Your employee, your business partner

IT does not matter how lowly you may regard yourself or how much you wish you
were someone other than yourself, the point is “you are”.
If a needle is pushed into your arm, it is you – and only you – who will feel the prick.
Not even your very dear sweet mother or dearest friend will feel it for you. They can
only feel for you. Thus, my friend Toronto would go on raving, of course, usually after
taking a considerable number of glasses of the befuddling stuff.
Naturally I would dismiss his mumbo-jumbo as the utterances of a nutty, tipsy fellow.
It was only on this other day when I was casually flipping through my mind and
reflecting on a string of trifles, that the import of his words dawned on me. The fellow
had been making a very profound statement all this time. This set me wondering how
many times we have had a brush with wisdom and never got to recognise it.
The fact that “we are” does help in explaining much of the way we behave. The
intriguing phenomenon rationalises what we would ordinarily brush off and despise
as egocentricity. No one else, besides ourselves, feels the pain that is inflicted upon
us. It is only ourselves who should first and foremost take it upon ourselves to
protect ourselves.
The animalistic instinct of self-preservation then makes a great deal of sense when
seen in this light – why we should always come first before the other people. We are
not them – we are (ourselves). In the resulting scheme of things we have a myriad of
self-interests vigorously tugging away in different directions.
It should not then be difficult to understand why interpersonal conflict is native to
human relations. My friend Toronto would go further and tell you that the noble
notions of co-operation and brotherhood are rather exogenous to humanity. That
sounds scary but probably true as well.
So, the next time your employee steals from you – whether it is goods or time -they
should be understood from that perspective – self-preservation. The challenge of
business astuteness lies in being able to rise above these competing egotisms.
Basically, the feat entails the entrepreneur putting the employee’s interests ahead of
owner’s interests, so that the owner’s interests are on par with the employee’s
interests. Sounds pretty much like a conundrum.
There is one place where the art of navigating the potpourri of conflicting self-
interests has been mastered with considerable success: Bride’s World, Shop number
16, second floor, Haddon Sly complex, between 8 th and 9 th Avenues on Fife Street, in
As the name implies, their business is selling and hiring bridal wear and services.
The business employs two young ladies and a gentleman on full-time basis. Among
themselves, the employees have a trove of experience and expertise enough to
propel the boutique to dizzy heights.

Nomsa Dube, the managing director, explains that the whole idea hinges upon
running the company like a family business, where the family members are the
In a family, a properly functioning family, the members sit around the table and make
critical decisions together. This fosters a sense of collective ownership and
accountability. When they fail, they fail together and when they prosper they do so
Dube singles out some of the decisions they jointly came up with. One of the girls
suggested that fitting be done as and when the customer comes instead of setting
aside one or two days solely for the purpose. The proposition was adopted after
much ventilation. Since it is the employees who are constantly interacting with the
customers, their input on choice of colours and designs is given priority.
As a result, for example, African attire has become an integral part of the
merchandise. The girls also mooted the idea of a business cell phone which stays in
the shop, thus leaving Dube to attend only to very critical issues and emergencies.
On Saturdays they have lunch together and it is then that they have their informal
meeting, which largely centres on a review of the week. The company also provides
lunch on every day of the week, just to make sure the employees operate on full
Bride’s World goes further to touch the employees’ social lives in a positive manner,
just like in a sound family. For instance, they make contributions, together with the
managing director, towards buying a cake and presents on each other’s birthday.
Dube also points out that the girls are paid on time and in hard currency too. Paying
them in their own coin, so to speak. On top of this they are paid bonuses during peak
business periods such as holidays. So, they do not have to wait for end of year for
that special “thank you”.
The quantum of bonus is based on the volume of sales the employees help to
generate. All this has gone a long way in motivating the employees and whittling
down absenteeism literally to zero. This has made Bride’s World the success story it
is today: The flagship of the bridal industry in Bulawayo.
Clients come from all the corners of the country and as far afield as beyond the
borders. Sometime early this year, the bridal store had an interesting couple for
clients. The bridegroom was jetting into Zimbabwe from the United Kingdom while
the bride was flying from South Africa. The two had courted and dated online. This
was the first time the two were going to meet in flesh-and no-one was better qualified
to set the stage for that special union than the magic of Bride’s World.
Thanks to the business titan’s vision of making the employee a business partner. By
the way, Dube hinted she was contemplating opening the first ever branch of Bride’s
World in the gold mining town of Gwanda. So, for the aspiring brides and
bridegrooms in Gwanda, that fairy-tale wedding could just be moments away from
becoming reality.

The flurry of questions which had flooded my mind was dealt with in one fell swoop
when I heard she had just recently obtained her Bachelor of Commerce Honours
degree in Marketing Management – with a dazzling upper second class.
By the by, her sights are now set on a Master’s in Marketing. She is growing in leaps
and bounds, just like The Bride’s World.

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