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  • Writer's picturen0mad


Managers.. you think you’ve got problems?

Employees not turning up on time? Bad attitude? Squabbles in the team? Stealing business equipment for personal projects? These are the sorts of problems businesses have to face on a daily basis. They’re tough to handle. Require an extremely agile manager with the skills and experience to navigate the personalities involved, stroke ego’s and keep the business running smoothly.

‘A happy ship sails faster’ that’s always been my motto and it’s been proved to me time and again.

The Nigeria Project was a case in point. Good team, great leader and the job was done quickly and easily. No fuss, no bother. Client was happy and rebooked us for her Botswana job. Repeat business; the best sign of a happy customer.

All pretty standard stuff. Until that is you consider the personnel involved.

Trained killers. Mercenaries for hire. Dogs of War. Experts in the stealth kill, who can stage a scene to look like an innocent domestic accident. Who can take in a room and have four plans to kill in four seconds. The pencil, the scissors, the Venetian Blind cord ..or just their bare hands. And that’s if they want to kill, if they only want to ‘persuade’.. the options open right up, stapler, desk, desk draws, filing cabinets etc all get consideration in achieving the desired end. They’ve been trained by the best, MI6, CIA, Mossad always in their deniable black ops teams.

‘The end justifies the means’ - the phrase was coined for these guys. They’re the team you call when you need a job done but can’t or won’t get your hands dirty. They’re highly paid, highly skilled but ultimately deniable. They know it and we know it. This causes friction, they know on every job they could be cut loose in the field and they accept that risk in exchange for ...a LOT of cash.

Now consider how you broach the subject of ‘freeing up someone’s future’ in this scenario? You never know the chain reaction which could be released when they hear the word ‘fire!’. As in ‘I’m afraid we have to ‘fire’ you’. And that’s generally why we don’t use the word in our industry. Years of training could be used as a legal defence for what otherwise would be considered an extreme reaction to the news.

‘The company has been reviewing our needs over the coming months and sadly it’s been decided that we don’t have anything on the horizon that will need your unique skill set.’ ...And then if you get that far. ‘We’ll obviously keep you on file and if anything comes in will give you a call. Best of luck.’

Now you want to think these guys are professionals who have learned to channel and manage aggression. That’s certainly true of the best of them. But in a market based economy where demand for specialist skills is high, it’s not always possible to get the best. Sometimes you have to take the guys who’re good but have a few issues (we all have issues of some sort right?) Perhaps the ones with serious inferiority issues which have led them into this macho world with something to prove, add in a cocktail of steroid abuse, a bit of alcohol, maybe drugs and who knows where you’ll be. Often they were fine in their country’s employ but as soon as they leave they start to see that downward curve to exit and they start slacking, gain attitude, weight and generally abusing themselves. I think they miss the safety of that big organisation around them catering for their every need and the simplicity of one master and one goal. Truth is the private sector is complicated, there’s less red tape sure, but it’s not simple by any means.

So that brings us to today. Today is going to be a tough conversation day for me and Hendrik. I hoped that by booking a 9am I would either get him hung over and passive or at least before he started dropping pills or drinks.

Who’d be a personnel manager in this business? They say my predecessor went to the Caribbean to retire but no one knows where. A hand-over would have been nice. As it is I’m a week in and having to learn on the job.

Wish me luck...

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