Every day now a new name pops up announcing their participation or possible participation in the 2020 Presidential race. The announcements all have two things in common: they don’t agree with how the current President of the United States is running the country and they believe they can do a better job than he can.
Often in construction companies, employees unofficially announce their running to take their bosses place. The difference is the construction workplace isn’t an electoral platform. Yet the employee chooses to act like they are running for office by voicing out loud or through actions their disagreements with their boss. The voicing of their opinions can adversely come across like they’re vying for votes from other employees to join in support of them. Their theoretical differences often portray to others that they should align with that person verses the boss, ultimately having adverse effects for everyone involved.
Whether you as an employee like it or not, part of your agreement to work for a company unofficially includes your support of the leadership and the policies set forth within the organization for which you work. If your boss is doing something unethical then you should resign from that company regardless of how much you are paid. If your opinion of how they are leading the company does not involve illegal or immoral actions by the boss then you chose to accept working in that cultural environment and by you working against your boss you are being disingenuous.
Let’s define what might be unethical.
Discrimination due to race, religion, age, sex or other ways listed on the EEOC website is unethical. Be careful though, as your opinion of what you take as discrimination might just be a fact about an employee, and the employer is stating a fact you don’t want to hear. An example: A boss may accuse someone of not being motivated or having a low energy level. The person might be a senior citizen and you take it they are discriminating due to age. In our industry there are plenty of people in their 70’s that run circles around those much younger. If an employer is struggling with someone at any age due to motivation or energy level it is most likely a wrong fit culturally or for the job they are in and not someone discriminating due to age.
Financial decisions such as cooking the books, cheating on taxes, not paying overtime, bribes etc. are unethical and most of the time illegal. Florida also has a kick-back law. Last year we had a superintendent where his employer was billing one homeowner for time and materials he was using on another homeowner’s project. Our first question we asked after the reveal was “why are you still there”? Even if you don’t want to be the whistle-blower, staying when you know there are true unethical practices at your place of employment, reveals characteristics about you that may not attract the top employers if you are able to face your client every week knowing he is getting screwed as you now are an accomplice to the crime. The superintendent was recording the hours and reviewing invoices each month and was well aware the numbers did not match to what he was turning in. He may have thought he was staying to provide for his family, but if charges are made against the employer he could be brought to court as a witness, and possibly as an accomplice which could hurt his family worse than a couple of weeks of unemployment.
Business decisions such as how to spend money, pay vendors, who to do business with, appropriate dress, language, office décor or other generalities define the culture of the organization and you may or may not get to voice your opinion. If you disagree with the level of professionalism at the organization you are employed by, you should address privately with your boss. Dependent on their reaction to your discussion, you then choose to work there and choose to overlook or choose to resign but trying to change him or her is not your job and leading others to protest in any way shape or form makes you the problem and not your boss.
Voicing disregard for your boss can come easily and shows disrespect whether they deserve respect or not in your opinion. Be aware of your non-verbal cues during your discussion. Be calm, direct, factual and confident and watch your posture. A frown, slumping in your chair, sighing, eye rolling, vagueness or hostility can signal your true feelings and others will pick up on them.
Ways you can support your boss include praying it on them and not laying it on them or discussing with others. Give them your best at your job despite your feeling to behaviors of others you work with, including leadership. Respect leadership in front of others, always. Learn to listen and gather all the facts. Often you only see a decision from one instance taken out of context or as it relates to your department and not the total decision best for the company. If you do have a concern address it. Always speak truth but speak it with the right tone of respect and with a desire to help find a solution. Don’t blame your leader or challenge their leadership (unless there is a moral or ethical issue) but seek to understand from their perspective first and then you will have the impartiality to share truth because they trust your heart.
Just like the primaries will weed out the candidates that are unable to address real issues and communicate solutions to problems in a manner understood by voters, your campaigning against your boss will ultimately lead to your dismissal if you can’t communicate effectively to lead change and provide solutions versus react on emotion and feelings.
It is always easy to criticize someone’s actions, but just like those running to replace the President of the United States won’t know what it is like to be in his place unless they are elected President, the same holds true for you and your boss. Until you are in his or her shoes, you don’t know the whole story.
“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”
– Abraham Lincoln
To a Helpful Heart,