Let’s Be Bright: Ask Sarah

Sarah Richson, (MBA, PGDip Management, BA, IOEE)

Sarah Richson, (MBA, PGDip Management, BA, IOEE)

GLOBAL HR DIRECTOR – TECHNO BRAIN GROUP

Sarah holds the helm of HR Global leadership at Techno Brain Group, overseeing 23 countries spread across Africa, USA, UK and Asia.

She has a strong background in International Business with a special emphasis on Human Resource Strategic Management. Sarah has demonstrated deep passion and HR expertise in fast-growth companies, successfully transforming unstructured environments into organised high-performing space. Her career is multi-dimensional and includes years as a Leadership Development Professional, Culture specialist and HR Consultant working on both European and Local African projects.

She is recognized as a Savvy analyst who is data-driven and advocates for empowering companies with the e-HR advantage. She is a teacher, mentor, strategist and talent developer. Sarah is most notably known for her ability to navigate through business social, economic and political bottlenecks with unequivocal ease.

All in all, her passion for developing grass root talent and unleashing hidden potential in others is her driving force in life. She is a working wife and mother of 4 and claims that her success is underpinned by having a warm supportive family.

Not all things in life are supposed to be black or white, positive or negative. There indeed is a neutral ground; a grey area. Sometimes in life you actually need to slow down and take a step back to take stock of everything. There are certain areas that cannot work without a neutral shift.

Career Growth

In regards to your goals, sometimes you need to maintain a neutral ground rather than leaning too hard to the left or right. This is especially applicable when you want your career to grow towards a particular direction. Growth is slow and steady. It requires routine and repetition.

You won’t see it happen, but you will one day realize that you can suddenly do things you couldn’t do before. Or your way of thinking and attitude is no longer the same. You might even realize that your levels of patience, tolerance and accommodative qualities are higher.

Hence, for you to grow, you need to become mundane and continuously put in work at that particular stage. When you morph into the next stage, switch to neutral again and put in work in readiness for growth into the next stage.

Handling Feedback

When handling feedback from people around you, be careful to maintain moderation. If people point out certain negative qualities in you like how overly harsh, judgmental, competitive you are, you need to take a step back.

Step out of your character or self and view the situation objectively. Identify the areas that need to change and make a conscious decision to begin working on it immediately. The reason why you need a neutral shift here is because this quality has been in you probably since your formative years when your personality begun developing.

You cannot wake up one day, wave a magic wand and vanquish these negative traits. It will take work, repetition and character alteration.All these can only happen when you are on neutral.

Neutral Shift as a Way of Life

Switching to the neutral makes you are calm, meditative and determined. During this time you can actually stop to smell the flowers and reflect on something bigger than yourself. It is then that you will realize the importance of silence. You will learn to think more, listen more, and watch more. You will then understand the importance of the neutral shift in your life.

I spent the better part of my December vacation under the coastal sun of Mombasa taking in the cold breeze from the ocean. One afternoon I was seated at the beach with a friend chatting when I noticed a string of ants making their way past where we were seated. Curious, I followed the little procession and noticed that it went beneath a rock, around stationary beach bench and finally ended at the root of the tree and probably continued into the inner bark. The ants tried as much as possible to stay out of the humans’ way to avoid being crushed underfoot. My friend laughed at the curious wonder of nature exclaiming how the tiny, pesky insects have a knack of existing and surviving anywhere in the face of the earth. I heartily agreed with her, but soon changed the subject to more interesting things.

 

Later in the evening, as I reflected on the goings of the day in my hotel room, the little ants came to mind again. With the rigorous activities that take place in the beach, their lives must be in danger every time they venture out to gather food. Even when their procession is cut short by a barefoot, a camel foot or even a bike, the survivors still struggle to get the food home to their queen. The ant colony’s survival depends on constant supply of food and the worker ants have to learn how to thrive in order to ensure the survival of their colony.

 

We all need to learn different ways of achieving our success in whatever work environment we find ourselves. The ants in the beach and those in Bara all have to survive regardless of the environment they find themselves in.

 

My point here is… the ants have mastered the art of thriving. So should we all. Here are great pointers on thriving.

 

  1. Identify a ‘Colony’

What is it that you work so hard for? What makes all your hustle worth it? It could be your family, you kids, your career etc. Your colony is what gives you purpose and makes you push forward despite the challenges that you face daily. At the back of your mind, you know you have to do it. Having a ‘Colony’ makes the journey to thriving much easier and faster and protects you when strong waves of life try to wash you away.

 

  1. Blend In

Another route to thriving is through blending in to the color hues and objects of the surrounding environment so that you can begin experiencing a sense of belonging. Blending in could mean learning the language and symbols used in the environment or understanding the hidden meaning behind non-verbal communication. Try to get the difference between humor and insult as quickly as you can in order to avoid embarrassment.

 

  1. Navigate the Politics

Every environment, from corporate to home, school to college has its own set of politics and politicians! Many people make the mistake of thinking they can ignore office politics until it disappears. According to Havard Business Review’s “Guide to Office Politics” it is a matter of survival for the fittest if you want to thrive. Even purists need to appreciate the existence of office politics and the degree of turbulence such an environment might present. In order to thrive one must understand key stakeholders, formal and informal lines of authority and how the internal grapevine of information transfer works.