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Key factors for success

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In the business world there are so many things that attract our attention and therefore can distract us from the important issues that business leaders need to pay attention to.
Stephen Covey said: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”.

If business leaders have to focus on things that matter there is need to have something that will drive them towards that direction. For a business to succeed it needs to focus on its critical success factors.

Critical success factors (CSF), sometimes referred to as key success factors, are defined as “the essential areas of activity that must be performed well if you are to achieve the mission, objectives or goals for your business or project.”

They are the few key areas where things must go right for the business to flourish. It is imperative that management and staff pay very close and careful attention to such activities because they enable the organisation achieve its mission and objectives.

CSF are not only for organisations, individuals also have CSFs that will ensure that they achieve their mission in life.
These CSFs will drive the individual towards the attainment of his/her goal. Identifying critical success factors helps employees to concentrate on those things that matter for the success of the business.

Key success factors are not the measurements of success but are those factors that need to be done well in order to achieve your objectives.
In order to identify the CSFs we need to look first at the organisation’s mission and objectives and then see which are the areas that need attention for the organisation to achieve its mission and objectives.

To have maximum impact it’s usually advisable to keep the CSFs to a minimum of not more than five.
Each industry has its own unique industry-specific CSFs but companies in each industry might not have identical CSFs.
You need therefore to identify what will give you competitive advantage or an edge over competition, what it is that is central to the future of the organisation and to the achievement of that future.

Why are CSFs so critical for business? Businesses need to identify their CSFs because they allow firms to focus their efforts on building their capabilities to meet the CSF’s and eventually their mission and objectives.

An analysis of the hotel industry can show us some of the key success factors in the hospitality sector.
With the growth in the use of the internet in booking accommodation after customers have done their own reviews on comments about a hotel it’s very imperative that every hotel addresses the following CFSs namely, customer service, location, product differentiation, cost control, quality management, flexibility and global outlook.
Customer service is an integral part of any hotel experience. It starts right from the gatekeeper up to the top manager.
The first encounter with a hotel employee will create the first and the lasting impression. If that first impression is bad then everything else that the hotel staff do will be an uphill task trying to please the customer.

It is therefore very important that employees are well trained and are knowledgeable, courteous and are able to resolve any conflicts that might arise with customers.
Some of this service will entail the frontline staff knowing names and preferences of repeat visitors and giving customers areas of interest to visit within the area.
The location of a hotel is another important critical success factor. A hotel located on a place with scenic views is likely to attract a lot of tourists compared to one located in a run-down part of the city.
The appeal of the location will depend on the type of customer the hotel is serving. Business travellers and tourists will value locations differently.
A hotel should therefore advertise also emphasising its location to its target market.
Hotels thrive by offering a unique experience to its visitors.

The unique experience could be its location, the special cuisine it provides or the reception that its employees give to its visitors.
This product differentiation is very important if the hotel has to stand out from the crowd.

Managing costs is another CSFs. Controlling costs will enable a hotel to offer discounted rates, attractive packages for business or social travellers.
However cost control should not be done at the expense of good customer service where employees become dissatisfied because they are being paid very low wages or when amenities are not being upgraded.

Hotels now compete on a global scale. Because of the internet international tourists scout for hotels all over the world before they make bookings.
Big or small, locally owned hotels should be able to compete on an international basis to be successful.

Tourists can choose from destinations all over the world and they can easily research on the net the quality of local or international hotels when making their selection.
A hotel should aim to compete through provision of a unique unforgettable experience and not on price only. It’s important therefore for hotels to be aware of what attracts customers and what will ensure repeat business.

Another key success factor is quality management. Quality management encompasses how management ensures employees are satisfied, motivated and empowered.
A satisfied employee will reflect this through his/her behaviour when he/she meets a customer. Happiness is contagious and so a happy employee will positively impact a customer.
Employees should also be empowered so that they can have the necessary authority to make decisions to accommodate customers’ issues where possible.
Each CSF should be linked to a goal and be measurable or observable for it to be effective.

It is important to have a good grasp of the business environment, your industry, your company and your competition as you develop your organisation’s CSFs.
Stewart Jakarasi is a business & financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy and performance management.

He provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.
lFor assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts: sjakarasi@gmail.com or +266 58881062 or on WhatsApp +266 62110062

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Insight

The Joker Returns: Conclusion

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Last week I was talking about how jokes, or humour generally, can help get one through the most desperate situations (although it’s like taking a paracetamol for a headache; a much, much stronger resort is faith). I used the example of how Polish Jews, trapped and dying in the Warsaw ghetto, used humour to get them through day by day.

