I’ve taken a rest from the corporate world for about 3 months now focusing on my hosting career and it is refreshing. I’ve been on it for almost 7 years now and there’s still a long way to go. The topic just struck me today upon hearing about a former colleague getting demoted. I’m sure demotion rarely happens but it’s always the technical stuff that gets in the way.
From a bottom level encoder, my friend rose up to the ranks with experience and having the “streetwise attitude” and later on became a supervisor. While the pay wasn’t that much, you can tell the difference in rank by the job level you are given. Being more in the office and at the computer means you have more literacy and administration skills, doing the blue collar job stuff means you don’t. It still adapts the old organizational setup and very much patronizes the ones on top but that’s how they saw the system worked. It is just in the Philippines that the level differences are that big.
So I won’t really get into the details of the office problem my former colleague is facing but let’s just say part of the disagreement came from the subordinates’ inability to adapt and follow. I am a firm believer of “lead from behind” meaning, when it is not my turn to lead, I take a step back and follow who is in charge, regardless of the decision. In business, there is no perfect decision. Some leaders may be the greatest but being individuals created uniquely different apart from each other, we were raised and built differently thus, having different ideals and understanding of certain situations. What I’m trying to say is, you’ll not always meet eye to eye but someone is always placed on top and that person calls the shots. If that person isn’t the democratic type, then the rest have to deal.
I also always put in mind the saying “obey first before you complain.” A statement created during my time in ROTC in highschool wherein we had to obey what was commanded regardless of difficulty. It is a soldiers code to obey all commands of a ranking officer. It is highly applicable in real life where everyone complains endlessly. When I remember my days in my last corporate employer, I would always go back to my one-on-one talks with my former manager. It was only the two of us running the department so we had to be tight and work well together. I would always tell my boss that I always love to argue. I have lots of opinions but I also like to be lead. If my boss tells me this and can give me a good explanation why I have to do things a certain way, I obey. Do I agree? Not always, but I obey. When I have exhausted all possible means to the solution that was raised, then I give my feedback and return to my argument not to say “I told you so” but to re-evaluate the situation and make things work. That is the essence of “leading from behind”, you take the backseat first and do what you are told, when things don’t work and you’ve shown that you’ve done all you could, there’s no reason for your commander not to disengage and regroup and most definitely listen to you. This is when people see growth in you. This is how management see the potential leader in you.
An inexperienced worker / employee looks at a manager as someone who “commands” and someone who tells you what to do. They fail to notice that at the end of the day, these managers also have people to answer to. A husband, a wife, a senior manager, and they are expected to be better than their subordinates because they have the knowledge, the experience and leadership to meet their objectives. You have to earn RESPECT and not ATTENTION of your boss, it lasts longer. When you seek attention, you tend to kiss-ass, do things for granted and it is short lived. You get burned out easily because your reason is shallow, but if you work for respect, your dignity is on the line. And if you know how to earn it properly, not by a feud, not by competition, but by setting good examples and working hard, it lasts a lifetime and the impact it creates in the workplace resonates.
So to summarize, the challenge in the workplace for subordinates is to “OBEY BEFORE COMPLAINING”, believe me, it works a lot for you after (regardless of the shit you go through). You earn the RESPECT after that, you GROW and LEARN from the experience, you get GOOD RELATIONSHIP with you boss and they will see how MATURE you are as an employee. Be the example in your workplace for other people and set the bar high.