An Open Letter From Employees To Bosses

by Ron Haynes

We, your employees, are in the position to make you look very good. We want to do so. You have the power to enable us to make you look good, and to protect us from silly bureaucracy and ridiculous management power struggles.

Many of us have been hired from outside the company, supposedly, because of what we bring to the table in ideas, experience, and education. Please don’t shoot down every idea we have just because “that’s not the way we’ve done things in the past.” If you’ve already made up your mind on something, please do not insult our intelligence by asking for our feedback when you really just want validation for the decision you’ve already made.

Occasionally we will have differences of opinion. But in the end you make the decision and we will fall in line with it. As a result, we must own the outcome together. Please don’t readily take authority for the decision but then quickly disown the responsibility for the outcome. Don’t ever throw us under the bus with your boss.

In your position, we are expecting you to assume a position of leadership. Please bear in mind that there is a difference between leadership and tyranny. Threats and fear only cause us to look for another job behind your back.

But leadership does not mean absolute domination. If you want us to take initiative (you do don’t you?), you must to give up a certain amount of control. If you want us to attempt great things, you’ll have to take the risk that we might mess up.

Leaders are out in front, leading. They don’t constantly seek validation from upper management, are not constantly “taking the pulse” of upper management, and are not worried that one of their subordinates will outshine them.

Trust is a two way street, and it isn’t black and white, but a matter of degrees. You will build trust between you and us by regularly communicating with us and NOT being coy, acting like you don’t know something when we know you do, or by asking for updates on the status of the status update.

You are our boss and your instructions are vitally important to each one of us, but there are occasionally competing instructions from customers, trainers, managers, Human Resources, inventory management, accounting, the IT department, purchasing, loss prevention, other supervisors and upper management. We have to juggle all of these concerns, because you might not be our supervisor forever …

We are sometimes under pressure from LIFE. We have parents, children, weddings, funerals, banking, and other crazy issues that come up unexpectedly. We don’t expect you to make ongoing allowances for our personal needs but there may be times we need to rearrange our schedules for these things and we would appreciate your understanding. Chances are 100%, you experience the same things.

We have had to learn most everything through “on the job training.” As a result, the practices we have developed may not be what you yourself would develop. We are always open to suggestions, and YOUR suggestions in particular, but please understand these are the systems that have previously produced the necessary outcomes in the past. If the outcome requirements change, please help us develop new systems to achieve the desired results.

If you are a former co-worker, we know it’s going to be difficult to be the new boss but it can also be difficult to leave our former relationship behind and become your employees. Supporting each other is critical. We WANT to support you.

We will make mistakes. We will screw up. Please give us the same understanding that you’d like us to give you when you blunder. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.

If we do something stupid or are on the edge of doing something stupid, please tell us. Don’t drop hints or cop out and get someone else to say something. YOU tell us.

We know that not all plans can be shared but please let us in on any bad news as soon as possible. Concerns and issues at your level may not be that clear to us, but on the other hand, you might be surprised how few real secrets there are at this or ANY company. The grapevine is at work 100% of the time.

Don’t try to suppress the grapevine, use it instead. We are all social beings and we will talk to each other about you, the company, our concerns, our frustrations, and our hopes. If you try to clamp down on information flow, it will simply flow around you after hours on our personal cell phones. Yeah, we all know each other’s numbers.

We also already know you probably track us through our company issued cell phones and their GPS systems. More than a few of us have had strange experiences with you knowing certain things about our whereabouts and we know you read each and every text message and email, though we cannot imagine why the conversation we have with our spouse about what’s for dinner is so interesting. That’s why most of us have our own personal cell phones you know nothing about. Yeah we talk to each other off the clock.

We expect you to know where we are going as a company and why. We also expect you to to be able to communicate these things to us. If you keep asking us for priorities, we are going to wonder why you’re not able to figure it out by yourself. It doesn’t make you look good in our eyes.

Our annual review should not be filled with surprises and new information. If you want to know something, ask. If you want us to do something that we have not previously done before, ask. If you want us to stop doing something we have always done, ask.

Please respect our time by not coming at 5:30 PM with a critical issue we could have discussed at any time during that day. Emergencies happen but when they happen every day it’s not an emergency, it’s a way of doing business. Also do not ask us to “block out” a chunk of time for you and then keep us hanging around all day waiting on you to get back with us. That’s called RUDE.

Most meetings are a waste of time. We can accomplish more through email and voice mail than by bringing in (at great expense) personnel from around the country. Just one three hour meeting can manage to take up three full days when you factor in travel.

If either of us has a problem with the other’s performance, let’s talk about it.

We know you don’t like surprises and we will do our best to keep you informed at all times,, but we don’t like surprises, either. If you’re aware of a change in strategic vision that will affect our jobs, please tell us. Any news affecting our jobs should come from you first – not from an all-company bulletin or the rumor mill.

“I was wrong.” “I’m sorry.” If you can say these two things when necessary, and mean them, you’ll gain more respect, support, and admiration than you can imagine.

Quid pro quo.

 

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1000 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.


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{ 8 comments }

Jeff@My Super-Charged Life

Excellent article! Fortunately, I work for a company where most of this is true for me. However, I know that many people do not. If more companies would read this and abide by it, then they would have a lot happier employees. Of course, I believe this would lead to greater success for all involved.

Ron

Thanks Jeff,
You’re right about that. I didn’t want too many frustrations to show up in this post but I kinda think they did :oops:

When your wife asks why you’re hitting the keyboard so aggressively, you know you’ve struck one of your OWN chords.

CiaranFrom Chance

Nice letter Ron. Maybe you could issue this as a declaration of sorts and send it out to the HR department’s of US companies. I think it would serve as a reminder of how things should be, a bit of a refresher;)

Ron

Thanks Ciaran,
Some of this really needs to be said, but more importantly, it needs to be put into practice.

FFB

Nice post! I come from both sides of the divide as an employer and former employee. What got me to advance was having a great boss ahead of me that gave me autonomy and came to me for real work advice and opinions and who involved me in her work. This helped me grow. Hopefully I’m doing the same for my group now. I involve the senior in my group in as much as I possibly can. At times I’m afraid I could be giving her too much but what I’m really doing is giving her great exposure to other parts of the business. I think she understands this.

Another point involving leadership – a boss should go to bat for their employees and not let anyone bully them even if they screw up. Don’t talk bad of your employees in the presence of others. If they screw up defend them to others then pull them aside and talk to them about it. This goes a long way to building respect in a group.

Ron

Thanks FFB,
I’m on both sides too. I manage a couple of hundred people and I try to be the positive influence in their lives. Unfortunately, in my position, I’m caught between the home office and the field. I feel like the expansion joint between two slabs of concrete.

Randall

:shock:

Wow, sounds like someone’s ready to hit Careerbuilder or Dice.com soon. Great article. I’ve seen a lot of people in ‘leadership’ positions that were only worried about pleasing the higher-ups. With that attitude, they generally lost most of the good ‘lower-downs’ anyway.

Ron

Thanks Randall,
Great point. Trying to always do nothing but please the “higher ups” usually DOES result in losing most of the good “lower downs.” That’s an incredibly insightful comment. Thanks!

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