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  If you’re a business owner in Nigeria, you’ve probably just given this article’s headline a knowing look. As you’re almost certainly aware, there’s a popular trope associated with ‘the Nigerian employee’—extra-keen on compensation, not very enthusiastic about rules, and maybe a bit difficult to manage. Some of the caricatures that have been built around them issue from half-truths (at best), but there are obviously worker traits that are widespread within our industrial landscape.
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Some of these features are a boon for businesses if harnessed well. Others are, shall we say, not so savoury. Given this reality, entrepreneurs on this side of the globe will do well to understand what they are and why they exist. And, ultimately, they’d want to know how to tame, fine-tune, or work around them, in order to reap maximum results from their Nigerian team. This article shows you how. Let’s dive in.

Train New Recruits

Granted, there are some skills you would expect a new employee to already have. But quite often (especially for entry-level roles), you’ll have to introduce them to the way things work at your establishment. Ideally, their training will cover technical aspects of their job description, and your company culture, which you also want them to fit in with. The more familiar they are with how you’ve set up your business to run, the better they will be at sticking with its operational procedures.

Encourage a Culture of Camaraderie

The Nigerian culture is still largely communal; trying to extinguish this from your organization may be counter-productive. Instead, find ways to take advantage of the Nigerian default preference for cordial relationships and build a work environment that’s approving of camaraderie—as long as it’s devised to push your business forward. Present your enterprise’s success as a win for everyone on your team, and celebrate with them when victories are achieved. Each person should have their fellow workers’ backs, and grind out for better outcomes for the ‘corporate family’.
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Reward Productivity

Make it clear that excellent work will be rewarded; and follow with your promise. Don’t take it for granted when people go above and beyond their job description in order to move your company forward. Let them know that you appreciate their effort. Even if you can’t afford a significant monetary transfer to them for this, you can reward hard workers in other ways. It could be anything from a coupon for shopping, to a token commission for the extra they’ve delivered. Make this a habit, and you’ll see productivity levels rise sharply, other factors remaining constant.

Set Clear Rules and Boundaries

We have talked about upholding the positive Nigerian trait of a communal spirit at work. But there’s one you’ll need to guard against unruliness. It thrives when there are no clear guidelines and boundaries, but wanes if you introduce and enforce definite rules and limits. Your employees may not like it at first. But in time, they’ll come to appreciate it when they see the good that it yields for them and the business as a whole. Just be ready to put your foot down when there are grumblings of disapproval among your staff.

Lead by Example

It’s alright to lay out company policy and demand your employees to abide by it. But you will get the best rates of compliance when you conspicuously adhere to those rules yourself. Be the model worker you want the people on your team to be. When they see that you’re serious about executing right and you’re diligently managing your output, they’ll know straight away that they have no excuse to not tow the same line. Effective leadership sets the tone for the sort of workplace ethic you want for your organization.
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Provide a Path for Career Advancement

Encourage your employees to take a long view of their careers, and aim for the top. If they get the impression that they could climb up a career ladder as they work with you, they’re more likely to stick around and put in the effort you want from them. Even if your business isn’t yet big enough to accommodate their dreams, get them to improve their skills and garner new credentials nonetheless. The more skilful they become, the sharper they’ll be at their roles. If they do eventually leave, they will have already contributed positively to your business’s growth.

Final Words

Dealing with the peculiarities of the Nigerian workforce as a business owner can be a challenge. But if you’re smart about managing them, you’ll be successful at curbing their excesses and maximizing the good that they bring to the table. Featured Image Source: TechCabal
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This article was first published on 9th August 2023


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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