Don’t Let Management Treat You Like a Sucker, Stand Up

Differential Leadership

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

Image by Paul Sprengers from Pixabay

If you are following the rules, written or unwritten, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what everyone else is doing. The bosses may not treat you differently than others because of your race, gender, or sexual orientation or the race, gender, or sexual orientation of your employees. It is the law.

Stand up, stand up
Stand up, stand up

When I move, you move
 (Just like that)
 When I move, you move
 (Just like that)
 When I move, you move
 (Just like that)
 Hell yeah, hey DJ brin’ that back

Ludacris — Stand Up Lyrics | MetroLyrics

As a Leader, it is part of your job to stand up to those who would punish you (or others) for doing what all the other leaders are already doing. Do not allow them to do so.

I was working for a midsize sensor and motor drive company. During my time as Director of Operations, I ran into something that almost threw me for a loop. To this day, I don’t fully understand why the HR director thought it was a good idea to come after me. Did I look like I fell off the turnip truck the day before?

At the company, it was common practice to hire family and friends. There were family groups everywhere — husbands, wives, children, cousins, daughters, uncles. If a person could meet the job requirements, family members as employees was fine with Human Resources (HR).

It was also an accepted practice that we hired friends. Sometimes issues arose when hired friends or family could not perform the job. There was an unwritten rule for that situation as well. Anyone incompetent was booted out soon after they arrived with two weeks severance and a goodbye party — no hard feelings on either side.

Directors had full authority to hire whoever we wanted. The company seldom disapproved. Picking my team was the freedom I needed. I hired the best people I could find. I especially treasured those who appeared smarter than me.

“Leaders must exemplify integrity and earn the trust of their teams through their everyday actions. When you do this, you set high standards for everyone in the company.” — Marilyn Henson

I hired several technical women. My team hired a disabled gentleman from Goodwill to keep our coffee supply stocked. It was interesting that he had a coach/mentor that worked with him until he understood the job. His coach would come in and work with him anytime we changed the process until he could perform the work well. It was cool.

And I hired minorities. When I started my position, I was one of two minorities in the six hundred person plant.

After working at the company for two years, the HR Director approached me in my office. She first questioned me then challenged me, saying that I had a discernible pattern of hiring people like myself.

What in the world? I thought for a minute, then said, “You are right. I search for the most qualified candidate that I can find. I hunt for the smartest candidate that I can find — someone who fits into our culture. I am hiring some people who look like me.”

For a moment, she thought she had me. She leaned back and smiled. I returned her smile.

“However,” I continued, “If we will use similar looks as a hiring disqualifier, we need a much larger meeting than just you and me.”

She seemed puzzled. I explained it to her.

Image by LoggaWiggler from Pixabay

“We have two issues,” I said. “One, there are a gazillion people in this plant that look alike because they are family. They are everywhere. Working everywhere, from the janitor to my boss, who are first cousins.”

“Two, men — White men — who dominate this company are hiring White men. So, we have White men hiring White men who are hiring more White men.”

I wrinkled my eyebrows, considering my words.

“Some managers have hired only white men as long as I have been here. I suspect they have hired only white men for as long as they have worked at this company. I’m certain that you can pull the records to find out if that is true,” I said. There was no challenge or animosity in my tone. I was stating a fact.

Silence descended on my small office. We sat looking at each other. She understood my unspoken point — that if you’re going to come into my office and talk to me about what I’m doing, I’m going to call you on it, and we are going to talk about everyone.

Before she left my office, the HR director articulated that there wasn’t an issue. She was following up on another person’s comment. I could keep doing whatever I was doing.

I pretended that she had not come to my office intending to bitch slap me. She imagined that she was not a bigot. I feigned I did not recognize bigoted behavior when I saw it. Our working relationship remained intact.

Stand your ground when you are right. If you are following an unwritten policy, don’t argue. Agree. As you agree, reach out and pull in examples to support your position. There will be many. When you’ve done this, management must apply whatever they are proposing to do to everyone.

There is always something just over the horizon waiting for you. Know the rules. Follow the rules. Understand the unwritten rules and follow the unwritten rules. Always be prepared to defend yourself, your decisions and your team. That’s your job. Stand up and do it.


Another Leadership Story for your enjoyment: How to Stand Up to Your Abusive Boss and Keep Your Job

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