Coaching Franchisees in an Ubuntu way

franchisee coaching

Ubuntu is an ancient African word, literally meaning “humanity”, embodying the mantra of “I am because of who we all are”. Ubuntu is a concept about being with the other: in mind, spirit and heart. This concept of collaboration and connectedness is inherent in the very fibre of transformational coaching which can be applied so adeptly to relationships in franchising. In order to connect with franchisees, we can apply the Ubuntu practices in becoming partners with our franchisees, instead of directors, through the process of transformational coaching.

As many franchisors can attest to, franchisees do not always ‘co-operate’ as expected. Especially now in a VUCA world, where disaster management and Covid-fatigue has set in, franchisors need to be extra attentive in keeping franchisees happy and understand what drives positive behaviour. Coaching franchisees is the key in creating solid relationships with franchisees by having creative and authentic conversations. If franchisor support staff act like compliance officers, the franchisee is likely to switch off or even rebel. That’s where the magic of coaching comes in.

The tenants of transformational coaching, much like the concepts exemplified in Ubuntu, include: trusting the competency level of the person you are with; listening intently with the intention of understanding; co-creating solutions; being compassionate and caring –empathizing with the ‘heaviness’ the franchisee may be bearing and being open to hearing the ‘grief’ and loss a franchisee may be currently experiencing; being curious about what is blocking the person’s growth and collaboratively figuring out ways to get to where they want to be, being vulnerable – showing the franchisee that it’s ok to be frightened, disappointed or even angry. These are good practices for franchisee and franchisor alike as it creates a genuine connection – sprouting growth and productivity. Once you have established trust, it is far easier for franchisees to hear your perspective and know that you have their best interests at heart.

In terms of moving forward, one doesn’t need to have ‘big, hairy audacious goals’ but small goals where one can experience success and stimulate hope. The simple act of recognition goes a long way in motivating and inspiring franchisees and should not be underestimated.

The beauty of franchising is the ability to encompass the spirit of Ubuntu, giving humanity to others, knowing that it is not the strength of the individual but the collective strengths of everybody in the franchise organization that will ride us through difficult times. Trudi van Niekerk, CEO of Nando’s International Franchising, formerly of Africa, the Middle East and South-Asia, expresses this sentiment by empathizing the notion of the ‘spirit of partnership’ where the attitude of “we’ll tell you how to do it and we will always tell you how to do or we were going to shut you down!” is contrary to their philosophy. I believe that companies that adopt a we’re in this together mindset are the ones that will come out of this pandemic in reasonably good shape, being able to share triumphant stories.

Elana Koral of Franchise Coaches will be speaking more about how to coach in the spirit of Ubuntu at FASA’s Franchising in Africa Virtual Conference being held virtually on the 25 and 26 August 2021.


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