People management: Building teams and systems for growth

GrowthAfrica last week hosted Sarah Richson (CEO, Richemele International), Timothy Kajume (Business Partner, iQue Consult) and Faith Njeri (Director, Balanced Score Card East Africa) to take GrowthAfrica’s entrepreneurs through: Value Management- Building teams and systems for growth. The sessions had great insights and we want to share them with you!


GrowthAfrica entrepreneurs following keenly as Sarah Richsoon,CEO, Richemele International Consultants shares insights on people management


People are a critical component of any business, in fact, often, your customers interact with your people before they interact with your products and services. Therefore, managing the human resource aspect your business is important. After all, employees are part of the delivery of your promise to your customers and their performance, commitment and loyalty are vital for you to attain your business goals.

“As Founders of business, it is important for you to have a human resources strategy at all stages of your venture (startup, growth and maturity) to ensure that you are hiring and retaining the right talent. And when you on board your employees, empower them and let them take ownership of what you have asked them to do with minimal interference”. Said Faith Njeri, Director, Balanced Score Card East Africa. She added that Founders often want to do everything and anything in their organisation rather than hire the right people to handle different aspects of the business, this usually slows down the venture’s growth trajectory.

When recruiting, it is not about volumes (the number of people you hire) it is about value (What a single employee to offers vis-a-vis several). You also need to offer your employees something more than money, offer them growth within their roles and development of their skills- that way they will not be motivated to change jobs because they were offered more money. In addition, ensure that your team is qualified, since investors consider their skills when deciding to invest in your business. To retain, your employees you need to package your organisation well, as the best place to work and be. “Employees decide on whether to stay in your organisation within the first three months of employment.  The on-boarding process is therefore critical”. Said Timothy Kajume, Business Partner, iQue Consult.

“You do not fire your employees! The world has moved on! You need to make sure that your employee exists with dignity”. Said Sarah Richson, CEO, Richemele International Consultants. She added that, it is important to release your employees in a cordial way, to create an environment for them to return to your organisation when they exit. When an employee returns to your organisation after exiting (two or three years), they acquire more skills and experience outside of your organisation that can be beneficial to your company when they return.

Timothy noted that training and development are very vital in retaining your employees. Training helps employees learn specific knowledge or skills to improve their performance, development is more expansive and focuses on employee growth and future performance. “These two are often expensive, most ventures cannot afford in as much as they need to constantly improve their employees. The good news is, companies can register with NITA (The National Industrial Training Authority) to benefit from their training and development programmes.” He said.

NITA is a government body mandated with promoting the highest standards in the quality and efficiency of industrial training and ensuring there is adequate supply of properly trained manpower at all levels. NITA hosts several industry oriented courses targeting workers in the formal and informal sectors. The courses include short and long programmes proficiency courses, skill upgrading courses, artisan courses, and tailor made courses]. To benefit from these trainings, you only contribute KSH 50 per month per employee. NITA also carters for training courses that are not available locally by paying for all expenses (flights, accommodation and course work). You can also seek reimbursement from NITA after you pay for training and development programmes out of pocket.


Timothy Kajume, Business Partner, iQue Consult during the workshop


There is an important development in Kenya’s legislation worth noting. Effective July this year, the government has made it mandatory for businesses to work with a qualified and certified HR practitioner on all matters concerning employees. This is stipulated in the IHRM Act 2012, failure to adhere will result in a KSH 200,000 fine or a two-year jail term or both. How can entrepreneurs engage a professional HR person with their limited resources? “Entrepreneurs can barter HR services for some of the services they offer or products they sell, they can also pool resources as a group and hire a shared human resource person or contract a practitioner on a needs basis or as a consultant”. Said Sarah Richson.

In his book “Good to Great,” Jim Collins states: “The adage ‘People are your most important asset’ is wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” Hire the right people!