Whilst an increased pay could be a motivating factor for most employees, some however have proven that their dedication hasn’t been driven by money. Even though they look forward to earning more than they currently do, they never allowed that to get in the way of delivering their work.
We had a better understanding of this when we interviewed Dele Babalola, a HSE/M Officer with over six years of experience. Even with the many responsibilities attached to his title, from identifying all risk causing factors that could delay work progress, bring harm to staff, damages to equipment. Basically, he handles the maintenance and repairs of all hospital equipment and property as well as logistics for the hospital operation and demands, and still, Dele ensures that he executes them all excellently.
“Work has made me target oriented,” he said, indicating how his work has impacted his life.
It is one thing to start a career but finding a need to be met in that chosen career is something most employees often don’t think about. Dele, on the other hand, has found a need in his profession and as such has never considered a career change. “There are health challenges and staff wellbeing to consider,” Dele said.
Even though the progress he has made in his career so far has been accompanied by more demands, Dele believes that it’s all part of being an employee.
“My work has been filled with promotion, more responsibilities with little financial increase. They said the benefit of a reliable employee is more work.”
As regards his finances, Dele said, “it has been a steady growth,” and quickly added, “an increase in pay never hurts.”
Despite the challenge of low pay, Dele desires more knowledge that would increase his efficiency, “More training would help me become more efficient.”
When asked if he has a side hustle, Dele admitted, “yes, because salary no matter how much is always budgeted before it even gets to you.”
Dele Babalola ended his interview with these simple words of advice directed to young career people, “keep being focused, constantly improve your skill set, certifications go a long way. Be humble, diligent and dedicated.”
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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“I particularly think sunny days come with many hitches; the scorch, the sweat, the constant dehydration. Today is one of those days and the last thing I can stand is a heated office argument. That would only add to the ache pounding in my head, all thanks to the blazing sun.
This was why when a certain colleague of mine started the talk about the recent elections in that his usual loud manner, I quietly left for the other office. I still needed the little sanity I had left and just couldn’t afford to waste it on an argument with him. I knew him too well; his biased nature always gave him away on different topics. He was one who would never give in to his opponent’s opinion neither did he ever try to respect boundaries.
From the other office I could hear voices raised, each person defending their preferred candidate and their different political parties. An outsider would think it was a political rally instead of a corporate firm. Minutes later, out of the chaotic atmosphere I heard a slap and then punches followed before I knew it clothes were ripped. I couldn’t believe this was happening. The fact that adults would pick a fight because of a mere argument left me perplexed.
Later that day, the culprits were summoned by the HR manager and our boss. Trouble hovered in the sudden silence because we could tell what may come their way. The following day we learnt they had been given some punishment and everyone was banned from discussing about politics in the workplace….”
The story described above gives a mild description of what controversial topics like politics could result to. It is the season of elections and most people would be tempted to get involved in fierce political discussions anywhere they find themselves.
There is nothing wrong with having a political discussion but since the workplace is filled with people who have different ideologies concerning every life issue, it’s always advisable to avoid conversations that cause disputes. From research, topics like politics come with a lot of strife because people would always prefer one candidate to the other.
Many persons are passionate about a political party they believe is in line with their value system. It is a case of different strokes for different folks. The reality is not everyone will accept or promote your candidate and any attempt to force your belief down anybody’s throat could result into an ugly quarrel or fight.
Asides from steamed conversations, other things that can stir up strife are; wearing campaign attires to work, mocking other political candidates that could be your co-workers’ favourite etc. It is important that workers avoid anything that would trigger misunderstandings. This doesn’t imply that one shouldn’t have their opinion, on the contrary they should. However, if the idea is to spite others, then it is not worth it.
One important thing workers need to value in any workplace they find themselves is their relationship with fellow colleagues. Heated arguments like the scenario described above can ruin both one’s reputation and one’s relationship with co-workers. When this happens, team work becomes tedious and unproductive.
