Nigeria as a multicultural country is host to many firms, whether they be regarded as indigenous, local, or domestic on one hand or foreign, multinational, multi-domestic, global, or international on the other hand, logical thinking is that each of them should benefit from the host and contribute to the host to make it attain its desired position among the comity of nations. The thought processes, emotions, and behavior of the persons who work in these firms are governed by beliefs and values of the cultural set they have been socialized and uncultured into.
In other words, an organization’s environment may tend to exert considerable pressure capable of affecting its performance and ultimate survival. With abundant human resources, it is expected that the behavior of the employees should be such that firms achieve their desired goals, survive and continue to thrive. However, Nigeria’s cultural dimensions are very diverse and coordinating and managing the persons from the different cultures within the organizations represents one of the greatest challenges of managers. Before the advent of the British colonialists, the employment relations system in practice in Nigeria was paternalistic. The family heads had the role of the employers and the employees were members of his immediate family. Present socio-relational job contexts have changed dramatically. Nigerian firms are going global and the potentials of Nigeria’s vast population and enormous natural resources make her an investment haven for foreign investors as multinational firms continue to extend their presence across her geographical regions.
She is still one of the highest destinations of foreign direct investment, being the largest economy in Africa (African Development Bank Group, 2014). As the number of multinational firms increases and more indigenous firms assume a global stance, there is the tendency to observe the adoption and adaptation of many “foreign” workplace cultural practices as well as global management philosophies and theories in the Nigerian business environment. These workplace practices may have been seen to be highly motivational and beneficial in some other environmental contexts (Kraimer, et.al. 2014).
However, it is not uncommon to see workers in these organizations in Nigeria, confused, frustrated, disillusioned, and even angry when they observe these “strange‟ cultural value differences being imposed on them. Workplace culture and the social world are slowly being influenced by each other, and corporate bodies are recognizing and adapting to this fact. Calling co-workers by their first names has become a standard in many organizations. This practice is often criticized by traditionalists as detrimental to the culture of the office. However, it is a product of the changing societal mindset, and it has its advantages.
First-name address is good for all
Addressing coworkers by their first names helps establish a cordial environment at the workplace. It helps recruits in bridging the status quo and allows them to adapt to the office environment. If the office establishes it, it could also be acceptable to refer to superiors by their first names.
Accessibility is a great commodity
From the perspective of a senior executive, a first-name address provides them with accessibility. In light of today’s high-tech scenario, the value of accessibility cannot be underestimated. The chain of command and protocol helps in coordinating the efforts of the workforce, but accessibility across that spectrum is what helps the workflow run smoothly through all the layers.
Finding a balance is crucial
Although it can be difficult to find a balance between formality and informality, egalitarian business ethos is the new formal when it comes to the growth and development of a brand. Slowly but gradually, all corporate facilities will embrace the change and go ahead with non-hierarchal office culture.
While the first-name basis among coworkers may seem trivial, it is a frame of mind that goes a long way in establishing comfort and respect across the workplace. It is no surprise that more organizations are adopting it as an acceptable standard, and it will go a long way in relaxing the rigid boundaries of the status quo prevalent and enforced in the workplace.
Addressing people using the “sir” is part of the stereotypical view that a transitional sometimes has to fight; sometimes it’s too uptight and strict. One of my mentors went a step further to express that if you are too formal it will stand out in a bad way. I believe it’s really about striking the right balance between being the right amount of formal and the right amount of friendly and that’s something you have to work out on the fly once you get an impression of what your boss is like.