Good Governance Gets You through Any Crisis Easier

By Melkamu Abebe is General Manager at Coca-Cola Beverages Africa / Uganda’s Century Bottling Company and Rwenzori Bottling Company.

DURING the best of times, Good Governance is crucial to both operational efficiency and effectiveness. Effectiveness means doing the right things while efficiency means doing things the right way. Transparency, Accountability, Control of corruption, efficiency and inclusiveness are all values espoused by good governance.

When faced with a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, the corporate values associated with Good Governance are even more important for any organisation and its sustainability.

Good Governance dictates that we should start from the inside out; this means we must strike a balance in meeting the needs of all our stakeholders, starting with employees. This helps boost stakeholder confidence, maintain high performance and respond to the changing external business environment.

In all my time at Coca-Cola, I have come to appreciate the value the company places on people. I identify it as a pillar of Good Governance. If you treat your people right all the time, then you can be trusted to treat everybody else right during the worst of times.

As a company, we are ‘people centered’. The company has built up a culture that supports all employees to enjoy an elevated experience at work.  The people in the company need to be taken care of first as the company pursues its business objectives. When employees start to feel that the company doesn’t value them, their productivity is affected.

In a good organisation, the top leadership continuously makes decisions that reflect what they stand for. If every employee all through the pyramid feels valued at the company, they are likely to support the company even through a crisis.

Good governance means promoting inclusivity where everyone’s voice is heard. At Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, we endeavor to create safe spaces where our employees can voice their ideas and concerns.

This is right from the organizational structure and systems put in place. We promote constant communication and transparency at all times. This ensures everyone is involved and no one is left behind. That has given us a high level of engagement throughout the crisis.

In this COVID-19 situation where the key element of protection was employees implementing and following the guidelines, it was crucial for all of us to be engaged and the results so far are great! We had employees working harder to keep the lights own because they act like business owners.

Some employees even volunteered to leave their families and camp on site for months to keep the factory running.

 

At all times, we kept our communications running consistently and transparently so that everybody was up-to-date and confident. This also built up a high level of trust – which is essential when you have employees working from home or away from direct supervision.

The national mirror of this could be seen in the way the Government used the same pillar of Good Governance and mobilized the nation at the start of the pandemic. The President and Minister of Health communicated effectively and regularly and most Ugandans followed the instructions clearly.

When that changes then you see the response down the organisation. There will be a weakening of commitment and energy.

COVID-19 gave us all a good opportunity to reflect on the nature and effectiveness of our systems of governance. It has been a challenging time for all of us and has had a significant impact on the economy as a whole.

More importantly, it is having a major impact on the people – everyday Ugandans. We are clear that we have a role to play as a Company and we have focused that role on people – our employees, their families, our distribution network, and the wider, general community. From the beginning we committed that we would continue operating so that we could keep playing our economic and social role. We need to keep our people in employment, we need to continue providing support to the trade so that our business partners stay operational and can employ their people, and we need to continue operating so we pay taxes. While doing all this we are also making contributions to the general community and to the efforts against spreading COVID-19.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on production and the supply chain calls for us to be brave and innovative – even more than before. In Uganda we are grateful that the Government has paid attention to the importance of ongoing economic activity and we are working within the parametres for the safety of our people. In the 134 years of existence of Coca-Cola we have operated in different difficult situations around the world and we have always relied on our people to get through to the other side. As always, we trust that we will come out stronger from this experience and we will

In all, this is our commitment – supporting Our People first – our employees, their families, our distribution trade, and the communities in which we operate. This is what good governance is all about: Establishing a clear value system that will make it easy to make the difficult choices every day while balancing the company goals with the needs of the people.

At the end of this crisis, when the good times are back again, people will not forget how organisations treated them during the bad times. If the organisation was loyal to the people then, then the people will be loyal to the organisation during the good times. Good governance is not an event or one-time incident, it has to be a running theme of your organisation; part of your DNA.

Melkamu Abebe is General Manager at Coca-Cola Beverages Africa Uganda’s Century Bottling Company and Rwenzori Bottling Company.

3 Replies to “Good Governance Gets You through Any Crisis Easier”

  1. Thanks, discussion enriching. Effectiveness is sometimes defined as achieving task in spite of required resources while efficiency refers to task achievement within stipulated resources. Kindly continue the exchanges.

  2. You’ve really turned things up at Coca-cola

  3. Great advice. Impressed by the last part “people remember how you treated them during the bad times”

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