Africa is projected to add 70 million jobs by 2020. However, more than 50 million young people across West Africa are currently not qualified for these jobs today and remain unemployed or underemployed because they lack the skills employers seek. WAVE (West Africa Vocational Education), a Fossil Foundation partner, offers a transformative workforce development program based on the “hire for attitude, train for skill” approach, giving many young Nigerians a brighter employment outlook. Fossil Group is also aiding in this vital mission by sharing new ways to improve team dynamics.
In Nigeria, as elsewhere, employers are seeking smart workers—not just book smarts or technical savvy, but also emotional intelligence (or EQ). Self-awareness, grit, empathy—these are the qualities that often predict a worker’s success in the long term. Part of WAVE’s innovative model is identifying young people the emotional intelligence to fill stable jobs in some of Nigeria’s high-growth industries.
A big part of EQ is maintaining interpersonal relationships, which includes communication, conflict management and collaboration. Enter Fossil Group’s leadership and development team in Europe. They wanted to share what they’ve learned about team-building and personal development with WAVE to help them work more fluidly as a unit.
“That means how to realize their own strengths, development areas and possible blind spots in their self-perception,” elaborated Timo Hennecke, a senior training manager at Fossil Group in Switzerland.
Members of the WAVE team were each given a personal profile based on their “preferred thinking style”. The WAVE crew then examined how conflicts or inefficiencies may have arisen because of different thinking styles within the team, and how to avoid them in the future. Armed with these insights, WAVE is now re-evaluating their team processes and finding new ways to communicate and collaborate.
“It was an eye-opening experience,” said Michael Ibonye, lead strategist for WAVE. “It was very interesting to see how our individual profiles come together to create a team profile. This definitely helps us understand how to work better as a team, and most especially when under stress.”
WAVE is now designing classes to account for the different thinking styles of their trainees, and how to work with these differences in their professional lives. As they gear up to train 1,200 unemployed youth this year, the reverberations from our collaboration can still be felt.
“We help our alumni deal with challenges in their respective workplaces and coach them on how to avoid friction with colleagues and supervisors,” said Misan Rewane, co-founder of WAVE.
She reports that several trainees have found effective ways to cope with workplace conflicts through a better understanding of preferred thinking styles. One trainee, Dorothy, applied this training to recognize a colleague under pressure, respond appropriately and find a way to complete a task alongside her.
“We have a new point of view on why some of these challenges occur between people and how to work within them rather than around them,” Rewane added.
WAVE’s collaboration with Fossil Foundation and Fossil Group is a simple reminder that new partnerships bring new insights, and this bodes well for the complex work of advancing Nigeria’s promising, young professionals.