The tail should not wag the dog

I had been in post about a year when there was a management restructuring and the chief executive offered me the post of assistant director operations. A couple of weeks later the director of HR invited me to head office to discuss how we would work together in the new structure. Buoyed up by my promotion and the confidence that the chief executive had shown in me I decided that this was the occasion to make it clear that I had been frustrated by the amount of interference I and my managers had received from HR into what I considered operational issues. I summed up my position and expectations for future working by saying, "the tail should not wag the dog". It was a short meeting. I was pleased I had got my point across even if I did reinforce the message by repeating myself. Before the month was out I was out, called to a meeting with the chief executive and told I know longer had a future with the organisation. Clearly he had decided that the Director of HR and I couldn't work together and he valued her more than me. I had underestimated her influence and badly miscalculated the strength of my own position. It was a painful lesson and in future posts I chose to befriend HR rather than go head to head. 

This proved a very successful strategy because over the years I upset a few people, had some tussles with the trade unions, was subject to a few grievances and sort to change the recruitment process. The head of HR dug me and my managers out of a few holes we had got ourselves unnecessarily into, smoothed over some bruised egos and proved a excellent ally in tacking bad practice and promoting best practice. I would sum up our relationship as I said how I can do this and he always came up with a way.

Blair McPherson author of Managing people in a harsh financial climate published by Russell House



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