Jim A.

"Just use your judgment"

9 posts in this topic

One of my biggest problems in any job is being given the advice by employers that when a certain situation comes up I should simply use my "own judgment" or my "discretion". I hear this alot in the work world.

If you are told that a certain situation warrants a "judgment call" (I hate that phrase!), then that implies that the rest of the time during your work day you don't need to use your judgment. But as probably everyone who comes to this site knows, every situation in life--on the job or off--is a "judgment call". The only reason a company or employer says that in a certain situation you then "just use your own judgment" is because that company or employer have themselves not thoroughly thought out such contingencies and/or there are latent, implicit contradictions in their policies which only surface when those contingencies or emergencies arrise.

At that point, the employee is stuck; he or she is trapped between what the customer/client has a right to expect and what the company or employer dictates (usually arbitrarily). I would say most of us have been in that situation at one time or another, and it sucks.

Anyone have any stories to relate on this?

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I forgot to add that on the job, one's standard of judgment should be same for all actions, whether in regard to emergencies or routine tasks. And the criteria/standard for work decisions must be clearly and explicitly stated in the employer's policy, and must be consistent for all situations that arise.

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Jim, I think that a good company would want to hire good people, give them a direction for goals to be achieved along with a set of principles and then let the people do their work. The amount of possible situations that would have to be dealt with in a manual or something like that would be unrealistic. I think one can see this in the customer service area of a company the most. When I call one of the many companies that I have to deal with and then get a customer servie rep (it should actually be called Non-Customer Service Rep), that has never dealt with you problem before and the only answer they have for you is "we are sorry, is there anything else we can do for you." My response is that they should fix the problem which of course that person cannot because they have not been told how, it is not in the manual.

In todays sue happy world I think we are seeing what happens when the company tries to cover itself. Manuals for every situation so that the company can claim in court that they have a manual and you the worker did not follow the procedures. When you "use your judgement" instead of what they have written in their manual, they are no longer (the company is hoping anyways), responsible for your actions.

A long time ago I was interviewing for a job with a wood supplying/mill company and got all the way to the final interview which made my head-hunter very happy, along with myself. After that final interview I received a call from my head-hunter that I was not going to be hired so I asked her why. She did not have an answer so I asked her if she could find out. The answer that she gave me was that the regional director thought that one of my responses showed that I was a quitter. I thought this was outrageous and asked her to find out which one of my answers was considered to be showing I was a quitter. Well, the question was about how I would handle a certain situation dealing with a client and no payment.

The hypothetical situation was that the client had not paid the company for more than 9 months but was still receiving supplies from the company, in "my judgement" what should be done. I told him that I would contact the company and try and figure out the reasons for non-payment and at least try and set up a payment plan to get them back on track while still keeping them as a client. The director then added that another month has gone by and they still had not paid, what would I do now? I told him that I would again call their office and tell them that until I received some type of payment I was stopping all supplies from being delivered to their company. This is the response that He considered me to be a quitter. I was not willing to let a company keep looting from his company and I was the quitter.

I actually called him to let him now my thoughts on him calling me a quitter which surprised him. His response back to me was that I was obviously not a quitter and that he had never met anyone that had the courage to call his office directly to discuss this type of situation with him. But, now they also decided not to hire me because I did not have any expierence in their field. I told him that I knew that was a lie and that I had the original paperwork stating that his company was actully looking for people without a lot or no experience in their field so that they could train them "their way." I ended the phone call by telling him that I did not want a job where I could not trust the company I worked for, good day!

I think it is sad that when one uses their own judgement and it is considered a negative.

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Jim, I think that a good company would want to hire good people, give them a direction for goals to be achieved along with a set of principles and then let the people do their work. The amount of possible situations that would have to be dealt with in a manual or something like that would be unrealistic. I think one can see this in the customer service area of a company the most. When I call one of the many companies that I have to deal with and then get a customer servie rep (it should actually be called Non-Customer Service Rep), that has never dealt with you problem before and the only answer they have for you is "we are sorry, is there anything else we can do for you." My response is that they should fix the problem which of course that person cannot because they have not been told how, it is not in the manual.

In todays sue happy world I think we are seeing what happens when the company tries to cover itself. Manuals for every situation so that the company can claim in court that they have a manual and you the worker did not follow the procedures. When you "use your judgement" instead of what they have written in their manual, they are no longer (the company is hoping anyways), responsible for your actions.

