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A day in the Life of an HR Professional

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There is usually a misguided notion of what a Human resource professional does, many are in the view that Human Resource professionals are responsible for only hiring and firing, But, Human Resource is so much more than that. It’s as challenging as it is rewarding, and each day is as different and diverse as the next.

I will basically take you through my day as a Human Resource Generalist, please note that as an HR Generalist I am expected to be a jack of all trades and master of some.

8:00 AM:  I usually start my day with prayers, this would take around 5 minutes of thanking God for life and praying for the day, this would take around 3-5 minutes, I would then take hot sugarless coffee, and sweet bananas(those ones with the spots J).  I would go through the newspaper, linked in and a few other blogs for example ‘’The Kenya Employment Law”, Sunny Bindra’s – https://sunwords.com/’ blog just to keep abreast of trends and what’s happening in the Human Resource and business world.

I usually read in the morning as I am fresh and more focused.  I will go through emails and respond to employee queries and queries from my employer as well.  I usually create a work plan on G-Suite Google sheets, this will consist of all the activities I am intending to perform on that particular day. This is something that I have encouraged other heads of department to do; they then would send their work plan each morning to me.

9:00 AM: This hour is usually reserved for meetings, I would meet the Heads of the department to tackle any Human resource issues they may have, and this could range from recruitment needs, issues in policy implementation, performance management or disciplinary grievances.  I would also meet employees who have issues that have not been resolved by their heads of department.

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I prefer empowering Heads of departments to tackle most issues but sometimes employees may want to see the HR, Mostly I encourage each employee to ask questions or offer their own thoughts before making decisions.

10:00 AM:  Time for the dreaded paperwork, well I usually have an assistant who does most of the paperwork, but I have to go through all the letters done, sign documents, prepare other documents that the assistant cannot prepare. I would also go through the leave applications, approve mostly or disapprove some with good reasons, then update the systems as necessary. This is the time I also do Payroll depending on the date.  I will also do or share an article with all employees’ emails on any related topic in line with our industry. I usually encourage a reading culture within the organization as I know the advantages that come with reading.

11:00 AM:  Management by Objective, yes you had me correctly, this hour I usually spend it by moving around the organization, observing work, sometimes talking with a few employees along the way. I discovered that this is a great way of noticing changes or things that need to be worked on.

12:00 PM:  This is time is reserved for performance management, mostly I track the 360-degree performance appraisal system, make any adjustments as necessary. I would also review performance improvement plans with the heads of department for that particular department and employee.

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My 2 Cents on Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is non-existent, there is nothing like work-life balance, it does not exist, it’s a myth, Work-Life balance is BS. If you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life.

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”
― Alain de Botton

I think that like any other aspect, work is also part of your life and like everything in life the trick is finding a rhythm and equilibrium, that would suit your needs best.

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Most of us work because we want to support ourselves, our families and the people around us, in the ideal world we all want to be doing work that we love, are passionate about, fulfilling work, work that’s provides us with meaning and passion. But still, if your work is not providing you with joy every day you have to understand that working is what each of us does and it’s the contribution we make to society.

when-you-wake-up-in-the-morning-and-sit-on-27635436If you have a job that’s challenging and you’re passionate about, you tend not to feel resentful of its demands because you understand that it’s working for you, too

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them — work, family, health, friends and spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls — family, health, friends, and spirit — are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.” ―Brian Dyson, former vice chairman and COO of Coca-Cola

We should think of work as part of a full life and a holistic experience, it becomes easier to see that success in one aspect often supports another. Even in the Bible Deuteronomy Chapter 3 talks about the different seasons in life, let me quote the Verse I like how its correlates with what I am writing.

Verse 22 says ‘’ Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion; for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him? 

So “You can have it all, just not all at once.”  Just like in Deuteronomy chapter 3; there are seasons of life where you will find that you have less time for yourself and will devote more to school or family or work. This is part of the normal ebb and flow of life.

When you think big and expect that you can have a positive experience with all that work and life have to offer, you’ll be more likely to make that happen.

Maybe we should bury “work-life balance” and think bigger and better about work-life fulfillment to do a little less balancing and a lot more living.

