Bullying In The Nigerian Workplace

Bullying in the Nigeria Workplace

That bullying has become entrenched in the Nigerian workplace is probably not surprising or noteworthy because after all it is a fitting reflection of the predatory and exploitative behaviour that has come to typify interactions across various facets of our social sphere. From street gatemen who refuse to open gates for not having been properly recognized with tips to silent threats of an unfair hearings and refusal to approve budgets if you refuse to play ball with members of the various houses of assembly. Parents have successfully sent a clear message to schools that if their wards are so much as chastised, there will be hell to pay and all manner of uniformed personnel, including Police, Air Force, Navy and LASTMA go so far as to take lives to demonstrate their power and superiority over citizens.

So bullying is an accepted part of our existence, another way to diminish the self worth of Nigerians that even foreigners in our midst avail of. It is after all not illegal and when in Nigeria, you do as the Nigerians of power do. Ride rough shod over everyone around you, not least by driving down other road users, pedestrians, all if they fail to give way at the sound of your siren and sight of depraved security operatives wielding horsewhips and hanging out of the windows of fast moving SUVs and pickup trucks that make up your cavalcade. Companies with foreign managers routinely do not let their staff join unions or form staff associations as bargaining units. From time to time newspapers report abuse of Nigerian working for foreign nationals. In my opinion, they only took to extremes some of the treatment meted out by Nigerians themselves to their own compatriots.

And bullying in offices has come to take pride of place with individuals setting themselves up as demigods and forcing colleagues to come worship at their shrines just by exploiting a system that has become so dependent on patronage. Remember that transport officer who somehow just never has a car to support your legitimate official trip, the boss who persistently queries your competence and denigrates you at every opportunity but can't seem to get anything done without you. She will not even let you take leave since somehow your absence will bring the department to grinding halt. The worst of the lot are the gate keepers of senior management. They determine who gets promotion and who will eventually rise to join the ranks of the power brokers within the structure of the organisation. They can make or break you and even cost you your job if you don't join their corps of disciples. Many of us are left with no choice; jobs are scarce in Nigeria not to mention jobs that pay well enough so we never risk the one we have by daring to not conform. Besides it makes the difference between getting by on bare bone salary and enjoying perquisites that include personal computers to do the work, dedicated official cars, trips abroad and photo opportunities with even bigger bosses. A senior colleague nearly broke his neck the other day trying to get into the picture with the visiting Chinese Ambassador. While he failed to understand my refusal to see the importance of being in a photo with the Chinese ambassador, I failed to see the relevance of a photo shoot to the professional life and progress of a man due for retirement in a couple of months.

This lifelong dedication to ingratiation and obsequiousness is not peculiar to government establishments but cuts across all sectors including private and development organisations. More so, I dare say, in international organisations like the UN, World Bank and other development partner organisations where the prospect of international postings is dangled before professional Nigerian noses who gladly sell out colleagues and their country. It is no longer possible to make professional progress by knowledge, expertise and a positive attitude, those attributes that are advertised as required for the job. Management cadre staff, especially those who feel that they have paid their dues, having kowtowed their way up the ranks, exact their pound of flesh by bullying subordinates and making life as miserable as possible for those who will not align with their personal agenda no matter how much at variance with organisational goals those are.

At an upscale bank some years ago, I heard a manager calling a teller a lemon and an empty head very loudly. I expect he wanted to communicate his importance to customers in the banking hall and establish control over his colleagues, many of whom laughed appreciatively at what was not a joke, their way of showing that they are on his side in all things, even cruelty to another colleague. Such incivility is common in the Nigerian corporate world. And we become complicit, many times willing accomplices looking to better our own personal lot, when we do not protest such mistreatment of colleagues.

We are masters of offensive nonverbal conduct and behaviour. Without saying anything really we threaten, intimidate and humiliate each other. We undermine professional colleagues and seek to trip them up on administrative details when we find ourselves trumped by their technical knowledge and expertise. Reminds me of the philosophy common among denizens of deuxieme bureau who are seldom as well educated and cultured as the wife they seek to upstage when they tell her to keep the ring while they keep the man.

