It is the culture where I work to go straight up to the top if you have a problem that you can't resolve or if you perceive that something is unfair. In most cases, people will go straight up without trying to resolve something on their level with their manager.
The one experience I have with this method of trying to get what I want is when the facility was having their regular blood drive. I advocated to have a bone marrow donor drive concurrent with the blood drive and this was executed at the cost of $25 per added donor. When I asked the drive organizer again at the next scheduled blood drive she said no because the cost of the donors (we turned out 6 at $25 each) came out of her budget and they couldn't afford it again. I looked for funding from donor web sites with no avail, so then I decided that I would organize a bake sale to raise the funding because it was not an astronomical amount to come up with. So I brainstormed with another employee who organizes bake sales and other sales, and I made up a cute flyer to promote my bake sale. After having done my homework, I went up to the assistant administrator with my flyer and presented my idea to him and asked if and where I could have the sale. His response without hesitation was that they will pay for it! No need for a bake sale [you silly little girl scout] . I was very pleased and although I understand budget constraints, it is a small amount of money for a good cause that they really should cover. (Plus it makes them look good in the community which is where their potential business is). So anyway, me going pretty close to the top in this situation worked for me :)
So one day, I hear that an aide from my department went to my big boss, the department head, because she thought her schedule was unfair. Despite her not taking up this issue with the supervisor who made the schedule, he took it seriously and gave it sufficient attention. So I decided that this type of performance is what gets attention and action and if that is what works for my big boss, I can play that game too. I sat on my request for a raise for 2 months with not too much care from anyone beyond initially so I decided I waited long enough. I wrote my big boss a well-written letter with a threatening undertone about how valuable I am, how efficiently I work and how I believe that at the least I should have the cost of the exam, $350 reimbursed to me promptly. I briefly brought up the possibility that he may not know what I do on the clinical side of the food service department since he is culinary trained...all the more reason to take my word for it that I am important :) I closed my letter by saying that I hope he doesn't view me as a disgruntled employee but as a firm advocate of myself :) So I kind of let my balls hang down and guess what happened? Big boss apologized for putting my requests aside and in the course of that Thursday and Friday he set up an expense report, signed off on it , had his district manager signed off on it and mailed it off.
I feel very empowered by words and I prefer to use my proficiency of composing a nice letter to my advantage whenever necessary. And although I think people should act because it is the right thing to do, this is not reality and many people act to try to prove something or because they are threatened. My direct boss is a wonderful person but she lacks a set of balls so I cant rely on her to advocate for me too much. I am pleased with my letter and the outcome of it and I will be pleased when I receive my check for $350 as well.