Guest Author - Dianne Walker
Many of us have been in the precarious position of being in a disagreement with our supervisor or other member of management. A disagreement to the degree that we are perched precariously on the thin line of insubordination. “I’m going to write you up for insubordination,” are definitely words that we never want to hear. So how do we avoid being labeled insubordinate?
To prevent this black mark on your record, it’s important to first understand exactly what insubordination is. Insubordination occurs when an employee refuses to comply with a direct order from a manager to perform a duty that is related to the job. It also involves challenging the employer’s ability and authority to run the business, direct operation or service.
There are times when certain situations may preclude the “obey now, grieve later” approach. This includes if following the supervisor’s direction threatens the life or causes direct injury to employees or customers. It would also be considered null if the direction is illegal or discriminatory.
What are some factors that should be taken into consideration when you refuse to comply to a manager’s order?
1 - Is the direction clearly defined within the job duties?
2 - Does the direction conform to policy?
3 - Is it legal?
4 - What are the consequences if the directive is not followed? Will it affect customers? Are there any dangers to the staff or customers?
5 - Have you been trained to safely complete the requested task?
6 - Did you clearly hear and understand the request?
Depending upon the severity of the situation, prior to bring charges again you, the supervisor should consult their own manager or the Human Resources Department before preparing a disciplinary action you. Supervisors should be well versed in the levels of disciplinary actions in the company policy manual. Certain infractions may warrant immediate termination while others may only require completing a verbal or written disciplinary action form. Consulting human resources will ensure that all laws are being adhered to.
If the situation appears to be a case of outright subordination of a normal job duty, the supervisor will take appropriate action. They should first take you into a private area to discuss the situation. If it appears that you clearly heard the order and know how to perform the requested task they should provide the opportunity for you to state why you choose not to perform the task. They may even repeat the order. If you continue to refuse to follow orders, the situation will be dealt with as warranted by company policy concerning insubordination.
Insubordination, if left unchecked, can not only lower the morale of the department, but also lower the effectiveness of the supervisor if the situation is not dealt with swiftly.