Why the Chain Of Command Is Still Important to a Healthy Work Place

Today’s workplace encourages widespread opinions on solving complex issues. These grassroots suggestions are critical to making some of the greatest gains. Often many leaders fail to provide that type of comfort to their employees to create an open environment for suggestions or discussion on important decisions.

On the other hand, when you do happen to create this flat structure where everyone seems to exercise their opinion, the absence of leadership can be dangerous for moving in the wrong direction.  In many companies, the same areas of responsibilities can cross over with others. Respecting those lines and developing a healthy relationship  is a key to building a strong work environment. These fine lines of authority can be sensitive issues when your actions are drawn out of an limited view for the entire issue.

The military exercises respect for the chain of command because of times of great stress where it can utilize the experienced judgment to respond in a quick fashion to save lives. I believe this model of respect for the position of authority has been lost in today’s society. The day where people are really respected and have worked hard to gain the experience and reputation for success are often challenged by parents, coworkers and people in general.

I believe these tips should be considered when setting the right dialogue tone in our working relationships:

  • We should approach problems from the point of respect for the person.
  • We should give the person a chance to respond before contacting the next level.
  • A human mistake doesn’t justify our poor attitude in dealing with the problem
  • Attack the problem and not the individual
  • Realize that in many cases the problem is often found to be in the customers failure to read and follow directions
  • Be honest in addressing the problem – this will get you a quicker response from leadership.

I witnessed a situation recently in the airport where a guy from my hotel got in a cab and ask the driver to take him to the airport. What he didn’t realize was there were two airports in this town. He didn’t read his ticket and ended up at the wrong one and missed his flight. I was behind him at the terminal and overheard him said that the cab driver had taken him to the wrong place in order to convince them to help him reach his destination. The counter rep said she would be glad to sell him another seat but he insisted on seeing the top manager. I think he made three mistakes – lied about the story, treated the rep with disrespect and then skipped the chain of command and wanted a quick fix.

How do you handle customers or coworkers who show this type of disrespect or try to go over your head and go straight to your boss? Solving problems requires a great balance between being fair and meeting their need when a problem arises. How do you handle this complex issue of finding that right balance?

GTR

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2 thoughts on “Why the Chain Of Command Is Still Important to a Healthy Work Place

  1. Very good article. Helped me sort things out with my current situation. I am an office manager/bookkeeper in a small real esate agent. Three of the agents are owners of the company. There are about 15 agents in all. We have one employee besides me which I am responsible to train and supervise. We just hired a new office assistant. After hiring her I found out she was best friends with one of the owners. She has an attitude and does not like to take orders. She is a slow learner and complained when she showed up late that I showed no concern for her or why she was late! She had other complaints about me that I was curt and unfriendly. She wants to do things her way or no way. Of course she went to her friend, one of the owners, who went to one of the other owners and got her on board and then took the whole thing to my boss, the Broker (also owner). Of course, everyone was now on board with the new employee siding up with her. My boss conducted a meeting where I was told I have been kurt and unfriendly and the whole meeting focus was on me – not her coming in late or not being able to do her new job. Later that same day I spoke with my boss privately in his office. He totally turned and said he was sorry to make me feel bad but that he thought it was just a personality thing and hoped we could work it out. He said I was a very good employee and was good at my job and that if there has to be a choice it will be her gone and not me. As I see this new employee is very cunning and probably wants my job (as there is no other position to move up in to). I also know that my boss (while a very dear man) has no backbone. Why didn’t he stick up for me when we had the meeting with the new employees and all the owners?? I have a very busy job and I need this new employee to learn, to be there and to be proficient at her job. That is the only way I am going to be able to keep up with everything. I feel stuck between a rock and hard place. I have huge responsibiliies but no authority is given to me. In fact, this new employee is allowed to manipulate everything so it looks like I am the problem and not her. I really don’t want to just quity my job as I have a lot invested into it. But I don’t know how to get them to let me structure the office where there is supervision and a chain of command. Also where the “owners” are not allowed to participate in the day to day operation of the business and leave that to me and the manager. Can you help me???? Do you have any suggestions for me as what to do??? I am soooooo frustrated right now. Thank you for any advice.

    • It is hard to manage when your supervisor won’t support you when he knows you are correct. The plan of expectations should be developed and discussed upfront with the owners and then shared with this employee. Since she knows the owners puts you in a tough position. Clearly define your expectations and ask the owners to adopt the operational rules that support excellence. When she doesn’t follow them – then it gives you grounds for action. Making sure these expectations are clearly communicated will be the key to your success. Poor performance and bad attitude when come through to the owners soon enough. Hang in there and lead by example.- Your creditability will be noticed.

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