What kind of leader would tell this to their staff? If you’re a manager with supervisory responsibilities, I sure hope you never say that to your staff. When I’m at work, it makes me want to scream whenever I hear jaded leaders make that statement. Anyone who says it has lots of room for professional growth. Well, of course we ALL have room to grow. But when you are responsible for a group of people, the spotlight is shining brightly on you. Even if something really is above your pay grade, your staff does not need to hear you tell them that. They already know when something is an executive level decision. That statement does nothing but dismantle morale.
There are four basic roles of a leader (directing, coaching, delegating, and supporting), and telling your staff “That’s above my pay grade.” impacts your ability to do these four things. Even if you don’t agree that it impacts all four of them, it certainly impacts the most important of the four: supporting. In your supporting role as a leader, you must routinely inspire and engage your staff. In your supporting role as a leader, you must always be a developer of people both personally and professionally. In your supporting role as a leader, you should always be ready to help your staff to deal with policies and mandates and political red tape that come from above, even if you think those policies and mandates and political red tape are all unreasonable, ridiculous, and unrealistic.
You’re the boss, and it’s your job to serve as that buffer between the worker bees and the executives above you. That’s especially true if your work environment has morale challenges. Telling your staff that something is above your pay grade is the same as telling them that to get over it and that you don’t care how they feel.
If you’re sitting in that seat and you’re the boss, then realize that it isn’t above your pay grade even if technically, it is above your pay grade. Bite your lip and don’t say that to your staff. Recognize that they expect more from you – and your managers above you expect more from you as well. You also should expect more from yourself.
Set the new standard.