Being an employer is making me a better employee

Ironic title, aye? That’s my life right now.

I’ll explain as I rant. When I was an entrepreneur-in-training at MEST, one of the first classes we had was the Hiring and Firing workshop, and now I know why.

The biggest frustration most employers face – especially here in Africa with the obvious lagging industry-specific skills gaps – is their employees. Most (all) applicants over-promise during interviews and under-deliver when hired, and that’s just the way life is.

Don’t be the type of employee who over-promises during hiring process and under-delivers when hired. Be a unicorn instead.

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What employers really need is someone who cares about the business, develops personal skills, and makes time to do not only the obvious assigned tasks but also other things that really move the business.

But that’s not what we get. Instead most (all) employees once hired think like, “I cannot come and kill myself for another person [1] and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

How can anyone prosper this way? *sigh.

I’ll be very grateful and stunned the day I interview someone and they honestly say to me, “well ma, that’s a lot of responsibility, don’t you think?”. At least then I’ll know I’m the crazy one and I ask a lot. But they never do.

They come projecting trustworthiness and competence but they rarely are. They come insisting that they know the industry inside out, but they really don’t. They promise to be fast learners – to eat, sleep, dream about your company but of course they don’t – they have lives, families, sports, other things that they never mention to you till they are hired.

Since I founded Skrife, it has been the most trying experience trying to find self-motivated employees. I’ve had employees who make me so mad, I feel like I’m setting money on fire every time I pay them.

Reading through this as I write it though, I’m beginning to think it has to be my fault. They can’t all be crazy (lazy) now, can they?

I must be asking for too much – employees who do things proactively, not reactively are a myth.

But there’s a silver lining to all this. At least for my employers at MEST. Because every time I feel disappointed in my employees, I evaluate my employeeship and check that I’m acting and doing right (also because I feel guilty a lot about having a chick on the side, Skrife).

I truly, truly love MEST and all it stands for – the mission, the people, the culture, the experience – and I’d hate to think that I am just as annoying an employee.

I have found a way to make it both work though, and I’m glad that MEST and Skrife have similar audiences so I can give 100% efficiently. (My social life is, of course, the opportunity cost! But I don’t mind at all :))

Are you an employee? Being paid real good with someone else’s innovation, resources, sweat?

Please spend a little more of your time actually adding real value to the business. On behalf of all employers all over the world, I plead. Be a blessing and it’s gonna come right back to you.

“Be a blessing and it’s gonna come right back to you.”

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1. Nigerian phrase (in pidgin english) meaning: I can’t do more than what I’m doing right now for anyone.

PS: This post is not that serious. Please don’t hit me up if you disagree. Just calmly go do something else. Thanks!

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