A personal experience. My boss is a difficult boss and does not like me

At a former employment, I was super excited to be called a Management Trainee. The company painted the sky as the starting point, and we as the direct descendants of the management cadre. We were indoctrinated at a management resort somewhere in Apapa to live and breathe like managers.

Fair enough

We were taught the difference between IQ and EQ. while IQ got us the job, EQ was going to help us survive our initial deployment and ultimately help us get up the ladder quickly if we knew and played our cards right.

After 3 months at the HQ, it was time to be redeployed. This was quickly followed by a week of introductions and making rounds around  various units within the business. Finance, Marketing, Supply Chain, Human Resources and Admin, and production.

Marketing

For a Fast Moving Consumer Good company (FMCG), the marketing (brand management) unit plays a key role in actualization of bottom line numbers. They work alongside the sales team which is responsible for driving top line numbers.

We were the brains behind the campaigns and the pricing regimes and tariffs. We were to take on the world (competition) one day at a time. One marketing memorandum at a time. For today, we were to learn from our bosses the senior brand managers and we were to be called “assistant brand managers”.

The die was cast.

Today I came across an article written by someone I consider the best sales and brand manager in modern time. His track record will have you wanting to learn at his feet. He has transformed ALL the organizations he has worked for and is still in the business of brand / sales / organizational transformation. To me, he can best your company’s sales strategy in under 5 minutes… what am I saying… Mr. Alex Goma is King.

I digress

In his article, he says “A lot of companies have done a good job selling their organization culture and values, thus creating the idea of a perfect organization. This has led to an expectation of an ideal situation by new hires of a company where managers are leaders and coaches building a healthy work environment and helping their teams achieve great results and rise to their potential. Also experience of having good bosses over time makes us expect that every time.  Sadly, the reality is not true for a large number of companies, with many bosses behaving contrary to the values of the organization. This happens for many reasons, ranging from hiring the wrong people to promoting the wrong people where there are no robust systems for progressing people in leadership roles, incompetence, and insecurity of line managers to outright bias. Even in some of the best run companies, a number of bad managers have slipped through the net and gotten promoted to positions where they have been a disaster.

My focus will be on the second line “This has led to an expectation of an ideal situation by new hires of a company where managers are leaders and coaches building a healthy work environment and helping their teams achieve great results and rise to their potential”

As a new hire (management trainee) in this case, this was the sort of fire i needed to hear. You are taught the values, some aspects of organizational culture (you learn culture as you progress at work), ethics, and all the other things that are designed to make your learning curve bearable.

But this is Nigeria, nothing appears as it is. Still, we were trained to be dynamic and to be flexible and adapt to situations as they arise. We were the best of the best. We were management trainees.

EXPECTATION VS REALITY

“It’s also good to be clear what your values are, what you stand for and know how they fit with your organization’s values and goals. It’s therefore critical to have the culture of the organization in mind when looking for an organization to work for. Don’t expect that you are going to work with the best bosses every time. Sometimes, you may have to deal with a bad boss but with the right company, culture misfits in leadership positions are always found out and taken out over time, though maybe not as fast as you want or expect. It always helps to have these at the back of your mind

Work started out fast paced with a 3 month induction, internships at the various businesses of the company to have a basic understanding of how the business functions from the center. Shortly after the induction process, we were deployed to different businesses to resume.

The learning process.

FMCG companies in the food business have a tough time. The business environment is not very friendly, regulators are up your neck, there’s SON, ISO and a host of other barriers to success. However, it is expected that to be in business you must be ready to fight. My company was operating in a red ocean and there was no room for mistakes.

The tough recruitment process was to ensure that we had what it took to transform the business and provide support and input to ensure business success.

The new intakes were considerably 2 generations away from the current managers but with the solid organizational culture, that should not be an issue.

Again, I digress.

  “Sometimes, you may have to deal with a bad boss but with the right company, culture misfits in leadership positions are always found out and taken out over time, though maybe not as fast as you want or expect. It always helps to have these at the back of your mind”

Sometimes, organizational culture is so deeply diluted that it fails to identify and eventually address culture misfits. This can happen up until the point where the very people recruited to transform a business are frustrated out of the business.

So much for succession planning.

The management trainee scheme for some companies is so well thought out that in a few years you get to see trainees take up actual managerial roles. Their mentors most times trainees at some point are willing to go and give above and beyond to help the new hatchlings grow and make their mark.

While this is not always the case, mentorship for new intakes should not be left unmanaged. Yes, the HR department is there to ensure the program is successful no doubt. They do reports every 3 months or so, and also require the trainee to turn in reports.  The task lies in the follow up, understanding and listening to what these new guys have to say.

