Lou’s Been Thinking about Precedents

Lou Hecklerby Lou Heckler, CSP, CPAE

I’ve been thinking about precedents.

Not presidents…precedents.  When I took my first management job 40 years ago I called a friend who had mentored me and asked for his best piece of advice.  He said, “Get used to being under surveillance by your staff and realize that everything you do – and I do mean everything – sets a precedent.”

I soon found out he was right.  I hired a new staff person with good experience and a bright future and paid her a bit more than some of my existing people were getting.  “Please keep your salary confidential,” I asked.  Within 15 minutes of her leaving my office, one of the other department members was at my desk asking, “Why is the new person being paid more than I am?”

We all think that some of our day-to-day decisions are casual…one-of-a-kind…or not that important in the overall scope of our organization.  But today especially with so many formerly private transactions getting parsed all over the Internet through social networking, it sometimes feels like nothing is private any more.

Remember when we first started using the Internet and someone cautioned, “Don’t write anything down that you don’t want forwarded and re-forwarded…because it might happen,”?  Now that would have to be amended to “it surely will happen.

I guess it comes down to this: in some ways, we are ALL in the public eye.  Did you ever stop to think how many times a day you are likely being recorded by a security camera secreted in the ceiling or a lamppost or a mirror?  I guess everything we do DOES set some kind of a precedent.

I wonder if everyone running for President in the United States has really stopped to consider that!

Read Lou Heckler’s weekly blog on management motivation topics.

Lou Heckler is a motivational humorist and business speaker with more than 40 years experience in managing, motivating and directing others. In 2010, readers of “Meetings and Conventions” Magazine named him as one of their favorite keynote speakers. He has been married since 1968 to five-times-published novelist Jonellen Heckler and they have a son Steve, daughter-in-law Johanna, and two granddaughters.


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