If the Big Boss is Not Giving You Respect Then You May Need to Make It Happen

In my early years of banking, I was a junior officer of the bank, managing a small operating unit. While in a meeting one day with a group of fairly senior department heads, I was verbally attacked by one of those guys. The man who jumped me was somewhat famous for such outbursts, but nonetheless, it really got to me.

Courtesy 123rf.com/ konstantynov
Courtesy 123rf.com/ konstantynov

I went home still seething. Sleep did not happen. I made a plan.

The man who had belittled me was notorious for being the first one in the bank in the morning. I made sure to meet him there. I went straight to his office, knocked on the door, and asked for a word. I could tell he was visibly surprised to see me. He even seemed a bit shaken, not knowing what I was about to say.

Very respectfully I began. “Ted (assumed name to protect the innocent), I was upset about how you attacked me yesterday. While I understand that you were not happy with the news I was presenting at that meeting, I was just the messenger. The facts are the facts. I had no hand in making the scenario the way it is.”

I went on to say “I plan to have a long and successful career here at this bank. You are a significant leader. I hope you and I can strike a good balance for working together and getting the job done. The way things went yesterday will not do that. I know I am junior right now, but I deserve a little better respect as a co-worker.”

He was definitely moved now. I am not sure anyone had ever spoken to him quite that way. He said “Doug, you are totally correct. I apologize. Let’s put this behind us and move on. Thank you for stopping by.”

Well, weeks and months went by. He and I had many more opportunities to interact. Another confrontation never happened.

And you want to know the real interesting part? About a year later he got promoted to an even higher position. One day I was summoned to his office.

He reached in his coat pocket to pull out an envelope. He handed it to me and said “In my role now, I get to give out discretionary bonuses over and above the regular merit pool plans. This is for you. You do great work here. I appreciate it.”

[shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe”]Sometimes you have to grab your respect.[/shareable]

You see, sometimes ‘big bosses’ forget what it was like to be the new guy. They may be so busy with their own responsibilities that they will not take the time to process things they say. Perhaps it becomes a habit for them. And maybe people around them stay so intimidated that no one ever challenges the behavior.

When you are the new manager on the team, your interaction with those above you in the organization set as much a precedent as your dealings with those who report to you. If you allow the big bosses to run over you, soon you will have no credibility.

Obviously, you have to state your case respectfully. However, your case has to be made. Most people call this managing upward.

Stand your ground, make your case. Heck, one day you might even get a bonus from the guy.

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