Workplace Dynamics: When The Same Person Who Can Help You, Is The Same Person You Answer To

A few years ago a colleague who works at a high level of responsibility and relative ‘power’, in a prominent global organisation, approached me with a question, to see if I could provide a helpful answer:

“How do you seek advice and support, when the same person who can help you, is the same person that you answer to?”

The same person who decides whether or not you’re working effectively, whether or not you’re meeting targets and therefore to what extent you’re paid, promoted or even ‘kept on’ as an employee.

Addressing the status quo, is virtually impossible.

This creates a dynamic where it is incredibly difficult for honest conversations to take place, regarding your ability to cope and the amount of stress you are under, to the extent where the conversations don’t happen at all…

This has a trickledown effect which creates layer upon layer of ‘power’ structures, which make it increasingly challenging for the space to even consider the need for these conversations to happen, let alone actually materialise.

Thus an unhealthy environment is created, with an atmosphere ‘thick’ with stress, anxiety and passive aggression, which is un conducive to good thinking and effective decision making, creating dysfunction in what should be a fully functional organisation.

The decisions made in these contexts, especially in influential international organisations, go above and beyond personal stresses (although for the individuals, there is no distinction as it is an emotional and mental process) as the disseminating impact, can have wide economic consequences.

However, there are a lot of professionals and evidence, to support the claim, that the business model that creates these structures does incredibly well and is highly successful, yielding historical high economic and developmental results from industry to commerce.


The existing model although seemingly successful doesn’t acknowledge the fact that a high percentage of its success, was built on the back of human suffering and subjugation ( and still is for some companies), as well as sacrifice and innovation.

In the immediate sense it also misses the internal, mental and physical health impact on professionals operating in these structures and the greater impact on the ever – increasing gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have not’s, with the deficit between the wealthy and the impoverished/ disenfranchised becoming substantially greater.

This would suggest that the model is ‘inherently’ flawed, which is arguably both not seen by some and or over looked by others, or accepted as the way things are…

We have lived happy with the illusion that all is well, as long as targets are meet and money is made, failing to grasp the immediate and wider ramifications, in a truly honest sense…

We can no longer afford the illusion, in both literal and metaphoric terms.

So…What’s The Solution?

We could…

  • develop a process that creates a common ground between director and employee.
  • facilitate healthy and high quality professional interactions.
  • create environments conducive to learning and development.
  • manage and reduce high levels of stress.
  • build and foster healthy relationships.
  • negate difficult conversations and broker effective decision making.


If you have these things in place already, great, keep doing them.

But be honest, is what you’re doing truly effective?

Have dynamics truly improved?

And do they continue to do so?

We have to have the courage to ask the difficult questions and hear the answers, that we don’t want to hear.

We have to have the courage to go to the dark places… for it is there, that the gold is hidden.

We have to have resolve.

True change can only be achieved, with great intent, purpose and action.

“Management is about facilitating and providing structures which enable and empower people to manage themselves.

To offer support and guidance or advice when your team needs a sounding board, with an aim to encouraging and fostering self direction.”