Business Daily (Nairobi)

18 August 2011

Kenya: My Boss Takes His 'Problem' to the UK, I'm in Charge

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I am enjoying the peaceful atmosphere in the office this afternoon, and I am getting a lot of work done. There are a number of reasons for the peace that I am enjoying. The CEO is on leave - he told me that he had to travel to the United Kingdom for his son's graduation and also to 'cool off from the drama'.

I was frankly amused at how the guy managed to get out of the situation. He called me one day laughing hard and said, "Josephat my guy, our problem is over." I still cannot get over this "our problem" line so I asked him, "What happened?"

He jovially told me, "I realised I was putting you under a lot of pressure and what we needed to do is scare the journalist."

I was all ears as he went on and said, "So I enlisted the help of this CID in Mombasa and together we put together a sting operation."

I found myself asking rather loudly, "How did you do that without telling me."

The Boss excitedly told me, "Oh! I flew in for the day and I did not want to interrupt your busy schedule. So we set up the guy. The guy showed up and we have him on tape trying to extort money from me.

We told him that if he dares send the pictures, I will send them to the police and to his boss and he will never work in this town. Of course the CID guy also used some coercion to get the guy to toe the line. Problem Solved!"

I must say I felt slightly offended that I was not involved in this sting operation. I kept my reservations to myself and said, "Well done, and did you tell your wife?"

He laughed for a full minute and said, "Of course I did! I told her how those paparazzi photographers had used Photoshop to come up with some crazy pictures to get money out of me. I told her how envious people are of my success and she believed me."

I could not believe that this was the same guy who a few weeks ago was near tears and near breaking point. I was somewhat relieved when he said, "Thanks for helping me. I will remember this come appraisal time." I ended the conversation by wishing him a happy holiday.

" Thanks a lot. Here is the best thing- I am travelling to the UK with the chick in the photograph, so I will be mixing family and pleasure." I did not know whether to admire the guy or to be repulsed by his behaviour. So I hang up and went back to my work.

Ramadhan is another reason why the office is rather quiet. Just as soon as the month of fasting begun, my PA came and told me that the office would be closing at 3 pm.

I asked her, "Is that company policy?" She reminded me that, "even last year we worked up to 3pm, only that you were on leave."

I wanted to exert my influence and I told her, "but the HR policy says that work starts at 8am and ends at 5pm. She gave me a sneer and told me, "You try invoking that during Ramadhan and you are finished. We know our rights in the new constitution."

I realised that I would be losing this battle but I had to find a way of still showing them who is boss in this company.

As soon as she left the office I drafted an email to all staff saying, "In order to allow our Muslim brothers and sisters to observe the month of Ramadhan, office closing hours from Monday to Thursdays will be at 3.45pm and on Fridays at 1pm.

Please adhere to these times. Normal working hours will resume after Eid."

I knew that I had done well when I got a couple of thank you emails from some of my workmates.

One of them described me as a "considerate boss who is respectful of others."

My PA came and thanked me for the 1pm closing time.

I could not help reminding her, "Please note that this does not apply to you since you are not Muslim and as the boss I need you here as long as I am here". She was upset but if the CEO could flaunt power, I might as well show off mine.

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