A long time ago I was interviewing for a job with a wood supplying/mill company and got all the way to the final interview which made my head-hunter very happy, along with myself. After that final interview I received a call from my head-hunter that I was not going to be hired so I asked her why. She did not have an answer so I asked her if she could find out. The answer that she gave me was that the regional director thought that one of my responses showed that I was a quitter. I thought this was outrageous and asked her to find out which one of my answers was considered to be showing I was a quitter. Well, the question was about how I would handle a certain situation dealing with a client and no payment.

The hypothetical situation was that the client had not paid the company for more than 9 months but was still receiving supplies from the company, in "my judgement" what should be done. I told him that I would contact the company and try and figure out the reasons for non-payment and at least try and set up a payment plan to get them back on track while still keeping them as a client. The director then added that another month has gone by and they still had not paid, what would I do now? I told him that I would again call their office and tell them that until I received some type of payment I was stopping all supplies from being delivered to their company. This is the response that He considered me to be a quitter. I was not willing to let a company keep looting from his company and I was the quitter.

I actually called him to let him now my thoughts on him calling me a quitter which surprised him. His response back to me was that I was obviously not a quitter and that he had never met anyone that had the courage to call his office directly to discuss this type of situation with him. But, now they also decided not to hire me because I did not have any expierence in their field. I told him that I knew that was a lie and that I had the original paperwork stating that his company was actully looking for people without a lot or no experience in their field so that they could train them "their way." I ended the phone call by telling him that I did not want a job where I could not trust the company I worked for, good day!

I think it is sad that when one uses their own judgement and it is considered a negative.

Liked your post, RayK.

One thing it reminded me of is the fact that I have noticed that the most consistent managers I have ever worked with are the ones most people would see as being "tough" or "strict". Yeah, they're tough and strict; but they are that way because they have certain rules and principles. You can trust this kind of managers to not change the rules on you all of a sudden; they're not going to "re-write" reality on you.

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There is a flip side to this. Some employees are so lacking in independent thought that they run to their manager anytime something new pops up, no matter how small. They are perfectly willing to passively do exactly what they're told, and are scared to death of using their own judgement and taking responsibility for their actions. It can be frustrating for a manager who is too busy with his own responsibilities to also do the job of another.

So there are some cases in which telling an employee to "use your own judgement" is the proper direction.

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I agree with you Ed. But, your statements raise the question of how a person like the one you described ever got hired in the first place. Another question that comes to mind is why do they keep someone like you described.

I think if a company is going to make it to the level of somethng like a GE they will need to have good principled leaders and workers that can think for themseves while obtaining the companies goals and theirs.

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Liked your post, RayK.

One thing it reminded me of is the fact that I have noticed that the most consistent managers I have ever worked with are the ones most people would see as being "tough" or "strict". Yeah, they're tough and strict; but they are that way because they have certain rules and principles. You can trust this kind of managers to not change the rules on you all of a sudden; they're not going to "re-write" reality on you.

Jim, I have had leaders in the Marine Corps just like the ones you descirbe. One of my most respected leaders was a prior Drill Instructor that was as tough as nails. He demanded a lot of himself and of his subordinates and rewarded or punished accordingly.

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There is a flip side to this. Some employees are so lacking in independent thought that they run to their manager anytime something new pops up, no matter how small. They are perfectly willing to passively do exactly what they're told, and are scared to death of using their own judgement and taking responsibility for their actions. It can be frustrating for a manager who is too busy with his own responsibilities to also do the job of another.

So there are some cases in which telling an employee to "use your own judgement" is the proper direction.

If so, I just hope that whoever says that has a ready for the rarely asked question: "Based on what standard [of judgment]?" The standard of judgment in an unexpected situation should be already "automatised"; it should be the same standard the employee uses in every other situation (e.g., profit for the company, long-range; or the long-term health of the patient; or the education of the child, etc.).

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Liked your post, RayK.

One thing it reminded me of is the fact that I have noticed that the most consistent managers I have ever worked with are the ones most people would see as being "tough" or "strict". Yeah, they're tough and strict; but they are that way because they have certain rules and principles. You can trust this kind of managers to not change the rules on you all of a sudden; they're not going to "re-write" reality on you.

Jim, I have had leaders in the Marine Corps just like the ones you descirbe. One of my most respected leaders was a prior Drill Instructor that was as tough as nails. He demanded a lot of himself and of his subordinates and rewarded or punished accordingly.

I've know leaders like that myself while in the Navy and with the Marines (I was a Navy Hospital Corpsman), and I liked working under them.

I also think everyone should beware of managers/employers who want to be "your friend" on the first day of employment. I certainly don't trust those types; they kind of remind me of Don Corleone becoming "friends" with the funeral director in The Godfather; at some time which they determine, they will ask for a favor from you.

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