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Corporate bureaucracy kills the simple things of office life

If you’ve worked for a company for some time, you know that the true beauty of any company is in its bureaucracy. You simply cannot walk up to the locker and pick pens…no. You need to go to Hadijah because she has the pen that signs the permission slip that grants you access to the locker. After you’ve picked the pen from her, you need to go to Daniel because he keeps the permission slips. You won’t find him at his desk though since he is out for lunch. When Daniel finally comes back from his lunch break, you need to make small talk, all the while trying to judge his mood. If he is in a good mood, make a casual remark about how you’d really be closer to your lifelong goal of happiness if he were to give you a permission slip. In the event that he is feeling generous enough to support your pursuit of happiness and hands over the said slip, take it and make a mad dash for the door lest he attempts to ask you for a tip for giving you the slip.

With the slip and pen firmly in hand, make your way to Fred’s spacious office. Fred signs the permission slips. You’ll find him speaking animatedly on phone, occasionally stopping to re-position the picture from the last management forum he was at in Ghana. When he finally places the phone down, stick the permission slip under his nose and ask for his signature; tell him that you need to pick a pen from the locker. He’ll look at you from head to cheap belt then ask gruffly, “What happened to the last pen you picked?”

This is your defining moment. Everything depends on this. This decides whether you get the pen or not. You could tell him the truth; that the office bully, Abid, made you give it to him. Or you could tell him how it somehow fell out of your pocket during the last stretch of the fifteen kilometer team build run. Insist that you carried it to the run not to get the sweaty pacesetter’s number, but because it is your talisman. And you love the company so much you couldn’t go for a fifteen kilometer team build run without something branded by the company so you took the pen. He’ll ask you to take a seat and then proceed to give you a 25-minute talk on how important it is to value company property. He’ll go to great pains to explain to you just how much the company had invested in that pen all the while making stabbing gestures with his pen. If you are lucky, Fred will sign. If you aren’t, he’ll ask you to come back the next week.

Published on December 04, 2011

Who deserves a raise at work

I’ve never been a boss at a work place. The palm reader I went to said I’d be boss in a few years so it won’t be long now; “Boss Peter, coming to a workplace near you”. I imagine it is very hard being a boss. When do you allow employees to go to pee? When do you tell them to sit down and act their age? When do you pull out the scissors and go around snipping the hair of all those employees with the hairy look going on? When do you decide to ask your employees to buy you birthday presents for the third time in the same month? When do you impose a no-lunch ban? All these questions I’m sure trouble bosses around the world every single day. I don’t have the answers; I’ll do more research when I eventually become a boss. For now, I’ll give tips on what I have managed to squeeze out of my manager friends. How do you choose which one of your employees to give a raise? Here’s what to base on.

In meetings, does any offer you a pen when you search and realize you didn’t carry one?

When they see you yawn at work, does any quickly bring over a cup of tea with a packet of milk biscuits and one cupcake?

When it starts to rain outside, does any come to your office and offer to hug you till it stops? Granted, as the boss you are required by law to turn down the offer and give them the stink eye, but brownie points to them (and a subsequent raise) for making the offer?

When you have very important clients in your office, does your employee walk in and subtly drop praises on your head about how you are the best boss in the world and how they wonder if the sun would shine if you broke a fingernail while signing oil contracts?

Does any of them send you greetings on radio? Do they say your full name? Do they dedicate Celine Dione songs to you on air?

Does any of your employees buy you a soft-haired puppy with soulful eyes to comfort your soul whenever a hot new intern leaves?

Among the people under your employ, does any of them suddenly start to dance and signal “See boss, see me!” when you walk into office?

If any of your employees displays any of the above glorious competencies, that person is fit for an immediate raise, a pat on the back and a year’s supply of branded company pancakes.

Published on November 27, 2011