hands tied, bound in rope, watercolor

To The Manager Whose Hands Are Tied

One day, someone from your team will come to you, and ask for something they need.

  • Maybe it’s extra time, materials, or staffing.
  • Maybe it’s the raise they should’ve gotten but didn’t.
  • Maybe it’s something else that you know in your gut, despite being the right thing to do, will be denied by the people you report to.

You probably know they need it, or at the very least, deserve it.

But, your hands are tied. It’s not your decision. Even if you ask, it’ll likely get shot down.

Knowing what you know, should you even take the chance? Should you go out on a limb, to ask for something both you and your manager know is dead on arrival? What will they think of you?

What should you do?


Say to your team: “my hands are tied, I can’t do anything.”


Organize everyone you can that reports to you, to create and present a unified business case to your manager.


Backed by the support of your team, enroll your manager with a compelling case and then ask them to stand with you and the team for what is needed. Ask them to do exactly what you did, all the way up the chain of command. Do this until you get what you want or the owners have to stare down the entire team to say no to what everyone agrees is needed.

Untie Those Hands…And Fight For Your Team

Everyone up the hierarchy is incentivized to tell you no.

Because it always seems safer and less expensive to say no.

Remind them all the reasons it’s neither safer, nor less expensive.

Being short-staffed is expensive.

Rehiring and retraining are expensive.

Poor customer experience is expensive

Filling your dry pipeline is expensive.

Losing customers is expensive.



What do you think?

What did I miss? What did I get wrong? Help build this idea with me by leaving a comment below.

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