In a case where the political disposition of employees goes overboard, the employer has every right to ban any form of such discussions. In fact rules should be put in place to ensure there is mutual respect. Workers should always be conscious of the fact that the work environment is strictly designed for business, to achieve corporate goals and not for personal sentiments.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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Mrs. Chika I. A. started out her teaching career as a care giver but has risen through the profession to becoming a well-experienced expert in educational management and a proficient developer of start-up schools convincing and increasing the confidence of parents/guardians to admit their wards and thus bringing in more money to school owners in Port Harcourt. She is currently a consultant manager for schools within and outside Port Harcourt metropolis and is a staff of the Universal Basic Education Board where she teaches in one of the State Primary Schools in Port Harcourt. With over 20 years of seamless dedication, we’ll see what drives and sustains her passion in one profession most young Nigerians wouldn’t want to venture into.
As earlier mentioned Mrs. Chika began her career providing care to 0 to 1 year old babies in a private school in Port Harcourt, more than 20 years ago; long after obtaining her GCE (General Certificate of Education) in 1990 and having before then, obtained a Distinction in her first school leaving examination. With little or no degree in education, she had a rough and slow ride in advancing her career as a teacher and went in and out of teaching, sometimes freelancing as an assistant teacher (which is more or less the job description of a teacher) in some private schools paying peanuts in Port Harcourt. Her dedication, hard-work, touch of excellence and eagerness to learn and adapt to the 21st century advancements in education teaching methods, gave her an edge over her counterparts in the teaching profession. This skyrocketed her career growth and she began working in the full capacity of a Teacher and had taught for several years before obtaining her National Certificate in Education (NCE) in 2010. During our interview with her, She stated that most of the schools she taught in had parents giving good reports and recommendations as she made tangible impacts in the lives of the pupils and proprietors found it difficult letting her go. She says:
“In fact one of the proprietors I worked for, that wasn’t faithful in salary payments, almost created a scene when she knelt down on the tarred road – in public view – pleading that I should come back teaching in her school; promising to pay on time; but I had gotten a bigger offer to manage a start-up school then, so I couldn’t stay.”
Mrs. Chika developed one of the most prime and quality schools in Port Harcourt in terms of infrastructure, sophistication of teaching materials; serene, beautifully painted and well decorated child-friendly classrooms, safe playing ground and well protected balcony’s, going on to conducting and supervising the recruitment process of quality staff, developing the curriculum/scheme of work for each class, utilizing various curricula combinations (American, British, Montessori), liaising with suppliers of educational materials and getting the best deals in quality, emphasizing on the importance of extra-curricular activities, vocational skills, musical instruments prowess and ballet dance skills, swimming skills, excursions, e-learning, efficient teaching methods for special kids, amongst other educational advancements. She went on to establish more schools in that regard. Her taste for knowledge drove her to getting various educational certifications and then she applied for a Bachelor’s degree in Education. When the employment offer by the government came, she had to make a tough decision of leaving her position and its pay to a position offering less than half her pay then. This shows vividly that her passion for teaching isn’t driven by money. She resigned and is currently a staff of the Rivers State Government under the Rivers State UBE board touching the lives of less-opportune children.
Having quite an interesting career trajectory, Mrs Chika threw light on the impact and challenges she had encountered so far on her career journey. Speaking on how working has impacted her life, she declares;
“I have gained experience over the years which have made me work with much more confidence, contributing to my expertise and making me highly sought-after by school investors and directors. So, the experience I have which can’t be taken away added to my wealth of knowledge in my profession and the financial aspect – though not much, has been of great impact to me.”
In addition, she spoke on the challenges that she encounters whilst working.
“The non-supply of teaching aids and learning materials has been a major challenge so far. My employer supply what they think is basic like the board, just recently more desks for the children were brought in, and a conducive classroom. But there are some other teaching aids and learning materials that needs to facilitate teaching and learning which they ought to supply but they don’t; so it hampers the teaching and learning process. Also, the meager salary paid in these economic times is a challenge. We have to live within our means and save ahead and also stock the kitchen ahead of time because we aren’t certain when the next salary would come. ”
When asked if she faces any challenges with teaching stubborn children, she has this to say:
“In education, we don’t tag any child stubborn. Every child is unique in his or her own way.”
