Monday, 12 December 2016

Rule 85: Identify the people who count


By on 11:24
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King of World Music and Nigeria's Juju Music exponent,  King Sunny Ade and Nigeria's City People Magazine Publisher, Dr. Seye  Kehinde 


I once made a bad mistake – well, I’ve probably made lots, but this one is relevant and sticks in my mind.  I worked for a company and we had a maintenance man.  At the end of each day, we wrote in the maintenance book anything that needed doing, such as changing light bulbs, clearing blocked loos and Harry would do it.  Mending broken chairs that sort of thing.  We had two offices and I used to get quite cross that Harry seemed to spend more time down at the other branch than at our place.  Harry was never anywhere to be found.

My notes in the maintenance book grew terse and sharper, but it didn’t seem to do any good.   I would have rollicked Harry in person if ever I’d have been able to find him.  He came in after we had gone home and did the maintenance work in the evenings.  The other office was getting all their repairs done and we were getting nothing done.  It was intolerable and I resolved one evening to wait for Harry.


“I’ve worked for companies where it was the cashier, the MD’s driver, the accountant and the canteen chef who had the juice.  Invariably, it took some time to identify these people”. 

Harry didn’t show, so I went over to the other office. There was Harry having coffee with the big boss, my regional director.  I steamed in – ‘what the devil do you think you’re doing?  I need you over at the place doing maintenance, not sitting here drinking coffee!’  Bad mistake.  Several bad mistakes:
·                    You don’t bawl someone out for drinking coffee when they were on an official ‘tea-break’
·                    You don’t bawl someone out for drinking coffee when they have been invited to do so by the regional director.
·                    You don’t bawl someone out in front of your regional director without first checking all the salient facts with them.
·                    You do things properly – go through the appropriate channels and don’t hide in wait for an errant worker.
·                    You always identify the people who count – in this case, Harry.

Why did Harry count?  Because he was my regional director’s father-in-law. He had juice and power and influence that I could only dream of.  He was working at the other office because he had been told to by his son-in-law. As I said, bad mistake.

I’ve worked for companies where it was the cashier, the MD’s driver, the accountant and the canteen chef who had the juice.  Invariably, it took some time to identify these people.  They all held some trump card which either gave them access to a senior boss, or some hold over them such as being a relative. Find them, know them.
(Excerpts from THE RULES OF WORK by Richard Templer Read “How to be on the right side of people who counts” from The Rules tomorrow on Asabeafrika)

Rule-to-Work Series

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