The work environment at edge

edge is growing! To help more businesses grow and impact more workplaces, we’re hiring new team members!

Have you ever thought about working in talent acquisition or a business advisory firm? Ever wondered what it takes to help organizations build high performing teams and how you can make your strengths count in this mission?  If your answer to these questions is yes, we are looking for you!

You’re interested, and we know you are cautiously thinking through which work environment fits you best and brings your talents out to shine. This article should answer most of your questions, but in case you’ve got any extra ones leftover, feel free to tweet us @edge_kenya  and we’ll be happy to respond! See all open jobs on our join-us page.

So, how is edge’s work environment like?

Actually, you have to come and experience it! But since you asked, here is a three-word summary:

Fast-paced – We support entrepreneurs in building great teams! Sounds easy? At edge you will need to stretch yourself and think outside the box to come up with and use creative approaches to address our client’s needs.Strategy Conversations Sometimes we have 2 hours to build something great for a client that others may require a week for. We work with mindsets like lean and prototyping to achieve our goals and deliver great value in no time.

Constant learning – We are constantly seeking knowledge that enables us to improve our services and be our clients’ best partner. Key here is self-driven learning, being curious and inquisitive, using online resources, peers and the larger community to be at the top of new industries and trends. Together we develop specific skills that would be useful in our work. For example, we have jointly taken courses on project management and design thinking and have turned newly learned theory into new improved approaches and products immediately! (See more about how we learn in this article)

Flexible – We place more emphasis on your productivity and contribution, opposed to what time you arrive at the office. Everyone has daily and weekly outcomes set, and arranges their time in a way that works best for them. We collaborate using virtual tools and value creativity in meeting client needs. Nobody looks over each other’s shoulder. We own our stuff and strive for excellence in our work. This requires you to be highly self-motivated and self-organized.

Are you the kind of person who thrives in such an environment? Please take a look at the open jobs on our Join Us page!

What we love about our clients and why you should join us!

A young professional thinking of joining our team recently asked an interesting question: “What kind of clients do you work with, and which industries do you focus on?”

The most exciting part about a job in business advisory is the diversity and exposure!

Arguably, providing business growth services is the best job. The exposure you gain to a range of industries, business models and entrepreneurial journeys is just mind blowing.

To illustrate the point: Last month, the edge team handled projects with clients in the financial services industry, rural development and business acceleration space. We also supported a sales company penetrating rural areas, a philanthropic funder of African homemade innovations, a community hospital in a slum, a foreign trade organization, AND a science-focussed secondary school.Retreat

Yeah, exactly! Imagine the conversations over lunch! Being involved in several projects per quarter means intense learnings for each individual. It also means that you get to (and have to!) research and become an expert REALLY fast about new industries and realities!

We learn so much from the kind of questions our clients wrestle with!

As we network with potential clients, we have conversations to really understand their vision, model and approach. By the time we take on board a new client, we know they are inspiring leaders in their fields, entrepreneurs and risk-takers and have big dreams. Many of our clients create employment, make sure East Africans get the services and products they need, and over the years touch thousands of lives and livelyhoods.Edge Perfomance website pictures-50 - tiny

Instead of working transactionally, we build a deep, trusted and long-term relationship with our clients. Knowing that talent management is at the core of successful organizations, we get involed in their most business critical questions:

  • How can we grow sales by factor 12 this year so that we hit breakeven?
  • As I bring in new people, how do I make sure they don’t just ‘want a job’, but we shorten the time they need to understand our culture and start contributing explosively?
  • Who will help us build the right processes as we grow from 2 to 4 branches this year?
  • As I’m transitioning out as the founder after 15 years, how do I make sure the spirit lives on but doesn’t suffocate my successor as they take the organization forward?
  • To build a radically new approach to sales in rural areas, what kind of manager do we need to hire?

In short: Every day is like a very practical MBA class.

Scratch that: Every day feels like doing a PhD in entrepreneurship!

We listen when things get hard, laugh together when we a problem solves itself, answer calls late at night, and sometimes we just have a coffee or beer together, reminiscing about the journey, failures and successes.

