Nigerian Workplace Deceptions (1)

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Some years ago I conducted research on the perception and attitudes of workers towards office politics in one of the most respected federal universities in Nigeria. The outcome was an eye-opener. The outcome made me understand some actions and reactions of employees in some establishments I later consulted and worked for.

Today, I have worked and still working with different organizations and individuals. I have seen deceptions in-display masterminded by office politics. The discussion in this series is not about office politics, it centers on the deception in the Nigerian workplace. So if you are preparing to join the workforce, it is wise to understand the terrain you want to work in. If you are in already but don’t know how things go, you may be deformed if care is not taken.

Actually, you cannot talk about deception in the workplace without office politics. Office politics is the mother of deception in the workplace. On both sides, there are tonnes of topics that can be discussed. Our focus is not on office politics and we don’t intend to exhaust the list of workplace deception in a week. That’s not even possible, we shall discuss some. You can use the knowledge to help yourself.

The Unwritten Laws

Every workplace in Nigeria has unwritten laws. Apart from the well-known policies. The Unwritten Laws come with grievous punishment even much more than the written laws. Because it is unwritten, when employees default, the administration of the punishment is fast without an opportunity for explanation. It’s to be noted that some people may default without being punished. It all depends on who you know and move with at work.

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In some establishments, you may be warned when you default the written laws but thrown out if you default the unwritten laws. In any case, the written laws are to be respected if you must stay long enough in the workplace. Note that if you default the unwritten laws knowingly or unknowingly, you may be thrown out irrespective of your contribution to the workplace. When you join an organization, endeavor to know the unwritten laws.

One General Example

One of the general unwritten laws you are most likely to see in any Nigerian company is the fact that someone must always take the blame for anything that goes wrong. This is whether or not it is their fault. So, whenever anything bad happens, you can almost see the passing of the blame from one person to the other in the mail trail. Anyone that the blame falls on takes the punishment even if it’s clear that it wasn’t their fault.

In 2014, I was working in an institute, one of the top managers told us that someone must always get the blame when something bad happens. He gave an example of how someone was blamed for a problem he didn’t cause. I later found out that the law is operating in almost all Nigerian workplaces. I have seen people sacked and suspended because of the problem they didn’t cause.

When employees are being punished for defaulting the unwritten laws, truths and facts are not consulted to make such decisions. Even their performance will not be checked except if it will help to push them out. If you have been in the Nigerian workplace for some time, I am sure you would have seen people that were sacked for no reason or such a flimsy excuse. That’s by your own assessment but by the unwritten laws, they deserve to go.

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A Word Of Advice

If you join a new company, seek out the unwritten laws. Some unwritten laws may interfere with your belief system. That’s why you need to find out on time. Decide if you want to compromise your faith, fight the unwritten laws or act like it’s not there. Make a decision and decide whether or not you want to stay. But note that there are consequences on any of the ways you decide to go. Just don’t be fooled that the workplace is managed by just the policies alone.

Sometimes when you start to cross the border of the unwritten laws, your boss or colleagues may begin to give you attitudes at work. They may even ensure that everything that concerns you in the office is delayed or problematic. If you are wise, you will check out for the reason. That may be a warning sign. Don’t just take off and start fighting every other person. Be wise!

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