Freedom, Anything But Free

15 07 2012

It’s July and Independence Day celebrations have come and gone. I’m sure many of you are like me and associate the holiday with cookouts, fireworks, maybe a day at the lake or on the golf course. And maybe a little further back in my mind than it should be, the knowledge that the freedom of this great country is earned on the backs of those brave individuals willing to serve in our armed forces. 

At one of the get-togethers I attended over the holiday, a relative steered our conversation to the idea of freedom at work. She was specifically irritated over a recent company shake up that left her reporting to a new manager.  While her responsibilities hadn’t changed much, the new manager was new to the department and had a completely new way of managing and she felt micro-managed. She was outraged that she’d been working in that area, doing that work, for years and had not only been overlooked for the promotion but now had to play second fiddle to someone new to the area. 

It’s certainly a complaint I’ve heard many times and have even had to deal with a few times in my life. While there are a lot of considerations that go into promotions, many of them outside of our control, my experience says that gaining that crucial “freedom” we all desire is much more in our control than we might think. 

Bosses tend to base their work behaviors on a simple axiom; you can delegate responsibility but you can’t delegate accountability. If something that they oversee goes wrong or isn’t executed properly, they’re the ones their bosses look to no matter who did the work. And it’s a scary thing to let someone else’s work influence your reputation. So they either do the work themselves, or micro-manage your work. 

 If either of these things are happening, start with a look in the mirror. Your boss is working with a limited data set about you and it’s in your best interest to figure out what they’ve seen (or haven’t seen) that makes them lack trust. With trust comes freedom. But just like the freedom of this country, freedom at work isn’t free. It’s earned.


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