PROFESSIONAL ADVANCEMENTS IN TERMS OF PROMOTION and FINANCE
Besides the challenges Mrs. Chika faces whilst impacting knowledge to the upcoming generation, there has also been a stall in promotional benefits of staffs. In fact it spreads across the civil service and we know that with promotion comes an increase in finance. Expressing her disappointment, when asked her career trajectory in terms of promotion and benefits, she has this to say:
“As a civil servant, it’s not in my hands to detect. It’s the government that carries it out. Though, there ought to be promotion after every two years during which promotional interviews are conducted; but for the past 10 years now nothing like that has happened. So I depend on God who doesn’t disappoint to reward me better. Aside the loans which are given once in a while, I’m unaware of any other benefits.”
HIGH POINT OF CAREER
When asked the question: ‘What has stood out for you since you started working, in other words, what’s your best experience so far?’. She has this to say:
“The outcome of my teaching on the lives of the children and teaching itself gives me joy. Children don’t need to be grown-ups to reflect the teaching even there and then, change occurs. Education is all about change and when this change manifests in the children’s’ lives it gives me joy. When you tell a child – if it’s in the moral aspect – that this is not good, and you see that child adjust and there’s a change in behavior, you know that you have achieved your goal. When you’re teaching a subject which the child had no previous knowledge about and at the end, that child becomes a guru on that topic, you’ve achieved your goal and achieving goals makes you happy and satisfied with your job”.
As a wrap up, our interviewee gave her advice to those seeking to build a career in Teaching. She opined;
“Have genuine love for the profession and passion also. If you don’t love teaching don’t go into it. Don’t go into teaching because you want to make money. You can’t make money in the classroom. You can’t turn those children into money or you’ll be tagged a ‘ritualist’. God has a way of blessing teachers. I can’t quote in ABC terms that this is how God blesses teachers; God has his own unique way of blessing teachers. So don’t go in expecting huge mega pay because you may be frustrated but go in with the intention of helping those young ones grow in knowledge”.
Mrs. Chika added that teachers should open themselves up to opportunities for career development.
“The world is changing and so every aspect of life changes with it. We should not be rigid but easily adaptable to technological advancements in education and teaching techniques”.
From Mrs. Chika’s Perspective about the work place, it is quite obvious that growth in whatever career path you’ve chosen is driven by your passion, taste for excellence/knowledge and not just the money. In fact the money shouldn’t be the prime focus especially in the teaching profession and happiness comes when you’ve met your goals.
Written by Rejoice Emmanuel
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The valentine season is here and as usual lots of love birds would be flying out from their love nests. Funny, but some may be total strangers while some of them may be long-time friends, and then some may be colleagues at work.
Business, they say, shouldn’t be mixed with pleasure, but a research carried out in 2017 revealed that more people are getting involved in office romance as the days go by. This is often traced back to the fact that most workers spend eight to ten hours a day and almost every month in a year in the workplace with the same set of persons. They have no other option but to share the same space with others. However the problem arises when they go beyond office work and begin to create a romantic atmosphere around themselves within the workplace.
A research carried out by a professional platform, CareerBuilder, highlighted that 41 percent of employees have dated a fellow colleague thereby failing to maintain a professional relationship. It was also recorded that 12 percent of these relationships started while working extra hours into the night, 10 percent began after a happy hour, while 9 percent started during a lunch outing and 10 percent started after meeting by chance outside the work environment.
Though most cases of office romance involve colleagues in the same level or department, studies have shown that 29 percent in-office relationships are between someone in a higher position and a junior colleague. It also revealed 15 percent have had an intimate affair with their direct boss. When caught or exposed, 37 percent deny the relationship and 63 percent admit it.
Interestingly it was stated that 30 percent of these relationships end up in marriage even though most fizzle out with time. The outcomes are never predicable but still a hard question stares us in the face, should there be room for romantic relationships in the office space?
Over the years most companies have frowned at the concept of in-office relationship and have continued to search for ways to eradicate its roots from their workplace. They believe it would destroy the image of the company and so have employed different measures to handle cases like these such as by banning it, penalising culprits or even firing them, making their employees sign a contract forbidding office romance, and so on.
However, CEO of Engage PEO, Jay Starkman, stated that placing a ban would only encourage more secret relationships in the organisation. He suggested this instead, “an employer should establish a clear policy that requires reporting of the relationship to HR so that it can be monitored and people can be properly advised on how to conduct themselves.”