 

 

 

The curious case of persistence

Wouldn’t be nice, if all your wishes were granted, for example, if you wanted to be rich all you were required to say is some magical words and alaas !! you would find yourself in your own private island with all the material possession’s you have ever dreamt of ,well if wishes were “nduthis” …

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The truth of the matter is that you have to work hard to achieve whatever you set your mind to achieve, we know that in life there are people who have worked hard but they have nothing to show for all their hard work, and we have other individuals who have not put any effort, but as luck would have it they have really reaped where they have not sown.

When it comes to Jobs we have people who have tarmacked for years and we also have people who are moving from one job to another, we also have people who quit their jobs, yet we still have people who would die to have those jobs.

 

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Because of all these things that happen people end up comparing themselves, especially with people on social media, you see people who seem to be very happy, going on vacations, happy couples sharing their pictures daily, your former classmate sharing a picture with his new car they have bought, etc. Yet things are not working out for you.  Maybe it’s true these people are happy and successful, but you see, the thing is don’t be discouraged, keep motivating yourself, work hard, persistence really pays a lot.

For example I did not have an idea on what to write today in my blog post, but I have just written something, I know it may make no sense but you get my point- You see what I did there.  I will pen off with a few quotes and thoughts from Good reads …

“I watched a squirrel fall from a rather high branch. Upon hitting the ground, he bounced slightly, paused, shook himself vigorously and then immediately scampered back up to the very same place on the very same branch from which he’d fallen. There are some that might call that stupidity. Then there are others like myself who would call that tenacity. And while I generally have no interest in being a squirrel, in this particular respect I wouldn’t mind being like one.”

“If there is anything I’ve learned the last year it is the importance of being clear on what you want. I spent the better part of last year just figuring out what I actually want with my life. What I want to have around me, how I want to spend my days, the people I want in my life, what I want to create, why it’s important to me and most importantly who I need to be in order to create that life for myself. Who do I need to be to have that career I’m dreaming of? When you can see the highest version of yourself crystal clear you will wake up each day striving to walk in new ways. You see that future YOU as a role model and you are filled with energy to grow and level up and take that place. If you want a change, you really do need to let go of how you have done things in the past. It’s the most exciting feeling, stepping into that future vision of myself, a little bit every day.”
― Charlotte Eriksson

DEAR JOB SEEKER.

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Dear Job Seeker,

We understand how it feels to be jobless, well most of us though. This does not help at all but according to the most recent jobs survey from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in 2018, 7million Kenyans were unemployed with 1.4 million out of this figure desperately looking for jobs. Does this spell doom for job seekers in Kenya?, What are some of the solutions, the 844 system has cultivated a mindset of employment dependence, should the curriculum be changed, but even if this was changed we still have so many unemployed people.

During a recent debate on jobless in Kenya I was astonished to hear employed people in different parastatals and government agencies blame job seeker for their plight and shamefully asking them to venture into entrepreneurship instead of blaming the government for lack of jobs, forgetting that they are also employed.

Any way we can chide each other without helping our dear job seekers, from a Human Resource perspective these are some of the steps as job seekers you can take to at least ease your way into employment.

 Smart Habits of Successful Job seekers

  1. Networking and be proactive. 

Sometimes passively sitting at a computer and just clicking on the “Apply” button doesn’t produce results. This job search strategy is usually reactive because the only option is to search and to respond to what job vacancies are available.

You have to understand that so many people are doing exactly (and only) that same thing. Rather than re-actively waiting to see what jobs are posted on job sites, pro-actively explore ways to discover where the job you want may be lurking, waiting for you to find them.

For instance, you can get back in touch with old friends, former classmates, and former neighbors. See what they are doing. Perhaps you can help them. Perhaps they can help you.

Find a job search support group this could be in the different social media sites, I know two good one in Telegram that you can join and exchange leads and get job vacancies and share ideas with other job seekers.

Go to that professional association meeting, seminars, etc., you may be surprised to find that some of them are free, you may learn something when you listen to a speaker, have the opportunity to talk with real live people, and perhaps discover who is hiring, what, where.

Or, better, do all of those things.

  1. Seek Help

Get career support from a professional. There are different companies and individuals who offer professional CV writing, tips to perform better in interviews, also add some important skills for example taking short courses like excel communication etc.

If you are lucky enough to have internet, instead of wasting your time liking scrolling through Facebook and other meaningless sites you can use that time to learn so many skills via youtube.

