The last two weeks of October 2014 had some really exciting events. First, there was the furore caused by a job aert placed by a Ugandan based company that ring fenced the position of Administrative Assistant for non-Ugandans. Soon after that job aert, the Miss Uganda beauty pageant was held and the winner lived up to the saying that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder as she was in equal measure both praised and picked apart by different social media commentators.
It was with these two events still fresh in my mind that I walked into the hall of a commercial bank on the last Monday of October. I breathed a sigh of relief when I realised that there were few people queuing at the enquiries desk and soon there was just one more customer to be served before my turn could come.
After a little exchange of words between the bank officer and the customer ahead of me, voices were raised and I could clearly hear what the customer was upset about. Apparently, the man had been following up the whereabouts of some money wired to his account for more than a month and nobody in the branch could give him a definite response.
Now, with the wisdom of hindsight I realise that is the point I should have walked out since my transaction also involved wiring money. But I did not telling myself that I had already invested a lot of time and fuel to drive to that particular branch.
I was at that point operating according to the sunk-cost fallacy “When one makes a hopeless investment, one sometimes reasons: I can’t stop now, otherwise what I’ve invested so far will be lost”. The proper way to act is to consider past investments, the sunk cost, to be irrelevant in making the decision as to whether one should continue to invest in the project.
I made my transaction and left after being assured that the money would be credited to the account of the recipient within 24 hours. Forty four hours later, the intended recipient told me that the money I sent had not yet been credited to their account. I followed up on the matter with the bank.
My first point of call was the customer service number listed on the bank’s website. The lady who answered the call told me the money was not remitted on Tuesday because the system was down. Now, I have heard “the system was down” phrase in Uganda too many times so I asked her to give me the number of the bank’s treasury department which she reluctantly did.
When I called the treasury department, the call was picked up by the officer who gave me the exchange rate for my transaction. He could not, however, tell whether the transaction was carried through or not. So the claim that the system was down was a bold faced lie told by a lying brat employee.
The treasury officer promised to call me back after verifying the transaction. Two hours later after no feed back from the man, I called him again. He still had not confirmed if the money had been transferred but guessed that it might have been sent. I told him I needed the swift transfer confirmation. Again, he promised to get back to me.
By close of business, I had not been able to confirm whether or not the funds had been transferred. I realised that this particular bank was full of staff who cannot do their work unless you baby sit them so I called a more senior manager to baby sit my simple inquiry.
Unfortunately for Uganda, so many employees behave like babies they lack the initiative and discipline to follow through on their duties and promises and therefore never achieve results but nevertheless want to be paid a full salary on time every month.
Baby and lying brat employees continue to exist and multiply because their supervisors and managers handle them with kid’s gloves. Our businesses and our economy would be growing at a much faster rate if Ugandan workers stopped behaving like babies and stopped telling incessant lies but started to act like responsible adults.
Perhaps the company that ring-fenced the position of administrative assistant for non-Ugandans was genuinely looking for an “adult” employee and not one who does not deliver results.
James Abola is the team leader of Akamai Global, a consultancy firm based in Ntinda, Kampala.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor