Saturday, 29 November 2008

The managers that damage your health

Bosses stamping on hearts

When I read the news story on the BBC that Bad bosses damage your heart [1], I thought, finally, someone has invested in some serious research to confirm what many already know but could not find an acceptable term for.

In fact, terms would probably be high blood pressure, stress or heart problems, but the causative issues which are work-related emanating from the bad managers at work never really factors into the ameliorating remedy.

Working for a sociopath

I had a nasty experience with that kind of manager just over 4 years ago when the sociopath who presented a most advanced multiple personality fa├žade as he was able to convince his bosses that he was the best thing since sliced-bread whilst he treated his staff to being sliced like bread; he was a big fat bully.

In general, I am able to control my circumstances at work such that I refuse to allow the machinations of rotten managers to affect me beyond what I am able to endure as simply uncivilized behaviour.

In this case, I was hamstrung, my expert opinions were challenged without better views than the ability to bark out expletives; anytime he wanted to get anything done, he briefed the project managers against me; and when I asked for a reference to further my studies, he first suggested I did not have the aptitude for study and then specifically stated in the reference that no help financially or through giving time off would be offered by the company with regards to my study.

After the meeting where expletives were rained upon me, I decided I had had enough, obviously, my manager thought because I had a mortgage and some other responsibilities including with his being privy to certain sensitive aspects of my health I would be unable to make the bold move and leave the company.

Leaving and stressed

Sometimes, I fail to realise how fortunate, blessed and resourceful I have been, I fail to give myself enough credit for the things I have done – recently, I noticed that I have really been self-employed as an IT Consultant for 11 of the last 13 years, I suspect I might have been doing something right.

Well, I found a job and when I submitted my resignation, I was told anyone else could do my job and suffered even more horrible treatment that I took a whole week off before I lost my sanity. I could not understand how if I was leaving a job in weeks I could be under so much stress.

In fact, I had to complain to the CIO, the HR director and copy in the CEO to get some sort of behavioural adjustment from my manager.

These are managers of human beings

The core of the matter is that the culture of management is geared towards visions and missions, products and productivity gains without necessarily considering the humanity that brings about the success to the company.

The people are pushed, laboured and under extreme duress and in fear of their livelihoods that they yield to every direction bordering on slavery whilst allowing the atmosphere to affect them beyond the job into their lives and health.

These are supposed to be managers of human-beings first who happen to have goals to reach for the organisation which hopefully knows that it employs human-beings – flesh and blood who have feelings, goals, ideas, ambitions, loyalties and concerns.

A companionless manager

During that year, five of my colleagues in long term relationships broke up with their partners; my manager thought they were coping well because they buried themselves in their jobs. My view was that if things were so bad at home they would bring those problems to work and could mess things up further, especially in the completely de-motivating atmosphere they were working in.

However, for a manager who might only have been able to have a relationship if the partner wanted someone powerful rather than someone beautiful on the inside and outside, he probably was full of glee that many were becoming single.

Assess managers better

Managers have their purposes in organisations but I fear that there are not enough success assessment methodologies that review the manager beyond the ability to deliver regardless of how his underlings have been abused.

In the months after I left the company, 6 people resigned and even more moved on afterwards, one would have though the HR department would become suspicious as to why there was such attrition in a critical operational department but managers in that company were autonomous, infallible and almost omnipotent – rarely had a manager been sanctioned through internal grievance procedures.

I believe organisations have a duty to their workforce to foster healthy working environments and relationships whilst having a better assessment of their managers beyond their ability to meet some shareholder-dictated goals – if the people are your best asset then they should be managed by people who get the best out of those assets not ones who grind the assets into life-threatening conditions that make then eventually useless to the organisation.

It would appear, the staff have to start to document systematic managerial abuse against how it affects their health and chart how things deteriorate if they cannot walk away from their jobs for all sorts of reasons – eventually, they should be meant to prove or allude certain conditions to work-related stress and possibly particular managers.

No job is worth the stress

In the end, no job is worth the deterioration of my health caused by someone who cares not one iota for my well-being apart from being able to sadistically lord it over me with the feeling that I am trapped and have no other choices than be a slave of my circumstances.