Strategy ConversationsAha, sounds great! My last question: Do I get to choose my clients and will I have sales targets?

We work in long-term co-creative partnerships with our clients, so your first projects will most likely be with our existing clients or their close networks, who they referred because they loved the value they gained through edge.

The great news is that the longer you stay in edge, the more influence you have on the types of clients you handle. Some of us start working on our own sales already after a few months or a year with edge. Once you’ve understand our unique sales approach and our services, we’re happy for you to go and have conversations with new potential clients and partners!

In the spirit of focussing on your strengths, you will only be directly involved in client acquisition and get sales targets if you find this work energizing and exciting!

Does this kind of work and environment sound energizing to you?

Ready for the challenge? Take a look at our opportunities to join our team!

What does Career Growth at edge look like?

No matter how you define it, career growth is crucial for personal satisfaction. Being able to contribute on increasing levels and mastering new skills and situtions boost your confidence. Staying engaged and excited in your day job keeps you healthy, as well! Nobody wants to feel stuck or stagnate.

Our whole work environment is geared towards your growth

The work at edge is very varied, and we deal with very challenging questions. At any point, edge employees are involved in various projects, so you will develop your personal effectiveness skills. You will master the technical skills and knowledge it takes to deliver value to an organization, be it in recruitment, team performance or other aspects of business growth.

Participate in Strategy WorkshopsFrom Day 1, everyone here develops formal and informal influencing techniques, dealing with many different internal and external customers. Once you are confidently delivering, you could get to lead a project team.

We borrow from cutting edge methods like agile teams, holacracy, NVC and practice strength-based talent management. At edge we apply design thinking and user-centric approaches in all aspects of what we do. We have a weekly practice to evaluate our work and results. You will also sharpen your communication skills as you interact with a wide range of managers, industry experts and decision makers during projects, forums or events.

At edge, we give you the platform to be an entrepreneur, a consultant, a leader, an inventor, a business coach, and in the process, build amazing workplaces across East Africa.

We look forward to welcoming you to the team!

Our team loves the exposure, learning opportunities and feedback they gain. 

We asked a few of our teammates at edge on how their growth has looked like, and hopefully, their responses will provide some insight on how you will grow and develop with us!

Reynold appreciates that a lot of care goes into understanding what you’re passionate about, what sort of tasks you struggle with, and what things you’re good at: “This has allowed me to contribute strongly in the areas I’m passionate about, and also perform better in the tasks I struggle with.”

_MG_5725To thrive at edge, you don’t need previous HR experience, says Denise: “When I joined edge, I had no formal work experience with HR. I’ve learned so much about the space in the time that I’ve been here. Aside from Human Resource and Recruitment knowledge and skills,  I’ve also learned about business advisory, engaged with design thinking, and project management, which have also added to my skill set.”

Fabianna has been here for over two years and still learns something new every week: “The only way you improve at anything is to get feedback from the people you work with. We’ve got a strong feedback culture here, and I never feel unsure about my performance on projects I’ve worked on.”

Mwalimu enjoys the freedom to map out his own path for growth and development: “The team takes the time to understand what tasks and activities I was good at, and allowed me to build a role that not only matches my interests but also brings me closer to achieving my career goals.”

Please take a look at the open jobs on our Join Us page!

Innovative companies need innovative people approaches – how we did it

Innovative companies need innovative people approaches – how we did it

It is thrilling for us in edge that we have reached this far: We were challenged to reinvent our organization, to be bolder and to deliver high contribution to the growth of businesses around the world.

Our journey has been transformational: to our products, our business model and ourselves – we have faced the very challenges we support our clients in!

