My boss has not been in the office for the last two weeks because he is travelling. The annoying thing about his absence is that I have to represent him in leadership meetings, which I really do not like.
Last week’s meeting was a bit tense because we were discussing the numbers. I had worked with the research team and we had prepared what we consider a “ realistic” view of potential business forecast. The numbers are not looking promising even when we consider the downward review following our CEO’s discussion with head office.
We had also thrown in what we called assumptions that we will continue to feel pressures in our other markets. I was pretty pleased after giving my presentation feeling I had provided “an accurate situational read” as instructed by my boss.
These figures triggered a lot of debate as the Head of Marketing said, “this is not a good situation, I fear that this may mean budgetary cuts on our already tight budget.” Following this everyone had something to say and to be honest, it all seemed like endless whining. At one point, I wanted to tell them, “do not shoot me I am just the messenger.”
The CEO must have shared my sentiments as he said, “listen team, this presentation is a reality check- our numbers do not look good. If we do not deliver you can forget any bonuses or any jobs.” The HR manager then said, “yes we agree and we recognise that we need a step change.”
As I have come to expect in these meetings, other managers jumped in to offer their views which all seemed to align with what the CEO wanted. The CEO then told us all to convene a “workstream to look at what we are going to do differently to keep things afloat.” I wanted to tell him to look at one of our slides which had made recommendations, but I decided to stay mute.
Thankfully, he nominated the HR manager to lead that workstream as he joked and said, “this workstream cannot be led by these prophets of doom- the strategy people.” I was relieved about this turn of events for I know such things never end well. The HR manager seemed excited by this new role and quickly said, “I will convene a meeting and we shall soon have something for you, Boss.” So we have spent the last week working on what in my view are obvious recommendations. I also felt that the team fudged with some of the numbers to give a different view of what was really happening, but I felt that it really was not my monkey to deal with. This situation was validated by my boss who called me on WhatsApp and said, “ Josphat! Well done my boy!” This came to me as a surprise and I asked, “for what?” He then proceeded to tell me that the CEO had given feedback about my presentations saying that it was “ very professionally done and gave an accurate assessment.” I said, “thanks I was just doing my job.”
He said, “well I know that, but you need to position yourself to take over my job when I leave.” I did not know how to tell him that I did not want his job- too senior and too much stress. He must have read my mind for he said, “I know that you are not keen to take my job, but you don’t want to consider the other option.”
He said, “you see, the HR manager is really angling to move to strategy and she is a horrible person- so whatever you do make sure she does not end up getting the job.” He then said, “ see you next week”. This had me shocked — how do I ensure the HR manager does not get the job. I cannot imagine working for her.