If a trainer on your payroll invited you to his 25th birthday bash, would you go? What about having drinks and dinner with your front-desk staff on a Saturday night or grabbing a quick cappuccino with a group exercise instructor you supervise? Making a distinction between friends and colleagues can be tricky.
Nowhere was the problem stated more acutely, it could be argued, than in the wicked satire, The Peter Principle. Taking the form of a serious work of business research, complete with entirely fake examples, it purported to have discovered the root cause of manager incompetence: Everyone in an organization keeps on getting promoted until they reach their level of incompetence.
At that point they stop being promoted. This seems surprising since of course every manager is a subordinate as well. But, they observe, most managers address the bad boss problem by getting out of the subordinate role as quickly as possible and, by improving their own leadership skills, becoming a good boss.
But the message here is still that incompetence is rife, and for Neilsen and Gypen subordinates inhabit a very dangerous world. Will my boss reward — or punish — me if I make improvement suggestions? Am I capable of doing my job?
Do I want to emulate this boss, or should I distance myself from his poor example? Should our relationship be friendly or strictly professional? Guess wrong, and calamity may ensue, so subordinates spend a lot of energy in self-protection. The analysis resonates powerfully: Recognizing the tensions is certainly the first step, but then Neilsen and Gypen do just what they say previous thinkers and managers always do — address their suggestions to the boss.
Because the boss is the one with the greater power to act. It is in this context, the next year, that HBS professor John Gabarro and a young associate professor, John Kotter, come up with what will become a powerfully enduring response that for the first time recognized that subordinates could do something to help themselves.
They start with an assumption of good will and argue that subordinates have a responsibility to help the boss help them.
Does your boss thrive on conflict or try to minimize it? And so to balance out the narcissistic leader we have the Toxic Handler: This view was anticipated back inwhen in In Praise of Followers, Robert Kelley found that the traits of good followers are nearly the same as the traits of good leaders.The Subordinate's Predicaments Subordinate’s Predicaments T NO Eric H.
Neilsen and Jan Gypen PY CO No. SEPTEMBER–OCTOBER The Subordinate’s Predicaments Eric H. Neilsen and Jan Gypen How can subordinates improve relations with their superiors? This article—the fourth in a series of five on setting boundaries—looks at common predicaments and practical solutions associated with boss-employee friendships.
It addresses boundaries managers might put in place for interacting with employees in a social context, and explores how those interactions could affect workplace relations.
And indeed in The Subordinate’s Predicaments, Case Western Reserve management professor Eric Neilsen and then-doctoral candidate Jan Gypen make that point explicitly. But, they observe, most managers address the bad boss problem by getting out of the subordinate role as quickly as possible and, by improving their own leadership skills.
The subordinate's predicaments. Neilsen EH, Gypen J. How can subordinates improve relations with their superiors? And how can superiors help their subordinates feel comfortable in what is often a tense relationship? These questions have usually been dealt with only indirectly in management circles.
In “ The Subordiante’s Predicaments,” Eric H. Neilsen and Jan Gypen explore the tension inherited in the employee- boss relationship. They take a psychological approach to reducing what they describe as the subordinate’s need for self-protection. Sherif did this by subordinate goals— shared goals that could be achieved only through cooperation Used isolation and competitive to make strangers into enemies.
Used shared predicaments and goals to turn enemies into friends What reduced conflict was not just contact, but COOPERATIVE contact Note: Psychologists urge increased international exchange and cooperation.