October 21, 2017 - Issue 17-43


Good Afternoon.

Some recent conversations have reminded me of a memorable experience nearly 30 years ago, when I worked as Operations Manager in a large gas and oil exploration and production company. The president of the company sometimes would reach down into the middle of the organization and assign special projects to individuals or groups without the agreement, or sometimes even the knowledge, of those employees' Department Manager or me (the Department Manager's direct supervisor).

A Letter of Protest

After the second occurrence of this, I hand-wrote (this was before email was in regular use) a long letter to the president. I attempted to explain the severe disruption to lines of communication, and to employee morale (including mine!) that he was causing with this failure to honor the chain-of-command.

Likely I'd have taken a less combative approach today, though I'd be just as upset. In this instance, we were undergoing a change of company ownership. The new owners were looking for pivotal positions to put some of their people into. The president offered my position as one which they may want to occupy, and they did. Did my letter to the president precipitate that? Quite likely it was a factor - though he claimed not! 

This story is by way of introducing this week's topic, the importance of following the chain-of-command. In my estimation, violation of this principle this is one of the most damaging characteristics of micro-management, though there are plenty of others.

Below, I'll offer a few more comments, and an article by Patty Azzarello, in discussion of this topic.

Please read on, and enjoy!

John Stevens at Unity Copywriting
Marketing Support for the Business Coaching Industry

Visit our website -  www.unitycopywriting.com

Office and cell phone: 814-590-3854 or 603-835-3215 
In Argentina: +54(country code) 9 3868 459586
Skype:  johnbstevens1943


Please Help me Spread my Message Where It's Welcome

Please remember to pass this letter along to anyone you think will enjoy and benefit from it, and/or might like to receive my messages every week. Just click the "" link at the bottom of this one, or here. If this message was forwarded to you, and you'd like to join us regularly, please click on the "SIGN UP FOR EMAILS" link below or here. You'll be automatically added to my mailing list, and I guarantee that will not generate other promotions. Your privacy is of the utmost importance to me. If you'd rather not receive these messages any more, you're welcome to click the "UNSUBSCRIBE" link here or at the foot of this message. I'll miss you, but I'd rather send these ideas to those who find benefit in them.


Skip-Level Meetings Can be Very Beneficial

In doing my research on this topic, I found quite a lot written about "skip-level" meetings. Patty Azzarello's (her bio is at the end of the article)  article here is one of the clearest I found in describing the benefits, purposes and proper conduct of such meetings, and the folly of conducting them improperly.

In a skip-level meeting, a manager or executive will meet with an individual or group two levels below him in the organization structure. This must always be done with the full knowledge and cooperation of the intermediate supervisor (the boss of the lower level employees). The meeting might have any of several purposes:
  • Introducing himself, and attaching a personality to his name, especially if he's new to the position, or if there are new employees
  • Learning more about what's happening on the "front lines"
  • Feeling out people's experience in the company
  • Delivering information on company mission, objectives, culture, changes, etc.
  • Any other appropriate (not personally directed) information flow, up or down
Some cautions:
  • As mentioned above, it must have the knowledge and cooperation of the employees' direct supervisor
  • It must not be a witch hunt for "dirt" on the supervisor
  • It must not assign work of any kind 
The issue of anyone other than an employee's direct supervisor issuing work instructions (the particular issue in my experience that led me into this discussion) has many negative implications. 

First, the employee will be confused. If he finds discrepancy between the instructions he receives from his supervisor and the higher level manager, he'll be conflicted about what to do. If he later has a question about what the higher level person told him, and his supervisor wasn't in the loop, sorting that out may be a very confusing and time-consuming process, and result in recriminations along the way.

Second, it places a question in the employees' minds as to whether their supervisor is on shaky ground with the company management (if he is, this might be the worst way to introduce the matter!)

Third, everyone's morale is compromised. The intermediate supervisor feels (rightly so!) disempowered. The employee is confused as to where he or she stands in the reporting line, and uncertainty is a sure destroyer of morale. The higher level executive may achieve his or her short-term goal of getting a particular task accomplished. Longer term, he's done immense damage to the organization's health, and to the trust people have in each other.

Fourth, and most important to the bottom line - when confusion and low morale reign, productivity, accuracy of performance, and dedication to the organization's purpose all suffer! And the company  will likely soon lose good people!

Check out Patty's suggestion for handling this correctly, about 2/3 of the way down the  article , under the sub-heading, "There's a very simple fix".

The health of an organization absolutely depends on clear lines of communication and everyone honoring the chain-of-command, up and down. 

