latter to prove the value of their idea but this may be seen as presumptuous, insubordination and downright hard headed in taking instructions. Today’s article focuses on making your 21st Millennia ideas heard and how best you can sell yourself and ideas to your superiors without offending their experience as well as their shrewd business intelligence.


 Respect the past, but embrace change – the idea here is synonymous with cultural upbringing; we should embrace our culture and also fuse it with the much heavy evolving influence from the modern world. In short, do not disengage from what worked for the business previously, but rather adopt its strengths and combine them with the ever changing world dynamics. That way you are guaranteed to meet both expectations of the BMW and the Range Rover.  


Keep quiet and listen to understand – It is the always the smart thing to listen to the problem, ask questions to fully understand the entire scenario before adding your comments. By so doing, you also come across to your seniors even fellow colleagues as sensible and calculative to both sides of the argument.

Get others on your team. Always embrace team work when you are in the work place. Not to say share whatever intelligent thought you may have with everyone but engage others onto your ideas so you brainstorm collectively and share thoughts. That way, the popular the idea gets, the more senior management will lean towards buying in.

 

Avoid ganging up on the latter as they will become defective and shut out the idea before hearing its merits. Remember to get respected members of the work force as your back up, not Tom who misses work for three days after every payday. This idea also shows your superiors that you are a team player and transparent in the work place. A plus for you!


Humble yourself – It has been said that one of the biggest barriers to gaining buy-in occurs when the owner of an idea is viewed as argumentative, defensive, or close-minded. People will always have different opinions and may not necessarily see things your way. If this happens, remain calm, take constructive criticism and try to understand their perspective and return to the blueprint to work on the kinks. Make a comeback that incorporates their suggestions but not losing the bedrock of your original idea. This level of maturity will portray you as understanding and respectful of what the senior executives bring to the table.


When all has been said and done, whether you are the Range Rover or the BMW driver, always understand and embrace where the view point the other party is coming from. This will create a pseudo-link in any workplace and would possibly result in a tradition enriched, dynamically balanced work environment. We do encourage the Millennia to stand their ground and gather enough courage to present their well-balanced ideas to the senior executives who should be open minded and embrace change. Who knows, it could work wonders for your organization. 

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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