Office bullies adopt many methods and tools to frustrate their victims and are experts at sophistry. They make unwarranted and invalid criticisms, pass blame without factual justification, are verbally abusive and would conduct job discussions out on the corridors loud enough for others to know and hear and accompanied with threats of poor appraisal reports or dismissals. They micro-manage, shout at and humiliate subordinates and give unrealistic deadlines. When none of this works they enlist support of unwitting colleagues who desperate to keep their own place in the pecking order work with the bullies to socially exclude victims.

The sad thing is that it has become the Nigerian workplace culture to protect and even promote bullying. Guidelines on conduct for rising swiftly up the corporate ladder is rife on the office grapevine through which staff receive personalised advice on how to butter up the boss, the same grapevine that sets you up in competition with each other and ensures progress only for seasoned brown-nosers. God help you if you come with that seemingly foreign orientation of operating with standard behaviour appropriate to a professional setting. You will actually need prayer and fasting and mullahs on skins pulling at prayer beads 24/7 if your boss perceives for any reason that you are not sufficiently humble. A very vague and elastic term frequently applied in the Nigerian work place. At a staff retreat recently when it was pointed out that a senior member of staff was not assigned an official car nor given an official phone line, the reason proffered was that the woman in question was not humble. She did not befriend the Admin Officer, dared to interrupt her rambling speech at a management meeting, and expressed an opposing view. So she was taught a lesson and denied work benefits contained in her contract. Her only recourse, the Programme Director was himself being bullied by the Admin Officer who had close ties with powers beyond the organisation

How do you win with man or woman upon whom your continued livelihood depends but who is determined to bring you to your knees just to demonstrate dubious superiority? The solution for many is simply to resign and move on to the next job, but that is for those who have that option. The effect of that on the individual is that they really do not gain enough traction for professional progress and may end up making precarious living as on again off again consultants depending on their professional field. The loss is more to the organisations, who lose perfectly good hands, retain non-performing staff and wallow in the non productivity evident in public and corporate space of today's Nigeria



1
Re: Bullying In The Nigerian Workplace
M. Akosa posted on 03-26-2012, 15:23:54 PM

Bullying in the Nigeria Workplace

That bullying has become entrenched in the Nigerian workplace is probably not surprising or noteworthy because after all it is a fitting reflection of the predatory and exploitative behaviour that has come to typify interactions across various facets of our social sphere. From street gatemen who refuse to open gates for not having been properly recognized with tips to silent threats of an unfair hearings and refusal to approve budgets if you refuse to play ball with members of the various houses of assembly. Parents have successfully sent a clear message to schools that if their wards are so much as chastised, there will be hell to pay and all manner of uniformed personnel, including Police, Air Force, Navy and LASTMA go so far as to take lives to demonstrate their power and superiority over citizens.

So bullying is an accepted part of our existence, another way to diminish the self worth of Nigerians that even foreigners in our midst avail of. It is after all not illegal and when in Nigeria, you do as the Nigerians of power do. Ride rough shod over everyone around you, not least by driving down other road users, pedestrians, all if they fail to give way at the sound of your siren and sight of depraved security operatives wielding horsewhips and hanging out of the windows of fast moving SUVs and pickup trucks that make up your cavalcade. Companies with foreign managers routinely do not let their staff join unions or form staff associations as bargaining units. From time to time newspapers report abuse of Nigerian working for foreign nationals. In my opinion, they only took to extremes some of the treatment meted out by Nigerians themselves to their own compatriots.

