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Ask The Management Guru

As seen in GoWoman Magazine

"Effective management always means asking the right question" ~ Robert Heller

Dear MG,

I work for a management company that has recently been taken over by expatriates. Me and my other colleagues don't like the way that they have restricted us with their new rules. Also they tell us we smell bad. These new guys don't seem to respect us at all. Do you think that we should write about them in the paper and shame them?

Abu K. Freetown. Age 28

Dear Abu K,

I am sympathetic to you and your colleagues as most of us are skeptical about change and this cannot be easy for you. As human beings, it is instinctive for us to feel offended when criticised, but oftentimes we are advised to consider the reason why we are so affected by the comment. In my opinion, writing about them in the papers is definitely not the solution to the problem. I would deal with all the issues identified individually as follows:

1. You are now being managed by expatriates: Do you resent this because the quality of service is being affected or because they are changing processes that you thought worked? If the latter, you need to realise that different does not mean wrong and as long as you do not have ethical, legal or major cultural issues, you need to give them a chance to introduce the new processes and you might find that in the long run they will work better for the company and by extension, you. If there is an issue with the quality of service, rest assured that the shareholders or Board of Directors will deal with the management as soon as they realise how it is affecting the company.

2. You find them to be disrespectful: This is a sensitive subject as a lot of people find expatriates in Sierra Leone think they are more superior to the locals and speak to them in a disrespectful manner. This is an issue that should be discussed with the union and dealt with civilly so that you may continue working together and providing quality service for your clients. The union may want to suggest that the expatriates familiarise themselves with the culture of the country to ensure that they interact better with their employees. You may also consider whether there is any truth to the criticisms and find ways of working on them.

3. You feel there are too many new rules: In order for an organisation to survive, there needs to be policies and procedures and these must be adhered to by all employees. When they are first introduced, they will seem restrictive. However, as you continue to work for the company, they will become second nature and you might find that it makes work easier.

Finally, let me recommend you read Employee's Survival Guide to Change by Jeffrey M. Hiatt as it should assist you go through this transition process.

Dear MG,

I just started a fashion business. I have 3 tailors and a store manager. I recently found out that my store keeper who I really trust has been making deals with the tailors and taking orders behind my back. She has stolen thousands of dollars over the last couple of months and I have since fired her. Do you think people steal at work because they have to or is this my fault because I wasn't more watchful?

Afua O. Accra. Age 32

Dear Afua O,

It is rather unfortunate, but as long as controls within an organisation are insufficient, most employees will take advantage of the situation. Whereas one would always hope they have employees with integrity, it is also very important that sufficient internal controls are put in place to reduce the risk. If you have not already done so, I would advise you to pursue a course in Business Management which would enable you to run your business better. Hire a book-keeper and monitor the daily cash balances and orders taken. Seeing that it is a small business, you should be more involved in its day to day running until it is big enough for you to hire a Manager and even then, you must play a key role in managing it. I wish you the best of luck.