• Monday, December 04, 2023
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How our assumptions may be limiting us

How our assumptions may be limiting us

By Agility Obi-Ihesie

The list of staff deployments came in the mail and Georgina looked through it with more than a little trepidation. Her name was conspicuously absent and she started to feel her heart sink in her chest. She had worked in this particular branch for 5 years and was easily the staff who had stayed for the longest time in one location. She was really great at her job and there was an unwritten policy that the best performing staff would be moved to the head office. Georgina had watched people come and move through to the head office and kept wondering when her turn would come.

Philip could see Georgina from his office and watched the different emotions play across her face. She was one of the biggest assets in the organisation and he was grateful for the stabilising effect she had on the team. However, he often wondered whether she wanted more out of her career. She rarely talked about her expectations or career projections. Even though she was at the right level as her contemporaries, he felt that moving to the head office would be a big boost for her career-wise. She was the only one among her peers who didn’t seem to mind staying in one place. He decided not to assume and had a nudge to ask her.

Georgina looked up at lunch time to see Philip walking towards her table. This was one person she was grateful to have in her corner even though he had this habit of dragging her out of her comfort zone which made her quite uncomfortable. He would consistently ask her questions that challenged her status quo thinking. She braced herself up for the conversation that was about to start and he did not disappoint her.

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“Hi Gina, I noticed that you were not too happy when you saw the mail from head office. Do you want to talk about it, or should I give you 30 minutes to decide to talk about it?” Georgina chuckled quietly as she wondered what difference the time would make. Philip obviously had her on his to-do list and she knew that when he was in this mood, he would not take NO for an answer.

Taking a deep breath, she started talking about her past and current disappointments. Yes, she really longed to be deployed to the head office and yes, she did think it would be good for her career. Then Philip asked her if she had ever spoken to any of their superiors about it or asked about how she could get to work at the head office. That was the shocking part. She said none of them knew about it, and she had assumed that they would notice how hardworking she’d been and automatically transfer her, Philip was aghast.

“You mean you have never spoken to anyone, never asked about the process, never even taken advantage of the free opportunities that come up from time to time to work at the head office but you’ve been expecting that you would be called up. How exactly do you intend to receive if you have never asked? How do you expect people to know the value you have to offer if you have never showcased it? Do you realise that people have brought forth strong reasons and negotiated to be sent up there?”

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She hung her head as she listened to Philip ask one question after the other. She had always assumed that being good was enough and that good people didn’t need to ask or negotiate for anything because whatever they need would automatically find them.

“I believe you have heard the saying that ‘you have not because you ask not’. When we leave this place, you will go and have a conversation with the boss about that mail and tell him what you want. All these your assumptions have limited you thus far and it needs to stop.”

Georgina had the conversation with her boss who had also assumed that she wasn’t interested in the move because she’d never asked. Her request was granted and she learnt a huge lesson that day. Never assume, always ask.