A similar, though less nightmarish, situation obtains in today’s Nigeria. Conditions there are less hellish than those of the Warsaw ghetto, but still pretty awful. There are massive redundancies, so millions of people are jobless. Inflation is at about 30% and the cost of living is sky-rocketing, with the most basic foodstuffs often unavailable. There is the breakdown of basic social services.

And endemic violence, with widespread armed robbery (to travel by road from one city to another you take your life in your hands) and the frequent kidnapping for ransom of schoolchildren and teachers. In a recent issue of the Punch newspaper (Lagos) Taiwo Obindo, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Jos, writes of the effects of economic hardship and insecurity on his people’s mental health.

He concludes: “We should see the funny side of things. We can use humour to handle some things. Don’t take things to heart; laugh it off.”

Professor Obindo doesn’t, regrettably, give examples of the humour he prescribes, but I remember two from a period when things were less grim. Power-cuts happened all the time — a big problem if you’re trying to work at night and can’t afford a generator.

And so the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) was universally referred to as Never Expect Power Always. And second, for inter-city travel there was a company called Luxurious Buses. Believe me, the average Lesotho kombi is a great deal more luxurious (I can’t remember ever having to sit on the floor of one of those).

And because of the dreadful state of Nigerian roads and the frequent fatal crashes, Luxurious Buses were referred to as Luxurious Hearses.

Lesotho’s newspaper thepost, for which I slave away tirelessly, doesn’t use humour very much. But there is Muckraker. I’ve always wondered whether Muckraker is the pen-name of a single person or a group who alternate writing the column.

Whatever, I’d love to have a drink with him / her/ them and chew things over. I like the ironic pen-name of the author(s). Traditionally speaking, a muckraker is a gossip, someone who scrabbles around for titbits (usually sexual) on the personal life of a celebrity — not exactly a noble thing to do.

But thepost’s Muckraker exposes big problems, deep demerits, conducted by those who should know and do better — problems that the powerful would like to be swept under the carpet, and the intention of Muckraker’s exposure is corrective.

And I always join in the closing exasperated “Ichuuuu!” (as I do this rather loudly, my housemates probably think I’m going bonkers).

Finally I want to mention television satire. The Brits are renowned for this, an achievement dating back to the early 1960s and the weekly satirical programme “TW3” (That Was The Week That Was). More recently we have had “Mock the Week”, though, despite its popularity, the BBC has cancelled this.

The cancellation wasn’t for political reasons. For decades the UK has been encumbered with a foul Conservative government, though this year’s election may be won by Labour (not such very good news, as the Labour leadership is only pseudo-socialist). “Mock the Week” was pretty even-handed in deriding politicians; the BBC’s problem was, I imagine, with the programme’s frequent obscenity.

As an example of their political jokes, I quote a discussion on the less than inspiring leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer. One member of the panel said: “Labour may well have a huge lead in the polls at present, but the day before election day Starmer will destroy it by doing something like accidentally infecting David Attenborough with chicken-pox.”

And a favourite, basically non-political interchange on “Mock the Week” had to do with our former monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Whatever one thinks about the British monarchy as an institution, the Queen was much loved, but the following interchange between two panellists (A and B) was fun:

A: Is the Queen’s nickname really Lilibet?
B: Yes, it is.
A: I thought her nickname was Her Majesty.
B: That’s her gang name.

OK, dear readers, that’s enough humour from me for a while. Next week I’m turning dead serious — and more than a little controversial — responding to a recent Insight piece by Mokhosi Mohapi titled “A reversal of our traditions and culture.” To be forewarned is to be prepared.

Chris Dunton

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Insight

Reading, writing and the art of reflection

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There is a close thread that runs through what you reflect on, what you read and what sticks in your mind. It’s almost a cyclic process with regards to how all these processes unfold. Today, in this installment we focus on the thread between reading, reflection and writing.

This appears a bit cumbersome to explain. But let’s simplify it. Let’s begin with a beautiful poem which encompasses what we have so far spoken about. Here we are! The poem is penned by “Tachibama Akemi.” It goes:

It is a pleasure
When, rising in the morning,
I go outside and
Find that a flower has blossomed
That was not there yesterday.

Seemingly, the poem is simple. But, on close analysis, it reflects very deep reflection and thoughtfulness.

The persona, in an existential fashion, reflects all about the purpose and meaning of life and his place in the overall matrix of life.

The persona carefully reflects on nature. This is what makes all this poem rustic and romantic.

