He was the epitome of arrogance, despite his diminutive stature. Whenever he made his entrance to the office, his colleagues would scurry like rats after having sighted the proverbial cat. The once joyous office would degenerate into a graveyard of sorts with pin drop silence. This was the Finance Department of Huzuni Enterprises headed by one arrogant Mr. I Am Boss aka I.A.B.
As members of his team had their lunch one fine afternoon last week, I could not help but overhear bits and pieces of their conversation; ‘Guys, I have had it. One last abusive word from I.A.B. and I am off to H.R.’ ‘Same here.’,emphasized another. ‘Did you hear of how C.E.O. praised our department for reducing costs on my idea of subscribing to data bundles from Safaricom instead of using the traditional lines and yet I.A.B. could not give me credit for the idea? I hear this initiative is being implemented company wide, yet no one even mentions even my first name in the corridors.’
‘It’s always insult upon insult, I cannot even remember the last time I received a compliment from I.A.B. for work well done, I understand Riziki Enterprises are recruiting.’
‘Despite the company recording year on year growth and profit, my salary is still the same as it was five years ago and I am still n the same employee grade as I was five years ago. I doubt I will make it for my university class five year reunion, I feel like I have nothing to show off for my hard labor. Does I.A.B really listen to us or does it enter into one ear and exit through the other?’
‘We slave and toil for this company, you would think we own shares. For ten consecutive Sundays I have been working overtime at the production line. My children have even forgotten what mummy’s cooking tastes like. I leave home before cock’s crow and arrive home long after the house help has tucked in the little ones to sleep. Whatever happened to work life balance ’’I understand during the last head of department’s strategy meeting, our department got the worst lashing without even I.A.B. putting in a word for us.’
As I continued nibbling on my chapati and ndengu stew, I thought to myself. If only this man called I.A.B knew that people who have enjoyable workplace relationships are bound to be more productive. Colleagues who feel that their views are being listened to will go the extra mile. For things to go smoothly in the workplace an environment of trust, mutual respect, mindfulness needs to be nurtured. A workplace that embraces diversity and varying opinions is one of the prerequisites for an ideal work environment.
A call to self examine myself too; what is my role in the Marketing Department? Am I the type of colleague who takes the time to nurture relationships with my colleagues; answering calls, replying to texts and email right on time, sharing trusted opinion, sharing a meal every once in a while?
Am I sharpening my Emotional Intelligence to know what to do and say in the right way and at the right time? Do I appreciate the role of my colleagues say when they have done work well? Do I remain positive despite turbulent times at the grind? Am I the office gossip, always minding other people’s business instead of my own? Am I keeping it professional – not mixing business with leisure? Do I own up when I have goofed?
As I gazed into the Nairobi traffic in the distance, a familiar voice could be heard in the next table, Mr. I Am Boss himself, ‘Team, lunch is on me today. There are a few things we need to discuss before today’s afternoon session.’ The look of surprise in his team’s face was palpable, this was the first time their line manager had offered to buy most of them lunch. Could things be turning out better since the last Heads of Department training by Top Executives? Only time would tell.
Only time would tell whether my colleagues from Finance Department would learn from the poor leadership style of I.A.B. and be better leaders in future themselves. Only time would tell whether they would take up ownership for good workplace relationships in their department without over relying on the boss man – Mr. I Am Boss.
‘If only they would take up responsibility for their workplace relationships,’ I thought to myself.