Authority; General Management Practice; Leadership

yoUr word aGaiNst tHe boss’s

Primary Topic—Communication

Additional Topics—Authority; General Management Practice; Leadership

In many ways it is a typical day. You find yourself at a meeting chaired by your department head. Also present are another department head and four first-line manag- ers other than yourself. The subject of the meeting is the manner in which the organi- zation’s supervisors are to conduct themselves during the expected union organizing campaign. Your department head seems not in the best of moods, possibly because this important meeting started late and most parties feel pressured to hurry so as to make subsequent commitments.

Your boss makes a statement about management’s behavior during organizing. You are surprised to hear what he said. Earlier that same day you had read a legal opinion that was exactly opposite to the boss’s statement and made his intended direction illegal. In other words, were he allowed to proceed along the lines of his statement he would be actively advocating illegal management activity.

You interrupt with, “Excuse me, but I don’t believe it can be done quite that way. That might leave us vulnerable to an unfair labor practice charge.”

Obviously annoyed with the interruption your department head snaps, “This isn’t open to discussion. You’re wrong.”

You open your mouth to speak again but think better of doing so on seeing the boss’s expression.

You are certain the boss had inadvertently reversed a couple of critical words and described a “cannot-do” action as a “can-do” action. Unfortunately, you have been abruptly silenced, and you are in a conference room full of people while the docu- ment that could prove your position is in your office.


1. What do you believe you can do to set the matter straight without incurring further disfavor with your boss?

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