To my manager : Walk Beside me


A lot can be said about the need for managers to walk beside their subordinates and not impose such an aura of influence and dominance on them until, it finally drains even the little life left. And that’s half the problem – a lot
can be said, but not a lot done. Why this apparent reluctance to act, when teamwork is one of those issues that are rarely (if ever) argued against?
Never been the kind to take up the podium, but as this is not exactly a podium, I might just give it a try. In any case why do those podiums have to be so high? To indulge a little, I recall as a young lad in patched grey shorts of Buhinga, it was enough a problem to stand up and still be seen – vertically challenged. But that was then. You little boys (grown up now) watch out, I am coming for you so that you can ask me properly to ‘stand up again’, and you teachers owe me an explanation as to why I could not seat with the ‘cool’ boys (aka ‘New Kids on the Block’) at the back whom all the girls adored. And you girls, hear it from me, I am not short, an d that is period. lol. Looks like I have enough scores to settle in my past. But that is what it is – the past.


Today, I would like to issue a yellow card to our HR friends – especially the kind that keep using the word ‘under’. For how long will we have to remind you that we are not under anybody? Fine, we report to X,Y,Z but we are not under any
one. We respect our superiors, even bordering love (really), but you take that word ‘under’ and return it to your rack of letters because in this game of scrabble we do not use that word. It is not just the word, if it was, I would have just left my pen here and gone to collect sea shells. It’s the whole mentality of superiority and dominance that leaves a sour taste. We have our career goals all drawn out, we know the paths we are taking, we love people, customers even more, we enjoy working with colleagues, we consult, and we are answerable and accountable to our superiors. My question
then is, who drafted those little tree-like charts where the MD is right at the top, and then there are managers, then the abc’s? This whole idea of dominance does not help the customer, employee, or processes. That little chart over there is a sweet reminder of powers-that-be that they have actually ‘made’ it, as they are nicely seated on some good location in this ‘tree’ that companies are so obsessed with. Then the abc’s have to be reminded with each subsequent appraisal
on how to aim up there. Find a location on the tree and aim at it.

It’s some kind of Hypnosis. So where are the people up there supposed to go – apparently the ‘system will absorb them’ So the hypnotic pendulum is swinging as we gaze without a blink at the happenings and non happenings, hoping to jump to the nearest branch, drink up to the promotion, and start gazing all over again. Assuming you reach the tree top, then chaos looms, not only are you busy cutting off the nearest branches and shaking the tree so no one Is poised to jump, you are also watching the birds outside to make sure they do not nest in your tree, the owners of the tree are an ever increasing threat. They might sell off the tree and with it your fate or they might decide you’ve been up there long enough and it’s time you found another tree on which to nest loses. It’s madness out there, albeit uncalled for. But it is the mental picture elaborately crafted world over. It’s no use fighting the system, we are all too engrossed, and
there is no turning back. Yes, there is such a thing as a point of no return. It’s just that from time to time our HR friends need to know that we actually know the hypnosis they are playing on us. We do not like it but we shall play this ‘tree game’, for as long us the fruits can enable us count sea shells on the coast with whomsoever chance and time bestow.

Thumbs up to the few managers that are really grooming individuals, and are empowering them to prosper in their trade. These Ladies and Gentlemen restore some sanity to employment and as hard to come buy as they are, props that there is even one.

So now is very much not the time for HRs to sit back with staff personnel on this tree and think things are OK. Not at
all, there is need to breed a healthy respect for individuals to thrive and as they thrive so does the Company grow. Not
to chop off their wings, cram them under a boss in a thick canopy, and watch from afar. Even the bosses need to be held
accountable, they need to be pruned as well, not for them to sit back and watch how well they are faring on the tree,
when the base, which is supporting the customer, is gasping for air.
I believe Companies ought to take a good, hard look at how they manage People (not Human resources). We actually
need to graduate from Human resource management mentality to People Management, and you do not need to look far
to see the difference. One system is really human, while the other is stuck on the dear old shelves, in HR manuals that
still carry tree drawings, practice psychology, and still refer to some as under others.
There you have it. Society has a strong inertia to the past. A few companies are slowly but steadily tearing down age old organizational structures and rearranging the organization around the customer. And there are many others venturing into the obscure to yield value for the customer, and not just feed into the egos of the elitists who adore the tags. Their Business cards do not carry titles, and neither do the email signatures, but I bet you, they have plenty of duties to execute without their egos being deflated. And one thing for sure: responses like ‘that’s the way we’ve always worked’ will not count as much of a defense.

By Ronald Rwakigumba


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