In the movie The Caine Mutiny, there is a character named Lt. Thomas “Tom” Keefer, who is played by Fred MacMurray. Keefer is always in Lt. Steve Maryk’s (Van Johnson) ear about how they need to overthrow their crazy-ass ship commander, Lt. Cmdr. Philip Francis Queeg (Humphrey Bogart). After Keefer starts the wheels in motion, however, he pulls his support out, fearing career repercussions.

That scenario is a lot different from the normal workplace, in that lives depended on the actions of the superior in that situation. But sometimes the machinations and politics behind the dissatisfaction with a boss can be comparable.

Case in point: I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, and she told me that one of her co-workers was taking steps to overthrow their boss. The “insurgent” is taking action with the excuse that their boss is incompetent. She’s gone to HR and unrolled a plan for reorg that would “benefit the company,” although it’s obvious that the changes will really only benefit the person proposing them.

My friend disagrees with the assessment about their boss. She believes the boss is quite competent, just not as forceful as the employee would like him to be. My friend thinks the insurgent is just ambitious and is looking for a way to climb the corporate ladder at someone else’s expense.

I question the fact that someone in HR wouldn’t first recommend that the employee go to her manager with the ideas. But from what I hear, HR seems to be sold on the idea.

This is a sticky situation to say the least. What should my friend do? Alienate her small team by going to the boss and tipping him off? Should she voice her opinion to the mutineers that she doesn’t agree (which is what she did)?