Wednesday, June 10, 2015

behavioural requirements of inhouse counsel (A.K.A how i roll at work)

Get your note pad. 

1. If you're below 40, or a woman, employees default position is that you'll "understand" and not be so uptight and strict about the rules

2. If you're a woman, you're expected to smile sweetly all the time and generally appreciate compliments about your appearance. It's called the "airhead Blondie rule"... Encourage this stereotype at your own peril.

3. If you're 35 and below, New staff always start every conversation with "when I was in xyz company", or "when I used to be head of bla bla bla in 1979". They're trying to remind you that they used to be big shots too and you should give them special treatment

4. If you rose through the ranks at the company you're in, older colleagues do the most to remind you that you used to be one of them. They'll make crude jokes or subtly condescending comments in front of newer staff just to give the impression that your authority does not apply to them. Guys are the worst at this and refuse to let go of old familiarity.

5. If you're an unmarried male, male colleagues always think they are entitled to point out eligible interns and discuss female colleague anatomy with you...and you should "get it". Also you're supposed to share war stories about your love life.

6. There are always always always agendas at Management level. Not everyone acts because they love the company. More than half the time, there are unspoken alliances along tribal lines and caucuses. Some of these are very powerful and can rally together to make your work miserable if you refuse to join their clique or support every cause they drive.

So... After identifying these potential pitfalls, how should you behave? Your goal being professional respect and authority, preserving your credibility and impartiality with the extended ability to police others and insist that they do the right thing all the time.

Behavior A: accept that you're a bitch ass lame wanna be who thinks he's better than everyone. Don't try to fit in. That won't pay your bills. As soon as you become legal counsel, you have no gender, tribe or color. You belong to everybody and belong to nobody.

Behavior B: shoot unacceptable behaviors down very firmly the very first time they occur. Usually people test the waters with you to see what they can get away with. One person does it successfully and suddenly it is office culture and you lose a bit of your authority and obligation to enforce a professional environment where the weak and strong are equal.

Behavior C: this is an office not a bar. Your fellow male colleagues have to get the memo that you're not trying to be "one of the guys". Walk away from group water cooler bonding sessions. Cut conversations short with no shame when they go in the wrong direction. Never encourage guy talk about female colleague boobs and derrier. You're Legal counsel not the bar man.

Behavior D: never laugh off a condescending or inappropriate comment. Put people quickly in their place. Older colleagues need to realize things have changed. Sometimes you need to have one on one conversations and explain to them that you're not being a diva and that you count on them to help you succeed. Usually that works and they feel like your ally. If that fails, get firm. If they cut into your sentences, tell them to let you finish and then they can have their go. Tell them to shut the door when they get into your office, take a few seconds longer to type while they stand there waiting for you to give them attention, then if they try to make small talk or give you compliments kill it by ignoring the chit chat and saying "so how can I help"...with a very straight face. These tiny cues assert your control over the space and the conversation and the gist spreads that you're no nonsense.

Behavior E: at Management level, never take sides. If you're forced to choose, take good points made by both sides. Then explain why you think logic supports one more than the other. Always be the voice of logic and reason. You earn respect more and more when you open your mouth cos they never know which way you're going to swing. Never encourage tribal jokes even in private. People always try to chip in stuff like "anyway I expect her to want more investment in Lagos na, Yoruba people sef" in professional conversations. I never let it go and point out vocally that there's nothing Yoruba about it and that ibo people (or the person's tribe) have been known to do worse. Usually they say it was a joke and then I give the fake laugh and change topic. Point made. Note that whatever you say in private is ALWAYS repeated out of context.

Finally. Behavior F: protect low level and weaker employees. It is your duty. Office relationships are fine if consensual. But if a guy uses inappropriate endearment on a female colleague, it is my business to stop him. If he kisses her on the cheek or hugs her from behind despite her constant protests, it is my business. Nigerians generally don't want to be the cause of another person getting fired. However over bearing male behavior begins to create a free for all environment where women are objectified and people begin to dread coming to work feeling helpless to stop behavior they don't appreciate. Legal counsel must be voltron without being asked. It starts from being very okay with being hated and isolated. 

Make friends with your salary... That's all you need.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Of the lesser evil

For those of my readers outside Nigeria who are wondering what all the facebook arguments and counter arguments regarding the forthcoming elections are about. Here is a one minute summary. The to contenders for presidency are:

1. Muhammad Buhari 

The country remembers him as a straight, strict man that ran a very disciplined regime earlier in our history. By virtue of this very tight style, his government was unpopular. Granted that it was also a military government at the time with little or no democratic restrictions, some of his policies then appear to have been observatory. However, in all the leaders who have governed this country, nobody is regarded as having more integrity. Even his enemies refuse to take that from him. As if to buttress this point, he was partly responsible for the appointment of the most celebrated public servant - the late Dora Akunyuli of the NAFDAC fame who went on to be a shining star even in the worst administrations. If we go by the "show me who your friends are" saying, then he stands in good stead.

His only offence, going by opponents of his presidential bid, is that he is from the northern part of the country (most of the past rulers have been), he is Muslim (more than half the past leaders have been) and that he has an Islamist agenda in a world where isis is making it clear that islamization is indeed a real concept. For a key country like Nigeria, these are heavy concerns. He had tried to allay some of these fears by picking a Christian running mate from the western side of the country. 

2. Goodluck Jonathan

The incumbent. Expectedly, being a sitting head of state is a two edged sword. On the one hand you have the most Control of the political process. You also are the more secure choice for political investors. On the other hand, unlike your contender, your work in the years you have spent in office is the only campaign you can do to the citizenry. No matter what you say, people only look to your record in office. Jonathan has risen on good luck through his political career. He came to prominence as a deputy governor of a state. Then the governor had issues and was removed. Automatically he became governor whether prepared or not. Then he became vice president to the late Yaradua. That one vacated office too and that's how fate foisted this gentleman on us. Nothing wrong with that. However, the general expectation from a man who many didn't think deserved the position by merit, was that he would have no alliances or loyalties and would firmly serve without fear or favour. 