Sources

[1] BBC NEWS | Health | Bad bosses may damage your heart

Other workplace stress related articles

BBC NEWS | Business | Bullying bosses 'rife across UK'

BBC NEWS | Business | Bullied workers suffer 'battle stress'

BBC NEWS | Health | Unfair bosses raise blood pressure

BBC NEWS | Health | 'Stress code' for firms launched

BBC NEWS | Business | Workplaces 'getting more stressful'

BBC NEWS | Business | Blood boils in UK workplaces

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Nigeria: Ribadu gets certificate, probe and denial

Adjustment by embarrassment

I am coming close to the conclusion that whatever constitutes the semblance of rudderless government in Nigeria is usually driven to irrational, barbaric and questionable conduct that gets adjusted through the embarrassment brought on by the outcry of other sensible Nigerians.

There might be many cases of this behaviour adjustment characteristic, but of recent, the case of Nigeria pulling out of hosting [1] the Under-17 World Cup and then getting back into their rightful responsibility through the embarrassment [2] of the revulsion and disgust generated is an example.

Last weekend, it was the way the ex-Chairman of the EFCC – Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and his family were bundled out [3] the his graduation ceremony at the NIPSS and the reaction of utter disgust that it caused, ready to discredit a government that seems to be plumbing the depths of disrepute – this seems to have lead the Federal Government to order the issuance of Mallam Ribadu’s certificate [4] and they have launched an investigation into the circumstances leading to the roughing up of the man.

Some big toes are hurting bad

For a government supposedly in leadership, ruling a nation of 140 million people to expend so much capital, resources and skirting with idiocy on just one person to prove that their power in Nigeria is bordering on absolute is amazing.

This has become a country where people have their rights egregiously infringed upon and we have to expect the righteous indignation of others and the clamour for a modicum of fairness to embarrass a seemingly benevolent government into acting with consideration by first feigning ignorance of the circumstances and instituting panels of unnecessary investigation (probe) to appear to be doing something of note.

Much as the courts are in overdrive and the mantra of the government is “The rule of law”, those avenues of seeking redress seem to be irrelevant and of no significance to people who are supposed to uphold that basic principle.

Not complicit – Really?

According to the press release on behalf of the Federal Government, they are disturbed by the notion that they have been complicit in the rough-handling of Mallam Ribadu. The authorities already have form on the matters of Malam Ribadu, this really stretches credulity.

I might be persuaded of that view but who then is in control of the hoodlums that embarrassed the nation of front of a visiting head of state and honoured guest, senior members of the federal government that included the vice president and the Attorney General of the Federation at a prestigious graduation ceremony of Nigeria’s elite policy establishment?

One would have been left to ponder the answers to that question till when I read the diatribe of the Attorney General of Federation, Michael Aondokaa (SAN) which rails on (Lower half of the page) [5] about Mallam Ribadu being a serving police office but attending the graduation in civilian clothes rather than in uniform and so much more about Mallam Ribadu’s demotion and something bordering on insubordination, etc. etc.

Chief Ridiculous Officer

Somehow, the chief legal officer of Nigeria seems to have a knack for turning the plausible into the completely ridiculous; it makes you wonder how on earth such good education, such accolades of achievement and the magnitude of office could have been poured into a man who has the appearance of being lettered but has failed to allow his intellect to rise to the stature of his position.

One could really go away thinking the only reason Mallam Ribadu has suffered even more indignity at the hands of the brigands in power is because he was improperly dressed for graduation considering his is in legal dispute about his demotion and substantive rank.

A situation that is sub judice should have had a better handling of events but we have to suffer the brood of Machiavelli who damn the consequences by acting first, thinking later then try to exculpate themselves with diatribes that infuriate to apoplectic collapse.

Michael Aondokaa is probably a very smart man; an attribute he cleverly conceals, but I am of the view that his activities in the tribulations of Mallam Ribadu might well be his own undoing and really there are many who are ready to say – Good riddance! How much longer do we have to wait for that opportunity?