And bullying in offices has come to take pride of place with individuals setting themselves up as demigods and forcing colleagues to come worship at their shrines just by exploiting a system that has become so dependent on patronage. Remember that transport officer who somehow just never has a car to support your legitimate official trip, the boss who persistently queries your competence and denigrates you at every opportunity but can't seem to get anything done without you. She will not even let you take leave since somehow your absence will bring the department to grinding halt. The worst of the lot are the gate keepers of senior management. They determine who gets promotion and who will eventually rise to join the ranks of the power brokers within the structure of the organisation. They can make or break you and even cost you your job if you don't join their corps of disciples. Many of us are left with no choice; jobs are scarce in Nigeria not to mention jobs that pay well enough so we never risk the one we have by daring to not conform. Besides it makes the difference between getting by on bare bone salary and enjoying perquisites that include personal computers to do the work, dedicated official cars, trips abroad and photo opportunities with even bigger bosses. A senior colleague nearly broke his neck the other day trying to get into the picture with the visiting Chinese Ambassador. While he failed to understand my refusal to see the importance of being in a photo with the Chinese ambassador, I failed to see the relevance of a photo shoot to the professional life and progress of a man due for retirement in a couple of months.

This lifelong dedication to ingratiation and obsequiousness is not peculiar to government establishments but cuts across all sectors including private and development organisations. More so, I dare say, in international organisations like the UN, World Bank and other development partner organisations where the prospect of international postings is dangled before professional Nigerian noses who gladly sell out colleagues and their country. It is no longer possible to make professional progress by knowledge, expertise and a positive attitude, those attributes that are advertised as required for the job. Management cadre staff, especially those who feel that they have paid their dues, having kowtowed their way up the ranks, exact their pound of flesh by bullying subordinates and making life as miserable as possible for those who will not align with their personal agenda no matter how much at variance with organisational goals those are.

At an upscale bank some years ago, I heard a manager calling a teller a lemon and an empty head very loudly. I expect he wanted to communicate his importance to customers in the banking hall and establish control over his colleagues, many of whom laughed appreciatively at what was not a joke, their way of showing that they are on his side in all things, even cruelty to another colleague. Such incivility is common in the Nigerian corporate world. And we become complicit, many times willing accomplices looking to better our own personal lot, when we do not protest such mistreatment of colleagues.

We are masters of offensive nonverbal conduct and behaviour. Without saying anything really we threaten, intimidate and humiliate each other. We undermine professional colleagues and seek to trip them up on administrative details when we find ourselves trumped by their technical knowledge and expertise. Reminds me of the philosophy common among denizens of deuxieme bureau who are seldom as well educated and cultured as the wife they seek to upstage when they tell her to keep the ring while they keep the man.

Office bullies adopt many methods and tools to frustrate their victims and are experts at sophistry. They make unwarranted and invalid criticisms, pass blame without factual justification, are verbally abusive and would conduct job discussions out on the corridors loud enough for others to know and hear and accompanied with threats of poor appraisal reports or dismissals. They micro-manage, shout at and humiliate subordinates and give unrealistic deadlines. When none of this works they enlist support of unwitting colleagues who desperate to keep their own place in the pecking order work with the bullies to socially exclude victims.

The sad thing is that it has become the Nigerian workplace culture to protect and even promote bullying. Guidelines on conduct for rising swiftly up the corporate ladder is rife on the office grapevine through which staff receive personalised advice on how to butter up the boss, the same grapevine that sets you up in competition with each other and ensures progress only for seasoned brown-nosers. God help you if you come with that seemingly foreign orientation of operating with standard behaviour appropriate to a professional setting. You will actually need prayer and fasting and mullahs on skins pulling at prayer beads 24/7 if your boss perceives for any reason that you are not sufficiently humble. A very vague and elastic term frequently applied in the Nigerian work place. At a staff retreat recently when it was pointed out that a senior member of staff was not assigned an official car nor given an official phone line, the reason proffered was that the woman in question was not humble. She did not befriend the Admin Officer, dared to interrupt her rambling speech at a management meeting, and expressed an opposing view. So she was taught a lesson and denied work benefits contained in her contract. Her only recourse, the Programme Director was himself being bullied by the Admin Officer who had close ties with powers beyond the organisation

