Often when people feel threatened, there's an unnecessary need to compete. Threats may be real or imagined and result in office politics or sibling rivalry in the home. This unhealthy competition can be controlled if there’s trust. However, competition isn’t always as a result of mistrust neither is it always negative. Sometimes it brings out the best of us and more often than not births courage, confidence and innovation...
They get into the office his - Elan’s office and Al goes to the coffee cabinet. He thoughtfully starts making instant coffee a thing he doesn’t like as he prefers brewed coffee. Finally he turns to Dela and askes, rather too politely for her liking.
Dela, ‘No thanks Sir, just had some.’ Sh continues to observe his movements. Al, finishes making his coffee and sits down while stirring it thoughtfully. Finally he speak;
‘Dela, how long have you been with us, or rather how long have you worked for Elan?’
Dela squints, not sure the direction the conversation is taking.
Dela, ‘Why do you ask?
Al nodes his head gesturing that he is expecting an answer not another questions. Reaalising this is not exactly a friendly conversation, Dela sits up, if it were possible to straighten her back more than it already is, and answers.
Dela,’Well, since she came to Nigeria, she actually hired me before she came, well when she had nothing so it was not quite a job then. Just a sister helping another out. I had just been declared redundant and with the poor economic situation and my age, I could not get a befitting position. In the end I just wanted something to keep me busy...’
Impatient with all the detail Al interjects, ‘So 4 - 5 years?’
Dela, ‘4 years 8 months’
Al, continues rather sarcastically ‘hmmm! you can keep count! - look Dela you have been a great resource to us. Your networks, connections and of course your people management skills have been key to this and our other companies success. Elan speaks highly of you. Tell me, do you consider yourself her employee or her friend?’
Not sure what he is upto, Dela decides to a swer as honestly as she can.
‘A little of both-‘
‘Dela, Dela, it is time you distinguish the two.’ Rather exasperated by the lack of clarity in her answers. Dela on the other hand is slightly taken aback as normally, Elan would appreciate any her honest opinion without putting her into a corner to be specific or precise. Being a people person, she would easily deduce what was being communicated without making an employee feel they were and scrutiny or that their opinion could be used against them.
Al by now has almost lost patience, he interjects. ‘Look, let me help you. You were her personal assistant - emphasis on WERE. You are - personal assistant to the CEO Elan Group. It’s a title not a personal relationship.’
Dela is surprised at how firmly, almost rudely, he has spoken, something he has not been known for. ‘Sir?’
Al, not in aa mood for her protest continues sharply, ‘Look, you no longer are HER personal assistant. I now hold the position of CEO Elan Group, you are MY personal assistant. Right now your loyalties lie with me. Am I understood?’
Dela is now speechless ‘Sir!’
Unperturbed Al goes on, ‘Elan is not coming back to this office. Now we value you, if you intend to keep working here you need to know when to speak and when to keep your mouth shut. What you think you saw in there, was nothing. Capisce? You know I love my wife and woe unto you if you say or do anything - anything that casts a liiitle shade on my marriage.’
If he had hit her head with the fat branding book in the cabinet, she wouldn’t have been more shocked. How could he imagine that, that was a topic for discussion with Elan? Realizing that he, after all had no clue what was in her mind, she relaxes and is more composed. She decides to play along.
‘So what exactly do you think I saw?’ she asks. Throwing thee ball into his court.
Al, ‘I don’t know, What did you see?’ He is surprised at her sudden change in attitude and begins to feel slightly uncomfortable. His aggressive posture softening up and he sits back.
‘Look you have worked here for aaaages. You have nothing to show for your contributions to this company. I could change your life, I can ensure you get shares, have your salary double tripled if you want.’
Dela, ‘And what will you want in return?’
Al, ‘Your loyalty as my assistant.’
For a second, Dela wonders what her best response would be. This was a couple that had stood a lot through time. She also had a strongly relationship with Elan, probably as one of mother and daughter. She couldn’t lie, it would not be right. And given her suspicions she could not dare speak the blunt truth which at this point would be she really didn’t care give a hoot what he thought about her. Finally she decided to take the position that had worked well for Elan when negotiating; basically getting rid of any advantage he thought he had over her. If he called it a bluff they could deal with it when the need arose.
SEE YOU TOMORROW