By Yahya Kasujja
Quite often I hear people saying that Kenyans are more hardworking than Ugandans, but is this true or it’s just another myth? Of recent there has been a spin to this debate through the addition of Indians and now Chinese.
Let’s use the “Nkuba kyeyo” Ugandans doing different jobs in the Diaspora to put some perspective to this discussion. I have never tried Kyeyo but most of my friends and relatives have been there and the stories they tell are unbelievable. Imagine a person having four jobs, working 18hours a day before heading back to a room occupied by over 10 people for a rest without weekends or holidays. I am sure where ever these guys go there is confirmation that Africans were born to work like machines.
Ibrahim a friend of mine worked in the US for three years as a news paper delivery boy, a genitor and a shamberboy hoping from one job to another in a single day. He used the money to start a wholesale shop in Gayaza where he now works 16hours a day, 7days a week. So is it true that Kenyans are more hardworking than this guy?
So why do we get the impression that Kenyans or Indians are better employees? There are two reasons for this, the first being that by the time a company decides to take you on as an expatriate they must have appreciated your competence and attitude and confirmed that it will be very hard to get the same skills locally. Secondly and this is where the Nkuba Kyeyo stories come in; if you decide to work away from home, you are very clear on your goals and you will do whatever it takes to succeed, this calls for sacrifice and hardwork. So everyone needs to know that the few Kenyans or Indians you see in Uganda are not a fair representation of their respective communities. If you doubt, please visit some of your sister companies outside Uganda if you are working for a multinational you will tell us.
So what can we do to improve our productivity without importing labour? The answer is simple just input the two facts I mentioned above into your Ugandan employees most especially the first “Attitude” The truth is that attitude is everything. By attitude I mean the general feeling about work not “pride”.
Here is what companies have to do to improve work attitude;
Ø Be Fair; Look at how you work with your staff. Are they paid fairly? Do you treat them well and avoid showing favoritism? Staffs quickly develop resentment when fairness is not apparent in the workplace.
Ø Listen; Do you listen to your staff? Most people want to feel like they are contributing. Ask them for their opinions. At times, show that you are acting on their suggestions and they will feel more integrated and important.
Ø Communicate; Let your staff know what is happening. Don’t keep them in the dark. Tell them what’s going on in the business; share the plans, the feedback from customers and upper management.
Ø Thank; Let them know that you appreciate them. Small courtesies like ‘Thank you’ are often overlooked but can go a long way to build trust and improve morale. A little extra effort of showing appreciation on your part can help turn round or avoid the negative attitude of your staff.
What is even more important is what employees can do to improve their own attitude, unfortunately I am limited on the words per article so for help on this, please drop me an email, I will be more than glad to help. email@example.com