Pato caught on wrong foot by new staff issues
At midday, John Kimbe, one of the graduate drivers, went to Pato’s office to obtain permission to be away in the afternoon.
Pato granted him leave without bothering whether or not he had a scheduled luggage delivery assignment.
At the logistics department, Pato did not empower supervisors to accept or reject brief absenteeism requests from their reports. He was the only one who enjoyed such powers.
Supervisors complained about Pato: “He controls everything in the department as if it was his personal business. Yet, he is just an employee at Trulogic like us.”
For fear of victimisation, supervisors were afraid to openly disapprove of his managerial style. CEO Ben was the architect of the unpopular style which cascaded down to departmental level.
At about 2:15 pm, Mercy Laito, the Senior Transport Officer, had expected John to be at the delivery vans’ waiting bay. But he was not present.
He had been scheduled to collect luggage from a few Industrial Area godowns and deliver it to several clients on Kiambu Road.
Mercy called John on his mobile phone. He confidently told her: “The boss granted me permission to be away this afternoon.
Talk to him.” Mercy immediately called Pato to complain. He retorted: “You are forgetting that I am the boss in this department.
Make sure that John’s delivery route is allocated to another driver without fail.” Mercy ended the call and quickly reassigned the route to a standby driver.
She wished Pato was answerable to CEO Ben for his unbecoming behaviour. They have the same mindset. Shopstewards are the only ones who demonstrate their arrogance in handling staff grievances.
Victoria Situta, one of the veteran drivers, wanted on the same afternoon to visit her son’s boarding school. On approaching Pato for permission, he asked her:
“What’s wrong with your son at school? Is it an emergency or a casual visit?” Victoria explained that her son had a discipline problem that needed to be urgently addressed in the presence of a parent.
Pato declined to give her permission and demeaningly dictated: “Call your spouse to visit the school. Alternatively, plan to address such a personal matter after work or over the weekend.”
Although Victoria was angry about the response, she feared dashing to Ben on the matter. Employees knew that Ben always sided with his managers to maintain their loyalty to him.
Earlier in the day, Lillian Kurai, the Learning and Development Manager, had emailed Pato a memo requesting him to nominate five drivers to attend an Advanced Defensive Driving Course at Kenya Professional Drivers College.
Although Pato was reputed for not supporting staff training, he reluctantly submitted names of four male drivers and one female driver. Lillian rejected the nomination list requesting Pato to offer all drivers equal training opportunities.
Pato called Lillian on the landline: “You asked me to propose who should attend the training. Yeah. Now you have returned the list. Who else did you want me to nominate?”
After a short-lived argument, Pato dispatched the rejected list accompanied with the names of all drivers to Lillian with a yellow sticker note:
“Select those you want to undergo the training. Otherwise, that is your department’s responsibility and not mine.”
After a heated verbal exchange between them on the landline, they resolved to seek Ben’s intervention. The following day, Pato held a meeting with supervisors in his office.
The agenda of the meeting was to tackle work scheduling differences among old drivers.
During the meeting, Pato said: “Only old female drivers are being allocated out of town routes.
Why? Is this fair to the old male drivers who also want to enjoy out-of-workstation allowances?” Mercy Laito and Janet Gisamo wanted to express their views on the matter but Pato overlooked them.
He only allowed the male supervisors to speak. Kevin Njongiro intervened: “If you do not allow all staff members to talk, then this meeting cannot solve the problem at hand.” Pato’s anger welled up as all supervisors applauded Kevin.
In turns, each supervisor expressed their views while Pato nursed his bloated ego. The meeting resolved that all drivers at different times would be scheduled for routes outside Nairobi.
On Thursday Pato released the list of eight drivers who were to participate in a forthcoming three-day Luggage Carriers International Show at Pepea Grounds, Nairobi.
Of the selected drivers, only one was a lady who had joined the department three months ago. The remaining ladies in the department were up in arms.
They reported the matter to two shopstewards who without wasting time rushed to Pato’s office.
One of them said: “The list of employees you have just issued to represent logistics in the forthcoming show is not gender sensitive. We demand that you withdraw it immediately before we take action against you.”
Pato always dreaded dealing with union officials. He began sweating profusely as he searched for an explanation on the matter.
After a stout silence of about five minutes, Pato said: “The key selection criteria was staff members with heavily built muscles. People who shall quickly load and offload heavy luggage into and from our delivery vans respectively.”
The shop stewards reminded him that all drivers are currently carrying out such duties. He explained that a timed competition at the show required strong men. But the shop stewards were adamant on their request.
To momentarily divert the discussion, Pato accused trade unions of preaching water but drinking wine in broad daylight.
He mocked them: “What gender parity exists in the leadership of the trade union movement? It is all men shouting and banging tables to make a point.”
Realising that the disagreements were getting frosty, Pato called Phyllice Nsao, the HR Manager, to join the meeting. Since Phyllice was aware of Pato’s unconscious bias against women, she excused herself.
Instead, she told Pato: “This matter of not providing opportunities to both genders is your own making. Sort it out alone before it reaches Ben.”
To save his face, Pato told the shop stewards to give him a few minutes to consult other managers on their current gender parity practices.- The writer is HRD Consultant and Author of Transition into Retirement, [email protected]