A qualified career coach can better prepare you to land your next position.

Let me share a quick Tip, if you have worked before and have some experience it’s advisable to remove the word help from your CV Instead you can use the following;

  • Assisted
  • Managed/Co-Managed
  • Spearheaded
  • Achieved
  • Developed
  • Implemented
  • Executed
  • Produced
  • Coordinated
  1. Don’t give up

You’ve done your research and submitted your application/resume, but now what? Keep your eyes open for other potential employers and opportunities as they come available, it’s better to apply for any positions that interest you than just applying to one or two.

If a company sends a rejection letter, take this opportunity to ask them what you could have done differently, and build on that for next time.

A connection in linked posted that she was rejected 50 times before she landed her first job. So don’t stress about the things you cannot control. Network, Volunteer and Learn new skills.  Job searching is emotionally draining, but it won’t always be like this. Keep on believing and speaking that things will one day work out. Remember, it’s not about how many NO’s you get. It’s about that one YES. Shake off rejection and disappointment and keep going. Don’t give up. Your time will come!!!

  1. Dress For The Job You Want

You have heard of the saying, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” it really does hold some truth. When going into an interview, don’t dress just for your part, dress for the part of upper or senior management, or the position that you hope to obtain during your career at the company.

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Remember first impressions are everything, especially when you only have 30 minutes or so to talk with someone before they decide to hire you. Make it count!

  1. Don’t Fake It

Most recruiters/employers do not want to see fake smiles or rehearsed answers when it comes time for the interview. They want to know who they hope to hire and you want to match the position and culture. Being misleading helps neither of you.

Before you tell an employer how great you are, find out as much as you can about them, and what they need. In sales, this is called learning the client’s “pain.” This will help you see – and explain – how you can help them. If you immediately jump into how great you are, you may completely miss learning what they need so you can customize your explanation of your greatness to target their needs.

Saying what you think the employer wants to hear might get the job, but the job might be a total misfit for who you truly are and want to become. Being honest is the best way to show off your skills and land the job of your dreams.

 “Employers do not want to see fake smiles or rehearsed answers when it comes time for the interview.

While in the interview, it’s important to back up your skills and experience. Share stories and gives examples of situations that really made your skills stand out. Provide ways that your skills helped benefit your last company.

  1. Your past is your past, leave it at the door..

When you’re talking about previous experiences and situations, it’s important to remember that you should not talk down a past employer. Speaking badly about people you used to work for makes the interviewer question what you will have to say about them down the road.

‘’Forgive yourself, forgive your ex-employer, and forgive the world.

Move on toward a better career future.’’

This can create a bad impression on your character. Plus, this is an interview about moving forward. Any past discrepancies have no place there.

  1. Follow Up

Whether you’ve heard back about the job offer or not, it’s important to follow up a few days after the interview. Send a thank you letter or email stating how it was a pleasure to speak with them and that you really appreciate the opportunity. Reiterate any thoughts about why you want to work for them, and be sure to offer them any contact information, so they can easily reach you with any further questions.

This shows that you are just as invested as they are, and are sincerely interested in the position.

  1. Get References

Before applying to any job, create a list of references and reach out to those people to make sure they are comfortable with you listing them. Give them a heads up that you are applying to certain companies that may contact them. These should be people who know you through networking, past co-workers or anyone else can speak to your work experience and skills.

Also, make sure they are a good source of information. Choose people who are familiar with your work ethic and who can provide an unbiased, honest opinion

Every situation in life is temporary. So when life is good, make sure you enjoy and receive it fully. And when life is not so good, remember that it will not last forever and better days are on the way.

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Mike Never cried.

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Somewhere in Mathare slums, a siren is heard, it’s an ambulance trying to rush to a scene of a suicide, the victim by the name Mike tried to commit suicide by swallowing pills. He is still conscious, by the time the ambulance makes its way near the scene; Mike breathes his lasts breath and dies.

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You grew up somewhere in Western near a place called Funyula, your parents were lucky enough to secure government jobs, and you moved to Nairobi when you were young.  You went through primary school and university without any hitches. You never loved mathematics; you were the type of guy who would fantasize during math’s lesson, sometime you would think about your girlfriend Mercy.

