Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A few Ways to deal with Difficult Principals this Holiday…

Credit: Google Images

First, I apologize for the two week-hiatus from this Spot. I have spent the period coming to terms with the definition of mixed blessings: giving ones only sister away in marriage. While wishing the newlyweds happiness and bliss; we must quickly proceed to the business of the day.

It is typical in our profession for the Principal to use his junior hirelings as a ladder. Little wonder they are always wrong in his eyes. His every ascent in the profession would not be possible if he were not availed the junior’s willing backs. And what are the thanks you get? Nothing! If anything, he wants to climb faster and thus, has already drawn up a list of unnecessary costs, which may entail salary stagnations and bonus withdrawals in the New Year.

Of course, he understands that he has you effectively entrapped in the sham of corporate existence. You enjoy the trappings of the ‘official’ car and air-conditioned office. He knows you will never willingly go back to t-shirts and jeans because you adore the little privileges of the suit and tie. He has your undying loyalty.

Undying loyalty is represented thus: The holidays are here again, but you have already made the requisite phone calls to your family telling them that you will not be coming in for the celebrations due to work demands. Of course, you understand, and so does the Principal, that work demands are nil during this Season. Everybody is joyful and at peace, so lawyers are not exactly needed. But the Boss wants you to stick around. And so it shall be.  

Now, since the Boss owns the business, it is only fair that the demands of work should be largely borne by him. But no, he has already purchased expensive travel-tickets for a two-week cruise round the globe with the psychedelic wife and a brood of over-indulged rascals

Technically, you earned all the fees for the year. You wrote the motions; you drafted and reviewed the Agreements. You chased the government officials around and kept the most gruesome deadlines. Yet, you gushingly embrace the carton of fruit juice and litre of vegetable oil as fair end-of-year bonus. Every man has got to pay his dues. But does a lawyer need reminding that Life is Brief?  You might as well start making it count.
I have therefore drawn up a little list of actions to lift your back from the principal’s heavy boots this holiday:
Chances are yearly dinners are a tradition at the Firm, and are held at some classy Continental spot. But you will be a fool to think that this is to reward staff for a year of hard work. Nah! The boss simply wants to show off his array of human trophies.  Odds are- his colourful wife will also be there, with a list of distinguished acquaintances. Of course, you will be ignored during the entire dinner once your boss has cursorily swept the lot of you with a wave of the hand as ‘my staff’ during the introductory pleasantries. His friends will take the cue and you will find yourself pouring drinks and handing out the curry and salt all evening.

SOLUTION: Since this is about the only time you get a freebie from the Principal, make the most of it! Soak yourself up real well, and ignore the warning glint in the boss’s eye. If you are like me, and wax philosophical when inebriated, you will score a major hit. Push yourself to the fore of the conversation. By all means, sway on your feet and keep stories pouring out as you pour the drinks in. Sing of glorious tales where you kicked the behinds of SANs unaccompanied by the Boss, blab without stopping.

Most importantly, never let the Boss get in a word.  While you are at it, slip your call cards to his distinguished guests (whom you have got enraptured with your yarns). Rest assured they will call you up. They admire your boss, no doubt. But what is friendship to prospects of cheaper legal costs? The Boss will recognize the threat. He understands how to play dirty. My guess is he will signal you to the rest-room and attempt to show how pissed off he is at your behaviour. Upon which you should profusely apologize, stating that the stress of the year obviously caught up with you. Voila! You will earn yourself two weeks off, to recuperate.
Now, your case will be strengthened if you flirt with his pretty wife. Insist on a dance. Make her laugh and giggle. That way, you subtly announce yourself as a bigger threat outside the firm than inside it. And your job is safe.

2.                  STILL AT THE DINNER TABLE…
If you are too timid to execute (1) above; come to the event with a list of Schools that advertise post-graduate programmes. Navigate the discussion to expertise development in the Legal profession. Speak glowingly of other law firms where such capacity building is the norm. Remind everyone that there is a Law: the Industrial Training Fund Act which compels manpower development by employers. Odds are, your boss will agree with you, and announce that he always had it in his plans to send out a couple of his staff abroad for further studies in the coming year. His guests will applaud, and this is when you strike! Make an instant request to take 2 weeks off in order to get all the originals of the relevant documents for the application from home. (Our courier services are not to be trusted). 

The boss will smile and say “But of course”. His guests will nod approvingly. Mind though that you may have to give an eye for this grudgingly given aye. But then, that is matter for the New Year. Of course, you are not deceived by the promise of further studies. The break was all you needed. So, from that dinner table, head straight to the park/airport, and keep all phones firmly shut down for the next weeks. 
Chances are the Firm gives out cheap Xmas Cards to its Clients. Knowing the boss’s miserliness, strike him with it! Purchase more expensive cards, and throw in hampers for good measure. Personalize your message to the Clients. They will give you cards in return, personalized as well. Throw these carelessly around your desk, for the benefit of the early morning snoop that all bosses are. He will not confront you on the issue; that will be too petty. But he will wonder how much impact you have made privately on his clients. (It is deeply frustrating when you cannot measure your enemy’s strength).  He will sulk though, but do not notice. Saunter into his office and breezily wish him the best of the season, while placing the exact replica of the cards you sent out on his desk. Smile innocently and request for a two-week vacation. He will search your face; not knowing which job offers might have emboldened you so. He will not want to risk the odds, and will nod his approval.

Yes, chances are he uses you as both legal and admin staff. So at some point in your career, you have procured his Visas and sorted his travel details. When you get his latest Visa, watch carefully to know which chamber of the cabinet he stows it away in.  Certain of the huge fear you have of him, he has not bothered with a safe in the office. This is when you strike! Get that travel ticket and shred it. Hide his passport and those of his kids, leaving just that of his spouse behind. A wise man will never allow his pretty wife travel without him. So the whole family stays back. Maintain your innocence when he queries you. It is double pleasure recalling that it was he who taught you how to lie. Yours will be a glum Christmas, away from the family. His will be doubly so, with the nags of a disappointed wife and howls of irate kids.  

These strategies will work like magic! But I hope you have been taking your entrepreneurial classes, because there may be no 9-to-5 left for you in the coming fortnight.

Happy Holidays!


  1. Brilliant Piece.

  2. Massai,I'm stunned! This is hilarious and enticing!

  3. thanks a lot peoples. keep reading the unstarched collar

  4. Good one. I like the disclaimer at the bottom though. very important incase some eager reader gets burned and sues you for wrong advice..lol

  5. dude your imagination has taken the better of you oooooo! lmaof!! you are one sick puppy. Nnenna

  6. Is anyone crazy enough to try them. quite hilarious guy happy holidays. i had fun