Tio Kauma on Career Planning

#360Mentor is a continuation of the #40DayMentor series. In this episode, Robert Kabushenga (RK) speaks to Tio Kauma (TK) on Career Planning.

RK: Hello Tio, good to have you here. How are you?

TK: I am well. It’s cold in Cairo but we are good.

RK: This is the time of year when people are thinking of what to do the following year. Do you anticipate that we are likely to go back to normal?

TK: The whole covid pandemic is seen through the lenses of how resilient we are. One as individuals. Two as organisations. I think from what many people are saying, this is going to become second nature to the way we live. So the question is how resilient are we to handle what has been thrown at us. given that, over the past two years. Organisations have become more resilient to these covid challenges than was the case at the start in 2020. I believe businesses in 2022 will not be as disrupted as thy were in 2020. Those that have not built that resilience will either weather away or the will have to adapt. But I am very optimistic about 2022.

RK: Talk to us as an employer. What do you think of the opportunity that has been created?

TK: One of the effects that we have seen from a talent perspective is when people started working at home or away from the office, it suddenly made many people realise that they did not have to be tied to their physical office location. And this opened up a completely different perspective of how people view work. This has created what has come to be known as the great resignation.

RK: What is that?

TK: For the past couple of months, companies reported a bigger number of staff resigning than you would have expected. Clearly you would imagine that with the challenges of covid and etcetera that you wouldn’t have people resigning. It is more difficult to find a job actually and it has been relayed that workers have found that tying themselves to the job because of pension or the benefits of the work, suddenly it is not as important as it used to be. The staying away from work has created new perspectives in people’s minds and suddenly people are more flexible with how they should offer their labour hence creating what is called the great resignation. We are going to see a lot of that.

RK: How do people now, under the circumstances you have described, how do they plan for growth? Some of us, growth has been about moving from a smaller office to a bigger one. What is growth going to look like?

TK: We can look at it from both sides; that of employees and the employers. As a business, it means we need to orient the manner in which we approach the workforce. The days of assuming that you will have a workforce that is loyal to you and depends on you as their caregiver is seeing their last days. We have to focus more on how to ensure that the interests of the people we work with align with the interests of our business. That is the best way to get out of the employees.

On the employees side, they have realised that they are more than where they work. We tend to define ourselves depending on where we work. There’s a tendency of people identifying with their work wherever they went. Many people have realised that there is more to me than the place where I work. And to me that is key. It is one of the key messages I have been trying to put out to people.When you’re defining yourself, it should be more than the circle of where you work. Life is defined by more than just that?

Actually, I don’t have to tie myself to a particular employer but rather on how I sell myself. Depending on how I build up my skills and experiences. I should be able to convince someone else that I can do what I can do. This conversation is now going on. In the more developed world, it is happening much faster. The numbers are visible. In economies such as Uganda, it may take time.

RK: It may, but finally we will get there.

TK: True. If you look at the larger banks and law firms on Wall Street. They are increasing the salaries of their staff, especially their junior staff. They have listened to the complaints their staff have raised and they were forced to endure. They had to come up with new ways of how things were supposed to be done. They are increasing salaries now.

RK: I recently read that in a certain country, employers were not allowed to send emails to staff after working hours.

TK: True, in France and Portugal, they passed that law. These are things that are happening. Employers are realising that they have to align their interests to those of their employees. Otherwise they will walk away. The other dynamic is that there are a lot more flexible work arrangements especially in the tech/ startup industry where people of that nature are willing to be absorbed in a more flexible way. This is competition that traditional businesses have to deal with. If they don’t change, they are likely to be the losers. And the war for talent will become even more difficult.

RK: From the point of the worker, what tools can I employ to cut the kind of bargain? How do I align my interest to be in line with those of the recruiters? You recently talked about the employer/ employee value proposition, how does that work?

TK: First of all I am proud to tell you that the EVP as I like to call it is my own creation. I designed it for the bank. What you find elsewhere is the employer value proposition. EVP. I changed it to EVP because I think it is not enough for you as an employer to say I am making a proposition for you as an employee. It has a two way street. The employer makes one and the employee makes theirs. Once you have that then the two can align and then you can make a psychological contract. How do you as an employee bring a proposition that will attract the employer?