How do you win with man or woman upon whom your continued livelihood depends but who is determined to bring you to your knees just to demonstrate dubious superiority? The solution for many is simply to resign and move on to the next job, but that is for those who have that option. The effect of that on the individual is that they really do not gain enough traction for professional progress and may end up making precarious living as on again off again consultants depending on their professional field. The loss is more to the organisations, who lose perfectly good hands, retain non-performing staff and wallow in the non productivity evident in public and corporate space of today's Nigeria



..Read the full article
Re: Bullying In The Nigerian Workplace
Emj posted on 03-26-2012, 19:58:53 PM
QUOTE:
How do you win with man or woman upon whom your continued livelihood depends but who is determined to bring you to your knees just to demonstrate dubious superiority? The solution for many is simply to resign and move on to the next job, but that is for those who have that option. The effect of that on the individual is that they really do not gain enough traction for professional progress and may end up making precarious living as on again off again consultants depending on their professional field. The loss is more to the organisations, who lose perfectly good hands, retain non-performing staff and wallow in the non productivity evident in public and corporate space of today's Nigeria


Mutti, thanks for summing it up with the last para.......bullies are cowards and dont amount to much....

Anyway
Re: Bullying In The Nigerian Workplace
Austin posted on 03-27-2012, 07:09:43 AM
This is a very deep, very insightful article; but it borders on the fringe of whinning. Whinning, because the writer only provides the complaints, and not a single word of encouragement; only describes the injustices, and not a word about how to fight, or at least attempt to correct it. But then, isn't that what we commentators are for? Afterall, she has set the ball rolling, and we others can then pick up the issue therefrom. And it is in this regards that we have to give a lot of thanks to Ms M.Akosa, for prioviding us an example of courage and the steps we need to take in order to address the issues.

My own word to fellow readers and Nigerians are simple: do you recognise the problem Mutti has raised? Do you accept them as problems and willing to acknowledge its deleterous effects? If yes, then it is time we all start fighting this and many other menaces like it in our land. Fight alone, but more importantly fight in groups. More importantly, be prepared to lend support and encouragement to those who the system may want to punish when they try to address the problem. All in all, be a part of the solution and not the problem.

Bullying and Ass.kissing is not or progressive. Help stop it.
Re: Bullying In The Nigerian Workplace
Mutti posted on 03-27-2012, 17:07:19 PM
@ MAkosa, that was a seriously extreme example of bullying and I hope that the company pays up. Unfortunately I do not think that we recognise muchless acknowledge trauma to the psyche in Nigeria and even if one were to make a case stand up in court, I doubt that one would get justice or an appropriate level of distress

@ Austin - I am not sure that it is time yet to set up support groups. Many of us cannot even put a name to the phenomenon when we are faced with it and in seeking opinion, we would usually be told that that is how things are done here, better do what they want so you can collect your salary at the end of the month.

People mostly resort to brown-nosing or they simply become yes men as a strategy to protect themselves. I make bold to say that our culture creates bullies! Solutions in our environment if they exist are therefore few. First of the bat, the phenomenon is yet to be identified and tagged, widespread as it is. You would have heard countless stories of cleaners who cannot be sacked in spite of dereliction of duty but who succeed in holding an entire organisation in thrall. People have come to accept it as the way we are and simply conform and make a pariah of anyone who does not so they become easy targets for bullying. There is no formal recourse and if you report, the situation would likely get worse and you become labelled as a trouble maker.

Bullying is an ethical issue and therefore difficult to define and to prove. Nigeria as you does not particularly have a strong ethical culture and it is so much easier to burn miles of news reel discussing corruption , a catch all basket whose contents we are still unable to unpack
Re: Bullying In The Nigerian Workplace
M. Akosa posted on 03-27-2012, 17:55:19 PM
Bullying ( female group class - action) lawsuit hits Canada's top establishment.
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/former-mountie-accuses-rcmp-bullying-discrimination-class-action-184702923.html

QUOTE:

VANCOUVER - As many as 150 current and former female members of the RCMP are preparing to stand behind a class-action lawsuit against the force alleging widespread sexual harassment.

