“WWW!” another acronym I like! Working with women has been made such an issue by both men and women alike. The comments range from really terrible experiences to very good ones, with the former seemingly being more common than the latter. I mean we all may have had a horrible boss or colleague at one time or the other but how many of these were women?
Some women I know have nothing good to say about their senior female colleagues and some guys pray that they get to work with only guys when starting a new job. Well, I just started a new job and I work with four women including my boss. Four women! “Wow!” Some of you may cringe at the thought but it has been a fairly pleasant experience thus far. This recent experience made me look back to my previous experiences working with women.
My first job was at a bank, and right out of training school I was posted to a branch near my house as the clearing officer. I met Dupe my “oga” who was due to go off on a 3-week training the following week so I had to learn in under one week all I could about processing cheques. So my every working moment was spent with Dupe as she taught me how to carry out my functions. Dupe was of a very pleasant and cheerful disposition and we got on fabulously well. We lunched together, went to the head office together, and talked to the marketing officers and customers together. She complimented me when I seemed to get the hang of everything given the sharp learning curve. When she left for training she called me from time to time to check up on me and always took my calls whenever I had issues. Sadly at the end of her training she got reposted to another branch and I didn’t get to see her until her wedding a few months later. Well you might argue that perhaps it was because I was new that’s why she was nice to me but I beg to disagree. Some people are just nice in and out of work, unlike some others.
This would include my good friend Daisy. Daisy and I had been neighbours in school for two years and although she was a year ahead of me we became close friends, and even kept in touch even after she graduated. You can therefore imagine my joy when I discovered that she was my teammate when I switched banks. My new team was a “marketing” one with three other people including my boss. I was still a graduate trainee and the runt of the team so I knew that I had a lot to learn. I therefore counted myself lucky to have a friend on my team. Not! Maybe it was naiveté but I foolishly expected her to help me along the way by taking out time to put me through the more practical aspects of relationship banking and other aspects of the job. I was wrong! She was impatient and snapped a lot. Yes, there was a lot of pressure on the job but I had thought our friendship would have counted. To say the least I was hurt by the fact that she would allow work affect our friendship.
My hero came in the form of another woman, Shade. Shade was an Assistant Manager that transferred to my unit a few months after I did. A genuinely nice person she took time to explain things to me. She was firm but very patient. If she did not know something she would admit it and together we would plan a course of action to solve the problem. How very different she was from the others. She stood up for her teammates and was quick to back me up and defend me. She was herself both in and out of the office. I had other female colleagues who would be really sweet out of the office but once they got in through those doors in the morning, they would turn really mean. I had to try to learn to use different techniques for getting different things from different women I had to interact with on the job. While charm worked for some, no level of charm could interest others.
At my next job I worked with just one woman. She did not like me and the feeling was mutual. Perhaps her issues with me stemmed from her own personal insecurities, but I didn’t take to well to her poor attitude towards me and work in general. After a couple of blow outs my interactions with her became limited. However, it wasn’t long before her attitude with me spread to the others in the organization and before long she left.
Now I do not know what is responsible for some women’s varying disposition to work? Guys joke amongst themselves and attribute it to PMS, menopause, lack of a boyfriend/husband, or children. I must admit that all these reasons may be valid to a certain degree. Another reason for women’s tough-as-nails attitude in the workplace may be attributed to the desire to succeed in a male-dominated environment, to break the proverbial glass ceiling. OK, that may explain the way women treat or handle men in the workplace but what about the way women treat each other? I have known women to pray for male bosses and colleagues, offering supplications for the transfer of their female “ogas”. So why are some women cruel to other women in the office? Is it the petty jealousies or deeper stuff? But on the other hand, I have heard both men and women complain about how difficult it can be to work with men. So perhaps, it isn’t a gender thing per say, but more of an attitudinal disposition or maybe clashes of various character flaws in an office environment. Who knows! Presently, I am thrilled with the women I work with and couldn’t have asked for better female colleagues!
Although I am quick to wonder, if my good working relationship with my female colleagues has more to do with me being older, mature and wiser? Perhaps, if I worked with my friend Dupe again, I might be able to see through her actions, as her just being purely professional and not take it too personally? Maybe the men who complain about their female bosses/colleagues do so because their ego’s can’t accept taking directions from women? Whatever the case, I do think sometimes it might be unfair to generalize and characterize certain genders as difficult to work with, because as examples from my own career transitions and the lovely ladies in my current job have shown, working with women is definitely not as bad as some might suggest!