Managing the idiosyncrasies of your colleagues (PART ONE)
By Chukwudi Anagbogu
It is never an easy task to mingle and exist among people from different social, academic, family and religious backgrounds. No two persons are the same, even identical twins have dissimilar behaviour. Hence, without tact and wisdom, one may not effectively manage members of one's family, let alone workmates.
One of the commonest phenomena in a workplace is the existence of 'powerblocs' or 'factions.' Workers pay allegiance to different 'ogas'. Each group is led by an influential member of staff, usually someone among the creme de la creme of the institution. Those in the 'ruling camp' wield so much authority and exude confidence in the office while the 'opposition' camp spend time firing missiles at the management, playing the role of "watchdogs" or "labour union". The latter does everything including blackmail and use of propaganda to oust the former from power. Gossips, blackmails, intimidation, to mention but a few hold sway, to the detriment of the progress of the institution. Be neutral! Dirty politics hardly pays! Even if you have 'plans', keep your cards to your chest!
Unfortunately, you may find yourself being bossed by someone with inferior capability and qualifications than you. That does not give you the license to try and expose the deficiencies of your boss. Do not try to outshine him, or make it open to him and everyone else that your oga 'no sabi anything.' It doesn't matter how your boss got to the top, whether by hook or by crook. He is in charge and you have to subject yourself to his authority. You may make suggestions politely to him, but if he does not take it, let it be. Let him take the glory for whatever success being achieved in your department, whether you were the brain behind it or not. When you finally find yourself at the helm of affairs, you can right the wrongs. Just as you think that your qualifications are well above your position or that you are too 'big' to be in that office, remember that there are people who are better than you but are in less positions than you are!
Do not form any alliance with any of the "power blocs." It boomerangs. Stay neutral. That colleague of yours that always condemns the boss in public, may actually be a spy of the boss! Be polite and nice to everyone, irrespective of affiliation. Importantly, do not partake in the largesse shared only by a section of the staff. Only receive items shared across boards! Otherwise you may be selling your birthright for a plate of porridge. Avoid gossiping or discussing anyone or the company's affairs with a colleague. Remember, no one is truly your friend in the office; all of you are there for just one purpose : money.
Be careful when people see you as the boss' favourite. It is a good thing for the oga to be fond of you, but not to the level of 'fondling' you(you know what I mean). But know that the moment such starts happening, envy and jealousy would fill the air. Thus, a lot of banana peels would be laid on your paths. Your haters would spend man hours thinking up ways to pull you down and paint you black before your oga. Do not take advantage of your closeness to the boss to flout the rules guiding your establishment, or insult others. Remember, one day, the tide would change. It would not be in your own interest to discuss any private discussion you had with the boss with a colleague, and at the same time avoid sharing the company's secret with an outsider.
When salaries are not coming, or when there is a problem affecting workers, do not be in a hurry to join 'the labour union' protests against the administration. Sometimes organizers of such actions may abandon you half way and cling to those they are supposed to be fighting. That does not mean that you should alienate yourself from others. Your boss would not be in charge forever. Be patient, he would one day vacate that position and someone more favourable to you could come in.
Succeeding in a white collar job entails patience, tact, humility as well as good temperament. When people provoke you (sometimes deliberately), laugh it off and ignore them. Do not do anything that will lead you into fisticuffs with a colleague. You don't know who is who. A lot of unnecessary competition exist. People try to outshine, outdress, outspeak and outgrow others while no one wants to outdo others in the actual work. Do not join them, or try to please anyone. No one says you should not joke or exchange banters with your workmates, but it should be done with utmost caution. To be continued....