Francis Kato was an enthusiastic and honest procurement officer until he uncovered skeletons in the company’s procurement department’s closet. According to Kato, the department was in the habit of inflating quotations presented to the boss and also demanding hefty payment from suppliers before awarding them contracts.
“When I first joined the department, the people I found did a great job of keeping me away from the process, claiming they were helping me learn the ropes slowly. But with time, I realised they were actually usurping my powers and I would be held responsible in case anything went wrong,” Kato recounts.
Kato decided to claim his responsibility and this is when the working relationship began to sour. “They started sabotaging my efforts by hiding necessary information from me or meeting with suppliers behind my back,” he recounts. Eventually, Kato’s nemeses devised a plot where he would be seen as if he had been involved in a kickback payment.
“One Sunday evening, I received a call from a distraught supplier demanding to know why I had taken their money if I knew I was not going to renew their contract. I was speechless but not as speechless as I was when my boss called me about money I had been taking from suppliers,” Kato relates.
Kato was suspended immediately as investigations went on. After months of waiting in limbo, Kato realised he might never get his job back and started looking for employment elsewhere. However, word seemed to have gotten everywhere as every interview panel wanted to know the details of the scandal. He is yet to be vindicated of the allegation and bounce back from the scandal.
Patrick Muinda, the spokesperson of the Education Ministry says there are two kinds of people; those with a conscience and those without.
“The former, take longer to recover from situations where they have largely damaged their reputations and are bothered by people’s bad perception about them. The only way they can recover, is to start building trust, in themselves and in other people,” Muinda advises.
Moses Mbubi, head of human capital at Stanbic Bank notes there is no silver bullet on bouncing back from a scandal at the workplace. “Some may never recover while others have a chance at redemption. I think the field one works in also matters a lot; it is interesting how different industries react differently to a scandal,” Mbubi observes.
He notes that for instance, in the entertainment industry, a scandal could trigger off more approval ratings while in a religious based organisation, the same type of scandal could doom the employee’s career.
Re- examine yourself
In a corporate world, victims of scandal have either fallen off the face of the organisation or the tough ones have mastered a way of coming back.
“Like all setbacks in life, one has to re-examine if they understand what they did because that failure is not an end but just a slight setback in life,” Mbubi says reassuringly. He advises the individual to take some time and take responsibility for their part in the scandal, learn the lessons from that and move on with their lives. Muinda cautions against concentrating on blaming the system or people instead of focusing on what they could have done better.
“Check yourself, see the faults and work on them. Appreciate the fact that a problem exists and needs to be fixed. When you are absolutely sure that you have done your best to improve the situation, then you can confidently know that people are beginning to rebuild their trust and have faith in you,” says Muinda.
Share your narrative
In a work-related scandal, understanding your narrative will be one way for people to get over it. It also helps one get beyond the denial phase and move beyond that negative energy. “It takes a long time for someone to regain lost trust,” Muinda shares.
Deal with the ego
Mbubi notes that if the scandal was a result of a fight over influence, then it is better for one to find a place to heal their ego. “Ego is not necessarily a negative character of a person. There are areas where ego works well but if left unchecked, it can also destroy you. For most people, all they need is to get their ego back in check and adjust to the new status quo,” he advises.
Use a support system
As a way to get help, one needs to recruit some people, this could be family and friends to provide support. Also other wider networks such as community, old school and religious groups will help you to get back by attesting to you capabilities.
Accept to reform
As recruiters, Mbubi says, they have reference checks and if there is a scandal in a prospective employee’s past, they expect them to be open about it. “The individual has an opportunity to actually address it by bringing it to the fore and sharing their narrative; chances are that, they could be believed.
If they take responsibility for it, that is also a great attribute. Such a person will be seen as a person who learns from their mistakes because we are not trying to hire a perfect person,” he reveals.