The persona thinks deeply about the blossoming flowers and how the process of the growth of flowers appears almost inadvertently.

It is a poem about change, healing, the lapse of time and the changes or vissiccitudes in the life of a person are reflected creatively through imagery and poetry. We all go through that, isn’t it? We all react and respond to love, truth and beauty.

So far everything appears very interesting. Let’s just put to the fore some good and appealing thoughts. Let’s enlarge on reading, writing and reflection.

Kindly keep in mind that thoughts must be captured, told, expressed and shared through the magical power of the written word.

As a person, obviously through keeping entries in a journal, there is no doubt that you have toyed about thoughts and ideas and experiences you wish you could put across.

Here is an example you can peek from Anthony. Anthony likes writing. He tells us that in his spare time he likes exploring a lot. And, more often than not he tells us,

“I stop, and think, and then when I find something, I just keep on writing.”

So crisp, but how beautiful. Notice something interesting here; you need to stop, to take life effortlessly and ponderously, as it were; observe, be attentive to your environment; formulate thought patterns and then write.

To some extent, this article builds on our previous experiences when we spoke at length about the reading process.

But how can you do it? It’s not pretty much different. I can help you from my previous life as a teacher of English Languge.

The most important skill you must cultivate is that of listening, close listening. Look at how people and events mingle.

What makes both of you happy; enjoy it. I am sure you still keep that journal in which you enter very beautiful entries. Reflect about Maseru, the so-called affluent city. So majestic!

How can you picture it in writing!

I am glad you learnt to reflect deep and write. Thank you very much. Kindly learn and perfect the craft of observing, reflecting and writing. Learn that connection. Let’s meet for another class.

Vuso Mhlanga

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Insight

The Joker Returns: Part One

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Don’t be put off by the title, esteemed readers; what follows has nothing to do with the Batman films. As you will be happily (or unhappily) aware, I am a big fan of jokes. There’s a common understanding that a joke is ruined if you have to explain it, and this is true, but some jokes do need a bit of background explanation. Anyway. I like jokes and I like thinking about how they work.

Many of my favourite jokes have to do with language and the way we use it. For example: “I just bought myself a thesaurus. I similar it very much.”

Other jokes have to do with human behaviour and here it is important, out of respect for others, to avoid jokes that perpetuate stereotypical ideas about gender, race, nationality, and so on. I’m afraid the following joke does depend upon a stereotype (I’ll come back to that), but here goes, after a bit of background information.

In Lesotho you have an insect called a praying mantis — stick-like, bright green, and with great bulging eyes. They are rather lovable, despite the off-putting fact that the female practices insect cannibalism; after mating, she consumes the male. So, now you’ve had your zoological primer, here goes.

Two praying mantises are getting up close and personal. The female says to the male: “before we have sex and I bite your head off, could you help me put up some shelves?”

Apologies to female readers, because, as I said, that joke perpetuates a gender stereotype, namely, that women are good with a vacuum cleaner or a dustpan and brush, but hopeless with a hammer and nails.

There are many jokes that are, as it were, much more serious than that. As I rattled on about in a couple of earlier columns, many of these are satirical — jokes that are designed to point a finger at human folly or even wickedness. In another column, titled “Should we laugh?”, I explored the question “is there any subject that should be kept out of the range of humour?”

Well, apparently not, if we take on board the following account of the Warsaw ghetto.

Historical preface first.

The Warsaw ghetto represents one of the worst atrocities in modern history. In November 1940 the genocidal Nazis rounded up all the Jews in Poland’s capital and herded them into a small sector of the city, which they euphemistically, cynically, dubbed the “Jewish Residential District in Warsaw.”

Here nearly half a million Jews were in effect imprisoned, barely subsisting on tiny food rations. An estimated quarter of a million were sent off to the death camps. An uprising against the Nazi captors was brutally crushed. Around 100 000 died of starvation or disease.

Not much to laugh about there, you might say. But then consider the following, which I’ve taken from the New York Review of Books of February 29th this year:

“In the Warsaw Ghetto in October 1941 Mary Berg, then a teenager, wrote in her diary about the improbable persistence of laughter in that hellish place: ‘Every day at the Art Café on Leszno Street one can hear songs and satire on the police, the ambulance service, the rickshaws, and even the Gestapo, [on the latter] in a veiled fashion. The typhoid epidemic itself is the subject of jokes. It is laughter through tears, but it is laughter. This is not our only weapon in the ghetto — our people laugh at death and at the Nazi decrees. Humour is the only thing the Nazis cannot understand.’”

To be concluded

Chris Dunton

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