So much seems to be happening around me. I do not know where I am going or coming from. We completed review of our half year performance last week and the CEO is not very pleased with how things are looking. The truth of the matter is that we are not doing well. We are not seeing the usual uptake of our products and services and the way things are going I do not think we shall be doing well in while.
Last week, the CEO called us into a meeting to task us-by us I mean senior managers- with the task of “coming up with ideas to improve the business.” From where I sit the solution is quite simple. Stop hiking prices and give customers what they need-not what we imagine they need.
Last year, the CEO insisted that we needed to “review our prices upwards so that we could hit our targets.” One of our managers in strategy meeting was opposed to this idea and I recall one heated meeting where he told the boss: “You cannot hike the prices when the Consumer Price Index is going up.”
The CEO would hear none of it and said: “We use the inflation rates for our price increases and it looks like we can increase the prices now.” The conversation became very heated because that manager felt strongly about his views.
While the CEO claims to embrace dialogue, it was not lost on me that come December, this manager got a bad rating in his appraisal though I hear that he later landed a good job with some multinational.
I have come to realise that sometimes it is better to shut up and not tell the bosses what you really think- if it is against their preferred choices. It will therefore be interesting to see what this time comes up with, but I plan to be very careful with things. I can also say that I have been very cautious with Lucy ever since I discovered that she is the flavour of the month and is working on the retrenchment project.
Just last week she asked me: “ Josphat, can we go together for the staff football watching party?” I told her: “I am not sure I am coming for it, I have other things to do.” She kept on prodding me, but I stood my ground because I do not want employees mislabelling me as the architect of the retrenchment. Speaking of football, I have been the office betting coordinator , which has been a lot of fun. This assignment came to me rather accidentally and it is the one time when I happily embraced an idea from the CEO without suspicion.
One morning the CEO came and started talking about how good it would be to have “an office betting pool and we can watch some matches together-it will be good for team bonding.” I asked him: “Is betting allowed by company policy?”
He scoffed and said: “I am the boss, I set the policy.” I told him: “I will follow up with HR and see if we can make it work.” He patted my back and said: “Thanks for taking initiative. Let me know what you need.”
So, for the last three weeks I have been coordinating the football bets, providing updates and really having a good time. In the process I have managed to pick up a lot from the grapevine- I know who is sleeping with who, I know who is leaving the company, who has disciplinary proceedings- it really is true that football brings people together. Better still, I have picked up some interesting ideas from staff on how to improve business performance. Clearly, sometimes informal is better than formal- I plan to include this World Cup experience in my performance appraisal.