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A SHORT STORY ON SURVIVING A TOXIC WORKPLACE.

A SHORT STORY ON SURVIVING A TOXIC WORKPLACE.

A friend of mine Shade (not her real name) finally got her dream job as a communications officer for an Oil Services firm in Lagos after job hunting for years.
It was a prayer answered given the enormous efforts deployed in trying to get her a job. It is really tough being unemployed in Africa.
Prior to this offer, she was temporarily engaged with another firm and following the acceptance of the offer, she resigned in March 2020 excitedly preparing to resume at her firm in April.
To her surprise, the firm wrote to her communicating a suspension of her resumption.
In my mind, this is a warning sign of things to come and I advised her to be intentional about how long she wants to stay with the Organisation that will not honor an agreement it has entered into, only to use the pandemic induced lockdown as an excuse.
An Organisation can suspend a recruitment process for any reason including COVID19, however, once you make an offer to a prospective candidate, you have a contractual obligation to honor or renegotiate its terms.
Fast forward to one month after her resumption, she started tales of frustration and difficulty with her Line Manager who coincidently doubled as the Vice President of Human Resources.
Her complaint ranged from disdain treatment such as rude remark about her work to reciprocating her request for guidance with insensitive remarks and cold feedback. Her health would also be subjected to jeopardy when she was asked to sort out things in a dusty store despite explaining her past episode with asthma attacks.
The interesting twist is that this business leader has the notoriety for behaving badly and treating colleagues with disrespect leaving many employees with crushed self-esteemed and fear.
The responsibility of leaders is twofold –firstly, to create a system and culture where employees can unleash their potential in an enabling atmosphere and environment. And secondly, to model the right leadership and coaching behaviors to support the culture.
You cannot treat your employees badly and expect them to give their best. This is an employment and not slave trade.
When my friend finally resigned her appointment after one month in order to protect her mental health, she sent an open letter to the whole Organisation calling out her boss and detailing how nasty she has been treated in the one month of working with the Organisation.
To her surprise, she received calls, text messages, and emails from other employees praising her courage to break the silence. Apparently, there are many employees in her “shoes” but who would rather endure the treatment because they have bills to pay.
The management of the Organisation has responded and promised to investigate the issues.
While we wait for the outcome of the investigation, below are some of the lessons to be learned:

  1. Employees are your important asset, demonstrate this understanding through your recruitment and on-boarding process.
  2. Have a code of behaviors for your Organisation especially for managers on how to manage these important asset. Attrition has a cost.
  3. Create a channel to feel the pulse of your employees on a regular basis. Bottled grievances and unmet expectations can be counterproductive for your Organisation when unleashed. If you don’t create the channel internally, there are many channels externally.
  4. Regularly communicate to your employees that they matter. Relationship is fueled by constant words of affirmation.
  5. Treat your employees right to avoid investing money on damage control.
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