Hi everyone, here’s what we have for you this week:
How do you build team culture across 800 field sales agents? Cynthia Makunganya from Yellow shares her experience managing her solar product sales team in Malawi in the latest episode of The Everyday Leader.
How are you reflecting on 2021 as the year comes to a close? One way is to join Meenakshi’s free “Pause with Purpose” session this Sunday.
Read on for more details…
Hitting the ground running at a startup, building culture across large field teams, and finding ways to pursue social initiatives within your business model
Here are a few highlights from the conversation with Cynthia:
Maintain a growth mindset when transitioning from college leadership roles to entry-level positions: Many of us experience the ups and downs of perceived status throughout our academic and professional careers - going from being the top in one place to returning to the bottom shortly after. There are ways to maintain momentum while navigating these naturally humbling experiences. For Cynthia, while she had privilege of studying abroad for university in South Africa, she returned to Malawi to take an entry-level internship role. Yet she made sure she took initiative to seek out the mentorship of the organization’s country director, and was flexible early on to learn as much as possible in the workplace and not mentally put herself “above” any task or project. This mindset eventually landed her a job with a rapidly scaling startup.
View new projects and challenges as adventures in order to overcome feelings of stress and uncertainty: Cynthia was only 26 years old when she travelled to Uganda to launch Yellow’s operations there. She only had a one-month timeline to get everything up and running before returning to Malawi to continue scaling up her team there. By looking at this opportunity with a sense of adventure, she was able to have confidence to “say yes” to taking it on, and also prepared adequately by ensuring her existing team could function smoothly while she was away.
Adjust your recruiting strategy based on your target applicants: In order to hit the ground running at an early-stage startup and rapidly rise within the company, you must be ready and willing to spend considerable time and effort building structures, policies and culture that align with your company’s mission and target market. One example of this for Cynthia was building out a custom applicant screening, tracking and onboarding process involving engaging candidates over an 8-step process that including discussions over WhatsApp groups. They have since used this system in their new Uganda operations as well.
Find ways to take on important social initiatives that are embedded within your business model: Having studied Economics, Cynthia read many studies that showed that women are the primary users of energy in rural areas, including in Malawi. However, in setting up her field team and network of sales agents, she found that it was taboo in many communities to have women serving as energy distributors and door-to-door solar product sales agents. She has gone about exploring and implementing ways to overcome this to ensure that more women can secure income opportunities and community roles that empower them. One way she has done this is by supporting and highlighting top female agents in her network that serve as ambassadors during recruitment campaigns. As a result, Yellow already employs around 200 female sales agents.
Upcoming Group Session: Pause with Purpose
This coming Sunday, 12 December, Meenakshi will host the final monthly installment of her “Pause with Purpose” series for 2021:
Retrospection is a powerful tool that helps us propel towards our goals with renewed understanding, clarity, and conviction. During times that continue to be challenging, let’s use the power of retrospection to stop, breathe, think, and then act on our next steps. This monthly virtual Group Coaching session is a casual and safe space to look back at the month that’s been, and plan for the month ahead. Use this time and space to connect with people globally, network with them, and also find accountability partners to help one another stay on track with your goals.