Those of us who have been on this journey for a while will know that in the early days, one of the most repeated values was “the work comes first” – I don’t regret saying that then (as I believe values need to evolve with the times) – but this year, it’s fair to say that is no longer the case. The work is still very very important, but not as much as the people. Gone are the days when you joined the team and “welcome to VIISAUS” meant all you got was a laptop, a chair, more tasks than you can handle, no training and a loud (expletive ridden) scolding from me for your efforts! Nowadays we have weekly stand-up meetings, employee satisfaction surveys, stay interviews, one-on-ones, structured performance reviews etc, etc, etc, we have come a long way indeed…
I’m not saying our efforts have succeeded 100% – but the results so far have been amazing. Even though the team accomplished a lot in projects terms this year, do you know that more people were trained and developed this year than ever before? That more team members became professionally certified this year than in any of our history? These facts make me happier than the projects and I am convinced more now than ever that the more we focus on getting the team right – the more projects, clients and profit we will see. By the way – this is also the first time in almost 5 years that VIISAUS will make a profit!
So how/why does focusing more on people equate to more success? To be honest I am not sure, but if I were to guess:
- I think when people sense everything is just about money (or even just about the vision) – they struggle to identify with the team 100%
- Even when everybody works hard, I think focusing on people creates that little bit extra – that 2% extra – and that is what makes a team stand out, that’s what makes it unique
- Focusing on people creates an environment for sacrifice – and sacrifice is the glue, the elasticity that allows a team recover when they make mistakes
If a team is like a building – then bricks are the hard, well defined and reliable parts of the building (when we act like ‘super-professionals’, like straight shooters – we are being bricks). However bricks cannot stand on their own. The mortar between the bricks is undefined, soft and pliable (when we sacrifice and break the rules – we are being mortar), mortar also cannot stand on its own. However, when the stickiness and flexibility of the mortar creates a place for the bricks to sit and holds the bricks together – then a building will stand.
Focusing on people persuades them to behave more like BOTH – to be both brick and/or mortar depending on the situation, and I think that’s why we are winning. If 2022 was the year of purpose and vision that evolved our culture and built our team, then I believe 2023 will be the year all we have learned will be tested and validated – I see it as an exciting year, but one that will stretch us, testing our brick and especially our mortar in many new and challenging ways.
But I know we are ready; when I look at the commitment in our actions, the holidays cancelled, the birthday parties, the late nights, our process and consistency, the efforts to bring business, the ability to bounce back and recover, to learn from mistakes, to stand up for each other when the going gets tough, even the arguments and fights! When I look at all that I see more than a team…I see a family.
In that spirit, I urge you all to be kind teammates to each other in 2023, not just at work but everywhere – the country is about to go into a rebirth – for better or worse I don’t know, but whatever happens to Nigeria – let’s be strong enough to rise above the negative and be inspired by the good. The work will come and go, but the way we treat each other and feel about each other – those memories will last forever.
Last year, I said our destinies are entwined and I believe that to be truer now than ever. So, by all means bring on 2023! As long we stick together and stay focused – we have no reason to be afraid of anything.
This newsletter was written by Jiro Ejobe (Managing Partner)