Of all, the workplace environment is arguably one of the most intriguing, especially the Nigerian scenario.Obviously, the workplace ischiefly designed to have man at his most productive.In the workplace, manyhard and soft phenomena are pooled to drive its pre-conceptual loftyarguments of high productivity whilst ensuring the predominating existence of peace and orderliness. Oftentimes, these consciously arranged essentialsincludeextremelydetailed mix of plants, machineries, materials and humans in the form of labour – mental or physical. It doesn’t stop right there. On the other hand, like unwantedwildflowers in a treasuredorchard, so many undesirableelementsunconsciously develop in the workplace, hurting its laudable intentions. Interestingly, the larger arc of the adverse phenomena belongs with the soft aspects. Machines are machines;programmed, doing their jobs until breakdowns, obsolescence or moved.For the workplace to keep tight its originalintents, of the two sets, the former must continuously and sweetlypreponderate over the latter, some would argue. To this set, numbers are just numbers and targets are the main object of the production process.
Without apuff of doubt, the soft aspects hold‘brilliant’ accommodation for much of the undesirable elements. Perhaps, as progenitors of the soft elements, humans are, without argument, the bearers of the workplace many objectionable phenomena.Humans aren’t machines;they are humans.They are quite kinetic in all of moods, beliefs, values and temperament etc, impacting production outcomes, be it negatively or the reverse. Nevertheless,others have, with consistency, voiced the over-arching contributions of the soft phenomena.What soft forces are at playinthe workplace? They are many, though countable. They include the conundrum of cultures, moods, attitudes and belief systemsetc,intermingling at the workplace. When the mix is quite concise, for it is rarely the norm, the outcomes give elation. This piece mildly attemptsa discussion onthe risingtribal variegation, especiallyin the Nigerian workplace environment.
The Nigerian workplace environment stands out. It easily calls the ‘erudite’ sight to itself. Its strengths and its pains are, somewhat in the extent of its tribal variegation, which is of the extreme. Steadily, over the years, the mix keeps growing, as a result of many factors, one of which is internal migration. As more people drift about locally, they carry along their tribal cultures, with fewer embracing tinier space for imbibingor entertaining new ones. The tribes, each with their individual cultures, are quite many. Often bandied, there are presumably 250 tribes in the Nigerian geo-space. This number is no joke. Some have argued Nigeria has the most triballydiversified workforce in the world. Strangely, these tribes and their individual cultures are similar to the extent of their dissimilarities. The differentiation, though exciting,should wake up each and every one of us to its many realities and subtleties.No longer is it the ant in the room;the diverse tribal identities have grown to be the elephant.This diversity implies many things:some of them, good; some, bad. The charge of the diversity largely depends on how it’s deliberately harnessed. Let’s be upfront about this: it’s delusional to think if nothing is purposely done to coupling this unusual but great mix,much good will be exposed.
Tribal culture and practices, though as aged as man, still suffer incompleteunderstandingacross the plain. But their grip is quite clamp-like. Culture isn’t just a seven-lettered word.It’s a lot more. Each of the individual tribal cultures is a complete set in terms of worldviews, infusingeven segregated definitions to very identicalphenomena, includingmany at the workplace.Culture presents, amongst others, not so easy views to work, shapes attitude and to some extent, can help determine whether work is rejected or embraced. Besides, in today’s workplace, votes, decisions and contributions, strangely and unfortunately, are given tribal bent, connotations and even interpretations, with less given to profit considerations. Even at critical moments, their standalone strengths are sadlyignored. Tribal culture defines relationship between peers, between subordinates and superiors. Without any pretensions, culture therefore, can debatably be said to encapsulate all of aworker’s needs for his everyday survival treks through the work-floor, as in life.
Over time, the typical Nigerianworkplace, like other aspects of our lives, has morphed. Deepening multiculturalismis the new trend. Unfortunately, culture doesn’t track well with time. The soundlessness of time undoes it. To survive, it must evolve along with this noise-free element.With over 250 tribes in the country’s space, one might argue that condensing all of these highly individuated cultures into its most productive workplace culture challengesmany Nigerian organisations today.Yoruba culture, like the Igbo and the Hausa, is not the workplace culture.Workplace culture isn’t the prevalence of a particular tribal culture. The workplace, as a socio-production group, determines its own culture, which is the aggregate of the various individual cultures.
Generally, cultures, oftentimes, counterviewone another.Close by are countless cases of what one culture abhors another cuddles. Cultures only stretch out in friendship to one another through the route of tolerance. Sending distinct messages on tolerance, therefore, should be the new vogue in the workplace given growth in diversity. Let’s not miss this – diversity, initself, holds little. It isn’t the same as tolerance. In fact, if effort to promote tolerance is held back in a workplace of many tribes, diversity easily morphs into intolerance, harming the party. With backs at a less tolerant past we set the tone for unfolding and strengthening a more tolerant future.Let’s hugthe peacefulelephant in the room. Not its counterparty.
Rham Durham Consulting Ltd
Frontpage November 21, 2018