You wouldn't want your staff to drop you in it but has any manager the right to expect unconditional loyalty? Does you loyalty extend to covering up for your manager or would your ambition tempt you to expose your managers failings? And if not your ambition then your sense of what's right.
You are escorting a senior manager on a "walk about" when they refer to the annual appraisal process clearly under the impression that this is routine for all staff. Do you make the right noises about it being helpful to give staff feedback and set targets for the forthcoming year or do you say your manager hasn't got round to it yet? You know your manager thinks this is a huge waste of time and effort. Do you keep this to yourself?
You agree to give management input into some training sessions for an area of service you are not directly responsible for. You refer to the importance the organisation attaches to regular one to one sessions between employee and manager and go on at some length about the benefits and how to get the most out of these meetings, when you realise there are a lot of blank stares around the room. The course organiser confirms that comments are regularly received that the manager for this area of service does not think this type of supervision and support is appropriate or practical. Do you raise this with your colleague, do you raise it with someone else or do you let sleeping dogs lie? After all it's not your area of service and therefore not your responsibility.
You are aware that the department is "adjusting" its performance figures before submitting them. The Director has made it clear he is not prepared to submit figures which show deterioration in performance from last year which has led to some minor rounding up. You are uncomfortable about this but it is highly unlikely that the figures will be questioned. What do you do if anything?
Your department employs people with a disability to make office furniture. This is part of a commercial business; however councillors have made it clear they expect all departments to support this venture as part of the Local Authorities Social Inclusion strategy. One department in particular ignores this expectation; the Director concerned has made it known to their staff that they think managers should buy their furniture from wherever they can get the best deal. Despite your offer to match any like for like deal, mangers continue to place large orders elsewhere. At a meeting of the Social Inclusion Committee you have the opportunity to raise your frustrations about this lack of support. Should you do it or do you subscribe to the view that officers should not involve members in their disputes?
When is it appropriate to involve members? I worked in an organisation where the Deputy Director had gone to the relevant cabinet member to express concern about the breakdown in working relations within the senior management team as a result of the affair the Director was having with one of the Assistant Directors. He felt this was part of his role as deputy and was encouraged in this by the other Assistant Directors. The Director was subsequently forced to leave. The Deputy became acting Director then Director. His first action as Director was to do away with the post of Deputy. After all, it is easy to get rid of someone if you have a readymade replacement.
Blair McPherson author of UnLearning management published by Russell House www.blairmcpherson.co.uk