It is expected that there will be complaints about their line managers, but are those complaints genuine? Should it be looked into? Is the organizational culture stifling the growth of these young future managers? Or is the business too proud to realize that its managers are going to be the reason the business as a going concern comes to an end in the not so distant future because they have refused to adapt. Make changes, accommodate the ideas from the younger generation? What exactly is the role of human resources with relation to organization culture? How does HR address conflicts of interest between business success and culture change?

My learning curve as a trainee was short but eye opening. I met Mr. Alex at a time where I did not understand the relationships between the marketing expenditure memos, sales targets and ultimately business bottom line. My function at the time was do memos, execute, and find an excuse for not meeting the sales target and move on to other memos.

In under 6 minutes, he painted this example for me.

If you walk along a street where someone sells Coca-Cola, you can tell when the coke van will come. Usually, on that day the shop attendant will arrange up the empty crates outside. You know why he said to me… because the sales man has a route plan. The sales manager knows the plan of all his sales men and can estimate the daily sales and weekly and monthly sales. Marketing support for events and other extras also add to the sales figures. But even without any event, the sales and brand manager should know how much the company makes in a day / week / month.

I was a brand manager for a couple months and I had no idea of what the sales executive for my brand sold daily. There was a problem

After trying unsuccessfully to get management to look into the mentor-ship and training issues, myself and colleagues within that business left to pursue other endeavors. We understand that other sets of trainees from different years deployed to the unit also left.

Perhaps we misunderstood the organizational culture. Perhaps culture misfits do have a place in certain businesses. Perhaps HR is not listening. Perhaps the generational gap is an issue businesses should look at…perhaps…

If you are currently dealing with a difficult boss, i recommend you read the article here

…May the force be with you

Advertisements

Today, I saw the face of death…

 

Creaky beds and ventilation tubes littered the room. In one corner, a chubby looking man sat with a stethoscope around his neck. Other significantly younger individuals flocked around doing one thing or the other… I approached his desk and he signaled me to sit.

Nurse, jor mo fe yagbe. (Nurse, please I want to shit)….

There was a fine mix of men and women in the room. At least they numbered seven. “Don’t go anywhere baba” the nurse shrieked; the restroom is full and you can dislodge your catheter if you stand.

I looked around and saw the grim look on the faces of the residents and the indifferent look on the faces of the attendants who had probably spent quality time in a medical school somewhere. The atmosphere lacked compassion. Despite being over 30 degrees, the room felt frigid.

Nurse, please I need to shit now he cried again and he began undressing himself.

In sickness, there  isn’t anything like being shy or worrying about being naked or not… The goal is simple; Get well.

As he spoke, he got up and took a few feeble steps away from the bed. He could barely stand upright. The urine bottle hit the floor and another nurse shouted “baba, wait. Don’t dislodge your urethra. Use this… as she handed him the waste bin stationed by his bed and lined with polyethylene ”. He collected it and quickly stooped to poop right by his bed which happened to be next to another patient. Oblivious to all that was going on in the room.

You look healthy he said. . Let’s check your BP. Do you exercise? Do you sleep well? Are you on any drugs? Painkillers? None? Beautiful. You’d be fine. You only need to rest…

Doc, it’s an emergency please… my mother isn’t feeling well… carry her in… the available wheel chair without rubber tires rolls in…and because there isn’t a footrest, someone holds the woman’s  legs up to avoid them scraping the floor.

She is wheeled to the center of this crowded room visibly gasping. One of the younger doctors grabs a pair of gloves and walks briskly to the woman…. He searches for a pulse…. Grabs a stethoscope… shuts his eye and walked away. She had passed.

It had happened. The young lady who only minutes ago had carried her mother into that room in an instant had no one to call mother again. . In the twinkling of our eyes, her mother was gone. Liberated from this sad existence. For her, this was the final destination. No more pain. Nothing to worry about.  She was finally at peace.

For a minute, the room went silent…. Then the chatter resumed. In the background one of the nurses was advising the lady about wrapping the body up before it became stiff and they couldn’t move “it” around….

This was my second encounter with the reaper.

Today, I sat in a room with the reaper and saw the face of death.

An Ode to GR 495 EKY

 

My Heart,

Its been a couple months since I had to let you go. you were as reliable as cold water on a sunny day. but as the saying goes, unto every thing is a time and a season. its safe to say your time came and has passed.

i hear you’ve had some surgery done on your nervous system. the doctor said your heart was fine. i knew there was no killing the beast in you. hope the new tranny works fine.

i think you’re in good hands. i hear he even got your glasses darkened. that’s so cool. its great to know you still ride the 16′ wheels i got for you and your modified Lexus Rx suspension.

