What is OfficePolitics.com? Real People. Real Problems. Expert Advice.
Franke James is Editor/Founder of Office-Politics.com and Inventor of the Office-Politics® Game.
Peter R. Garber has worked as an HR professional for over 25 years and is the author of many business books including: Winning the Rat Race at Work and 100 Ways to Get on the Wrong Side of your Boss.
Dina Beach Lynch, is an Ombudsman, Author and former attorney. An award-winning mediator, Dina served as the Corporate Ombudsman for the 7th largest bank in the US helping over 48,000 employees to resolve workplace issues.
Dr. Rick Brandon is CEO of Brandon Partners. He has consulted and trained tens of thousands at corporations worldwide, including Fortune 500 companies across a variety of industries.
Dr. Marty Seldman is one of America's most experienced executive coaches. His 35-year career includes expertise in executive coaching, group dynamics, cross-cultural studies, clinical psychology, and training.
Arnie Herz, is a lawyer, mediator, speaker, author and consultant nationally recognized for his practical and inspired approach to conflict resolution and client counseling.
Dr. John Burton LL.B. M.B.A. M.Div. Ph.D. is an ethicist, mediator, lawyer and theologian. John is currently located in Prince Rupert, B.C., Canada, working with Canada's aboriginal communities.
I had to decide whether to listen to my department manager or the president of the company (who put me in the position). It does not seem like it is clear cut that I should listen to the person who holds the more advanced title...
I work in the geotechnical engineering department at a construction testing company. The "Testing side" and the "Engineering side" have different philosophies on how to approach their projects. Each philosophy works well for the respective side, but things become difficult when projects crossover.
I was recently put in a position where I had to decide whether to listen to my department manager, a very experienced professional engineer (who I agree with and respect), and the president of the company (who put me in the position). What is the best way to tell the president that I don't think he should have put me in that position? It does not seem like it is clear cut that I should listen to the person who holds the more advanced title. Engineers require a stamp to do work, if they lose that stamp they can no longer provide engineering services. The president of the company is not an engineer, yet feels as though he can tell the engineer how to do his job.
Any advice would be appreciated,
Here are some of the things we have learned:
In some situations (not all) different point of view can dissipate if both sides have the same information. Of course great skill is needed to “educate” someone in power who has a strong opinion. We suggest listening carefully to their reasoning, objectives and positions. Then, using Executive Vocabulary (see “Survival of the Savvy”), you can point them towards key information to consider without offending them.
Many times senior management has a high priority and locks in on a specific
way to get what they want. Many times (not always) there are a variety
of ways that are available for them to get what they want. If you have
been a good listener and uncovered their ultimate objective, you may
be creative enough to come up with a solution that meets their needs
and addresses your concerns. Remember, senior leaders often don’t
care how they get what they
want as long as they get what they want.
Keeping Your Integrity
Ultimately sticking to your principles and values should be the deciding factor in making your decision if the above approaches don’t resolve the different positions. You don’t want to follow Groucho Marx’s famous line, “These are my principles. If you don’t like these there are others I can show you.” If you ultimately go against the President’s position we would suggest you explain to him your experience base, reasoning etc. and then add “I hope you see that my giving you my honest opinion even though it not the same as yours can increase the trust you have in my candor and hopefully the value I can provide in the future.”
Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.com
Rick Brandon, Ph.D. and Marty Seldman, Ph.D., Co-authors
Send your comments
about this article to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ethics Letters that appears as a feature of this Website is an educational and discussion oriented column designed to help the reader better understand ethical issues. The matters discussed in the letter are reviewed in a summary/abbreviated way and are only meant to foster thinking on the part of the reader. If a person decides to adopt or implement suggestions, they do so at their own risk. No representation or warranty is provided in relation to suggestions or the contents of the letter. Neither the authors of the letter, Franke James, John W. Burton, or the owners of this Website accept any liability whatsoever for any opinions expressed in the letter or for errors and omissions. Submission of letters to the Office-Politics Forum grants the Publisher, Nerdheaven Ltd. the right to reproduce, republish, repurpose and excerpt the submission in any and all other media, without compensation or contacting the author. Copyright Nerdheaven Ltd. 2002-2006