It is important to look at this from a total personal perspective. This will apply to people already in the job and those that are applying. If you run your business, we assume it is the same proposition. First, we assume you have a reason why you are doing what you are doing. You don’t just wake up and run to where you work. What is the purpose?

At the end of the day, when you look far down the road, what is it that you are working for? 50 years from now, what legacy do I want to leave? What will people say that I did? That is what we mean by purpose driven existence. You must have that in place.

The other thing I have crafted is the Life Career Will, this is saying that your life has got several pies. Look at each pie as a segment of your life. We can use a pizza analogy. When you buy a pizza, they slice it into equal parts. Look at your life that way.

If you have a piece of paper, draw a circle and divide it into six pieces. We are going to talk about how each piece works and how it leads to the kind of preposition it means to the world.

RK: Is that a planning tool for you?

TK: It is. When I use career here, I use it in the broad base not only to those in employment alone. I am looking at career as per the webster definition of the word: pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement. This could be anywhere at work or personal life.

1.   Knowledge and skills

If we start with the first pie, each person needs knowledge and skill to do whatever you have to do. Whether employed or not, you need knowledge and skill. Make yourself continuously competitive and with the right value proposition, the first thing you have to realise is that learning is a continuous process.

I may tell you that I am a certified coach from the Neuroscience Institute Of Leadership which is a UK based organisation. One of the things I learnt while I did that certification was that of the four levels of learning, of the four levels of competence. The first one of them being unconscious competence.

RK: You don’t know what you don’t know.

TK: You don’t know what you don’t know. I see a lot of unconscious incompetence on social media. You see someone speaking about something they don’t know about and they don’t know that they don’t know. That’s the most dangerous level of competence.

The next one is the level where you get to know what you don’t know. We call it conscious incompetence. This is where you get yourself to read, upgrade your skills, find mentors etcetera. This is the stage which we should all focus on getting to.

The next stage is called conscious competence. It means that you know and it is obvious that you know.

The last stage is unconscious competence. At this point you don’t even think about it. When you’re talking to people about coffee, Robert, you don’t even think twice about the things you are saying because you have reached the unconscious competence. For us to completely learn, it is important for us to keep ourlseeves around the people with conscious incompetence. To always keep finding out because we know we don’t know.

RK: That’s what drives curiosity. 

TK: Yes. That is the importance of continuous learning. Continue upgrading your skills.

RK: So you are sying that one of the things for one to do next year is to move to a level of conscious incompetence, develop the curiosity and pursue the path.

TK: Yes. Ian Rumanyika recently shared a quote by Alvin Tofler which said: the illiteracy of the 21st century is going to be of people who are not willing to learn, unlearn and learn again. If you are not going to do that, it does not matter how many degrees you have, you will be illiterate.

2.       Attitude and emotions.

This is really about your emotional state as an individual. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how many skills you have. If your emotional state is such that you push people away; always complaining and being toxic, It is going to have an effect on your life and career. You will have to take deliberate steps to ensure that your attitude and emotional state is at such a level that you control our emotions. When you are angry, how do you deal with it? When you need to disagree, how do you show that you are not fighting? It is important. That’s emotional health.

RK: For knowledge it is important that you will go and acquire it, how can one deal with emotions, where do you go for salvation?

TK: The good thing with all this is that they all link into each other. One of the ways to deal with anger management for example is by learning how to deal with it. There are therapists for that. There are even coaches who can help you with that. There  is a course called emotional resilience. It all goes back to learning but you must be willing and deliberate about it.

3.       Physical and mental health

A lot of people think is not so serious. We tend to ignore that this helps us with the way we learn and manage our emotions. But physical exercise has a huge impact on how our brain works. A huge impact on our physiological being. This comes with other things as well, for example if you abuse any substance how do you deal.

4.       Relationships and networks.

No man is an island, we all know that. We sometimes tend to be islands in the way we manage our relationships. They come at different levels, family, marriage, children and a lot more to it. There are professional networks, friends. How deliberate are you about building these networks because each one of us has got people that influence your career. I call them destiny shapers. Those are the people who are along your line because of the decision you made, to help you to get further than you would have. How do you get to influence those people to make those decisions? You have to attract them towards you to make those decisions.

