Swimming With The Sharks

Emma walked into the cafeteria with a well-rehearsed smile plastered on her face to mask how she truly felt. She would not let them catch her wallowing in sadness. That is exactly where they want her to be. Never! She would rather have them see her smiling than wearing a long face.

She was nothing like them and was not about to join them. She has heard people often say ”If you can’t beat them, you join them.” It was too early to decide who joins who and moreover she strongly believed that the truth always shines through.

She is yet to beat them but she won’t join them either. She hated what they did with a fiery passion and for a long time, she had watched with sealed lips. Didn’t the Holy Book say in Proverbs 29:11 that “a fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards”?.

She dutifully obeyed the Bible. Little wonder she had kept her opinion to herself up until that day at the Management meeting. Well, she thought there was no better time to speak up. She decided she would no longer stand aloof and watch them connive with vendors to raise memos for goods that were not delivered. No longer will she let contract scam happen or go unchecked right under her nose.

The contracts are to be awarded only to people from the community and outsiders who were qualified. No more, no less! The contracts are not for the personal aggrandizement of greedy managers, their cronies and families.

“I am sorry, but there has to be a new procedure, and as the Head of Operations, I will ensure we follow it to the letter if we must plug the financial holes. First, we will verify to confirm if there is actually a need. Secondly, we liaise with the accounting department to make sure the prices are not inflated. Finally, it is our responsibility to make sure we source for vendors and that the goods or services are actually delivered. No longer will different departments just order for goods and services by themselves. No longer will anyone supply and deliver goods without our express approval. The operations and admin managers must be in the know and the transaction vetted by the Human Resources Manager”.

Finally, she had mustered the courage and spoken her mind. She knew she had the support of the MD and the IT manager. The rest have been benefiting from the organized chaos for too long.

Now, she’s made enemies, just because she categorically stated the need for probity and transparency if they must remain in business. She could beat her chest and say she has remained true to her calling. But could she have done it in any other way and still achieve the desired result? Could she have been more strategic in her approach? The accounts manager and his cohorts were against it and the reason is glaring. They padded their arguments with claims that the new process is long and tedious, that it will slow down operations. It had been an easy means of diverting funds, was she expecting better from them? They were all waiting on the MD for his final decision.

She told Ire her best friend and a fellow Christian, “Only a fool speaks all that’s on his mind”, Ire also told her. “Do you know they can set you up for this? I think you should have liaised more with the MD and let it be his decision”.

“Emma please take down the following points”, Ire continued. “Listen more and talk less during the management meeting next time. Speak strategically and, if possible, get your supporters before the meeting starts. Don’t go attack people so directly. Find out who your likely enemies might be: their strengths and what could be used against you. Yes, we are Christians and should speak the truth at all times but we also have to be careful. We can avoid making enemies and still get the job done”.

It’s been heavy on Emma’s heart all week long. Was Ire right? What would you have done as a Christian?
What is the best way to handle dysfunction in an organization?

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