In my brief work career, I have had the chance to work with different institutions both in public and private sectors, but frankly I find the setting in Advance Afrika quite exceptional. Barely a month working with here, I already feel like I have been part of this family for years, thanks to the unique and beautiful culture that exists within the organisation. This experience has compelled me to reflect on the importance of having a culture that fosters the mission and more importantly the vision and values of an organisation.
Advance Afrika’s core values are Dignity, Respect and Integrity. And by exercising these values, they have managed to build trust, foster accountability and transparency, not only among its staff members but more so with its distinct stakeholders. Constant application of these values by all staff members has created a culture which all staff members effortlessly uphold and preserve at all costs. What makes it more interesting is that all this is collectively done amidst multiculturalism that exists in the organization.
One thing that intrigues me most also is how these organisational values guide decision-making and activities at all levels within the organization. I have had the privilege to attend a number of high profile meetings i.e. a strategic planning meeting where I was very impressed to observe that all levels of the organisation were well represented and the managers were able to solicit and embrace views from their subordinates with ease. It is a common trend within the organisation to always engage a good number of staff in a particular activity and to ensure everyone feels appreciated for the contributions they make. This to me has created in the members a sense of ownership towards the organisation. It does not come as a surprise then to see even a support staff initiate networking with other relevant stakeholders willing to work with Advance Afrika.
And again, given a chance to interact with Advance Afrika staff, starting from the support personnel to the top leadership, it is quite evident that irrespective of one’s position, everyone has assumed the responsibility of ensuring that the organisation’s vision and values are well reflected in all we do, whether it is work related or not, since the consensus is that the values are also part of who we are as individuals.
Owing to the excellent contributions each staff brings to the table, everyone is considered a star in Advance Afrika and we address each other as such. Now lest you have forgotten, a month has elapsed since I was inducted into the stardom of Advance Afrika and it feels good to be a star shining with dignity, respect and integrity.
I have also come to realize that there are certain subtle elements this culture has embedded in the team as a result of abiding by the organisational values and it is fascinating how in a very short period of time I have managed to subconsciously internalize these elements and subsequently exhibit traits befitting a star.
For instance, there is a tendency of rewarding each and every effort with necessary commendation regardless of how minimal the effort is. This has worked wonders in ensuring that the staff members stay motivated and are ever ready to go an extra mile in advancing the agenda of the organisation. I can cite so many examples of such seemingly little but critical acts that have been normalised as a way of life in advance Afrika.
Having experienced firsthand the beauty of marrying organizational values and culture, I pledge to replicate this set-up when I go back to my home organisation, for I have learnt that not only is organisational culture and values fundamental in achieving the overall goal of an organisation, but also in attracting and retaining competent employees, who collectively and effectively contribute towards building respectful relationships among themselves even more so with relevant stakeholders. This in turn safeguards the growth and sustainability of an organization.