I have a new beau now (sorry it took this long to tell you) and her 5 speed tranny is a wonder and she has a heart of gold. Her throttle is quite wonky tho. That first generation fly by wire thing is no match for your cables. oooo how i miss your zippy acceleration. i have taken her to meet the elders in Otukpo. you wont believe how well she blended in at Ojano. Amazing.

I really shouldn’t bother you with any more of her details. Hope to hear from you soon.

GR495EKY

Miss you loads

FRIENDSHIP

friendship
Dear friend
It started at our first meeting.

In the twinkle of an eye.
A decision made unconsciously in our hearts.
A sudden attraction that holds us bound in its cocoon.
Its influence over us is overwhelming.
It pushes us the extra mile just to ensure that smile.
The one reason we hug.
The only reason you’ll fall to prevent mine.
Your gift to me that glows even in the dark.
The foundation for our fears and tears.
The only thing they can’t take from us…
OUR FRIENDSHIP

My Mentor. My Uncle. My Father. My Friend

IMG_0011[1]

AIR VICE-MARSHALL Unaji Clifford Oche.

I never thought this day would come. Never thought it would be this way. I never imagined writing a tribute for anyone. Not now, and certainly not for you.

I remember the year 1999 when we had to work around attending interviews for AFMS Jos and AFSS Ibadan. You wrote to the interview board of both schools. You said “Tell them you are my son”.

I remember when all it took was one phone call. I remember the drive to the gate. I felt silly… sitting beside you in the back seat of your staff car talking.  Then again, I believe that’s what having a “Father” is about.

Today, people look at me and wonder. They have no idea of the foundation you helped build. I look back at the years you mentored me. I remember the few occasions at the farm. Who would have thought that those were life lessons? What wouldn’t I give to have those moments again?

I remember you telling me about the rewards for hard work. You embodied the essence of working hard and walking tall. If I did not learn anything, I understand that someday, your work will speak for you. You didn’t talk the talk. You walked the walk.  Residents of NAF Base, 403 EMD Sha-sha will not forget you in a hurry.

We, your sons will never forget you. How can we? Where will we get unbiased tutelage from? Who will guide us through this journey called life? Who will hold our hands when we stumble? In our hearts for a thousand years your memory will live.

We are surrounded by darkness. Fear weakens our heart. We are drawn to a portion of the Bible in psalm 128 v 2 where it says” You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours”. We have a thousand unanswered questions. We want a million answers.

We prayed. We cried. We sat in silence. We hoped against hope. Still, who are we to question the will of God? Posterity will be kind to your memory. Generations unborn will hear of you. On the lips of many will your name be sung.

We are proud to be called your sons.

We have been hit by the reality of life. We are reminded of life’s fleeting nature. We are drawn together in pain.

We are consoled because on the 16th of April, 2015, Death trembled to take you.

Rest in Peace Sir.

                                                                                                                                                                Oche, Okpe. Oche

                                                                                                                                                                21st April, 2015.

All there is to Life.

Wednesday, July 24th, the heavens wept. Tears in the form of rain. There is nothing to it anymore. What could ever be is now no longer. A cruel certainty that will never change. I sit in silence. It was already past my bedtime. Sleep eluded me. I stared at my screen “Oche, my baby is gone”.it could have been over a minute, I was lost in time. Dark clouds appeared. It felt like a lifetime. I couldn’t bring myself to the realization. “She’s gone Oche” gone. How could it be? How could a child so pretty, so sweet, go like that? Who had she offended? Whose path did she cross?

Words would forever be inadequate. Memories are all that’s left. I remembered the Eco dinner. 2009. we were at the chapel trying to figure out a name for our “group/band” in the midst of all the ruckus, you couldn’t miss her voice or smile. Like a wakeup call. She could light up a dark room just with her smile.

At the dinner, she wore a pretty red dress…..I didn’t have my bath that morning. School was resuming same day and I needed to pay my fees online before attempting the journey. I stumbled into the café and she was there with Ore. We all laughed. I was almost embarrassed. I looked unkempt. Bathroom slippers, bushy hair, rough tee shirt. We all laughed about my appearance. We were friends after all.

In the midst of the pain, I wonder what the essence of life is. Was it more than blood, sweat, tears and death? If it was, what was it? Why are we born? Why do we have to go? Why will parents have to put children in the ground? I was told it should be the other way round. Children putting their parents in the ground. Does it get better on the other side? Where is the victory in death? Where is the sting? Is life just another form of lifelessness?

