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How can I have a spine, if no-one has my back?

Manager conflict brews in workplaces because the hierarchy isn’t maintained, and because managers and supervisors don’t always have the support of those they report to. I was talking to a friend who was sharing his frustration about parenting. He said
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3D illustration of Spine - Part of Human Skeleton.

Manager conflict brews in workplaces because the hierarchy isn’t maintained and because managers and supervisors don’t always have the support of those they report to. 

I was talking to a friend who was sharing his frustration about parenting.  He said he was setting some boundaries for his daughters, and his wife overruled him.  The words that came out of my mouth next inspired this topic for the workplace.  “How can I have a spine, if no-one has my back?” 

Imagine this.  A company has a policy which a newly trained supervisor enforces as written, but a subordinate of the new supervisor is upset with the boundaries and goes up the chain of command to the supervisor’s manager, who gives a more lenient response. Sounds crazy right? It’s actually very common, and it often escalates into conflict. 

Take a listen to my short video that goes a little deeper.
 

The new supervisor feels undermined, unsupported and is less likely to stick their neck out in the future.  Loose boundaries create loose results.  If the manager had the supervisors back, they would have upheld the hierarchy and sent the employee back to her supervisor. If that had been attempted and needed more nurturing, the manager could have helped the supervisor navigate through the situation, rather than offering a ruling or a response to undermine them.  It’s also important to note that as often as this is done, it’s rarely done with an ill intention to undermine, but it rarely ends well.   

People feel safe with structure, boundaries, policies and the enforcement of them.  When employees sense that managers are disconnected, or disrespecting each other, they don’t feel safe and may push back to test the stability of the hierarchy and boundaries.   

Whether you’re co-parenting or working in an office, collaboration, before you go to the general population, is imperative.  When parents (even if divorced) are united, kids feel safe.  When managers and supervisors support the corporate structure and procedures, staff feel protected, and when supervisors and managers know that they will be supported as they tread through tumultuous times, they’re willing to go for it knowing that if they need a lifeline, someone will be there. 

No matter where you are on the organizational chart, you need the support of your colleagues.  With good intentions to support and protect, we can all ‘have a spine’ and be more assertive when we know that someone else has our back. 

If you need help, call me because I’ll have your back.  Remember, your greatest leadership day is with Penny Tremblay!




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About the Author: Penny Tremblay

Serving Northern Ontario, professional development, training, coaching and keynote speaking engagements.
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