RK: And for them to have a positive view of you. They also make a negative view of you because they are against you.

TK: And it’s not that they will be against you, it will be a decision for someone else. It will be a destiny shaper for someone else. So how do you ensure that when they make that decision it will affect you positively.

This goes around, again. How do you present yourself to the networks? How do you build them in an authentic way? Because building networks in an inauthentic way is also possible. It is important to do this.

One of the things I want to say here is that when we are building these relationships and the way we approach them, we are very clear about how, when for example there is no reason why as you go into 2022, you should have a list of people you want to sit down and have a chat with.

RK: You are saying it is your responsibility to make sure that you deliberately draw a list of people you must have a conversation with.

TK: Correct. And that should be from a point of I should be able to have an insight of person X because there is an area of interest you have or because there are things about them that you would like to know about them. This is how you present your authentic self to these people. Don’t do it because you have to meet someone else. They will pick you out clearly that you are doing it for the sake of doing it. That’s very important. If you are in the right physical state, the way you will manage that relationship will be very different from the way you handle it if you are not.

RK: Also Tio, let me add, that if you make an arrangement to meet these people physically, please do not neglect the small matter of physical hygiene.

TK: It is important how you present yourself. Because it brings up the issue of it being your brand yourself.

5.       Income

 Income is important for everyone. Even if you are a trust fund kid. Money is something we cannot do without. How do we plan for our income? What are the sort of things that we need to do to grow our income. What are the sort of things you have to do to grow your salary? It goes back into seeing how much learning you are doing. How much networking you’re doing deliberately. How are you in control of you emotional state in order to perform well? You can actually get a salary increment because of the way you perform at work.

If you are running a business, what are the sort of things that you are planning on doing that will help you improve your business next year? It all goes back to what you need to plan to put that in place. But at the end of the day, the outcome you are looking for is an increase in your income. You can look back and compare your income in 2020 and 2021, that is a positive result we look for.

6.       Recreation/ spirituality/ renewal

This pie of your life focuses on doing things that help you and your mind to keep clear. It means that you engage in certain hobbies that some people enjoy. Some people enjoy reading, others to play instruments. Others may be interested in going to church, rotary.

It is important that we have something outside our work life that we can do and look forward to doing. But all these loop back into our relationships and networks. If you manage your recreation activities in such a way that they have a positive impact on the other aspects of your pie, it is all the better for you.

The point I want to make is that how you balance your pie determines how your career path will be. 

RK: I think for me, these categories are what you should look at before you figure out the balance. Just awareness alone is an important ingredient in planning your way forward. Folks, you need to know where you are in each of those sections. That is the only way you will move forward. We shall call them Kauma Six.

TK: The next question is how do we balance that pie? When you go to buy a pizza and they give it to you with only one part cut out and the rest of it is whole, it would look weird. You would ask them to slice it up. The act of balancing these pies is critical. It is possible that one of the pieces could overwhelm the other.

For example, if we paid more attention to the income, focusing on only making as much money as we can, it means we ignore relationships, families, networks, health, learning, obviously, it will have an effect. The same applies to the others.

I want to talk more about recreation. Sometimes we spend a lot of time on recreational activities. We spend like 12 hours at church. It is important to do that but how is it affecting the other pies? That’s one of the main things we need to do to make the career work for us. We need to know that each preposition should contribute the same way. Every time you show up to the world, you show up with all those pies. But if the pie you are presenting is just one whole piece then it is going to have an impact on your career.

RK: After you have done all that, what are the personal attributes that are going to get you through? I imagine discipline is one of them. People were used to multiple layers and now they are doing things on their own. Talk to me about that.

TK: One of the books you have referred to here on the show is GRIT by Angella Darkworth. It talks about passion and resilience and how these are the secrets to success. And obviously these are studies from the author who is a psychologist at Westpoint Academy. She says the people she realised were successful were those that had staying power and grit. And how do you build grit? There are different ways like running. But there are important things, for you to be able to run,you need to be deliberate about the emotional resilience you are building for yourself. 

