Vuka! Black man­agers

CityPress - - Business - Muzi Kuzwayo business@ city­press. co. za Kuzwayo is the founder of Ig­ni­tive, an ad­ver­tis­ing agency

My peo­ple, you can call me a vic­tim of apartheid if you want, but when a black man­ager ap­points you, un­der­stand there are jaun­diced eyes that are watch­ing to see if he or she will fail mis­er­ably.

Un­der­stand that the black man­ager is do­ing God’s work be­cause they are giv­ing you the op­por­tu­nity white peo­ple de­nied you for a long time. Peo­ple have died for the seat you’re oc­cu­py­ing. If you work for a black man­ager, ac­cept that they have given you a rare op­por­tu­nity and have put their rep­u­ta­tion on the line by back­ing you.

So don’t em­bar­rass them by fail­ing to de­liver – even on the ba­sics.

The worst non-de­liv­ery in South Africa is not in the town­ships, but in cor­po­rate of­fices be­cause of black sub­or­di­nates who take their black man­agers for granted.

Black sub­or­di­nates ex­pect their black bosses to tol­er­ate their slop­pi­ness and ex­pect end­less em­pa­thy. In a way, it is the black bosses’ fault. They don’t set high stan­dards for them­selves and their sub­or­di­nates. The rules must be sim­ple – un­less you ar­rive at the of­fice at the crack of dawn be­cause you’re avoid­ing ruth­less traf­fic or some­thing, all your sub­or­di­nates must ar­rive at the of­fice be­fore you.

If you work in sales and your staff have to start with client calls, there must be a weekly sta­tus meet­ing where they re­port on ex­actly who they have seen and what the progress on the sale is.

If you don’t hold sta­tus meet­ings with your staff to know what they have done that week, you have failed as a man­ager.

It is just a ques­tion of time be­fore the cor­po­rate world buries you.

If your sub­or­di­nates are un­able to per­form a task, coach them, give them coun­sel, but what­ever you do, never do it for them. The eye of the boss achieves much more than their hand. Lead by ex­am­ple, but not by do­ing. If you do some­thing for your sub­or­di­nates, you are denying them the op­por­tu­nity to learn.

Your sub­or­di­nates are em­ployed to make you look good. If they are un­able to do so, sit them down and find out what the hur­dle is. If nec­es­sary, ar­range train­ing for them, and if they still can’t cut it, fire them. You are run­ning a business, not a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre.

Re­mem­ber, stu­pid­ity is the most con­ta­gious dis­ease known to man, and it is in­cur­able. You can im­part knowl­edge but not wis­dom. So look for wis­dom and a cando-at­ti­tude be­cause an army of de­baters and cow­ards can burn cash and noth­ing else. For­give mis­takes be­cause that en­cour­ages learn­ing, but never for­give lazi­ness. It leads to a slow death. As a boss, you have re­spon­si­bil­i­ties too. It is bet­ter to be late for your wed­ding than late for a business meet­ing. You may not see it, but ev­ery minute that you’re late takes away a chunk of re­spect from you, which is why so many man­agers are the walk­ing dead – they are feared but not re­spected.

Your great­est re­ward as a man­ager is not in the fat­ness of your pay cheque, but in the suc­cess of your sub­or­di­nates.

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