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Manager in the Middle - How Would You Handle this Situation?

By RB_ITProfessional ·
I have an employee who recently went behind my back and asked my boss for approval on something that I had previously told him "no" on. His excuse was " was late and you were gone, so I asked Ted..." The bad part is, my boss told him yes! This is surprising, because my boss and I had agreed previously that we were on the same page about this particular issue.

The fact that my boss changed his mind is really not the issue. I am more annoyed at the fact that a) he changed the rules mid-game and didn't inform me, but more importantly b) the fact that he trumped a decision that I made (that we had previously agreed on) with my employee. I am also annoyed with my employee because he absolutely knew what my answer would be because I had told him no previously. The fact that he went to my boss on this issue in my opinion is more than a little disrespectful. When he approached me to tell me that he went to my boss, his comment was?.?I went to Ted on this and he approved it, but I just wanted to get your input?..?

I worry that this will destroy my credibility with my team if this sort of thing continues. How would you handle this situation?

To give you some background on the dynamics at play in this situation:
-My boss is still a relatively new manager, and as such tends to be real "flakey" when it comes to making decisions and sticking to them. He is known for "changing the rules mid-game" so to speak

-The employee in question is not only a new employee to our organization, but new to the working world and the dynamics of office politics.

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Start with your boss

by JamesRL In reply to Manager in the Middle - H ...

You need to let him know that his decisions have consequences beyond the transaction. I am presuming that an immediate answer was not required, the preferred solution would be for the boss to tell the employee, I will discuss with your supervisor. That would have sent the right message. Thats what my boss would have done.

Then, once you are clear with your boss, have a chat with your employee. Tell him about hierarchy. Tell him about decision making. Remind him who does the reviews of performance. Answer shopping is wrong.


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James is right

by NotSoChiGuy In reply to Manager in the Middle - H ...

You need to make sure you and your boss present as much of a unified front as possible...otherwise, your team will circumvent you at every turn.

Talk to your boss, and find out why the change in decision was made. Were new facts presented? Did he have a legitimate change of heart? Or was he trying to simply try and appease an employee?

The boss, imo, is the bigger issue than the employee. If your boss doesn't change his behavior, you will never get this report, or any other, to follow your lead.

Once you and your boss are on the same page, circle back and speak with the emplyee in a firm, yet tactful, manner.

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Plan of Action

by RB_ITProfessional In reply to Manager in the Middle - H ...

Thanks all for the responses! Based on your feedback, I have a plan of action that I am hoping will curtail behavior before it becomes too problematic:

1. Have a discussion with my boss to have him "re-"clarify what his expectations are around what decisions I should be making vs. those that he will be making. Also I plan to address the implications his behaviour has on my authority with my employees.

2. Have a discussion with the employee about what the proper protocol for our organization. We had this discussion before when a similar issue took place, but I think a revist of the matter is necessary.

Any other thoughts on things that I should be doing to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future?

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