Even though some company polices may seem harsh, most times they exist in order to prevent unpleasant situations from occurring. Like Roy Cohen, a career counselor and executive coach, puts it, “Many organizations have rules about dating colleagues not because dating a colleague is a bad thing. You may share common interests and motivations and you may both love the organization. The rules exist to avoid any messiness that might arise when the relationship ends, when one of you gets promoted, or if one of you has access to information that should not be shared, especially if it might benefit your partner unfairly.”
Most often than not, most organisations try to avoid issues like this but then they keep on reoccurring and could be a source of distraction from the main company’s target. Well a one sided judgement is usually not the best so what’s your take on this as an employer or employee? Should the love birds be allowed to fly freely or should they be caged? Leave a comment below.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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Different life’s phases come with strings of uncertainties urging us to travel over and make sense out of them. This process is often what we refer to as self-discovery. Just like every other phase, the career phase also requires some level of discovering in order for us to fit into the perfect picture we desire.
While self-discovery may take a very long time for some people, it could also take a very short time for some other persons. Within a space of three years of working, Kosisochukwu Ikeme, our interviewee for this week, has explored quite a number of career options which she is certain has helped her know herself better.
Kosisochukwu believes that her working experience so far has impacted her life positively both on a personal and professional level, “I have gotten better at organizing things and managing people. I have also become more independent and the confidence to take on new things has greatly increased. My confidence in myself is getting better by the day and I have realised I can actually do anything if I set my mind and apply myself consciously to it even when it is an unfamiliar territory.”
Notwithstanding her educational background, Kosisochukwu approached the career world with an open mind, embracing different opportunities that came her way.
“I have a BSc. in Human Nutrition and Dietetics and I am a Registered Dietician-Nutritionist but I presently work as an Administrator/Human Resource Management Personnel which is totally off from Nutrition. I have never really seen myself working in the hospital as a Dietician, I had plans of working as a Freelance Dietician and offering Consultation services that is if I decided to practice Dietetics. Years after graduation, I was stuck in limbo of cluelessness; had no idea what I wanted to do or what I was good at. So I went from working as Customer Service Executive in a Courier Service company to working briefly as a Dietician to working presently as an Administrator/Human Resource Management Personnel.”
Due to her willingness to learn from scratch, Kosisochukwu continues to make tangible progress at work,
“I went from working as a Volunteer to an Intern and then a Full-Time Employee in the firm where I presently work.”
Kosisochukwu, as a result of her ability to dare, has served in different capacities, graciously pioneering each role even without prior knowledge. She indicated that this experience has improved and refined her to a great extent.
“Working with the firm where I am presently is my best experience so far. Here I found a platform to explore and learn things about myself that I never knew. I have grown beyond my imagination, I dare say. Taking on a role/responsibility of heading a department with no prior experience/knowledge has helped me realise that it’s in our own minds that we stay limited. I have learned, unlearned and relearned and still undergoing the process as I work understanding the system and getting grounded in it. My Boss has been beyond amazing, it’s not every day someone takes a chance on you and sees a million and one things in you that you don’t and never gets tired of nudging you to do and be better.”
As expected, her new role at work did not come without challenges which practically demands she learns on the job.
“Considering it’s a role that I have absolutely no experience/knowledge in, it’s still a bit of a struggle finding my feet and setting up the HR/Admin system of the firm,” Kosisochukwu admitted.
Concerning her finances, she had this to say, “I won’t say there is an improvement in my finances but I have learnt to be more frugal with my spending, be very conscious and intentional about saving and I’m also learning to invest.”
Having learnt some quality life lessons from her experience, Kosisochukwu shared some piece of advice to those who are just starting out their career, “Be open to learning. It pays to be teachable. Nobody really has it all figured out but you have to be willing to take on opportunities when they come, seek to improve yourself and trust in your abilities.”
From her perspective, we can deduct the fact that in life, sometimes, we probably have to test different waters and cross several seas of uncertainty before getting to the final destination. It is during this journey, we acquire the knowledge and experience that eventually adds to the quality of our person.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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It is no longer news that unemployment is on the rise in Nigeria and most parts of Africa. In times past the matter of contention was the fact that most people were not qualified for the vacant roles advertised. However, in recent times, scarcity of jobs has become the plague affecting our society leaving us with a wide river of unemployed graduates but very few companies to fish them out.