Its morning now and I await a better news. The night was horrible. I hope it was my mind playing tricks on me. I hope it’s all a lie. A nasty joke. I hope she’ll come back to this life. I hope we all would get to see that smile again. I hope we see Dolapo again.

My thoughts are interrupted.. Two deaths in one day.

Where is He when you need Him? Where is He when you call upon Him? Why them? Why now? Only unanswered questions remain.

I’ve come to a conclusion that although death is real, it’s not the ultimate. Its only a part of a larger truth that doesn’t wipe away its consequence but transforms it and brings out of it a new creation.

…Blood, Sweat, tears, and Death. This is all there is to life.

Goodnight Ifedolapo…

A service of Songs

…. You can look but not touch. She tried to lighten the mood. Sleeveless low necked top, cute pencil skirt. But for the mood, I would have stared at her swelling behind a for second longer. The air was thick. The silence was alive.

Sadness.

I should have walked. I didn’t know him. There wasn’t any reason to be attached.

6:55 pm

Slow drive…. Oche…. Wear your seat belt.

What? We are in an estate pls. Not like I’d get arrested or run under a truck. Her voice went up a notch or two. “Oche, if you won’t wear your belt, stop this car now”.

“That bad?” “Yea, that bad…Damn”. “click” seatbelt warning light went off. Happy now? I asked. She hissed.

She didn’t know better. I was better than Vettel in my head. Just in my head.

7:00 pm.

Tanterlizers car lot. I sit and wait as she joins the crowd that has gathered. Almost all dressed alike. Black tee’s and trousers / skirts

I hate this. She was gone for a while. Boredom began to creep in. Chaz B on the radio. Crazy guys calling about the kind of woman they wanted. I laughed hard. One dude wanted one with money. Crazy fella.

7:30

We will join the procession to the Pavilion. I look up at her. Pretty girl. Red eyes. She’s been crying. I pat her on the back. You’d be fine Miss. You will. There’s a queue so I join in.

Hazard lights flashing. The lekki traffic is beyond itself. I hate driving slow especially with my hazards on.

Bored beyond myself and knowing she wasn’t in the mood for chit chat, I made a prank call. This was beginning to become my forte.

Hello, is this Elvis? Yea. Who be this? Who I am isn’t really important. Thing is, I called to apologize. Oh? What happened. Do I know you? What’s the problem? There was a hint of panic. Just what I wanted. I continued. I called to tell you something happened between myself and your girlfriend. What? Who is my girlfriend? Jennifer or isn’t she your girlfriend? Wait. She is. What happened? ….

It’s almost another 30 minutes before we arrive at the waterfront. There’s a little crowd now. Candles are being lit. Someone begins to talk. I can’t hear what he’s saying. It’s windy and there’s a bar next door.

The sorrow was real. It was a burden on everyone’s shoulder.

First, the prayer. Then the speech by the chairman of the estate. …. He calls me Chairman sir* and for some strange reason, only Dipo calls me that in this estate.

His name was Dipo.

More people talk. Dipo was…. Dipo was…. It’s funny how within a 60 second time frame ones status can change from He is to He was.

We’ve got to store up treasures in heaven the preacher says. I couldn’t agree more. Life in itself is fleeting. One has to make choices and accept the consequences.

Not until she was called to speak did I realize this death had struck home. I knew that face. That voice. They called her Tubo. She spoke. Her voice shook. I could feel her pain. Her shock. The realization was heart breaking.

Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me….

‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home…

Dipo you fall my hand o. I turned around. Well dressed young man sat at on the fence. Crying. Why did you go? There were so many things you said you would do. Why did you have to go? You fall my hand I swear. He was beyond himself.

Perfect submission, perfect delight, visions of rapture burst on my sight. Angels descending, bring from above echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Another prayer and we dropped the lit candles in clusters on the floor. We had to walk now. The deed was done.

This is my story this is my song, praising my savior all the day long.

Vanity upon vanity. All is vanity

A minute of silence and it was sealed.

Tears flowed.

All I could offer was a hug. It’s well dear. It is well. I held her close. I didn’t have more to offer.

The drive home was my longest ever. Music wasn’t what I needed. I didn’t know what I needed. I knew there was a void somewhere. I tried to cover it up. Seat belt warning light went off. I sped into the darkness.

10:00 pm.

Someday we too would tow that line. Lord knows what people will say about us.

Rest in Peace Dipo.

Words have failed me.