Sources

[1] Nigeria: No money to host the Under-17 World Cup 2009 [akin.blog-city.com]

[2] Nigeria: Shamed back into hosting the Under-17 World Cup [akin.blog-city.com]

[3] Nigeria: Ribadu and kids get bundled out of NIPSS graduation [akin.blog-city.com]

[4] allAfrica.com: Nigeria: Ribadu! FG Orders Probe

[5] FG orders NIPSS to give certificate to ex-EFCC boss - ThisDayOnline.com

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Between a patriarch and his children

Those rotten seeds

I cannot begin to imagine the loss I have suffered from not communicating with my father for years until recently.

It is unfortunate that seeds sown a long time ago in my youth created an almost immoveable tree that stood in the way of sight, contact and interaction.

There was a time about 25 years ago when I tried to address this with my father with the force of the number of siblings by trying to move the context of our relationship beyond that of provision to one of love and care but the situation deteriorated rapidly soon afterwards.

A failed son of successful parents

I was suffering in my academic work and at the same time, a son of successful accountant and a long-term school principal, I could not run to them with my failures and the true Nigerian parentage style, I was to learn my lessons get pull myself up by the boots.

I was fortunate to have other people my parents had mentored who had suffered serious failure and bounced back owing great gratitude to my parents; they took me out of the rut and helped give me a purpose, an aim, a goal and a path to new success.

My parents were indirectly involved by reason of work they had laid down before, but they could not take direct credit for the success that began to come my way.

However, I still owe a good deal of what forms my character and principles to my parents, my father especially who still stands as a tower of achievement and reasonableness that has been honed through the years.

Rebuilding relationships

When we finally got communicating again, we did not dwell on any of the issues of the past, we just started off on a new race and began to build relationships anew drawing on his wealth of experience and the shared times of living with my parents that lasted just about 20 years.

I maintain a unique kind of place in the family hierarchy, my father is the patriarch of the clan and he shoulders more responsibilities than he should as others who rely on him seem to shirk their responsibilities for the chief.

As the first-born and by far the oldest of his children before my sister arrived almost 5 years after, there are expectations, many expectations, one of which would not be fulfilled much as many desire it – I am already in enough knots than to think of tying the knot – just a fact of life as it stands.

My siblings and daddy

There are aspects of his patriarchal domain that seem to be exercised on my siblings which I have escaped, but my siblings no matter how much younger and how much familiar he is with their circumstances need a pleasant fatherly ear rather than a commander’s orders to be present, available and acquiescing.

A patriarch is free to rule his roost, but a patriarch that is a father to many needs to discriminate between those who serve by reason of his nominal status and those he bore by reason of procreation.

It is not only a case of blood being thicker than water; it is a matter of relationships that are cultivated with the finesse of a scalpel rather than one cobbled together with a mallet. The mallet would just not suffice for the children as it might for others.

They are grown-up now

One can understand that a father expects loyalties, but my siblings are grown-up respectable persons with their families and issues, they cannot continue to be treated as kids even though they were kids with kid’s needs, desires and compulsions.

It would appear there is work to be done in bringing the nest of familial interests back into some sort of harmony and agreement.

My position in the family confers the right to order people around but that would not be the smartest thing to do, in fact, it has never been my way of doing things – I listen, I confer, I encourage and hopefully offer a sympathetic perspective to help child appreciate father and hopefully help father understand child.

He has amazing memories

I still have my relationship building situation and I am happy that our conversations have such range which I would cover in another blog – who would have thought my father was some sort of activist in the late 60s?

Well, I have done much with reading up and understanding my history, my father helps clarify the issues that are confusing but most of all, despite all the negative experiences he had of living in the UK in the 60s, he recollects fondly the ways in which he was integrated and understanding of the environment he was in.

Why would anyone ever be in schism with their father? It just happens and it can take a long while for things to get sorted out – it really can.

An interpretation of Islam lost in the embrace of a house slave

I never taught you

A good friend of mine about 12 years ago asked me for an academic reference to complete an application for a university course. I was at first surprised that I was asked for such a reference indicating I needed to manufacture a story of how I observed and assessed him academically.

I had in some ways been a mentor but that did not make me his teacher or lecturer, I could however give him a character reference which in all honestly and for all intents and purposes would be glowing and commendable that readers would be interested in him.

An argument ensued that ended up in my being called a coconut to which I retorted, it was the not the exclusive preserve of the white man to be objective – I almost had my head torn off.

