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Getting the Balance Right

Getting the Balance Right


Managers often face the conundrum of being caught between ‘rights’ and ‘right’. It’s a challenge many faced recently with the Beast from the East, a weather front that brought heavy snow from Russia to many parts of the UK. Whilst organisations may have been within their rights to demand their staff get into work, was this always the right thing to do?

When faced with decisions where I need to balance sticking to the rules and looking for a more pragmatic approach, I think about the managers I admire and ask myself what they would do to balance the welfare of the employee and the needs of the organisation.

I especially remember how I was personally supported when my daughter required complex surgery that meant I would need to be absent from work for 2 months. 

My manager and director knew the difference between what they were within their rights to expect me to do over that period and what it was right to ask me to do. They got the balance absolutely spot on and it is something I will always be grateful for.

That experience taught me that simply removing the one letter to make ‘rights’ ‘right’ can make a huge difference to how we approach situations, both personally and professionally.

Think about the current scandal engulfing Facebook. Their initial response was to say that no laws had been broken, or to put it another way, that they were within their rights to act the way they did. Yet few of us feel that what they did was, in fact, right.

You might feel that you work in a large, rule-driven organisation and therefore you have to apply the rules rigorously in every situation.

However, there is almost always something you can do to get the balance right. Start by asking yourself, “What does this person need from me?” If you can’t provide that, ask yourself, “What is the right thing for me to do to resolve this?” That might mean asking for help from senior colleagues or referring the question to HR with your recommended solution.

Right, does not mean finding a way to break the rules, it means looking for an acceptable solution that values your customer/employee and the organisation you work for.

Moving from ‘rights’ to ‘right’ takes confidence and emotional intelligence, along with the ability to problem solve, communicate and influence. If you want to sharpen your ability to achieve that balance, we have some study guides in Managers’ Library to help get you started:


Developing this ability might lead you to being able to more confidently tackle difficult conversations, in which case our video Difficult Conversations has some great hints and tips too. 

Good luck! 

April 12 2018 Frances Ferguson
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Frances Ferguson




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