According to statistics by Africa Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), over 50% graduates in Africa are faced with this tough reality. A lot of employers handle employment cases like a thing of favour rather than a search for competence and suitable team members. Recently, this attitude has been displayed by some employers and we have used one of them as a case study for this article.
About a week ago, an employer publicly shamed a jobseeker on Twitter for requesting a reschedule of an interview date. Seeing this as an unserious act by the jobseeker, the employer disqualified the candidate. In her words, “Sorry mate, your loss. With such high youth unemployment, an interview is now a treasure not to be taken lightly.” From the recruiter’s tweet, she obviously implied that the prospective employee didn’t take the interview seriously and had no right to ask for the interview to be rescheduled.
Reacting to this, some Twitter users felt the employer approached the situation with the demi-god attitude as opposed to finding the qualified candidate even if it means rescheduling. With such an attitude, there is a likelihood they wouldn’t be patient enough to get the best during any recruitment. When companies are too rigid with their interview processes, it could be a loss at both ends.
Another flow of thoughts are those who think the employer has an entitlement mentality believing that they can lord over those they intend to employ and practically would expect their employees to be at their beck and call. This category of employers would probably boss their staff around giving no room for their opinion. As a result of this attitude, the enterprise usually reduces the capacity of their staff.
Another perspective some other persons pointed out was the fact that the prospect might have been facing some challenges which prevented him from coming and had the right to inquire the possibility of an interview reschedule.
One of the commentators, advising both employees and prospective employees, indicated that it is okay to even ask for a raise if need be.
Having read through the entire thread, we see need for employers and recruiters to make their recruitment processes more flexible. Nevertheless, this doesn’t imply that rules and regulations shouldn’t be put in place during an interview. Rather, employers should bear in mind that unforeseen circumstances may occur which may prevent an interviewee from showing up and in such cases, adjustments should be made.
Conclusively, employers need to keep an open mind towards potential team members, treating them with fairness and not as though the job is a favour.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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The engineering profession which officially dates back to 1390 has always had a strong label attached to it, “The Man’s World”. This meant its doors were shut to women and that made it almost impossible for females to get involved. Fast forward to the twenty first century, its doors sprang a bit open and accessible to females all over the world. Queen Ochuba, our interviewee for the week is one of the few females treading confidently and leaving footprints in the engineering field.
Knowing the odds and hurdles she would have to cross, Queen took out time to lay her foundation properly and be well-grounded in her chosen career. This has opened the doors of opportunities she has walked through over the years.
“I have a bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering and an MSc. in Petroleum Engineering and Project Development. I’ve previously worked as a petroleum engineer (before and after my masters) and I currently work in a business development role for a petroleum engineering software development company.”
With a good number of years of experience under her belt, Queen has continued to make a bold statement and build her relevance professionally.
“I’ve developed my technical skills and I’m better at managing relationships. I’m also more independent, more confident, more out-spoken and I can blend into just about any circle.”
Big things they say start small and oftentimes it is in the small things that our level of commitment is tested. Queen’s progress so far can be linked to the level of commitment she has poured in the minor roles she has had to take on in the past.
“I started out as a Petroleum Engineering Graduate Intern in 2014, went on to do a master’s degree in 2016 and in 2017, I got a Graduate Trainee role in an oil service company after which I got a permanent offer towards the end of 2018. The benefits and conditions of service have been better with each offer.”
In the process of working, she has had some remarkable experiences but the one that stood out for her is the endless possibilities learning opens us to.
“I worked on a project in 2016 with my team. A few weeks later, I casually wrote a scholarship test and 85% of the questions were in the same area I had just worked on. Naturally, it felt good to know that I had learned a lot from the project, more importantly, I got funding for my masters as a result of being in that environment at that time. I learnt the value of information.”
Speaking about her financial life, Queen simply mentioned how she has been able to manage her finances as a working class lady. “I’ve developed financial discipline overtime, I’ve learnt to plan better and I’m able to contribute to my community.”
When asked about the disadvantages in her work, Queen couldn’t pinpoint any but rather made a suggestion on how things could be done better.
“I’m struggling to pick out a disadvantage. If I had to change one thing though, it will be to make working hours and location more flexible.”
Moving on to spot out a major challenge which she faces at work, Queen said, “I occasionally struggle to keep up when there’s an avalanche of events going on at the same time. Overtime, I’ve learnt to use to-do lists, group similar tasks, prioritize, and maintain focus through it all.”