Owning the house and the field

As the conversation cooled down, I had an interesting question thrown at me, it went – Are you a field slave or a house slave? [1]

It did not take me long to answer back that I was neither and if I did have anything to do with that sort of thing, I would probably be someone to own a field and house slave.

That was my first real exposure to the fact that the black race is not one homogenous identity and one collection of people, we all differ in our heritage, societies, communities, upbringing and outlook.

More interestingly, it showed how blacks from different cultures have tried to identify with blacks of other cultures and subsumed themselves to histories and cultures that have no semblance to their heritage.

Skin colour is only a visual identity it does not offer anything close to a shared heritage and we should be careful not to be caught up in such false identities in the quest for assumed brotherliness.

Understanding my own heritage

I had to check myself the other day in Amsterdam when someone thought he was racially abusing me by calling me a nigger – without catching a breath, I replied, I do not understand that term, I am free-born African.

In other words, even though I was born in the UK and have a British passport, I also have a Nigerian heritage where when I was growing up my blackness was always part of me that I feel so comfortable in my skin any abuse simply presents an opportunity for any education [2] rather than fall into a fit of uncontrollable anger and more abuse which many expect.

So, it was interesting to read that Ayman al-Zawahiri of Al-Qaeda had the most derogatory stuff to say [3] about President-elect Obama when he called him a house-negro. It exposed more of the ignorance of Al-Qaeda than the little understood heritage of Barack Obama.

Fatherly duties matter for impartation

Being born of a Kenyan father and a white American mother, there is no way Barack Obama would have been that acquainted with the realities of those who really did descend from slaves who were yanked out of Africa hundreds of years ago into so hostile a society that made animals of human beings.

He might have had an identity crisis but the worthy contributions of the maternal line of his heritage made him what he has become and we can all be grateful for that. President-elect Obama ran as an American who just happens to be black, NOT as a black man who happens to be an American – we need to get that distinction very, very clear.

Much as the Al-Qaeda stooge tried to play on Barack Obama’s supposed Muslim heritage, he seemed to forget that bequeathing a religion to a child includes the father being around to nurture the child.

Obama’s father was an absent father, a negligent father and someone who contributed very little to helping shape the identity and outlook of his son – I would suppose there is nothing that requires a father take responsibility in those matters of child development in the mind of Al-Qaeda and that it is best for the child to show the utmost ingratitude to those who poured themselves into the child to make him the success that he has become – they being Christian.

Muslim crimes and kafir exploits

Furthermore, I am concerned about that the other development that portrays Islam in even worse light, Somali Islamists are pursuing the pirates that took the Saudi-owned super-tanker on the premise that hijacking a Muslim owned ship is a major crime [4]. Bunkum!

A crime is a crime regardless of the religion or the victim, to consider that offending non-Muslims is a lesser crime than offending Muslims might be a matter of conscience but in has no place in modern-day civilisation.

If such hair-splitting analyses of heinous crimes are becoming the brand of Islam that has the louder voice, I would contend that Islam has nothing good to offer humanity and it should come under the siege of tolerant and reasonable sanction till it begins to see its greater function in the wider world.

The concept of Muslim crimes and kafir [5] exploits is abhorrent to the extreme, it is unimaginably callous and it must be completely unIslamic until I am told otherwise, it is out of kilter with civilised expression.

I know Muslims too

I also have a Muslim heritage [6], my paternal grandfather was a Muslim and he was the most reasonable and tolerant man I have met in the matters of religion; he married a Christian wife and of the 6 children he had, their religious inclinations came down to three on either side.

We celebrated both religious festivals with goodwill, good humour and reverence on all sides and there was never a time when we the Christians were treated with any contempt or lesser consideration with respect to our other relations that were Muslim.

I expect the well-meaning Islamic intelligentsia and elders around the world to condemn in the most severe terms this endorsement of lawlessness against non-Muslims – a crime should be a crime regardless of inclination or adherence, this kind of view must not gain traction.

All religion must be in aid and service of humanity or it has no place amongst us; I hope that message becomes the cornerstone of every creed, gospel, faith, affirmation or religion practiced anywhere in this whole wide world.

