How not to drown where you work
Book: Managing Workplace Intrigues
Author: Omolola Oladimeji
Pagination: 155 Pages
Publishers: Book Spider, Lagos
Reviewer: Banji Ojewale
Visiting the seaside and looking beyond the shore far across the billows into the horizon isn’t enough to present the total nature of the ocean. The spectacle won’t reveal what’s beneath the great expanse. You may be awed by the waves going to and fro. You may marvel at the placidity of the sea as your eyes sweep over the length and breadth of this ancient formation. But all these won’t give you all you need to know about the sea. For instance, they do not reveal the presence of carnivorous predators beneath the innocuous surface. They do not show you frightening sizes of the big fishes and sharks always looking for smaller marine creatures to consume. In a word, they do not disclose that there’re ceaseless wars in the depths.
In Omolola Oladimeji’s book, Managing Workplace Intrigues, we are also led to understand that we cannot see the disturbing picture of seemingly placid workspaces being scenes of fierce battleground by merely looking at the gaily attired men and women. These employers, entrepreneurs, bureaucrats, professionals, consultants, artisans etc. leave their homes for their respective offices only to engage in ‘murderous’ conspiracies, schemes, plots, machinations, wiles etc. to outwit each other for position, prominence, power and lucre. But, as the quietude of the surface of the sea doesn’t reveal the internecine war that goes on under, the harmless veneer of our public institutions doesn’t also expose the rapacious behavior of the players.
Managing Workplace Intrigues has cracked the surface to give us deep insights into the stormy life of where we earn our living—and how we can sail through without ending up in the belly of sharks. Armed with nine chapters, the writer takes the reader on the journey of her encounters in different establishments in major cities of Nigeria including Abuja, the nation’s capital. It’s a biographical professional trip that tells us how she probably learnt to handle people early in life as she related with siblings in a typical Nigerian nuclear family the size of a football team.
Oladimeji reveals the tough nuances of life all where she has worked, beginning at the defunct Monitor newspaper in Ibadan, through her days at the renowned Silverbird Group in Abuja, where, from being first a freelance Sales Executive in 2001, she rose the following year to become Assistant Marketing Manager.
According to Roy Murray-Bruce, ex-President of Silverbird Group who provided the “platform for (the author) to gather the greater part of my experience,” she “broke the gender barrier for managerial positions within the company. The position of Business Manager became available in 2006, and it was fitting that Oladimeji occupied the position. She became our first-ever female Business Manager.”
It’s superfluous, then, to say that the author is proficiently qualified to speak of intrigues in Nigeria’s ‘’testosterone-dominated space.’’
Every chapter, from the first, The Dynamics of Workplace Intrigues, through the second, Managing Workplace Relationships and the third, Challenges Women Face in the Workplace, to the ninth, Leadership Qualities, Roles and Delegation, lead to one conclusion: ‘’ As children, our parents and teachers often told us to work hard in school to be successful. On transitioning to the working environment, we took that advice and ran with it. Yet, when we eventually got into the workspaces and in the real world, we found that hard work, though necessary, does not suffice.’’
This is a cynic’s script. But you can’t dismiss it, given the weight of Oladimeji’s experiential narrative. Her education and diligence in the office, plus cordial ties with employers and bosses, didn’t stop colleagues’ petition against her. Nor did they prevent her being suspended. Sexual harassment also came in tow. Once the HR officer who should know the system better led the author straight to the slaughter slab by asking her to sign a bank loan document, an act the exclusive preserve of the MD. She was saved by a good-natured colleague who didn’t forget Lola’s earlier kindness to his family.
Yet, surrounded by feuding fiends forever aiming for her fall, she still received immense help from such bosses as Roy Murray-Bruce, Charles Kalu, the inimitable and all-round newsroom guru and Bola Salako, the peerless communications executive.
It’s the reason she insists in her book that ‘toxic’ intrigues may be unavoidable where one works; but they can be tamed. Her solutions: ‘’thriving in any work environment requires a lot of patience.
It also requires due diligence on your part, psychological and emotional intelligence.’’ She adds what she calls the God-factor. According to Omolara Oladimeji, ‘’It may seem strange to bring God into the workplace. However, as I grow older, I have found out that being close to God is not an option.’’
If the characters in Managing Workplace Intrigues are dagger wielding, battle-ready men and women, the author has somehow applied far less truculent diction and graphics to tell her story. Oladimeji’s language breathes beauty and boldness, grace and glamour, and serenity and simplicity.
With no kilometer-long sentences and constructions to bore you and send you to sleep, the book will easily establish itself as a compelling companion in Nigeria’s social circles, schools and workspaces.