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The employment contract – it’s more than what’s on paper


~ Joan Owen, FliP U’s Director of Connecting the Dots

​Being the Director of Connecting the Dots at FliP U means thinking about leadership and followership a lot, and how these skills can help people at work:  yourself; your co-workers; your boss; or even a project team.  
In their book, Sam and Marc talk about leading and following as two sides of an unspoken contract between you and your boss. The leadership role is about commitment to people and engagement is about choosing how you show up at work.  

Recently, a friend and I met for dinner. We got to chatting about work, and she shared that she was struggling with the way her boss had suddenly changed the way he was treating her...and her workload. After a great ten-year working relationship, he had gone from being ultra-supportive to borderline judgmental. He wasn't trusting her and was micromanaging. 

At first, I got the sense she was feeling a bit confused and frustrated. As she continued, I could see how upset she was. The more she spoke, it was clear she was starting to focus on blaming her boss for the situation.  

Over dessert, I listened, and followed her words. Then I had an "a-ha" moment. You see, the problem was that it seemed that her boss had changed the way he viewed their relationship. He appeared to no longer trust her My friend had been following faithfully and showing that she was engaged. But then something else shifted. 

As we talked, I FliPped the situation and helped her connect the dots.  

I told her about the psychological contract between the role of leadership and the role of followership. Based on what she'd shared with me, it felt like there was a breach of contract -- but it wasn't hers! It was her boss who broke the contract by no longer showing commitment to her. She'd successfully held onto her engagement through it all. The next step for her was to be courageous in her followership role and express her feelings to her boss and encourage him to re-commit to his end of this unspoken contract. 

Let's connect the dots in this story:  

  • The boss was not actually failing as a boss or not trusting her, but his behaviour was saying otherwise
  • He did drop the ball on his commitment as a leader, to her and her work
  • She was becoming disengaged
  • This was how the blaming started
  • After the FliP,  she could see the situation differently and I could encourage her to re-engage
  • She needed to get her boss to re-commit to her by reminding him that she is trustworthy, will always have his back and still supports his goals
  • She also had to be courageous in her followership and explain that her feelings were hurt because she felt that their trust bond had been severed

There's a FliP quote for it, "Leadership role: I will stay committed to you and support your effort. Followership role I will be engaged in my work and support your goals." (Chapter 13 – Performance Partnering Skills)