I have been in Nigeria for three days as a guest with the Young President’s Organization). As part of my trip, I spent a few hours with the Managing Director of DHL here in Nigeria, Randy Buday. He is responsible for managing the Western countries in Africa. He is an American originally from the Los Angeles area who has lived and worked in Africa for 30 years.
DHL was recently named one of the best companies to work for in Nigeria. As Randy gave me a tour of their site in Lagos it was an opportunity to learn about the DHL leadership philosophy and how Randy embodies that very philosophy in his personal style.
We spent time talking over lunch with the Central West Africa area Human Resources manager, Isaac Sackey, who resides in Ghana and who also has been with DHL for 20 years. Throughout our conversation, they shared how a key element of their success has been the focus they put on engaging their employees. They have a culture of empowerment – managers trust their team to make decisions, and their managers are held accountable for how they engage their people. To exemplify this idea, they have a banner that hangs in the warehouse, “I own it, I’m on it.”
After speaking with these leaders today, two key employee engagement strategies stand out for me. First, Randy hosts a quarterly town hall session for all the employees. This is where he is able to share strategic information about the company with DHL employees. These sessions are also an opportunity for employees to ask questions and bring up any issues on their minds.
Second, they have a suggestion box that employees use to share ideas, suggestions or frustrations. Randy answers them in the monthly employee newsletters, so employees know they will get an answer. In his experience, he feels that when your employees respect you, they will work hard for you.
His personal philosophy was one of an open door policy. He is talks with his employees, visits the distribution center often and walks the floors taking with his people. He has an open and engaging personality with a passion for the business and the market share that DHL has in Africa. Even though Nigeria is not an easy place to work due to a high level of poverty, caos and corruption. However, Randy sees the opportunity, embraces the challenge by engaging his employees and treating them with respect. Even his driver, Anthony, shared with me that he is at DHL because of Randy!