Queen is not the regular kind of petroleum engineer who only depends on the oil money for her survival, she is skilled up, has her side hustle intact and juggles both work and it smartly.
“I love order and I’m great at organizing. Following this passion, sometime in 2013, I did a 3-month training in decorations and event management. By the end of the third month, I was already getting juicy offers to decorate for events and the rest they say is history. Interestingly, most of my jobs are on weekends and I’ve been able to assemble a team so it’s easy to juggle both.”
Ending her interview, Queen gave a short and precise advice to younger folks starting their career. “First, know the basics. Put yourself out there. Get mentors. Keep improving yourself and always have a positive mindset.”
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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One of the most dreaded topics that could ever be raised for discussion is sexual harassment within the workplace. The room literally drops dead silent when it is mentioned or implied. Some workers become defensive, some sweaty and nervous, while others wrap their hands round their mouth.
The reason could be because most organisations consider it too sensitive to discuss since there may be quite a number of unpleasant secrets it may reveal. Even when noticed, most workers would never dare to say a word about it; either in fear of losing their job or in an attempt to protect the reputation of those involved. Due to the hush attitude towards the subject matter, most times it ends up being swept under the carpet. Still the issue of sexual harassment continues to be a menace in the work environment.
“When you talk about sexual harassment in tech or in any other industry, it’s like dropping a nuclear bomb on your career,” said Susan Ho, cofounder of travel startup Journy, who has had her own share of harassment.
A CNN Tech article published in 2018 exposed a number of cases of women in the tech industry who have been at one point or another sexual harassed. Most of these women were initially afraid to speak up about the awkward experiences they’ve had to face. Eventually they summoned courage and shared their stories.
“We’re sitting at the Starbucks, and he grabs my face and tries to make out with me, and I push him back in surprise, and just didn’t know what to do, because he continued to try again, and was so aggressive,” Lisa Wang, cofounder of SheWorx, revealed during her interview with CNN Tech.
All too often, it has been recorded that 35% cases of sexual harassment are that of women. However following a 2018 campaign tagged Timeup and MeToo, 18% of men were added to the statistics. This invariably implies that the issue of unwanted sexual advances is no longer gender selective but a plague to both women and men, practically anyone can be a prey.
Reports of sexual harassments in the workplace could come in different forms; distasteful remarks, unwarranted touching of any part of the body, prolonged staring, nasty sex related comments, etc. Some advances could be subtle, gradually luring the prey to the trap, and may not be open or direct. Whichever form it takes, as long as it is against the will of the other person then it can be categorised as harassment.
From a Vanguard newspaper publication, still in 2018, we stumbled on a 25year old lady’s story on the issue. Here is an excerpt;
“I got a job in a private company in Surulere as an Office Secretary. My boss was generous to a fault. He was kind to me but I never knew it was for a purpose. Six months after I got the job, he mailed a letter to me telling me to consider a better position in the company if only I could be his mistress. I did not understand so I did not reply his mail. I continued with my job until one morning when I was told to move to another office that someone has taken my position and that I will be working directly with the Executive Director of the office. I still did not understand. Reluctantly, I moved my documents to the ED’s office. I was working with him until one day he asked why I did not reply his mails. I was dumbfounded. I was stammering and told him that was not my line of thought and definitely not my style of life. He then told me to quit the job if I was not ready to be his mistress. I pleaded but he told me that someone else had already taken the position. That was how I lost the job”
In some cases the boss may not be the predator but either a senior staff or a colleague in the same level could harass junior staff or interns and even go as far as threatening them to either give in or they make their work experience unbearable. In other cases, customers or clients or investors make advances at staff and even harass them while trying to offer services to them. There are also classic cases where the staff become the predator that go after clients attached to them. The scenarios are endless and unpredictable.
Frequently when cases of harassments are reported, especially those involving senior staff or a client, little or nothing is done. Some organisations might even take sides with a client rather than believe a staff who has been harassed. This simply is based on the fact that they would prefer to retain the relationship with that client who obviously pumps in money into the company.
When issues like these have become a norm in any organisation, it brings along with it a tensed atmosphere, one void of life. An uptight attitude among workers then takes over thereby making work difficult. The work environment eventually becomes unproductive and unsafe for those who have refused to bow to the pressure.
