Wednesday, January 18, 2012

NO, THE BOSS IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT

I once heard a female co-employee arrogantly exclaim, "Rule No. 1: The boss is always right. Rule No. 2: If he commits a mistake, refer to Rule No. 1."

Although to me what she said did not make any sense, it was obvious that she was trying to stress the arrogance of power.

The above incident stemmed from a work situation where another co-employee was silently complaining about an unfair move made by his supervisor that negatively affected him. In an attempt to resolve the problem, that distorted guideline was given.

In the mid-70s, during my employment as clerical assistant with the now defunct United States Naval Base in Subic Bay, the duty Officer of the Day (OOD), a U.S. Navy Lieutenant, asked me to type a personal letter for him, which I did. When I was done with the letter, I gave it back to him together with the sheet of yellow pad paper where it was drafted.

After proofreading the letter in his office, he went back to the Admin Office, confronted me, and the following dialog between us ensued:

OOD: Why did you change my spelling?

(I changed "laxidaisical" to "lackadaisical". He was referring to the "lackadaisical response" to the letter he sent earlier.)

Goddy: Aaah... that's the correct spelling, sir.
OOD: Did you go to college?
Goddy: No, sir.
OOD: Don't change my spelling!
Goddy: But that's the correct spelling, sir.
OOD: Did you go to college?
Goddy: No, sir.
OOD: Don't change my spelling!
Goddy: What do you mean by "laxidaisical", sir? Do you mean cold? Nonchalant?
OOD: Yeah!
Goddy: Then, that's the correct spelling, sir.
OOD: Did you go to college?
Goddy: No, sir.
OOD: (Very demanding this time) DON'T CHANGE MY SPELLING!!!
Goddy: Umm... do you want a dictionary, sir?
OOD: Yeah, give me a dictionary!

After I handed him an English dictionary, he went back to his office and, after some ten or fifteen minutes, returned the dictionary back to me. Although his silence implied he was convinced, I could sense he was not pleased.

Honestly, at times, thinking that that incident might have shattered the OOD's ego, I regretted having insisted what was right.

In an another instance, when all clerical assistants of our division were transferred to another division in our department, I encountered an incident similar to the one above.

After I was through typing an investigative report, one Filipino supervisor who edited reports confronted me. He was very much upset about my changing "double locks" to "double lock" (referring to handcuffs).

The Filipino supervisor demanded not to change "double locks" as, according to him, that was correct. Not wanting to be in an argument with the supervisor, I did as instructed by him--although against my will.

The other clerk on duty who was beside me and who witnessed what was going on, secretly looked up the phrase in question in the dictionary then showed the dictionary entry to me. Then I asked her, "So, who is right?" She said, "You!"

Although the abovementioned incidents dealt only with the communication skills of office superiors, similar situations occurring in work organizations will prove that bosses may not at all times be right.

It is unfortunate that some people at the helm of their organizations, especially in government offices, believe that everything they do is right. Still, even more unfortunate, they believe that running their offices depends solely on their whims, without regard for the laws or regulations and policies by which the organization and its men are covered and protected.

Back to that lady co-employee I mentioned above, let us try to analyze the rules she stated.

Rule No. 1: The boss is always right.
Rule No. 2: If he commits a mistake, refer to Rule No. 1.

Now, aren't these rules ridiculous and illogical?

First, she stated that the boss is always right. Then, she said, if he commits a mistake...

Isn't it that when one commits a mistake, he is not right? How come, therefore, that he is always right?

Rule No. 1 is not compatible with Rule No. 2. They do not jibe with one another.

Of course, that lady co-employee of mine might just want to underscore how arrogant those in power can sometimes be.

And, maybe, we can also add that we should not underestimate the intellectual capacity of some subordinates even if they have but low educational attainment. Many of them are very intelligent and have lots of common sense. In fact, there are occasions when they even outsmart their superiors.

1 comments:

Ruphael said...

This is absolutely correct.