Today as he stands for re-election, his legacy is of a seemingly clueless individual surrounding himself with the most detested political characters in the country and driven by the sole desire to maintain power at whatever cost. He has released convicted corrupt ex public officers, appointed questionable advisers who have zero credibility by the nigerian people and other than the routine mundane workings of government, has left nothing significant behind. The country is again indebted, scandalized over and over by publicly noted official corruption that has largely gone unpunished and in its most insecure state in my lifetime. For context, Nigeria was debt free and had an "excess crude account" just before he took over. This is equivalent to going from being millionaires to filing for bankruptcy in 6 short years.

These two men have divided the country along ethno religious lines. While most of those from the south part of Nigeria would prefer to maintain the status quo, those from the north are driving the chant for change. While buhari only offers integrity and a no-nonsense government, Jonathan is having closed door meetings with anyone that has a door to close. The soul of the country clearly remains for sale to the highest bidder, and this, dear readers is my ultimate fear. Nigerians love themselves more than anything else, even more than the country. We are not like Americans who prioritise the common good over Self preservation and value patriotism. "All man for himself, God for us all" is more like it here. And against that mindset, only the man with the most money or control thereof, stands a true chance.

I'd like to know if I've not captured the situation correctly. Love to hear your comments.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Of the same old pet peeve

So two things. One delightful, the other not so much.

Good news is I just stumbled on the "blogger" app on the app store. Epic. This means I do not need any more cumbersome sign in processes just to post. Sometimes that alone discourages you. You first open the internet browser then open blogger then sign in then click New etc etc. You get the drift. Now it is an app on my iPad that I've signed into permanently and all I do is click It open and type. Sweet! [in Eric Cartman's voice].

The trigger that got me to check for this app was a not so good one. I was there on Twitter trudging along peacefully when I saw the link to dr.sid new track featuring tiwa savage. You know I'll click anything with tiwa (don't judge a nigger). As usual she has most of the goods on display so no complaints there. However, again as usual Dr.sid remains underwhelming. From the beginning of his career he always strikes me as a benz being driven by my grandmother. He just seems to take the easy road with his music. There just seems to be so much more he is capable of but that he doesn't even put the energy to even try. Case in point, we spend the full one minute into the video repeating exactly the same phrase over and over. Not even a catchy phrase, just a random line about not turning him on our something random. D'banj and MayD do a better job of being tacky with barely shielded sexual innuendo. You either go big with anything or go home.

And then, although tiwa struggled to save the song through her display of ample bosom, I can't seem to get the picture of a tired married woman out of my head which made her repeated chorus of us wanting to take off her clothes and ending with licky licky something completely inappropriate. I know I'm majorly biased because I have beyonce's "partition" as my most played video on my iphone, so nothing against tiwa playing up the 'everybody wants me' card, but maybe in a song with her husband as the guy would not rub against my grain so much. No I'm not a prude damn it.

Anyway, I don't know why I keep having hopes for improved nigerian music but after dorobucci I could have sworn we were on track. Apparently not. New year, same old music. O well.

You can watch the video here:

Let me know if I expect too much in the comment section below.

Later peeps.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Of a new year...

I hate to admit that a past year was anything but exactly how it was meant to be. It kind of feels like an unforgivable act of not being grateful for all the things that could have wrong but that didn't. Eventually though, after crossing into the new year safely, i'm emboldened to be a bit more honest. However, 2014 was a year. There was no single day that did not come with its own news. It was sometimes hard to keep up.

I however find that in trying not to be labeled I altogether avoid expression of my faith. Yes, I'm almost ashamed to State categorically that I am Christian. Maybe because I am not the best example of a believer, or to preserve my usually unbiased online credibility for the moments when I have to hold a view... Whatever the case, I have shied away from making this clear. The natural implication is that as Christians are butchered around the world for their faith, I have somehow pretended that I am not any more alarmed than the next person. Alas I am.

So far, in my most private recesses though, nobody I know except my mum prays as much as I do. I literally pray about every mundane thing. My boss calls and sounds like there is trouble? I pray before going to her...a meeting I'm not certain how it will go or what I'm expected to say? I close my eyes and pray...year end assessment of my performance at work? you guessed it. On my way to court, or the airport for yet another flight, or to start preparing a presentation for my boss? Virtually everything. I also do my research to be honest but that's never enough as I've come to find.

And by pray I don't mean in my heart as I put my things together on the way out. No. I mean close my eyes type prayer. All the time. Where the circumstance permits, or in especially huge moments I run to the gents and lock myself in a steal and kneel down and really really really beg God to let me feel his presence and guide my utterances and help me find Favour. It probably sounds cheesy but I have no complaints so far on the efficacy of prayer. I think it is what you believe in that works for you.

As the year ended and I boarded a 11 hour trans atlantic flight back home, days after a mere 3 hour fight crashed into the sea, prayer never came in more handy. I prayed as I never before did. My faith was shaken and so I went on iTunes and found Sinach "the name of Jesus". If you ever ever feel like your heart may fail you, plug this in your ears and close your eyes. It works like magic... Or prayer.

So I've decided that this year, and going forward, I will openly and honestly express my belief in God. I will share my thoughts on religion and the atrocities committed under its guise. I will however be clear that despite the short  comings of the practice of my religion, it does more good than otherwise in a world that desperately needs good...and God.

Happy New Year.