Sources

[1] House slave - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Do Africans still live on trees? [akin.blog-city.com]

[3] BBC NEWS | Middle East | Al-Qaeda vows to hurt Obama's US

[4] BBC NEWS | Africa | Somali Islamists 'hunt pirates'

[5] Kafir - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[6] The people are high on opium - III [akin.blog-city.com]

Nigeria: Ribadu and kids get bundled out of NIPSS graduation

The law of the Slave Coast

If there is any need for proof that Nigeria is operating in the realms of the law of Slave Coast one should look no further than this event.

Whilst I am of the opinion that Sahara Reporters [1] can be too sensational for my liking, they seem to be getting scoops about events in Nigeria that make you think again about whether there really is a democracy in that country.

The news is that the erstwhile chairman of the EFCC – Nuhu Ribadu – who was unceremoniously removed to embark on a course, demoted to a position which would have made his attendance of the course incompatible two-thirds through the course has now been barred from graduating [2] from the course on completion.

Barred is a polite expression, in fact, he was bundled [3] out the auditorium of the graduation ceremony whilst the miscreants of the state apparatus manhandled his wife, his six children and the guests who came to celebrate his graduation.

Do-or-die MO

Only two days before, he was cleared for graduation after numerous clandestine efforts by security agencies working under the auspices of persons in power to bar him from the NIPSS.

In fact, after the litany of harassments the man had been subjected to, one paper had already concluded that he had won the battle [4] only not to have anticipated that if the authorities cannot use legal means, cajole officials, threaten persons or suspend personnel, they would send in their brutes.

The authorities have a do-or-die modus operandi to get their way regardless of the means and ways to the contempt of any due process just because they have the power to act even if their acts are illegal. The fight to protect and enforce his rights [5] continues.

The fight against corruption

This man’s offence is to have doggedly pursued demigods in Nigeria who had abused their offices, looted the treasury but had beelines to the highest authorities in the country.

Ridding Nigeria of the malignant cancer of corruption is a dangerous task, lip-service is paid to the activity by the government as small fry become the banners of the exercise whilst the most corrupt seek to manipulate and frustrate the process.

This episode leaves one rather saddened by the developments on the Slave Coast [6], the country is receding into a state of lawlessness spearheaded by the Attorney-General – a whole series of stories appears on Sahara Reporters about how the fight against graft and corruption is being compromised.

Sahara Reporters – A worthy cause

In the West, a web site like Sahara Reporters [1] would have little credibility, but I am beginning to see the need for this kind of organisation in Nigeria.

The most populous democracy in Africa does not have the underpinning foundations necessary for a thriving democracy; our elections are hardly free and fair, the press is hardly free, the judiciary is under siege from vexatious legal manoeuvres seeking to undermine fairness and justice, the freedom of information act languishes in our legislative chambers.

There has to be an outlet for issues, events, episodes and stories that are inimical to the process and development of Nigeria, we cannot have situations where we all hope things would turn out right and then find that our leaders are in the middle of the mess that makes Nigeria worse than it should be.

If there were transparency in the matters of government and business, the need for Sahara Reporters would be moot, but in the absence of the freedom, boldness and courage of mainstream Nigerian media to report on controversial issues that expose people in power as unrepentantly corrupt but masquerading as respectable; a bit of guerrilla reporting as championed by Sahara Reporters is welcome and should be encouraged until things begin to improve in Nigeria.

The more those in power realise that the world of secrecy concerning their activities can only be perfected in the Great Beyond and that every little deal risks exposure if found to be slightly suspect, the greater the hope we can have of Nigeria coming back from the law of the Slave Coast.

Here’s to Sahara Reporters [1] – reluctantly but necessarily.

Sources

[1] Sahara Reporters : News, Interviews, Articles, Reports, Photos, Events and Happenings in Nigeria

[2] [UPDATED: Nuhu Ribadu Dragged Out Of NIPSS Graduation Hall: Sahara Reporters News

[3] The Punch: Security operatives whisk away Ribadu

[4] The Punch: Bitter memories as Ribadu graduates from NIPSS

[5] allAfrica.com: Nigeria: Court Grants Ribadu Leave to Enforce Rights

[6] Nigeria: Living on the Slave Coast [akin.blog-city.com]