Distributing and gathering information, openly, deeply and broadly, is excellent...leave work assignments where they belong - in the hands of each supervisor.

Do More of What  You Love Doing - 
and What
You Get PAID For!

Do you coach business leaders on ways to improve their businesses? If so, when you're face to face, or on the phone, with your clients, that's the work you signed up for, that you love...AND that you get paid for

Writing effective promotional, or even just conversational, material - very important in staying top-of-mind with your prospects and clients - to attract new business takes hard, focused work. If you're doing that writing yourself, it diverts time and attention from your work with the clients you're already helping. Your coaching work, also very demanding, distracts you from your promotional writing, likely making it less effective. I can focus on your promotional pieces while you put your time and effort toward your most important work.

Call Unity Copywriting today and learn how I can eliminate this distraction for you, and keep you in touch with your important sources of business. Let me help you with a regular e-newsletter (similar to the one you're reading - these are my specialty) or other pieces to help you build and nurture relationships with your prospects and clients. I'll go to great lengths (not necessary the length of the message, unless you want it that way!) to describe how you serve your clients, and how prospective clients can benefit from working with you

Put My Experience to Work for You...

As a business coach for several recent years, and before that having worked in various operations management roles during a long and varied career, I've been practicing and studying leadership and teamwork for over 45 years. With this background, I'm uniquely qualified to explain the benefits you offer to your clients and prospects. I love writing about this work and I'd love to talk with you about how we can work together to promote your business most effectively. Please let me hear from you!

I Welcome  Your Thoughts!

How well is the chain-of-command honored in your organization? I'll bet this discussion causes a flood of memories for many people! I'll be most interested in any thoughts or comments that spring up for you relative to this topic, and/or what you think of the entire issue.

Do the ideas in any of my messages contribute to making your life and business more enjoyable and effective...or, do you have some reservations about them? I very much look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences and learning from them. 

If you email or text me whatever's on your mind, please give me a phone number or a Skype address, or send me a Skype contact request (see my Skype address below), and mention that you read my newsletter. It's really important to mention this - with all the spammers, phishermen, etc. out there, I'm very selective about my connections on networking services. If your name is unfamiliar to me, I'll consider your contact request when you tell me the reason you want to connect with me, and...

Conversations are often necessary to discuss complex ideas. Conversations occur only in real-time, two(or more)-way exchanges; hence my request for your call or the information I need to call you. This will allow us to have a real conversation about your thoughts. Email and other forms of one-way communication are data transfers, and very useful for many types of communication. However, they are extremely limited in their ability to convey the ideas, emotions, and inflections that characterize conversations (it's estimated that words, which are the total content of an email, convey only about seven percent of the total import of a message. Sure, you can add emoticons, which help marginally, so maybe the percentage becomes 10 or 12 - still very limited). So please call me or tell me how to call you.  Just dial 603-835-3215 or 814-590-3854 if you're in the United States or Canada. Of course, if you call from outside North America, you'll need the +1 prefix. If you're calling from Argentina, you're welcome to call my Argentine number, +54 9 3868 459586.

Help me Spread my Message Where It's Welcome...
If you know someone you think will find value in the ideas I discuss each week, I encourage you to forward this to them, using the " " link here or at the end of this message. If this was forwarded to you, and you'd like to hear more, please click the " SIGN UP FOR EMAILS " link below, or here. You'll be automatically added to my mailing list, which I  never  sell, rent, or even add a name to without permission. Your privacy is enormously important to me.

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Join me here again next week for more unique ideas on life and business...and  thanks for reading this week's letter.

Have a wonderful week , and contact me  to discuss how we can join forces to add value to what  you  do. Our investigation as to how we can mutually benefit from working together is totally on me - no obligation or cost will arise from that conversation. You won't pay me a dime until you hire me to write something for you.

Be well, my friends.
John Stevens
Marketing Support for the Business Coaching Industry

Visit our website - www.unitycopywriting.com

Office and cell phone: 814-590-3854 or 603-835-3215 
In Argentina: +54(country code) 9 3868 459586
Skype:  johnbstevens1943

About John
Throughout a career spanning over 45 years my  management style has been one of building teams to bring several competent people together to focus on a common objective. 

As I transition to life in the Argentine outback, my focus will shift to helping other business coaches and advisers get their message out to their prospective clients. With my first-hand knowledge of the benefits of effective business coaching, I am uniquely qualified to work with business advisers of all stripes convey their message.

Contact Info
John B. Stevens, Freelance Copywriter

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