C-Suite tips on How to train and keep staff as an SME

The 69th class of the Lagos Business School Senior Management Programme (SMP) recently held a Business Conference titled Making Lemonades: Creating Opportunities in a Challenging Economy.   

As part of the conference, there was a panel session made up of Demola Odeyemi, an Executive Director at Guaranty Trust Bank, Imrane Barry MD Total Nigeria Plc, Yusuf Kazaure MD Galaxy Backbone Limited and Olivier Angot, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) IHS Towers.  

Members of the Class also seized the opportunity to ask the executives, tips on how to train and retain staff Especially as a small business.  


They each gave interesting responses.  


Yusuf Kazaure  

When you are a small organization, people have to do many things. As you grew bigger, people still must multi-task. They tend to create their own reality. As a leader, you have to create a culture. That culture is defined by your own values and how you approach life. If it’s a good culture, it will be the same essence that will transmit itself through the lifetime of that organization. 

He continues

In most cases, the thing that retains high fliers is being involved in something new and novel If there is a project on board that gives them opportunities to acquire skills and knowledge, they won’t have had, they won’t make that move for money. This also translates into the company to do novel and new things.  

Demola Odeyemi  

Attrition is not that bad in any organization. It depends on who you are losing. If you are losing your top performers, that is when it becomes an issue. 


How do you keep people motivated? When you recruit very intelligent people, you must create opportunities for them to learn. Intelligent people have a very short learning curve. They learn and master skills and competencies within a very short period of time. You have to create that opportunity of job rotation. You don’t keep a very intelligent person in a place for too long. They will become frustrated. 

He also gave tips for SMEs

For SMEs, the promoters play a lot of roles in that environment. If the promoter or proprietor does not bring to the table, the quality that he elicits, he will not get it. He or she must rise up to be a trainer. It is what you lay down in your organization, that people will follow. 

You must look for partnerships and collaborations. You can not do everything. When you see certain things that you want to learn from someone or another organization, go and meet with them. Send one or two of your staff to go and learn. They will learn and come back. 


Mistakes SMEs make  

The problem I see with a lot of SMEs is that the promoters are always looking for how to hold on to everything. When you do that, that key man risk occours. When you run a small company, make sure the knowledge is dispersed. Empower the younger people. Let them learn. Train them.  

Most SME people are too profit oriented. They want to make all the money themselves. When you set up a small company, give shares to those around you. The moment they have a buy in. You will see the way they will work for you.  The money they make, its success for everyone.  


 Imrane Barry  

The most difficult part of my career is when I receive a letter of resignation. People never resign for money reasons. Most of the time they resign because of a lack of consideration, or you don’t know you are valued. Even if you see the way resignations are handled in companies, you can tell if that company is taking seriously the retention challenge. If you see a senior manager leaving a company, there is something wrong.  

As a leader, you have to give people the room to work with you and not for you. There are some bosses, knowing you will spend 8 to 12 hours a day with them, it’s a motivation.  

In Total, we have launched an initiative, One Total: Better Together. It has become mandatory to do three things.  

Each and every staff is to become the ACTOR of his career. The position of career manager has been canceled, They are now career advisors. All the positions below the exco level will be advertised, and people will be FREE to compete internally. This applies locally and internationally. IT IS MANDATORY


He continues  

Someone from Nigeria, sitting somewhere in Calabar can apply for a position in Egypt. 


The second one is to turn managers to be coaches. You are held accountable for the progress of your people.  You will be judged and evaluated on that. This is starting immediately. 

The next one is turning your place into a great place to be. They went all the way to give budgets for the minimum you should spend on a yearly basis for get-togethers. These are things I had been doing personally. 

Olivier advocated for a long term view in hiring

Make sure when you hire, choose the right people that you need. Look at your company in five years time, and people




Onome Ohwovoriole has a degree in Economics and Statistics from the University of Benin and prior to joining Nairametrics in December 2016 as Lead Analyst had stints in Publishing, Automobile Services, Entertainment and Leadership Training. He covers companies in the Nigerian corporate space, especially those listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). He also has a keen interest in new frontiers like Cryptocurrencies and Fintech. In his spare time, he loves to read books on finance, fiction as well as keep up with happenings in the world of international diplomacy. You can contact him via onome.ohwovoriole@nairametrics.com


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