Compliments of crowdrive via Flickr

In management “chain of command” is a concept in which individuals are nested in a reporting hierarchy. You’ve probably heard the phrase “I follow the chain of command,” meaning that problems are directed to the person occupying the next organizational rung. In the case of peer relationships, it’s the person to whom you’re horizontally connected.

When individuals violate both the formal and unspoken rules within a firm, the people who were blindsided feel embarrassed, ashamed, and humiliated. If you have an issue that could easily be handled with a peer, then perhaps speaking to them directly would be best.

  • Give coworkers a chance to fix a problem, instead of alerting others not directly involved.
  • Go immediately to the horse’ mouth –the shortest possible route, which would invariably solve the problem and save a significant degree of hair pulling on the part of the complaining party.

No one likes to feel the rug pulled out from under them, or to be stabbed in the back from someone they considered a friend. [Note that some employees escalate a conflict for the sole reason of proclaiming their importance]. They practice a form of false empowerment by pulling rank that does not exist – making you look bad by comparison when they decide to behave as police.

Before you proceed on a course to destroy someone’s professional reputation, ask yourself: what is your motivation? My point is that before you complain, consider doing your colleague a favor and approach them first. No one likes it when coworkers “go around them” by trying to score more goodies for themselves. Relationships severed and trusts broken are difficult to repair.

Avoid collateral damage by reporting issues to the person who can best solve them. If you’re trying to gain brownie points with the boss or administration, find an alternate way to bolster your self image – don’t substitute snitching for actual achievement.

Betrayal may temporarily divert attention from yourself, but will do irreparable damage to relationships with otherswhose help you may need in the future.

Communicate “as the crow flies,” not at, about, or in place of another person.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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