There are things like self control, how much of that do you have of yourself. Clearly if you have to run 40km the following day, you cannot be going to the bar till 4 am. Those are some of the things that build into emotional intelligence. Grit is a function of self control and self awareness, mood and all the things that come with how you build yourself up as an individual.

RK: In other words, what you are saying is you are going to be working from home. If you don’t have self control and there is no supervisor, you could be distracted by the aromas from the kitchen or the music and before you know it the day goes by without doing anything.

TK: You can watch Netflix the whole day under your blanket. But what impact is it going to have on your income? The important point here is that as individuals we need to be deliberate on how we do these things. That is the first step we need to take. That is why that wheel is very important. What is it that you are going to be deliberate about?

RK: Joan Nkiriki, one of our previous mentors has been very deliberate on being intentional.

TK: Exactly, that is why I said earlier that whatever you are doing there must be  a purposeful approach to what you are doing. And this involves the vision of the future which takes you back to the actions you need to take today. Are they clear, achievable and measurable?

However, that should not stop you from having big goals. One of my favourite quotes says if your dreams are not big enough to scare you then you are not dreaming enough.

RK: Trying to achieve those dreams will take you in places higher than where you are today.

TK: We must be deliberate which means we must plan. We must write down our plans and visions. Our headmaster used to say that the weakest pen is way stronger than the mightiest mind. Those things help. When you look at your current reality. Then you look at the various alternatives that you need to consider and then tap into your inner energy that you will need to drive you forward.

RK: The question of the CVs, the description of your valuable position. You said there is a new way that employers look at those documents, would you like to elaborate.

TK: Let me use a practical example. Where I work, we have an independent agency that helps us with recruitment. When people send their CVs to this agency, it gets the CVs and converts them into a profile which they then send us to look at. If you look at the profile from the agency, it has nothing to do with your job title. It is the last detail they will give me.

Instead they give me a list of what this person has been doing. For expla they show that you were part of a  team that led a certain project. The other titles come later. Besides, titles are only peculiar to organisations. A vice president in organisation x is completely different from a vice president in organisation.

RK: Someone once said they are sanitation experts in the MDs office. They mean toilet cleaner

TK: I read of a PHD; Private Hired Driver.

The point I am making here is that when you are sending a CV, it goes to somebody. That person is receiving thousands of other CVs. It is important that we look at ourselves as a personal brand. What do you bring to the table? How am I getting my experience to do a particular task? And how can I go and tell the world that this is what I have done? What is important is that you have done it. If you work for a security exchange company and you raise a bond of 100 million, you should not go out and tell the whole world that you raised that bond. What you should be saying  is

·         What did I do that helped to raise that bond?

·         I engaged investors etc

When writing a CV, make it known what your skills are and the role in the accomplishments of where you worked.

Comrade Otoa: What is the importance of soft skills and networking? How does one navigate the question of emotional intelligence?

TK: This is an important subject. Perhaps it is not given the attention it deserves. But the manner in which you present yourself in any given public is important. I will give you an example; when I was at Budo, I was the Chairman of the Budo Drama Group. One thing I learnt was expressing myself in public. I am not afraid because of that background. However, as I went through my career, I started doing presentations and speaking to large audiences. I realised that I needed to work on how I appeared before the public. I had to prepare myself. I had to go back and do more reading and training on how to do those including how to prepare yourself before you go before an audience. These are things that may seem to be obvious but they go back to showing how deliberate you are in wanting to improve that example.

But sometimes, if you are not open to the insight of getting feedback from people. You will move around in a state of unconscious incompetence on how you are in terms of social skills.

So you have to improve your social skills.

On emotional intelligence,  the manner in which you deal  with people is going to determine the level of your success. If you do not know how to manage your emotions i.e. how you react to what people tell you and how you react to what people tell them and how you deal with that whole mix. Again, it goes back to creating that level of self awareness, your impact on people and when you talk for example, this is more important with the level you are at. As you advance in your career, you have to be mindful of the words you say. They hugely affect people. It may not be easy to ralie but when you create that level of self awareness , then you understand that when I say something, people take it seriously. That way, you have to be deliberate on what you say and how you say it. You have to train yourself. For example, how do you receive bad news? If you receive bad news in a bad way, people will stop telling you things.

RK: Thank you Tio for making time.

TK: Thank you for having me.

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