Let’s talk about mercy briefly, Mercy was those girls who always had a smile on their faces, it’s like while God was making other people he took an extra smile from them, and plastered on Mercy face.  Mercy grew up in Nairobi somewhere called Banana, Banana Hills was so-named by British Colonial soldiers, locally known as johnnies, who could only see banana plantations as they looked downhill towards the capital city, Nairobi, whenever they drove their military trucks over the hills en route to Limuru.

Mercy was a bright girl who excelled in her studies; she went to the prestigious Kenya high school, then later to The University of Nairobi, Her English was impeccable to the say the least, immediately after university she volunteered at a local NGO as an admin assistant, where she gained a lot of experience and networked a lot.  Due to her hard work, and determination she was hired as a management trainee, and later on as an executive manager with good perks.

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Let’s go back to our boy from Funyula, Mike did not do so well in high school, he, therefore, did not qualify to go to any university, since his father could afford to take him to college, that was the route that Mike took. He joined college, and did Business Admin because he was told by a friend that it’s the only course that is not difficult, and does not have Mathematics’. After College Mike did not bother to look for any jobs, after all, he was waiting for his dad to secure him a job with the government, after all! his dad was always promising him that he would get him a job with the government or the Police service.

“Success doesn’t come to you, you go to it.” –Marva Collins

Back to the present, a few weeks back a friend had asked Mike to send him his CV, this friend wanted to help Mike secure an internship.  Mike forgot all about this and was now being watching his favorite TV show, to make the matter worse Mike had not done his CV himself, he had given the tasks to someone who owned a cyber-nearby to do the CV for him. While he was watching, his friend called again to ask Mike to send the CV, but Mike was on that part where the white walkers in game of thrones were attacking the town of Winterfell (game of throne fans can relate) he, therefore, ignored the call and purposed to call back after finishing that particular episode.

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Mike lost that internship opportunity, he actually did not mind, after all his father had promised him a job. A month down the line his dad sadly passed away, her mother who was not working at that time decided to pack and leave back to Funyula. Mike decided to stay back in Nairobi, there was no internet in Funyula how could he go back? how would he chat with her girlfriend Mercy on WhatsApp, after his father died, the only ray of hope for Mike was her girlfriend Mercy, he depended on her financially as well. Mercy tried asking him to join the NGO as a volunteer but Mike was reluctant, after all, he was a man and a diploma holder, and he felt that he needed a job, and volunteering was not in his line of thinking.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.” –Calvin Coolidg

He, therefore, started applying for Jobs; he would send CVS to 100 companies in one email, and sit back and enjoy his movies. After all, he was saving time he muttered, why send a CV to one company at a time when you can send to a thousand companies.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” –Benjamin Franklin

Mike was never called for an interview, his girlfriend Mercy tried advising him on tips on how he would get jobs, for example starting with an internship even if he was not getting any pay, tailoring his CV to different jobs that he was applying to, watching Youtube videos on the different ways to nail interviews, trying to encourage him to read books, for example, Mercy would send him different soft copy books on WhatsApp but Mike never read them, instead he would reply in that funny emoji that has eyes only (up to date I don’t know what that emoji stands for –Millennials any help?).

Mike never listened to any of Mercy’s bits of advice after all he was a man, and when he was circumcised in river khalaba on a cold Friday morning, was he not told that a man should never listen to a lady and that a man should be a leader and never show any weakness?

Mercy managed to get a scholarship, and flew away to Germany for further studies, after some time she met someone and got married while in Germany, she broke up with Mike. Mike took it like a man, he tried to hide his feelings of hurt and rejection, he took to drinking to drown his sorrows, he would drink from Morning to evening. He was chased by his landlord and he moved to the slum areas of Mathare, where he did mjengo and other jobs to at least enable him to get a few coins so as to drown himself in alcohol.

His friends tried to reach him, but like a tortoise mike shielded himself and built a wall, deep down he wanted someone to talk too, but he remembered the words from his father “ A man must be strong at all times” Mike wanted to cry but he remembered during circumcision they were told that real men don’t cry, Mike suppressed his emotional experience so much – so that he  saw the only way out was by joining his father, he, therefore, went to the chemist and ordered a lot of pills claiming he had Malaria.

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Just at that moment, Mercy was trying to reach out to Mike, she had a business opportunity she had started back at home in Kenya, and she wanted to employee Mike help him run the business since she was in Germany, but his number was not going through.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

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