I always marvel at how rumours move fast in offices. Last week, I was seated in my office trying to complete some report for the Boss.
The Boss does not like reports in Word format; he prefers them in PowerPoint. To be honest, I would much rather use Word for my reports - so I really have to put in more hours whenever he asks for a report so that I have a dazzling presentation to give.
I had specifically come into the office early so I could work uninterrupted on the presentation. Just as I was settling in the cleaning lady came and started cleaning the office. I said hallo to her and proceeded to work on my presentation.
After a few minutes, I noticed she was coughing a bit too much and asked her, “Dorothy, is there a problem? Are you okay?” As soon as she started speaking, I regretted my decision to ask her about her health. She went on a long speech session and told me about all her woes, all the bills she must pay.
I realised that she was taking all her woes out on me in the hope that I would offer to help just like I have done in the past. So, I reached into my pocket and gave her Sh2,000. Her face lit up and she proceeded to say a long prayer for me.
She ended her prayer by saying something about, “na hiyo cheo kubwa Baba, twaomba umpatie Jose, na wale watu wanamsengenya washindwe (As for that high position, please give it to him God; and may shame come upon those speaking ill of him).”
I could hardly wait for Dorothy to complete the prayer so she could explain what the prayers were all about.
As soon as she opened her eyes, I asked her to tell me what she meant. She was clearly dying to spill the beans and talked about a “new big role that is coming up soon and that people are fighting for the role.”
Based on my conversation with the HR manager, I thought that the news about the role was still not out in the public domain.
I have read in many management books that one must avoid gossip, but there was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity to hear more about this job and the possible contenders. Dorothy told me that she had eavesdropped on three managers talking about the job, the pay and who are leading contenders.
As I sat listening to Dorothy, I realised that I could take advantage of her information and use it to my advantage. I therefore decided to tell her, “those are rumours just flying around, I am not really interested in the job. It would be too much pressure for me.”
I knew that Dorothy would most likely repeat this piece of information to some other person. I therefore decided to use her as my propaganda machine and relay the information about my ‘reluctance’ to take the job.
To get Dorothy out of my office, I decided to tell her, “I need to finish this report for the boss, so let me work on it, we can talk later.”
She clearly did not take the hint because she spent another five minutes telling me that I am a good man who deserves a big job so that I can help people like her.
The conversation with Dorothy was quite an eye-opener for me. It made me examine my inner thoughts and concluded that I wanted the job. And since I do, I must become a bit more aggressive in my campaign to get it.
A starting point would be to find out who the other contenders are so I can determine how to beat them. All I need to do is to wait for Dorothy to spill some more beans next time she comes to my office.