Ms. Emelu was recruited as a receptionist, a multifunctional position which involved receiving company guests, telephone calls, mails and other items arriving at the reception. She was also responsible for compiling and dispatching materials and correspondences to stakeholders outside the company, as well as drafting particulars for company branding, guidelines, clients and overall internal processes. She perhaps had the lowest office, so she was overlooked almost by everyone in the company.
A flexible and pleasant lady who obeyed and acted on instructions from nearly all her workmates, Emelu understood that having multiple bosses violated the principle of unity of command which dictates that an employee should have one supervisor at any one time – but she kept her peace.
She became a multitasker, able to prioritize duties and to strike a balance between the competing demands of her work. She was so helpful to co-workers that she was voted by fellow staff as the company’s star performer every year. One of the advantages in her job was that she got to work several years at the company and her continuous interaction with all the staff and outside stakeholders who went to the company for business.
Efficient as she was, Emelu was considered as a permanent receptionist because of the restrictive systems in the company. It was believed that a receptionist could not be promoted to a senior role. Several other staff often secured promotions but no receptionist ever got promoted. In the scheme of things, therefore, Emelu had no opportunity for promotion; although she personally believed she would one time be promoted to a supervisory position. Eight years after she had joined the company, her immediate supervisor resigned from his job as office administrator, which would be filled through open competition.
Emelu surprised everyone when she tendered in her application. She did not merely defy the company culture; she also seemed to punch above her realistic height. She only had a degree in leisure and hospitality, yet the vacancy required a person with training and experience in business administration. She was generally considered unqualified for the job. In her view, however, what she did not have was just the academic certificate and training in business administration. Many times, educational background does not define a person’s competence and performance. Thus, Emelu believed she had the skills to manage a higher office.
In spite of the glaring obstacles, Emelu resigned as a receptionist and accordingly applied for the job. She had, probably borrowed a leaf from Naperi, the man who had taken a gamble to apply for the most senior technical position in the company and catapulted himself to the top. In the end, she was shortlisted for interview. It was a miracle!
During the interview, she franted of her excellent interpersonal skills, demonstrated extensive knowledge of the company business and a thorough understanding of all stakeholders and how to meet their expectations. She answered all the questions exhaustively.
Emelu thus emerged with flying colours and was appointed the new office administrator. This meant that she would supervise quite a number of employees, including some who had previously given her assignments, which amplified her potential. Her new position meant that, in future, she could now be promoted higher and higher. It was clear that the obstacles associated with her job had always been imaginary, after all! A person who embarks on the journey to success must remove from the mind all imaginations about the likely presence of a barriers that is difficult to cross.
To register success, we must be prepared to push the boundaries, where they exist, in order to expand the space available. This means doing things differently from the way everyone knows. We become better, not by doing things as usual, but by doing them better, when we go beyond the generally known standards. Different people have broken boundaries in different ways; by creating new car models, unique building fashions, inventing designer attire, making new hairstyles, crafting new dance strokes and others by developing new farming approaches. Every human being is capable of breaking the boundaries they might meet, and job-related obstacles are no exception.
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