The three year old kid gave me a balloon and said blow. He wanted me to blow into it and while allowing the air out, to let go of the balloon. He enjoyed the random flight trajectory of the balloon. After two flights he asked me to blow again. This time he said more and the more I blew air into it he kept saying more. He became the leader and me a follower. I knew it was going to burst, did not know when. Finally it burst, he was angry with me for the burst and walked away, crying. I let him be my boss.
I got a call the other day, from someone, very upset with his boss. He wanted to know how to deal with a situation where his boss wants him to do something a particular way and he another way.
This is a scenario which happens in everybody’s life. The parent wants it one way and the child wants it differently.Parents wants their son to be a doctor when he wants to be a journalist and so is the case with all the relations like siblings, cousins and friends. The authoritarian puts his foot down and orders. You have a choice, to be bossed or not to.
As a reply to the caller I told him,” I do not know your boss whether he is a duffer or a smart guy. Without being judgemental, let me suggest a few options”.
- If the difference between you guys is technical like the choice of technology or development platform or such, talk to him. In case he is the type who says you do the listening and I do the talking then go his way. Go the boss’s way. He may be smarter than you think, count on his experience. However be ready for the consequence. It may succeed or fail, so could your method.
- Else, mail him a comparison of advantages and disadvantages of his suggestion and your idea. Mark a copy to his boss or some other expert of your group asking for their views. This may still be annoy the boss
- Build a culture in your organisation to get peers or experts to meet and discuss over a presentation of your action plans before the start of a project.
He called me later to tell that the mail option worked and the boss won because he was better. They have decided to implement option 3 for future projects. Give the boss a break, they can be right sometimes.
There is nothing like the ‘ best’ way. There are just good ways, each in turn may be a better one on some days. Flight may be better way to get to your destination, there may be an occasion where a bus is a better option. There are lot of factors, perfect mental, emotional, physical, physiological balance, influencing a good performance, if one of them is missing on a particular day it will affect the outcome. A Michael Jordan in basket ball or Sachin Tendulkar in cricket may be excellent, not best. They had their ups and downs.
I had a situation, once as the head of department, when a letter sent by an employee to an embassy came for verification. It was a certificate issued for a friend, about his conduct, experience, to the embassy on company’s letterhead signed by the employee and he was on contract. I got lots of instructions from the top like call the police, check his file verify his signature, get into a conversation with him, secretly record it, this is fraud and many more. I appreciated and thanked them all for their suggestions and came to my room and called the guy in. I told him, a letter sent by him to a foreign embassy has come for verification, he can write on it that he has issued the letter and sign it and I shall attest it. He quietly took out his pen and wrote and I attested it and send it to HR. I was advised to get him terminated from the contracting company. His employer and I just asked him for his resignation letter and let him go.
There was nothing wrong in the content of the letter. His offense was using the company letterhead and he had no authority to issue that letter. It was an immature act, he could have asked me to do it. I don’t think his friend could migrate.
Sometimes, quietly doing what the boss did not want can avoid the bursting of the balloon which happened to me when I allowed my 3 year old grandson to be my boss.
6 thoughts on “Bursting the balloon”
As in all your blog articles, you have made a point without belaboring on it. The situation is very common and the blog can guide many many guys hopefully reading it.
Thank you, Dr. Your comment is reassuring.
Your suggestion on boss reminds me , my days at Rourkela. It was late 1973 or early 1974. I was just 9 months in my job in the organization. There was an accident inside the steel plant. As retainer consultant, a team from our side went to the accident site. I was taken along by my boss who was a double graduate (Mech & Elect). We spent a long time and every one including plant operation, maintenance expressed their views. It involved a huge induction motor. Since, I was the least experienced person, I reserved my comments.
On return from site, my boss called me and said his views. I politely disagreed and my views with justifications. He didn’t respond and I returned to my seat. I took a sheet of paper and wrote my observation, inference and justifications. I folded the report and kept inside an office envelope. Next, I left the envelope in the drawer of my table.
After a few days, my boss called me and asked me to repeat what I had said on the accident. With his permission I took the envelope from the drawer and gave it to him. He read the content and said you’re right that was the conclusion reached by the expert committee.
Then onwards, I became his confident lieutenant in technical matters.
I hope, it gives another option to react the boss.
Yes, an open minded boss
As always a nice blog.
“Managing the boss” is the skill most required in our setup.
What I liked best was the way you collected the evidence from the employee.
Reminded me of an old joke.
The gentleman in the First class coupe was travelling alone.
A well dressed lady entered and surprised him with the words
” Give me $100. Or else I will pull the chain and complain that you tried to molest me.”
The gentleman acted deaf and gave the lady a pad to write her demand which she did.
After reading it he said. ” For this why should you pull the chain. I will do it.”