Pato proves the proverbial cat after refusing relocation

Saturday, November 13th, 2021 00:00 |
Workplace. Photo/Courtesy

Six months after a strategy meeting, Trulogic board approved CEO Ben’s expansion strategy, he embarked on establishing a new branch in Mombasa City.

The branch which is to be based in Mombasa saw HR create the position of General Manager, Trulogic Mombasa Branch. Without advertising internally or externally for the job, Ben handpicked Pato to the challenging position.

On receiving the appointment letter, Pato was distressed. To accept or not accept? That was the question that rang in his head throughout. How could he handle a fulfilled career dream that required relocation?

Pato broke the promotion news to Fransisca Mutsemi, his wife later in the day who made the matter worse, she said: “This promotion will not be good to us. Our children are still commuting from our house to campus.” Besides that, she was also worried that Pato might slide back to his drinking habits if he decided to go ahead and move alone. She was also concerned that the move to Mombasa will compound Pato’s troubled financial status. 

Pato kept quiet as Fransisca continued to show reason why the move was not right. Pato found it very difficult to summon sleep. Accepting the new job was like deserting his children at a time they needed a lot of guidance from both parents. If he rejected the promotion, his old campus roommate and current closest friend, Pius Ranga, would despise him.

It also occurred to him that this will make him the laughing stock among family members who may not appreciate his dilemma. 

If he migrated to Mombasa, he would lose friends made over many years, while working in Nairobi. He regularly visited his aging parents in the rural area. They had healthcare needs that soon required medical attention in Nairobi. That is how he managed to supervise the construction of a bungalow which had defied completion. He also used the opportunity to familiarize with local socio-economic problems. He considered this a stepping stone to possibly vying for an elective position when he retires.

All managers congratulated Pato except Lillian Kurai, the Learning and Development Manager who hails from Mombasa County, She had expected to clinch the deal. Behind the scenes Ben had hinted that she topped the list of contenders.

Lillian decided to plot for a reversal of the appointment through  two powerful directors. Had the appointment been competitive, Pato would not have been among the top three internal contestants, she thought.

If the board refused to overrule Ben, then Lillian planned to use he powers and convince Pato to turn down the promotion. She would cite cases where “outsiders” to the county would be chased away. Rumours started circulating that residents wanted their own to occupy senior managerial positions. She would also point out that the cost and inconveniences of relocation were not worth Pato’s salary adjustment.

Two other managers, who were interested in the position, joined the complainants bandwagon. They argued that the promotion would set a wrong precedent at Trulogic since they boosted longer managerial experience compared to Pato. Knowing that it was risky to challenge Ben’s decision, they did not dare to raise the matter in a forthcoming management meeting. Fears of imaginary negative consequences carried the day. 

But Mercy Laito, the Senior Transport Officer, was jubilant on hearing about the promotion. Being the de-facto deputy, she started imagining heading the logistics department. Three other supervisors were also serious contenders for the position. Long serving staff members below the supervisory level queued for the next possible vacant positions. Employees’ anxiety reached unprecedented levels, causing misunderstandings even on petty issues among them.

In repositioning themselves for anticipated positions, competing employees sometimes sabotage each other. 

Pato neither acknowledged the letter nor confirmed whether he would accept the offer. He arranged to meet Harry Katumba, the Finance Manager, at their usual drinking den after work.

Pato said to Harry: “I am torn between taking up the promotion and rejecting it. My spouse is totally against this relocation to Mombasa.” 

Pato was also bothered about the fate of his three side hustles, not to mention kickbacks from Trulogic’s service providers.

To avoid colliding with Pato’s spous who was a family friend, Harry was non-committal on the matter. He urged Pato to sleep over the choice instead of rushing to make a decision.

After weighing personal factors on relocation, Pato wrote to Ben declining the offer.

Ben was shocked. He even suspended Pato after his unsatisfactory reply to a show cause letter. Phyllice Nsao, the HR Manager, tried to advise Ben against the decision. She was not aware that Ben had secretly set up a trap to exit Pato.

Anxious that the case could precipitate his exit from Trulogic, Pato obtained three legal opinions on pending disciplinary cases. During the disciplinary committee meeting, Ben’s representative recommended termination of Pato. For his defence, Pato pointed out that he had not committed any work offense. The HR manual did not have a policy on relocation. Neither did his letter of appointment as manager of the Logistics department stipulate that he was to work wherever his services were required in the country. In addition, the cost of relocation was higher than expected salary and benefits from the new position. 

Phyllice Nsao, the HR Manager, requested members to take a short break while she dashed to Ben’s office for consultations. The committee ruled against Ben and requested him to unconditionally reinstate Pato to his current position. Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, Pato grinned from ear to ear as he sneaked back to his office, knowing that was a close shave.

The writer is HRD Consultant and Author of Transition into Retirement, [email protected]

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