Knee-jerk reactions never pay. When we’re fed up, we need to keep our wits about us. Most of the time, we’re reacting to situations that have been brewing.
I’m a big proponent of not becoming a doormat for anyone at anytime. We’re entitled to respect and fair treatment, both of which we need to stand up for in the right way at the right time.
I’m also a big proponent of understanding the consequences of the actions we want to take. Too often, however, people let their emotions get the best of them, shooting themselves in both feet.
If you choose to act on a workplace issue, you may be, at the very least:
- Implicating your boss who is responsible for the work environment
- Subjecting your performance history to review in light of the issue
- Challenging the company’s practices and their overseers like HR
- Setting up your motives and credibility for dissection
These daunting considerations are intended to sober your emotions not negate the legitimacy of your issue.
I’m a passionate believer in doing what’s right and fair. But we shouldn’t be stupid about it.
A clear head, an understanding of workplace realities, and a good plan set you up to do what needs to be done. A little internal leverage with influential people doesn’t hurt either.
Know what you want
Just getting your issue noticed isn’t enough. If you’re going to stir the pot be specific about the remedy you want.
Here are two interesting cases:
My client, Annette, from a Fortune 100 company was promoted to lead a work group in another state while she maintained a home office. The prior manager had built a culture of favorites; that manager was now Annette’s new boss. The perceived loss of “favorite” status by one employee resulted in a public outburst during a workshop that included insults aimed at Annette. She turned the matter over to HR: Disciplinary action followed.
Impacts: Annette’s new boss felt the sting and so did the punished employee. Other employees assessed the situation through their respective lenses. HR validated Annette’s action, noting, however, that this was a severe step considering how new Annette was to the position. Will there be subsequent fallout? Time will tell. In this case, Annette had everything documented and took swift action. She was willing to risk backlash because setting a standard of professional conduct mattered to her. What would you have done?
Next there’s Victor who was receiving poor performance reviews from a boss who didn’t like his approach to handling complex technical projects. Victor saw his boss as uncommunicative, a poor leader, and politically motivated. Victor’s reviews got progressively worse; he was put on notice to improve or else. He wanted to defend himself by reporting his boss to HR or anyone who would listen. He considered suing. Ultimately, Victor was terminated..
Impacts: Taking on the boss would mean proving that each aspect of Victor’s negative evaluation was wrong and making a case that the boss had something against him. If Victor successfully makes the “bad boss” case to the company, chances are no other manager there would want Victor. If he could manage to negate the performance criticisms, he would likely end up pointing an accusing finger at some coworkers, creating bad blood. To sue the company would leave a permanent mark on Victor that could be an obstacle for future jobs. Victor chose to move on. What would you have done?
Remember, it’s business.
Our emotions can cause us to do reckless things. When it comes to our jobs, caution makes more sense. It may feel great for the moment to tell the boss to “take this job and..,” but that only gives the control back to him or her.
We need to know how to size up each situation, identify our options, and chose the one that’s going to help us get what we want or cut our losses. Please, keep it together, okay?
Photo from Roberto Kaplan Designs via Flickr