The topic of favors led to many comments and conversations. Randy asked me “What about asking favors from people who are below you in the organization?” That stumped me for a few days. Not because I don’t know what I think. But because I wasn’t sure if I was willing to say it out loud. Here goes…
There is no such thing as a favor from someone below you.
Favors involve a freedom of choice. If you are their supervisor…and you influence their paycheck…then favors are hard to define with clear boundaries. Either you are giving someone a job assignment….or you are being fuzzy about the role of authority that you have over their lives. That carries a lot of risk in the workplace.
Yes, there are exceptions. When friendships with a supervisor precede the working relationship (as mine have) then there is room for “complexity”. But honestly, most people struggle to juggle the two types of relationships.
Yes, I can freely offer a favor upwards. But it is a high risk scenario for me to ask for one from someone who reports to me. I may use the language of “I need a favor” to a subordinate, but that is me being nice. Let’s not confuse the relationship.
Care to comment?