But let’s start from the beginning. After extensive market research on performance related challenges across the startup ecosystem in Emerging Markets, we envisioned bringing innovative organizational management approaches to the space of fast-growing enterprises. We have prototyped a series of performance management solutions, leading to two achievements:

  • First working on our own people-related systems, we implemented the best of holacracy, the idea of Flow, peer-coaching and others in order to build an agile organization that’s ready for growth. By developing and experimenting with these new methodologies for areas as internal debate, harnessing conflict, decision making, defining roles and accountabilities and coaching, we got away from traditional models with top-down solutions, strict titles and Job Descriptions. While the journey continues, we are now more responsive and agile, and we make decisions as public agreements using consent, much faster than consensus with higher buy-in than the good-old managerial decisions.
  • We now find ourselves prepared to offer to implement those methodologies in our customers. It is an intense process which allows every business to take advantage of state-of-the-art methods to manage themselves towards a new performance level. Together with edge, over a dozen businesses have already started their journey towards more healthy, sustainable and effective ways of team performance.

Leveraging diversity for better results

We are a diverse team, with 7 nationalities based on 4 continents with careers ranging from 4 years to 30 years. We have tech geeks, business people, marketers, psychologists, and even physicists. Let alone individual’s personalities and what drives them!

We know that only diversity creates a winning team, but we are confronted with its potential for clashes and conflict regularly. You probably know exactly what we’re talking about!

Achieving results in a diverse team isn’t “straightforward” but solving this solution is one of the biggest levers for organizational performance!

Dealing with our own diversity, we developed a talent diagnostic product, called “Who is on board?” for example. It’s because we recognize how deeply connected a human’s intrinsic motivators and drivers are with the type of work they easily excel at and that the way individuals take decisions and communicate is a lot based on personality, too! The question of management then becomes how to leverage individuals strengths and align everyone’s personal energies.

Our tool allows individuals to bring themselves in fully and recognize how to best utilize others, too. We want our clients to be able to profit from this and reducing energy and time loss in their teams (well, actually no business should allow that to happen!).

The theory behind this is equally insightful and simple: when it comes to human resources management, traditional practice deals with only one of human development dimensions: behavioral. By neglecting the strength of leveraging also social-emotional and cognitive dimensions, companies are wasting, roughly speaking, ⅔ of the potential of their crew!

Teams of over 15 companies have now understood “who is on board” and have used this for sometimes drastic changes in the way people work together: Restructuring sales approaches and teams, reallocating management tasks between the execs and reviewing meeting flows and other structures to allow every individual to contribute highly.

We have learned how to gently support individuals to embrace their profiles, curiously explore with their peers and take an active role in the transformation of their professional lives.

One CEO told us: “I see a shift in team engagement and gained clarity on what the team needs from me!“

In 2015 we aim for higher reach and learning. Every week we speak to organizations looking to improve their results and explore how our solutions may contribute.

Just get in touch for your first consultative meeting, exploring your current situation and pinning down ways to improve team and thus company performance. We tailor our methodologies and develop our product portfolio further to meet your needs, no matter how complex things may feel like.

Reinventing the world of work – our journey as a growing business

Looking back at 2014 is a very proud moment in edge’s ten-year history.
In just one year we achieved the transformation from a grant-based talent development and placement organization towards an organization delivering crucial support in unblocking business performance – and we’re well on track to profitability!

Today we want to share some of our successes and learnings from our journey.

Where are we in December?

We had enthusiastic and constructive conversations with dozens of small and growing businesses in seven countries. CEOs, COOs and HR decision makers told us the value of spending time to discuss people performance in an analytical manner.

One of our key products are diagnostics products, giving clear information on how well the team is set up to achieve performance. Especially in Latin America where we have rolled out diagnostics earlier in the year we have since started follow-up engagements to address some of the identified opportunities and threats.

The top management of two companies have found it most helpful to cover talent related management topics in regular sessions over a full quarter, in turn allowing them to feel safe while applying new approaches supporting the growth of the company.

We are very grateful to be a trusted partner in a transition moment of a CEO role in one of our clients.

Our bestseller has been the RightHire product in various facets: Some companies value our expertise in creating a clear role profile, others ask for support in building attractive employer branding or the best tactics in targeting talent. Beyond traditional hiring products we’re excited to have implemented personality and team mapping thus setting the new team members up for long-term performance.

We are having honest conversations with investors and grant-making foundations around diagnosing the human capital in start-ups and building a pilot to de-risk investment decisions for early 2015.