Should we continue to sweep topics like these under the carpet or could we turn around and face it? Let’s read your thoughts or experiences on this one.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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The career world sometimes, if not most times, isn’t a straight-line graph easily plotted. Our interviewee for this week on the column, Walter Aloh, is a typical example of those whose career path haven’t been straight but he’s been able to make the most of his experiences within just four years.
“I have been working for close to four (4) years now. Though I have spent close to 3 years at my current place of work (Deloitte & Touché), I must say it has been a good experience for me. Working in a BIG FOUR has tremendously improved my work rate, load capacity, exposure, confidence, professional skills and tolerance level. For instance I could be on a phone call and still multitask in between different activities. Also I wasn’t so confident speaking to people at a certain level some few years ago, but today the story is so different” Walter narrated to us.
Walter has changed jobs just once and it was as a result of a better opportunity that presented itself, in his words “I changed my job due to the promising career path I could see in a BIG 4, and the opportunity to work there, alongside the well improved pay.”
Walter is one of many Nigerians who change from their original profession and he attributed it to the Nigerian system, implying that most people in Nigeria never get the fair chance to practice what they studied in the University. He went further to expatiate his previous statement by giving a brief summary of his background from what he was trained in school to how he has been able to adjust to different roles which are to some extent worlds apart from his initial course of study,
“I was a technical/engineering student and majored in Petroleum Engineering in the university, but today I’m a forensic consultant. At my first place of work, I was a Digital marketer. So you see that they all don’t square out that way, and this ‘story’ isn’t unique to me. There is an unpopular saying out there meant for Nigerians living in Nigeria; that the university education basically helps to test if you can read, write, understand difficult concepts and still produce results. That is to say, if you attain a degree with a 1st class or 2.1, or 2.2 or acquire a Master’s degree, and you are within a certain age bracket, you can apply for jobs in Nigeria, regardless of what you studied in school, whilst some places are very specific with what you studied in school. However, I do not believe that a person’s final grade in school is a true test of their capabilities. This is Nigeria, anything to survive as long as it is moral and legal”
Despite the detour along his career path and the challenges that come with it, Walter can clearly say he has made tremendous progress in every area of his life, “well, it’s been good so far. Like I explained earlier, my knowledge and capacity base has really expanded. Promotions too has been very good, and in this environment which I’m sure is the same with other places, you constantly have to keep pulling your weight and churning out results, because it is an extremely competitive environment. The monetary growth too has been very good. One lesson I have learnt is to mind where I invest my money. If the investment company is not insured by a top insurance company, I won’t invest with them, even if they promise a million naira per week.”
He quickly emphasised the importance of having a proper career plan before one decides to make the move to whatever they may think is better, “I must add that one has to also be very strategic in terms of career plan and not be too comfortable on a job or what they have to offer. Things can change rapidly, and it’s normal to feel a bit jittery when you see how other colleagues move up, change jobs or go for more qualifications/certifications so as to get better pay or career interests, but once you start with the WHY in mind concerning your long and short term career/life goals, you will be just fine.”
On a lighter mood, Walter acknowledged that his experience so far has been quite remarkable, recalling some events that have stood out for him, “I have had a lot of good experiences. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a good number of cross-cultural colleagues from other countries, and also have developed a broader view of the world thanks to the different work related trips to other countries.”
Highlighting some life lessons he has learnt within the years he has been working, he said, “I have learnt to differentiate between friends and colleagues at work. One should be friendly and also firm in their decision making. Don’t be too trusting, and above all trust God to guide you all the way.”
As we know, regardless of the path we choose, there will always be challenges which necessarily are not meant to bring us down but could serve as check points. Walter identified some of the challenges that came with his, “There are quite a number of challenges, from daily demand to always make an impact and be valuable, to the unannounced competition with colleagues on who’s the better performer, to keeping up with part of the dress code which includes a hairy person like me having a clean shave all the time and down to satisfying client engagement objectives.”
One aspect most employees get wrong is managing their finances. Walter on the other hand seems to have become quite skilful in handling his finances. He had this to say about his financial life, “I must say that I have done my best to live within my means, live modestly and invest more in my future. I try as much as possible to assist people in need, and once in a while give myself a treat, along with family and friends. If one isn’t careful about their financial life, you’ll find that they would be living from pay check to pay check which is a disaster waiting to happen.”
