When Shamwari Private Game Reserve and Sanbona Wildlife Reserve sought the help of Liz Burger and Nikki Klinkert draft job descriptions and establish salary benchmark, they were delighted to be of service.

The Challenges

It was abundantly clear that were major problems. Structure was ill-defined and there was a good deal of uncertainty as to who reported to whom and how different parts of each organisation worked in unison.


To that end, Liz and Nikki sat down the leaders and hammered out a strategy to set matters right. They delivered a Lumina Spark workshop to better identify strengths within the team. Such was its success that it was rolled out across the organisation in various incarnations.


The various departments of the business (Wildlife, Ecology, Hospitality, Maintenance and Shared Services) all have different responsibilities but bound by a common purpose, viz. to ensure that conservation remains the top priority whilst at the same giving their guests outstandingly good experiences that they would never forget.


During the Covid Pandemic most of the Lodges were closed and therefore the hospitality department was obliged to adapt and seek ways to adjust to the new normal. The team size was reduced, and employees had to learn new skills and wear new hats so as to enable them to work across functions. Therefore, a new organisational structure had to be designed and the job descriptions naturally needed to reflect the changes.


In this, Lumina Spark proved indispensable, shining as it did light on people’s strengths, development areas and general patterns of behaviour. These data were then worked into the job descriptions and new responsibilities of overlapping divisions.


One Shamwari Team exploring different personality styles with Lumina Spark


One of the most pressing problems was to forge a “One Shamwari” team. Complicating matters were sheer number of roles focus areas, the fact that each organisation worked in silos, and the diversity of staff. How were they to bind together an organisation consisting of Anti-Poaching units, Field Rangers, Ecologists, researchers and Lodge Managers to name but a few. Liz and Nikki sought ways to include everybody, however lowly, and to ensure that not only could everyone understand each other implicitly but also that employees shared a unity of purpose.


The Result


Drawing upon the Lumina Spark model, they devised exercises expressly to bring out different personality styles in the different personas. They took it upon themselves to marry the Lumina Spark Session with a strategic session in order to set priorities.


Journey to Composure (Lumina Spark’s simple, but highly effective 5-step method to reduce stress and to supercharge resilience) was also introduced in a follow up session devoted to the subject of change management and forging new structures.


Liz and Nikki hit upon the novel idea of adopting a tiered approach, Lumina 1 – 4. Each tier was so designed that each tier becomes more personal, more human to staff. Everyone had to be included regardless of their level of education.


When they began embarking upon Lumina Spark workshops, they began at the top and worked their way down. Thus, Senior Management came first, then came Mid Management, followed by Junior management, after which came “Lumina Lite” for entry level employees. They tailored each workshop accordingly. For the top brass, the focus was on strategy was the general theme and focus point. For Mid and Junior Management, they laid the emphasis on ‘Effective Communication,’ ‘Teamwork’ and ‘Adjusting to Change’ We didn’t do individual profiles for the junior staff who does not have the required literacy level.


To all they were at pains to explain the principles upon which Lumina is based and impress on staff the vital importance value of diversity.


To strengthen morale the Lumina Learning Team ran a cooking competition and even went so far as to compose a “One Shamwari” musical motif. Both served to further bind the team together both at the time and in a “Pulse check” session they ran some months later.


The impact of the Pandemic was little short of a disaster for the hospitality industry and inevitably this subject figured prominently in each workshop and individual session.


Signs of stress (in Lumina parlance, ‘overextensions’) were easy to identify and Journey to Composure was called upon later to help.


The pandemic had served to isolate employees, so much so that many had barely worked with each other. The workshops proved a great boon in bringing the teas together, in mending what Covid had broken in better understanding each other and learning to work with each other again.


The management of both Shamwari and Sanbona insisted that:

  • Every staff member must be a part of the exercise
  • Lumina Learning help them devise a new structure that was fit for purpose
  • Lumina Learning help draft job descriptions that take personal strengths into account
  • Lumina Learning create an opportunity for full and frank feedback for the leadership


All four goals were achieved and both clients declared themselves delighted with the results and ROI. Indeed, their success at Shamwari led to an intervention request from their sister lodge, Sanbona.


They saw great changes for the better in not only the individual behaviour but also in that of the groups and teams. The sense of a renewed sense of mission was positively. Spirits were high in every echelon of both organisations.


What is more, it was plain to see that staff had embraced taken the opportunity to reflect on their personalities and personal development very seriously and this was due in part to the efficacy of Lumina Spark itself and in one-on-one coaching sessions. Even the hardest leaders opened up and faced bringing about change with confidence. This was a truly emotional experience for some with many valuable lessons learned: understanding colleagues, feeling valued and how to thrive in a job for which elephants and lions are your neighbours and the African Savannah is your office.

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Lumina Learning is a global network of skilled experts and Practitioners operating in more than 40 countries all over the world.
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