Denise Petet

I think it can’t hurt.

All too often the leaders of any organization end up in their ‘ivory tower’. They see what middle management wants them to see, hear what MM wants them to hear, etc. (And, of course, there are those that just dont’ care and like it nice and isolated fromt he riffraff 🙂 )

Leaders often get the ‘i want this done so make it happen’ attitude. Perks of the job I guess, but then they don’t understand when the rank and file can’t do the same. they’re the boss, they really have no one to answer to, in my position, at one point in time, I had two nitpicky ‘i’m just sure you’re cheating so let’s micromange you to pieces’ managers above me.

For example, there was one time I was supporting the big boss. The vehicle I had to drive was a 16 passenger van. The boss was like ‘why are you driving that beast?’ I said ‘it’s what I have to drive’, the reply ‘tell your boss you can drive your own car’. The boss drives their own vehicle and is reimbursed for mileage. Yet I had a manager above me who had dictated if we chose to drive our own car, we would not be reimbursed for mileage. We HAD to take the van, despite the fact that it was a gas beast as compared to my vehicle.

I couldn’t tell the big boss ‘well so and so says….’ because I wasn’t going to start that battle since I knew any and all fallout would land squarely upon my head. So I just said ‘thanks’ and dropped it.

The big boss is used to wanting something done and its’ done. But it’s not that way for the rest of us. We have hoops to jump through and no shortage of people ready and willing to tell us no.

That said, bosses don’t necessarily need to be undercover. Get out of your office. Get to know regular employees, and not just those that middle management wants you to talk to or steers you towards. Sure, there are some bad apples and some people that they’ll walk away thinking ‘wow, who hired that guy???’, but, I think more than that, there will be a lot of employees, often with good ideas, that end up being stifled by middle management.

Maybe, instead of going undercover, the big boss has a monthly/biannual ‘lottery’…where lower level folks are randomly chosen (and i mean real random, not just who the middle managers funnel up), to have a open forum with the leader. let them sound off, let them show ideas, let them talk about what they see as lapses or strangle points in the work flow.

Have the big boss open him/herself up to the lower employees and see what happens.