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How to bring out the best in people

ENTERPRISE
By Jacqueline Mahugu | May 30th 2018 | 4 min read
By Jacqueline Mahugu | May 30th 2018
ENTERPRISE

Effective management is crucial to the running of any business. And if you’re an entrepreneur, you can’t escape the title ‘manager’, as finding the employees to turn your vision into reality is your responsibility.

Emma Mutunga (pictured) offers proof that the right managers can help a business achieve its goals much faster.

The 28-year-old is the Greenlight Hub manager at Uber Kenya. She leads a team of customer service agents at the taxi-hailing firm’s driver customer service centres.

Emma started the first call centre in East Africa for Uber drivers, and speaks to Hustle about how she’s making it work as a manager.

1. Be hungry to learn

Before I came to Uber, I had no idea what technology had to offer as I used to deal with engines as an aeronautical engineer. But when I came here, I became passionate about technology, learnt the business in and out, and made myself available to people.

You can’t tell people to do things that you’re not doing yourself. That’s how I started the call centre, which is available for drivers. They make an appointment, we call them.

2. Be approachable

I have an open-door policy and ensure that my team is aware they can approach me with any professional or personal questions.

When people are comfortable with you, you get to learn them as well. I really enjoy performance reviews because we get to sit down together and talk about work, home, likes and dislikes, and so on.

When you know people well, it’s easier to approach them when you need to get something done.

3. Be firm but fair

I explain the things that are expected of my team and I’m very firm on deliverables. It’s crucial that your team understands you’re all trying to achieve the same goal.

And if someone makes a mistake, we sit down together and find out why the mistake happened – was it a problem on our side or something they need to work on? We then work on it together until we get to a point where it’s clear we’re suffering as a business and have done all we could.

4. Understand that people are different

You need to understand and accept that people have different personalities. This will require that you be adaptable. People have different things to offer, so what’s easier and more productive is accepting who they are and harnessing their specific talents and skills. This attitude will help you build an amazing team.

5. Don’t do everything yourself

There’s no way you can work without delegating. I delegate by putting the projects I have on the table, explaining what they’re about and the timelines we have to complete them.

Someone then volunteers, and if there’s more than one volunteer, then they can work together. However, this depends on the specifications of the project, like timelines or access limitations.

In cases where I have to give the project to one person, to ensure the team benefits, I make sure the person works with someone else who can learn what needs to be done. This way, the next time the student can run the project.

6. Be understanding

Ensuring you team stays continually motivated isn’t easy, as what happens in their personal lives can affect their work.

Instead of assuming that they don’t want to work, dig deeper to find out what may be standing in the way of your team performing at peak levels.

You’ll often find that it’s performance anxiety; they’re afraid they won’t meet expectations or they don’t understand how to go about things.

Talking things through will give you the chance to explain why something’s needed, and how to get it done.

7. Learn from a mentor

Looking back, I was really in bad shape when I started out because I hadn’t done anything managerial in school or managed a team before.

At some point, I got scared that I wouldn’t meet expectations. Luckily, I’ve had mentors to help me navigate.

My first manager was Dip Patel, the country manager now. The more I worked with him, the more I got to a point where I felt like I had grown and could now share what I learnt from him with a team.

8. Be a relatable coach

There are people who come in to work very single-mindedly: they want to do their job and then go home.

What I do with such people is sit down with them and highlight the benefits they’d get from socialising with their colleagues.

I also show them by example. If I want my team to be friends, I first have to be their friend. If I want them to be firm in their jobs, I have to be firm in mine. If I want them to deliver, I also have to deliver. Be the example of what you want them to be.  

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