Like it is often said, virtually everything has both good and bad sides to it. The work life unarguably has two sides to it. Admitting to this fact, Walter stated, “Some of the disadvantages which are not unique to me alone are; stress, very little time to spend with friends and family, average work-life choices (I won’t say balance) and little time to rest with so much to do.”
About having a side hustle, Walter indicated that there was no obvious one currently but eventually hopes that there would be one soon, “At the moment, I have no side hustle. When I say that, I actually mean it’s not reaping out value yet. In the fullness of time you will hear.”
To round up his interview, Walter had these pieces of advice to share with those about to start trailing a career path, “My first advice would be that they should trust God and not rely fully on their knowledge. Due to the expectations for new hires to immediately learn to swim in the big river and start making impact early, pressure would set in, which would potentially result in making too many mistakes on the job. Also, most work related environments are ‘perception oriented’ meaning that one’s first mistake could live with them for as long as they are within that environment or company.”
He further pointed out that patience and ability to learn will help those who want to climb the career ladder, “I always advice new entry level hires to be patient, take things easy and work with senior colleagues who they perceive to be more experienced and are good teachers on the job. I would also tell them to be fast learners, and do as much work as they can so as to make mistakes early and learn a lot in a short time. Depending on their career goals, they should invest in continuous learning and advancement so they can be relevant in their chosen career path.”
Lastly, Walter inserted, “Relationships are important, so I advice people to invest in good networks/relationships and find a mentor within the workplace who must not necessarily be a senior colleague in their department.”
From Walter Aloh’s perspective about the workplace, we can conclusively say that one’s career life is basically what they make of it. So whatever career path you have chosen, it is how you tread that matters in the end.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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DO BUSINESS BETTER
Imagine you’ve been working for an organisation for the past eight years. Within those years, you can count the number of times you have received a full salary while other times, your salary had been slashed without prior information or apologies. You are just expected to go with the flow and accept whatever comes your way. Uncertainty has become the order of the day for you as decisions are constantly taken randomly and impulsively. A change could happen in split seconds and everyone suffers for it.
If your memory serves you right, your first year was the fairest year you have experienced since you took on the role at the company. It was the only time your boss actually showed concern about your welfare. After that year, everything seemed to have changed within the flash speed of an eye blink. As time passed, you noticed your boss was the too authoritative type who never listened to other people’s opinion. Your boss could go on and on about what the company’s needs were rather than what was best for the employees. Anybody’s salary could be slashed at the slightest mistake. Everybody worked tirelessly and spoke in hush voices, not wanting to offend by speaking up against the harsh rules and unfair treatment in the organisation.
During the last meeting, you had tried speaking up about some concerns which you and some other staff had discussed some days before. Eyes grew wide and your voice trembled as you spoke. With the angry look on your boss’s face which was expected, you knew he wasn’t quite pleased by your boldness. Half way through your complaint, your boss had shut you up seeing that your opinion was entirely different. You now looked like the rebellious one for saying things that were an obvious truth.
Your anger was renewed yesterday when salaries were paid and what you feared most had happened, yours was incomplete. The HR manager had explained you were being punished for insubordination and for lack of conduct. You were amazed at her calmness while she spoke confidently about offenses you didn’t think would ever be associated to your name. You could sense your patience running out but then felt helpless as this job was your only source of income.
“What do you do next?” you continue to ask yourself…
The scenario painted above is the case of so many employees in organisations where it is a taboo to speak about wrong happenings. In places like that there are no objections only silent nods and a forced dance to the rhythm set by the boss. In such organisations, a slash in salary is seen as the perfect punishment for any staff regardless of the position. What would you say is going to be the fate of the fellow in the description?
As an employer, it is important to do a review about how you treat your employees. If your plan is to build a brand that will outlive you, then the welfare of your employees should be your priority. As it is often said, “respect is reciprocal”, so also when you put your employees’ welfare first, they will in turn put your business first.
However, this doesn’t mean you should always dance to the tune of your employees or run your business based on their decisions. Rather it is a way to say you should be more intentional about building an organisation where everyone feels secured. Remember NO TEAM, NO BRAND.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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