Thursday, September 12, 2013

The rules apply to everyone but me

I have always been one to question authority. Most of the time I do it in an appropriate fashion and truth be told I am very good at questioning (or challenging) and then backing off if I am not 100 percent certain that I am right. Yes it has gotten me in trouble a few times as an agitator, however no one has ever labeled me as a "YES" man during my entire career. In fact it has served me well to be viewed as someone with an independent point of view and some of my prior bosses  have even expressed appreciation for this attribute despite the conflict it can cause.. It is especially important in HR as many of the issues I have been asked to mediate or resolve are complex and have no clear cut resolution - shades of grey. People think that HR is supposed to be independent in evaluating and taking action on employee issues, an advocate for the employee. We know that's not totally true, but I have always tried to do the right thing regardless of the consequences and tried to mentor my team to follow suit. I have been stung, reprimanded and yelled at as a result of trying to do the right thing.  I have also been over ruled with difficult outcomes. I also have a closet full of stories that unfortunately will probably follow me to my grave, sorry I can't dish at this point. The end result in more then a few of these situations has been a satisfied employee with no real cost to the business. Only because someone was willing to listen and evaluate without overt biases. Those are outcomes we can all be proud of!
In the classes I teach at Adelphi University I push my students to challenge the status quo and build their critical  thinking skills. Unfortunately I don't think enough individuals have been challenged in this way prior to entering the workforce. This is an area that all education professionals should take note of and take action on.
So this leads me to the title of today's post: "The rules apply to everyone but me" or for ease let us just say "I am entitled and your not". We all know a few folks who subscribed to this...and challenging authority is not the same as ignoring the rules....
What happens when leadership takes this position and then tries to paint a picture of caring and conformity. Well its a recipe for disaster. One that I have witnessed first undermines most businesses ability to operate in a positive and profitable way. Turn over is high and reputations suffer.
How does this happen...I could write a book on this and maybe one day will. Every situation is unique, from early success and fame, to being born with a golden spoon.
I am inspired when I work for folks that have ethics and values...I have had the fortune to work for a few of these at Macy's, The Limited and Leviton. Kudos to my mentor's especially at Macy's where I had some tough bosses, who were also some of the most caring and ethical that I have ever worked with...
Don't break the rules, challenge them and move on.

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