Man about town

All, including my CEO, are worried about jobs


Things in the office feel a bit slow. In fact, it feels like more like Early December than early October. Our numbers have not improved and the CEO is not pleased about it.

All the initiatives that he launched to improve numbers have not worked. The other day, he called and told me, “Josphat, my guy how come you never told me about how Kenyans really are?”

I was taken aback and asked: “What do you mean? What are you talking about?” He told me to “stop faking it, I sat with many of you and they all told me my ideas would work and would deliver the numbers. How come no one told me that they were bound to fail?”

To be honest, I was chuckling inside for I remember conversations in the office canteen where my colleagues kept talking about the “weird ideas that the boss has-and for sure they will not work!”

What the CEO did not know is that most of us are scared of losing our jobs, heck we have so many bills to pay we cannot afford to be jobless.

However, I was not going to sell out my colleagues so I decided to give a diplomatic answer: “Well, all of us were sure the economy would rebound after the elections from last year. We cannot believe that things have not normalised.”

I thought the CEO would not fall for this explanation, so imagine my shock when he said “ I had not looked at things that way. You are a genius Josphat!” He continued: “Listen, I need you to prepare some presentation that demonstrates how we are doing this year compared to other post-election periods. I need to prepare a storyline for the board. I do not want to lose my job.”

It was a bit amusing to see that the CEO also worries about retaining his job — just like we do.

“Listen Josphat, you need to understand what being a CEO is all about. It is all about developing the storyline and knowing how to sell it,” he said.

I did not understand his sentiments and he must have guessed as much as he continued to say “It is knowing to tell the storyline that allows you to take credit for the good times, while shifting the blame during bad times. Like now, I cannot tell the board that my ideas do not work — I will blame slow economic recovery.”

I must say this was news to me because all management books tell me a different story. I was getting a bit uncomfortable with this conversation. “Thanks for the insights, let me get cracking on the presentation,” I said. The CEO was in a mood to talk. He went on: “Josphat, what is this I am hearing that you do not want the Corporate Affairs job?” This completely threw me off and I found myself struggling with what to say.

“Well, I did not quite say No; I just felt that my role still challenges me especially since I am double hatting.”

He told me: “Josphat, do not be like other Kenyans- tell me the real truth, I can take it!” I have learnt that you never let your guard down with the leaders ever, so I said “That is the truth, any other reason I would be sure to tell you.”

I was saying a silent prayer that he would not ask me to reconsider my decision and so I was pleased when he said my reasons “do make sense though I think you would grow from working with me in the Corporate Affairs role- I guess we will have to look outside the organisation”.

As I walked out of his office, I breathed a huge sigh of relief for being off the hook on the Corporate Affairs job.

A few minutes later, the HR manager called me and said: “What did you tell the boss? He seems to agree with your decision not to take the other job?” “Well, I just told him the truth,” I said. She laughed. “Well, you win this time but remember bosses never forget rejection.”

I was not sure of what to make of her words.