Calling your Boss by His or Her First Name

Power Distance is one of those things that shows the differences between cultures.  The Western world is known for having a lower power distance between employers and employees.  This is very different from say, African cultures, where a high power distance is the norm.

So what does this mean for Nigerian corporate culture? It means, among other things, that if you are an employee you cannot call your boss by his or her first name.  In fact, the thought would probably never occur to you.  Just like it would never occur to you to call your father or mother by their first names.  That would be the height of rudeness, unless of course, they have instructed you to do so.

Imagine for example, if your boss' full name was: Mr. Dauda Bello.  More than likely, you and other employees call him "Mr. Bello."  But here in America, depending on the culture of your workplace (yes, some work places maintain that 'high power distance'), you would probably call him 'Dauda.'  Or if your boss was a woman, you would call her 'Bettie' as opposed to 'Mrs. Worthington,' for example.

This 'Mr.' and 'Mrs.' trend fits neatly with the whole idea of titles too.  Nigerians just LOVE titles.  So, I doubt that calling your boss on a first name basis will be 'trending' anytime soon.

To give you a better idea of the differences, see what I found out:

In a high power distance cultures the following may be observed:

. Those in authority openly demonstrate their rank.
. Subordinates are not given important work and expect clear guidance from above.
. Subordinates are expected to take the blame for things going wrong.
. The relationship between boss and subordinate is rarely close/personal.
. Politics is prone to totalitarianism.
. Class divisions within society are accepted.

In a low power distance culture:

. Superiors treat subordinates with respect and do not pull rank.
. Subordinates are entrusted with important assignments.
. Blame is either shared or very often accepted by the superior due to it being their responsibility to manage.
. Managers may often socialise with subordinates.
. Liberal democracies are the norm.
. Societies lean more towards egalitarianism.

... And if you're an enterpreneur, you can call yourself whatever you like!

Would you ever consider calling your boss by his or her first name? Let's hear it.

Everywhere i've worked it was okay to call your boss by name.. But because of my own culture I just have to put the "Mr" How am i gonna explain to myself that i just "La oruko mo Oga mi Lori" (Called my obviously older boss by name)

where i work now, Its on a first name basis too. They bring the western culture in here, but i add the "Mr" sha oh, to be on the safe side.

Akibo Tommie

This would depend on the environment and what the acceptable norm in that organization is. Seriously, it's not a big deal. If a boss wants to be called madam, sir, Honorable, I'd humor them. In our culture, I think using a prefix with the name is more acceptable though. I'd go with what the boss feels comfortable with.

Do stop by at mine:

Burning Hurt

This is not generic to all Nigerian companies. In many Nigerian companies, including the one I worked, we address ourselves on a first name basis, no matter how old, how young, if you are a janitor, or if you are the country leader. Mr or Missus is not allowed. 'Good Morning' is not allowed. You have to say 'Hi' or 'Hello'. We don't say sir or ma. If you are not comfortable with it, find another job. And yes, it is a very popular company/firm.



I would love to hear your thoughts. Please Share.

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