A reader writes….
I’m in a tight spot and need your advice. I work in a shared building, same company but different departments within the same building. I am having a difficult time explaining why company policies apply to my team but aren’t being respected by other departments. Dress code violations… bringing kids to work… loud music – just a sense of lack of work and unprofessionalism.
I am constantly being asked why policies only apply to us and not to the other locations within the same company. My response is always; while I can’t control other teams and other departments I must follow the policies here and ensure we are in regulation. Makes me sound like a jerk, and I feel it hard to compete as the other departments then discuss with my team how I choose the rules I follow. Its my choice to not allow them such liberties.
Its recently become even more difficult to control as the nonsense is getting worse and now affecting my team and the environment as a whole. Ive tried to speak to the management of those specific teams and well I’m being ignored. Basically manage your team and don’t worry about mine, is the response I’m getting. The issue is its affecting us all. Now to further impact the issue I feel a sense of harassment because I am a “different” manager.
What do you suggest I do?
While I hate the thought of taking it higher when is enough, enough?
“Policies… What Policies?!?”
Dear “By the Book,”
So you’re feeling a bit like the “black sheep” on the job, huh? Here you are trying to lead a team in a productive and professional environment… only to hear kids giggling and Zeppelin rockin’ down the hall!
This is not only creating issues between you and your fellow department managers… but it’s putting a damper on the relationships you are trying to establish with your direct reports.
(A) Loosen up?
Loosening up is sometimes necessary – in terms of letting certain things go. “Loosening up” in terms of throwing your beliefs, work ethic, professionalism, high standards, accountability, and expectations of your team out the window, however… is a big NO.
(B) Call in the “authorities?”
Reporting this issue and your concerns to upper management is, in my opinion, the logical and ONLY ANSWER. Does it put you in an awkward position? It shouldn’t if handled confidentially. Who knows, you may learn a few things from the experience. For one thing, you’ll know, straight from the horse’s mouth, whether or not “company policies” are truly enforced. They should be. And they should be across ALL departments. Individual department managers are in a position to abide by these policies and enforce them with their teams. This will give you an opportunity to bring the situation to upper management’s attention. Who knows – maybe they have no idea what’s going on! And if they do (and are turning a blind eye) then see option C below…
(C) Start looking for a similar job in a work environment that better suits you?
Not knowing how long you have worked for this company, it’s difficult for me to decipher whether this conflict has been the result of new management in other departments (drastically changing the way business was conducted in the past). Or, if you’re relatively new to this company (and accustomed to a more “traditional” professional work environments), the casual way of operating may not be right for you. For instance, the work environment at a law firm, financial institution, or aerospace company is going to be very different than that of certain clothing manufacturers, dot-com companies, or businesses in the entertainment niche.
You may have to ask yourself, “Is this the right work environment for me? If this is the way other departments do business, can I roll with that? Or will I continue to feel outnumbered and isolated here?”
Overall, remain truthful to yourself and keep your leadership style and policies consistent. Discuss the situation with upper management (as much as I know you hate to do it), be open minded, and simply see what they say or how they respond. That will help you determine your next move!
Please keep me posted! In the meantime, readers… what would YOU recommend – Option A, B, or C above, or something else altogether?
I’d also like to hear from readers who may find themselves in a similar situation but on the “employee” side of things. Are you in a department whose manager plays by the rules or under a more loosey-goosey supervisor? How do the other teams look from your vantage point?
Can’t wait to hear from you!