Coach staff to deliver brands

As Africa’s market economies grow, the main reason for having employees is changing. From simply being there to ‘do the work’ to contributing something much more valuable.

My Chairman ( is fond of telling pupils on his London Business School global leadership programmes, “Brands are promised by advertising by delivered by people.”

He means your employees -whether you run a hair salon or an insurance business. The people you pay to deliver your promises to customers in their daily work.

Even if you don’t advertise your business, you’re not exempt from this. Brands have always been built on positive word of mouth in the marketplace. On customer experiences, good and bad. And, in modern Africa, our online connectivity speeds those messages further and faster than ever before. There’s no rock to hide under – like it or not, your business is probably a brand.

Recruiting the right talent to deliver brands is a constant challenge. Finding people who both fit the culture and have the skills the business needs. Once you find these people the trick is to retain them. However, job mobility and the changing expectation of the young workforce makes this harder than it used to be.

It’s no longer enough to administer the human resource. Investing in talent development early in careers through graduate schemes or onboarding programmes that promote the right business behaviours, really helps to position brands as long-term career destinations.

We’re already running such programmes in large regional businesses and we’re trying to make them as different as possible from traditional online learning. Face-to-face sessions, supported by an online peer community tackling assignments together, work very well. And one of the small but important dividends of the COVID situation has been the normalising of online education.

Competitions and challenges add excitement to this process. Webinars and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) rapidly create momentum on a huge scale. Most of all, trying to ‘do things differently’ generates truly applicable learning. Unlike the traditional learning process which relies upon ‘we’d like you to learn this curriculum, and we hope you apply it.”

Successful brand academies take the habits of high performers and hold them up as examples to replicate. These days, employee recognition is becoming almost as important as remuneration. And there are few things more motivating to a successful Relationship Manager than having an in-house audience with whom to share their skills and experience.

So, as you look to sustain and grow your business next year, why not turn your best employees into the stars of your in-house talent programmes?