Powered by People: The Softcom Way
Aug 02, 2022·
8 min read
Softcom exists to provide answers to the daily problems faced by people and businesses in three areas: money, selling and knowing. Our goal is to, through our products, provide the best solutions to these problems, and our problem-solving philosophy - the Softcom Way - is how we bring this goal to life.
In this article, our Senior Vice President, People and Culture, Weyinmi Barber talks on how she applies this philosophy in her role and how it informs all people-related decisions in the company.
Beyond Human Resource Management
At Softcom, our team is intentionally named the People and Culture team because it really drives home what our department does on a daily basis. We engage with the humans of Softcom at all levels to ensure that everyone’s needs are met and expectations are managed and that we’re building a culture that, among many other positive things, is inclusive and encourages our people to become the best versions of themselves.
People For People: Building A Team That Works
When I joined Softcom, I had the opportunity to build my team nearly from scratch and this gave me the opportunity to employ and become familiar with The Softcom Way. First, I had to understand what was needed. This meant holding meetings and conversations with the Senior Leadership Team and Softcomers to figure out what was required and expected from the ideal People team. These conversations helped me gain clarity on not just the kind of skills to look out for but also the kinds of personalities that would fit into the roles required. To solve, I designed an organogram. For every single role on the people, there’s a purpose attached to that position and clarity on how they contribute to the functions of the department and to Softcom as a whole. I was very intentional about getting not just people who know what they do but people who are personable (people’s people). There’s a reason why the roles are labelled People Engagement Manager and not HR Manager or Advisor. It’s a position that is very heavy on engagement. I wanted people that would be pro-employees yet professionally manage relationships with management. I also wanted people who understand the tech community in Nigeria and wanted to be part of it. Delivery was easy when the first two stages were done and I’m proud to say that I have a team that works the way it was designed to.
Prioritising Growth For Softcomers
Tech is extremely dynamic, as a field and for anyone who works in the field. As the days go by new roles are springing up even as existing roles are evolving. When I came on board at Softcom, which was my first tech role, I was faced with a big question: how do you create a roadmap for growth for people who work in this ever-changing field moreso in a fast-evolving tech company like Softcom? There are several HR methodologies for building career paths, many of them were built for traditional institutions that don’t experience the volatility or rapid changes that we do in the tech field. Many traditional career paths are tied to job function and the tasks that you do every day. If we had decided to go by that route, we’d have had situations where, every time somebody’s job changes, we’d have to build a new career path for them. I knew early on that this couldn’t work and began researching what could. That was understanding: getting clarity of the problem and its peculiarities in relation to the nature of our business.
Solving constituted a lot of late nights spent researching, having conversations with friends who work at foreign tech companies to find out how things are done elsewhere, looking at a myriad of options and finally narrowing down on what would work.
Delivery was a lot of work initially. We had to build a policy and framework around career growth for each team so that people are clear on everything from when you’re eligible for promotion to what you need to do on your own part to be eligible for promotion. There’s also a clear pathway for switching job fields within the organisation and how to go about it. We’re very big on supporting our people and their dreams and career aspirations. Softcom is a partner of potential and we’ve begun that journey at home.
Recruitment Day: A Softcom Initiative
I joined Softcom when we were transitioning from client services to building and distributing our own products. Because of this change, the company required a new set of skills and talent to actualize its new goal of building products that solve everyday problems for people and businesses. Not only did we need to build those products, we also needed to take them to market. From a Human Resource perspective, this meant we had a large amount of vacancies at the company that needed to be urgently filled. We started by prioritising engineering and this led us to ask, “how can you hire 20 highly skilled engineers in 24 hours?”. Following the normal recruitment process would take months and knowing the strategy and goals for the year, we just didn’t have that much time. I came from oil and gas with a completely different definition of “engineers” so I had to do sort of a crash course to understand all the open roles and the requirements needed to fill them. Then I got the inspiration for Recruitment Day. I presented the idea to senior management and they were supportive of it. My team and I had to recruit the support of every Softcomer as they had to sit on the recruitment panels, assist with the day’s logistics and all the other aspects. We put ourselves in the candidates’ shoes. What experience would we want the candidates to have from when they walk in the door to when they walk out? How do we make everything move like a well-oiled machine? What would the flow be? How were we going to help the candidates - successful and otherwise - leave the venue feeling their best?
We had to do a lot of redesigning of our recruitment process and we’re enjoying the benefits of it today because we’ve applied some of these things across the board. From the way the application forms were designed, which makes them easier to complete to the way we shared documents on the candidates for the panellists which made it easier for them to know who they were speaking to. It was audacious to pass people through our entire recruitment cycle in one day but it lends credence to our promise as an innovation company where everything we do is around finding answers to problems.
We also learnt a lot of lessons from the first recruitment day event, one of which was that we had to be more intentional about how we manage our candidate’s time. We picked Saturdays because we didn’t want anyone to be worried about juggling work with their interview. We also learned to do more in terms of engaging them with games and icebreaker activities just to ease the pre-interview nerves a lot of people face. For us, it’s majorly about candidates' experience.
Why Softcom: Employee Benefits That Count
Aside from career progression, one thing I get asked a lot during culture fit interviews is about learning and development. We’ve invested in Udemy and many other training programs so that our people can have access to knowledge to grow their careers. For us, it’s also about building policies that are people-centric. We’re one of the few companies in Nigeria that offer up to four weeks of paternity leave. We understand that having a new child, whether it’s your first or your fifth, changes the dynamic of the family and we don’t think three or five days are enough to healthily adjust to that dynamic. We understand that Nigeria is hard and you have unexpected bills that come up so we also give interest-free loans to our employees. We’ve also rolled out a people-partnering initiative that ensures that every Softcomer feels like “I have a person on the People team”. We’ve also invested in performance and mindset coaching for our people through the partnership we have with a wellness and mental health firm here in Nigeria.
To learn more about our people and discover opportunities to join our team, please visit our People page.
Our goal at Softcom is to provide the best solutions to problems, and our problem-solving philosophy - to understand, solve and deliver - is how we bring them to life. This series focuses on how our people use this philosophy to guide their everyday work at Softcom.