Issue:March 2017

EXTERNAL DELIVERY – The Rodney Dangerfield Effect

You all know Rodney Dangerfield, the man who coined the phrase, “I don’t get no respect!” I believe Rodney had some of the best one-liners in show business. Some were a little crude, but most were hysterical.

I learned a long time ago that respect has to be earned, it is never given freely. While everyone wants to be respected, the odds are that you will eventually run into someone who is in a management position that “gets no respect.” What do you do if you end up reporting to someone who you do not respect?

Well, let’s first look at what it takes to gain the respect of others. This is my opinion, which you may not agree with. But here it goes. I believe it takes two primary traits to earn the respect of others: character and reputation. There are a lot of subheadings that go with these two primary traits, but these are the two biggies.

So, what do you do if you end up reporting to someone who you have no respect for? This is a really tough situation, possibly one of the top three toughest situations. The following is what I would do:

1. Do the best job you are capable of and don’t let your lack of respect for your boss affect your performance. I would view it as a training session by your boss on what not to do when you become a manager.

2. Keep a detailed file on problems and concerns your boss is responsible for. Show no emotion in your writing as it won’t fly well in a mediation or arbitration hearing. And keep the file at home, not in the office.

3. Do not, under any circumstance, talk negatively about your boss to others. One of them may be a back stabber and go to your boss and tell him/her what you said. A lot of people in companies who have poor skill sets get ahead by relaying to your boss what you have said in a closed-door meeting.

4. You should try to determine why you do not respect your boss. Is it his/her language, poor people skills, incompetence, work ethic, blaming others for their own failures, etc. Once you settle on a reason(s), you should try to determine ways you can work with him/her. Remember, you can only change yourself but not your boss.

5. If nothing works, then I would tune up the resume or wait your boss out. People change responsibilities constantly in companies, so your boss may be somewhere else in a few weeks or months.

Keep in mind that the problem could also be you. It could be a personality conflict or maybe your boss just has some benign bad habits you and others find uncomfortable. Sometimes, with great dignity and respect toward your boss, you might want to ask your boss out to lunch or dinner and put the problem on the table and work it out.

I had a conflict with the President of one of the large corporations I worked for and lost all respect for him. As things were coming to a head, I chose to take him out to dinner and to talk it over. We settled our differences, shook hands, and instead of getting fired, he became a mentor to me.

John A. Bermingham is former Executive Vice President & COO of 1st Light Energy & Conservation Lighting, Inc. and former Co-President and COO of AgraTech, a biotech enterprise. He was also President & CEO of Cord Crafts, LLC; President & CEO of Alco Consumer Products, Inc., Lang Holdings, Inc., and President, Chairman, and CEO of Ampad, all of which he turned around and successfully sold. With more than 20 years of turnaround experience, he also held the positions of Chairman, President, and CEO of Centis, Inc., Smith Corona, Corporation, and Rolodex Corporation as well as turning around several business units of AT&T Consumer Products Group and served as the EVP of the Electronics Group, and President of the Magnetic Products Group, Sony Corporation of America.