As companies and public institutions in Nigeria plan and execute their digital transformation strategies, one element will be critical to the sustainable accomplishment and execution – the middle level managers. Those at the middle of the organization have a 360-degree role to play –
- they work with senior executives to understand the strategies involved
- they convert these strategies to daily actions with their team members
- they build alliances with peers, other middle managers and internal customers in other departments
- they relate with external vendors, regulators, communities and customers.
If your middle level managers are not well equipped for strategy implementation, chances are that your organization will struggle for a long time. Over the last decade, we have worked with more than 60 top organizations across multiple sectors – Banking, Insurance, Oil and Gas, Public Sector, Pensions and lots of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). We found something common, - many are in the middle of digital transformation and are either recruiting new talents or training current employees to fill upcoming leadership positions in a bid to build an institution that is appealing to the requirements of today’s younger employee base and future customers. However, the challenge is how to equip the new recruits for the workplace of today.
Boss Babies OR Baby Bosses
One of our clients is a Top bank in Nigeria and they had commenced massive recruitment of young and talented individuals for its middle level positions as part of its grand plan to revitalize the workforce and accelerate its digital transformation. The new recruits were sent to a training school for a long period to be taught and prepared for the workplace. During one of my conversations with the HR team, a senior person thought out loud -“we are breeding baby bosses” They don’t get it. They think its child’s play out there in the real world”. That statement hit me – who is a baby boss? We discussed a little more with her and explored the initiatives being implemented by other clients of ours and it became clearer.
We learnt a lot especially as it relates to the workplace. The young recruits, especially the ones being prepared for leadership, can become one of two things – a Boss Baby or a Baby Boss, (baby here is used to depict the age when compared to the age and stage of the existing managers).
A Baby Boss is that young and talented, passionate and well-educated individual who has been prepared (or being prepared) for the workplace to manage resources, people and change initiatives but lacks the mindset, internal maturity, self-connection and depth needed to survive the trenches. The person shows up with fantasies, expectations, and is required to quickly start suggesting fresh ideas, making improvements, managing change, supervising resources, and sometimes people. The challenge is that the new recruit is young, yes but also viewed as incompetent by the system and may struggle for months and months until frustration sets in.
On the other hand, a Boss Baby, though young and considered a “child” within the context of what’s happening in the current workplace, is well equipped and almost assertive enough to deal with the challenges he or she will face in the workplace. The environment, the change processes, the operational structure, the internal handshakes, hierarchy and politics are part of the playbook given to the Boss Baby. Be it the personality type, the upbringing or the depth of training given, the Boss Baby takes charge of the change and is able to deliver results overtime.
The Positive Influence
I could only smile. This was in April 2018.
In 2017, during one of the strategy review sessions organized where we had both sets of leaders in the same room, a woman from the older generation made a confession:
Preparing your Institution for the Future
- Our Business Model
- Our Client Engagement Model
- Our Processes and Technology
- Our Product Development Model
- Our Sales and Marketing Model