TUJIJENGE – Let’s Do Things Differently!

ON THE AFTERNOON of June 25, spectators peeping though the fence surrounding the East African Community Headquarters in Arusha could have behold some amazing sights: about 80 grown-up professionals could be seen roaming around the premises, apparently deeply involved in play. Some were blindfolded, trying to follow their leader who was carried on the shoulders of some colleagues, others tried to file marbles through small pieces of gutter without dropping the marble, while still others were busy arranging building blocks to form a structure. What lay behind this strange behaviour of serious professionals?

The solution to the conundrum: These people were participating in the first ever team building exercise at the EAC! Team building aims at enhancing cooperation and motivation amongst staff in order to increase organisational performance. The latter is an essential part of the German Cooperation Programme which developed the team-building event together with EAC Corporate Communication and HR. During extensive group discussions, participants shared their observations and feelings during the team builder activities and related them to their work environment at EAC. Three gap areas and their possible remedies were identified:

  1. OWNERSHIP – EAC staff need to take genuine ownership of what the EAC is trying to achieve (Big Picture Thinking – why do we do what we do).
  2. TRUSTING TO EMPOWER – More listening, less talking – learn to communicate across functions, bottom up and top down.
  3. BEING INCLUSIVE – be more proactive and positive. It will make us more efficient. It will also help us to share resources much better.

A few days after the actual team builder event, EAC executives together with staff agreed on the following initial commitments to improve EAC organizational culture: :

  1. Have quarterly ‘State of the Community’ meetings where staff can engage with the leadership on relevant developments at the EAC to internalize the big picture of the EAC.
  2. Introduce Open Door & Open Heart Policy for the leading management, including MBWA (Managing By Walking Around)

3.            Provide more opportunities for informal meetings e.g. EAC cafeteria, staff days or brown bag lunches.