The suit, filed in B.C. Supreme Court on behalf of Janet Merlo, who was a constable in B.C. for 19 years, alleges a pattern of sexual discrimination, bullying and harassment.

Merlo claims she was singled out for verbal abuse, pranks involving sex toys, and derogatory insults by senior and fellow officers.

David Klein, one of several lawyers involved in the lawsuit, says the legal action was spurred by a combination of frustration by the women and lack of change in management style at the RCMP.

He says the primary goal for Merlo and many of the other females they've heard from is to change the organization from a toxic workplace for women to one that is accepting of them.

A judge will still need to decide if there are enough common arguments in the class-action for it to go forward and that legal action could take up to two years.
Re: Bullying In The Nigerian Workplace
Austin posted on 03-29-2012, 10:45:54 AM
QUOTE:
@ MAkosa, that was a seriously extreme example of bullying and I hope that the company pays up. Unfortunately I do not think that we recognise muchless acknowledge trauma to the psyche in Nigeria and even if one were to make a case stand up in court, I doubt that one would get justice or an appropriate level of distress

@ Austin - I am not sure that it is time yet to set up support groups. Many of us cannot even put a name to the phenomenon when we are faced with it and in seeking opinion, we would usually be told that that is how things are done here, better do what they want so you can collect your salary at the end of the month.

People mostly resort to brown-nosing or they simply become yes men as a strategy to protect themselves. I make bold to say that our culture creates bullies! Solutions in our environment if they exist are therefore few. First of the bat, the phenomenon is yet to be identified and tagged, widespread as it is. You would have heard countless stories of cleaners who cannot be sacked in spite of dereliction of duty but who succeed in holding an entire organisation in thrall. People have come to accept it as the way we are and simply conform and make a pariah of anyone who does not so they become easy targets for bullying. There is no formal recourse and if you report, the situation would likely get worse and you become labelled as a trouble maker.

Bullying is an ethical issue and therefore difficult to define and to prove. Nigeria as you does not particularly have a strong ethical culture and it is so much easier to burn miles of news reel discussing corruption , a catch all basket whose contents we are still unable to unpack

Mutti, I hear you very well. Your take is similar to one of my cardinal messages here on NVS, to wit, that these things are not perculiar to Nigeria, or the Nigerian culture/s. They exist in many places and cultures. However, they have only been successfully eradicated in other places, because the whole society recognise such issues as problems and dealt with them - collectively. This is something we also need to learn and emulate.

Oh, btw, I saw this today and thought to share: Elton John was bullied as an adult (Source: http://uk.omg.yahoo.com/news/elton-john-bullied-adult-073816520.html)
Sir Elton John has opened up about the bullying he endured after shooting to fame, alleging he was tormented by three "very important people" in his professional life.

The singer refuses to name those involved, but he claims to have suffered nasty abuse at the hands of unscrupulous characters who took advantage of the superstar's shyness.

He tells E! News, "It was about control and them being able to keep me under their thumb. And I was the perfect candidate for it. Even though I was famous and a big deal, it doesn't matter, it's who you are underneath that, and I was always kind of shy and intimidated...

"One was violent and the other two were mentally violent. They were very important people in my life. They were important people in my career and and in my personal life."

The Rocket Man kept his suffering hidden for a long time, but he goes on to urge anyone in a similar situation to speak out, because bullying does not just happen in the schoolyard - it also affects adults.

He adds, "Speak out, speak out. Snitch on them. Try to defend yourself, not like me, who hid it and thought it was OK to just go on like it."
Re: Bullying In The Nigerian Workplace
First-lady posted on 03-29-2012, 11:04:45 AM
hmm
a fight almost broke out at my workplace yesterday
2 menopausal women got into it
an office staff and her supervisor after one don bully the other taya
me, I just marked the 2 exits closest to me in case bullets started flying
I am not yet ready to leave this sinful world to meet my maker

Nice article there @ the poster
1
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