Employee Relations: Between Magnanimous Boss and Resourceful Spokesperson
By Kabir Abdulsalam
During a recent in-house PR class, the resource person emphasised the need for effective employee relations which can foster a positive and productive work environment, leading to increased employee satisfaction, loyalty, and productivity. He added that it can also help attract and retain talented employees, reduce turnover, and minimise conflicts and disputes in the workplace.
Employee relations include a range of strategies that can increase satisfaction, motivation, and commitment to the organisation. Among them are establishing effective channels of communication; implementing systems for evaluating performance; using appropriate mediation procedures for conflict resolution and providing opportunities for enhancing skills, knowledge, and professional development programmes.
After insisting that rewards and recognitions are essential in managing the relationship between an employer and its employees, the resource person played a video of an event involving a boss and the spokesperson of an organisation .
The video was about the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, and the agency’s spokesperson, Abdullahi Aliyu Maiwada.
The Customs boss is an accomplished Public Relations professional and Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) while Maiwada is a consummate communicator.
The resource person merely asked us, participants, to watch and express our opinion about what transpired at an award ceremony during the International Customs Day Celebration in Lagos.
Maiwada, who was the Master of Ceremony, at the event had invited an officer to receive an award on behalf of the PR unit, for managing relationships with government agencies, business partners, citizens and the media and by employing open communication, transparency and robust feedback mechanisms.
After climbing the stage to make the presentation, CGC Adeniyi began this way: “Since the PRO was humble about it, I need to make some few disclosures.”
Adeniyi admitted that Maiwada as the Head of PR Unit made nominations for some of the categories for awards but deliberately omited his name or that of the unit.
Continuing, he said: “When the awards were made, the organising committee agreed with all of them. When the list came to me, I said this is about stakeholders’ engagements, and nobody does it more than the PR Unit.
“Maiwada has done it very, very well. He has made the best use of every opportunity he has to do so. And he did not nominate himself. His name did not appear on the list. So I told the organising committee that he deserves an award, and they agreed with me.
“So, we put his name on the award list, and the following morning I got a message thanking me for making him an award winner, but requested that instead of him, I should reward the unit, since he didn’t do it alone. And I was touched, and I agreed.”
The Customs boss therefore invited the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Mr Eze Anaba, to make the presentation to staff members of the PR Unit who were present.
Adeniyi’s act exemplified, for many of us, the essence of great leadership – which inspires, motivates, and rewards excellence. This wasn’t just a touching moment; it was a practical demonstration of PR techniques effectively used to enhance employee productivity.
That Maiwada chose to ignore the credit he rightly deserves for diligently carrying out his job as Customs’ image maker speaks volume of his humility.
Very few persons, in the capacity like that of Maiwada, can resist the urge to confer glory and honour unto themselves, when such opportunities beckon.
But in the view of the NCS spokesperson, and which is the immutable fact, it was not his singular efforts that fetched their PR unit the award.
Teamwork and cooperation made it possible. Hence, they should, collectively, bask in the euphoria of bagging the award, hitherto reserved for their principal – CSC Maiwada.
Again, as for CGC Adeniyi, no one can deny the fact that he is a man who does not mince words in stating the obvious. Frank, bold and confident, the Customs boss is however ‘stingy’ in showering praises.
Maiwada, as a worthy beneficiary, was gracious to have it, from his principal, who sang his praises to high heavens at the Customs Day celebration.
In the final analysis, the Nigeria Customs should count herself lucky to be endowed with the erudite, distinguished and decorated officer in CGC Adeniyi and the fantastic person spokesperson CSC Maiwada.
Greatly skilled in the art of corporate branding PR, and efficiently deploying it to advance the course of the agency, while also actualising its core mandate, the Customs chief and spokesperson are in a league of their own as career NCS officers.
In them, one can cultivate the virtues of straight-forwardness and genuine modesty, without comprising his ethical values, beliefs and principles for any form of inducement – no matter what.
Similarly, the scenario serves as a compelling case study on the importance of recognising and celebrating the efforts of individuals and teams. The ripple effect of this thoughtful gesture also serves as a beacon for fostering a culture of appreciation and teamwork. As future PR professionals, we can glean several key takeaways from this scenario that can shape our approach to public relations.
Kabir Abdulsalam is with PRNigeria Centre, Abuja