Being able to contribute beyond work with individual clients and shaping opinion and trends is very close to our heart. edge is now invited on panels at events in the SME space. We have partnered with 3 accelerators on trainings of their business cohorts. We are becoming a go-to partner for international foundations where they need support on the ground around understanding human capacity and making conversations work.

 

How did we get here?

  • We stayed curious about our business model. After our market research in Quarter 1 we were about to close in on a new product suite and business model. Only by staying curious were we able to go as far as we have gone. “Would we deliver scalable online services or tailored one-on-one consulting?” – “How do you compare with other HR players?” Like any other start-up we received advice and dooming predictions from all sides. It was sometimes uncomfortable and scary to go for meetings without a product suite. Sometimes we would create “tentative product sheets” and a month later contradict ourselves.
  • We truly trusted the team. Having the full team contribute to strategy and question each other on whether we’re on the right path has definitely helped in creating the products. Even more crucial was the mindset shift in management: In edge everybody has permission to approach any client, all can spend money on research, sales and delivery and everyone is asked to innovate and deliver all of our products. We are eliminating titles and micro-management and instead the team members support each other to focus their energy on where they are most likely to add value to edge.
  • We let the customer decide: The deepest assumption of our products is that the client knows himself best. All our services evolve around providing data to the management teams, offering options and facilitating conversations. We don’t provide simplifying answers in a transactional manner, but rather enable every person in the client business to take better decisions and deliver real business value. This in turn means that all product development decisions are truly based on the users’ responses and needs – and not on our idea of what we believe.

There’s more to share and even more to learn moving forward. If you like what you read, please join us on our journey in 2015!

The road to business transformation… it’s a personal journey

The road to business transformation… it’s a personal journey

We in edge are on a road of transformation. Transforming edge into edge2.0. edge2.0 means a new internal way of working, a new external way of working, and a completely new portfolio of products and services. edge2.0 enables business results through people performance – from long-running small companies to start-ups, from standard businesses through to impact businesses.

We have hit a few bumps in the road. And like any good leader, I saw clearly what I needed to do and did it.
Edge Talents, edge, talents, optimization, deep dive, internal communication, communication
What was I thinking …

I lead therefore I am a leader
I have the clearest vision. I see the future. I’m responsible for the success of the whole. I have more experience. They follow my lead. Because their success depends on my leading successfully.
I’m knowledgeable and powerful.

And yet …

I’m a leader therefore I follow
Together they know far more than I do. Together they see far more than I see. Each has a different perspective. Each has a different way of interpreting what happens. I follow their lead. Because my success depends on my following them successfully.
I’m ignorant and humble.

Follow me, I’m right behind you
Leading is working within paradox and contradiction. Especially the contradiction between leading and following. Standing behind in support and leading from the front. Between pride and humility. Between what I know and what I do not know.

I find it easy to see what’s happening. To know what needs doing. And to make sure it gets done.

We hit a bump on our road. The steering wobbled. I corrected what needed correcting.

Or did I? Over the past few weeks I discovered differences between what was really happening (including all the hidden things generating what I saw happening) and what I actually saw happening. I discovered where I would have been better following first.

But it takes a certain environment for people to feel comfortable contradicting me. Challenging me. Making me follow them. It takes an environment of humility and curiosity, filled with my questioning silence. Not my answers, dictates and direction.

A difficult environment to create. And triply difficult to create across cultures.

Difficult, because it flies against most cultures’ concept of respect and social cohesion. When I’m following I am, in that moment, in some sense, in a lower status role. Standing humbly in my ignorance. Accepting help. And a strong leader cannot be allowed to do that in most cultures …

It means asking open questions in word, tone and body language. Genuinely. Frequently. Standing in curiosity towards them and all they are doing. Vulnerable to being hurt. Open to being helped. Enabling them in that context to have higher status than me, to be stronger and wiser.

Hard for all.

I’m a leader therefore I follow.
I’m a follower therefore I lead.

If you want to know more about how to lead the real complexity of your business, not an over-simplified cartoon version, contact us.