Oftentimes, the opinion of the big boss overrides the opinions of other staff members – regardless of knowledge or expertise in a particular topic. The HiPPO, or Highest Paid Person’s Opinion, can be detrimental to a businesses reputation if taken into account over all other information.
Nearly everyone in the history of employment has fallen victim to the HiPPO attack. A perfectly planned product launch, client meeting, business expansion, whatever it may be, is right on track for success, and in storms the HiPPO. Before anyone realizes what is going on, those perfect plans are in a pile on the floor in order to make way for the new plan. The new plan is often brighter and shinier than the original plan, but it does not always end in success. You see, the problem with a HiPPO, is after many years of experience and success, regardless of how far removed from a department or specialization they may be, they’re used to being right. If not actually right, they’re used to being told they are right.
How can one HiPPO damage the reputation of a whole organization? There are many ways. Here are a few examples:
- Above The Law HiPPO – This HiPPO is so used to being in control of things in the workplace, that they begin to think that their power reaches beyond the company doors, and out into the world. They may bump stats on a product to make it look better to consumers, or maybe they cut corners with regulations in order to save some cash. Either way, they believe that they’re not going to be held accountable. Unfortunately, what goes around always comes back around, and when it’s time for legal ramifications, the whole team suffers.
- Big Idea HiPPO – Though well-intentioned, they always think that their idea is the next big thing. Whether it’s a sales manager trying to push a contract through, or an IT manager trying to move the company forward technologically, they have tunnel vision for their big idea. Unfortunately, they rarely see how ramming their idea through will affect others within the organization.
- The Foot In Mouth HiPPO – While he or she may be well meaning, speaking without thinking is rarely without reputation consequence. They may use a slang word without knowing what it means, or offend a large group of people in an effort to be entertaining. This HiPPO may or may not offend intentionally, but when they do, it’s often loud.
- The Outright Jerk HiPPO – The Jerk HiPPO often drives a flashy car, shows up to the office an hour after everyone else, and expects everyone to stop what they’re doing and be at attention at the snap of a finger. As with the Above The Law, the Outright Jerk often forgets to tone it down for the outside world. Before you know it, the whole company is associated with this one Jerk’s attitude. The Jerk is often in the middle of a legal battle that is (obviously) not their fault, and has more than one nemesis.
- The Scandalous HiPPO – Adultery, driving under the influence, keeping questionable company, and of course, substance abuse. All of these behaviors are typically associated with the Scandalous HiPPO. One thing is for sure, when the big boss has a reputation for partying and hanging out with shady characters, trust in your organization plummets.
- The Control Freak HiPPO – They didn’t get to the top being lazy. The Control Freak has to have a hand, or two, in every aspect of operations. Unfortunately, the more success they achieve, the more aspects there are to keep tabs on. While people appreciate a leader who knows what’s going on, they tire quickly of feeling micromanaged and untrustworthy. Customers are not blind to these feelings, and will follow suit.
These are a few of the better known reputation endangering HiPPOs, of course, there are many more. What can you do if you feel like your HiPPO is hurting their own brand’s reputation?
First things first, you need to determine what kind of HiPPO you’re dealing with. If they generally care for the well-being of the organization and the people involved, you’re going to have far more success than you will with someone who’s heart isn’t in it. If you can get through to them, be prepared to present the facts, with a plan for moving forward. Often, being able to show someone why something may not work – or why something else may work better – works better than arguing. Appealing to the boss’ analytic side will also help avoid hurting feelings.
Unfortunately, not all HiPPOs have the organization’s best interests at heart. If they’re not interested in protecting the well-being of the company, you may be better off finding an organization with a leader who is, unless you’re prepared to go down with the ship.
Are there any other examples of HiPPOs you’ve dealt with?