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Leadership for Lineworkers, Part 5: Know the Rules

Feb. 6, 2020
By following the rules, lineworkers can make a smooth transition into management and avoid any potential problems.

The rules are different in the office or professional settings as opposed to the field. You’d better learn them, adapt and understand that the way you carry yourself, communicate and behave will determine your success as a frontline supervisor. If you have any ideas about advancing in the organization you’ll have to learn the rules, apply them and most importantly, act like a professional. Talk with your immediate supervisor, establish a good working relationship, ask for help and most importantly listen before you speak and always remain calm.

When you are in the field working on a crew, there is a certain culture that is developed amongst your crew and peers. This culture is a long-established one that can include joking, some horseplay, rituals-of-passage (sometimes called hazing), profanity, and some downright unacceptable behaviors that absolutely won’t be tolerated in the professional working environment. It is imperative that you understand that you must behave in a professional manner at all times in the office.

Hostile work environment, retaliation, whistle-blower--get used to those terms. In the office, your co-workers, direct reports, peers, and management have high expectations and the organization will do everything in its power to maintain an environment that doesn’t bring any legal action against it. Those guys on the crew who you used to joke with and have a good time with--guess what?--that relationship has changed. If one of those individuals decides to file a complaint against you, trust me, it will roll up the corporate ladder, and you will be involved in a very stressful incident investigation regardless of whether there was any wrongdoing on your part.

I highly recommend that you don’t get involved in an office romance. There’s an old saying; “Don’t get your honey, where you get your money.” I have seen office affairs blow up into hostile work environments, divorces, terminations, etc. When I was a supervisor, I had a hard rule. I didn’t go to lunches or other events alone with women from work. I would join a group for business-sponsored events or if a group decided to go to lunch together, but never alone. This becomes even more important if you have to attend business trips with others in the organization. “Out of sight, out of mind” is not a good philosophy, neither is “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

So, after all of this, you might be saying, “Why would I want to take a promotion?” Because organizations need experienced leadership, individuals who can provide guidance, training and knowledge to the workforce. The rules are there to protect you as well, they provide guidelines and enable you to stay within the boundaries of good behavior and not put the organization at-risk. Learn the rules, enforce the rules and there won’t be any problems.

Do you have a question about leadership for lineworkers or training and development? Email it to Maximo Fuentes. 

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