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If you speak to your boss's boss, does your boss ask you why?

(29 Posts)
CrapBag Wed 25-Apr-18 11:31:20

I've noticed this has become a thing and it's starting to annoy me. I have a boss who I generally deal with day to day. Then there is a boss higher up, who is around and I am free to speak to. Last week I asked my boss if higher boss was in as I needed to ask her something and she wanted to know what about (I always ask her stuff so it's not like she thinks I wouldn't speak to her). I answered as I didn't feel that I couldn't but it annoyed me and made me think. It was only a question that higher boss could answer. It's happened before.

A while ago I had a request for certain personal information from another team that does relate to my position, I spoke to my boss about it and was told not to bother as it didn't affect my role. This made me uncomfortable tbh. I mentioned it again on another occasion and again was told not to bother. So I've discussed this with bigger boss as I felt it is something that needs doing and I have been told I am to get this information and my boss cannot overrule this other team and will be spoken to about it. Now I'm glad my instincts were correct but I know this won't go down well and it will be seen as me going behind backs (I purposely discussed with bigger boss when we were in a conversation about something else as I know my boss will ask why I discussed it with bigger boss).

A similar thing has happened before, I was told something I have to do later on by bigger boss, mentioned it on another occasion to my boss who immediately started questioning me and asking when this was said and I needed to ask bigger boss again (because she didn't agree with it basically), so I asked on a day my boss wasn't in and of course as I knew, bigger boss said the same thing she said the first time. When I said I'd checked this and it was what I am to do, my boss was immediately on the defensive and wanted to know when I had asked this.

I'm getting a bit fed up of this and it feels like I have to run every little thing past my boss, down to minor conversations that don't actually affect her. Is this right? Is this how it should be done and I'm just being silly?

grumpy4squash Wed 25-Apr-18 12:29:42

If one of my line reports requested a meeting with my boss, I would want to know why.
There may be a legitimate reason, but ultimately the point of line management is to manage your line which means being the point of contact and sorting out issues as they arise.

Pluckedpencil Wed 25-Apr-18 13:09:56

There is something a bit fucked up in your reporting lines if you need to semi regularly deal with your boss' boss. The whole point of having that middle manager is so you don't have to talk to the top person. By the way, you did question your boss' judgement and also told tales on her to her boss, so there is her reason to distrust you.

Hellsbellscockleshells Wed 25-Apr-18 13:21:57

Yes we have to go via line manager or immediate boss in most instances.
Although she (my immediate boss) only works part time and only deals with our main area of work. So if something urgent happens and she isn’t in or something in another area that isn’t our teams main responsibility as my bosses boss manages many other areas it would be right to go to bosses boss and my boss doesn’t have a problem with this.

daisychain01 Wed 25-Apr-18 19:22:28

It's good etiquette to deal with your direct line manager, but there should be some ability to have contact with and visibility of your boss's boss.

It comes down to trust, i.e. that the report isn't going behind their boss's back, or trying to get their foot in the door of some perceived promotion/ talent review.

Unfortunately so many games get played with everyone wanting to satisfy their own agenda, it becomes unworkable, so the line manager to direct report approach tends to be the accepted way of doing things.

By deviating from that etiquette, the perception is that you're effectively elbowing your way past your boss and trying to muscle in on their territory.

CrapBag Wed 25-Apr-18 20:34:24

It's hard to explain without putting the specific details, which I'm not willing to do.

I didn't request a meeting with my boss's boss. There is something that I deal with in work, where my boss's boss gave me direct instructions in doing something related to what I do, someone else in the office needed me to clarify something the boss had said to her and I had to check with the boss before carrying out the task. None of it was anything to do with my boss at all. My boss's boss is freely in the workplace and accessible. I don't see why I can't ask her certain things that arise from her direct instructions.

I also had to clarify something with boss's boss because she was the one who was copied in with the request from the other department, not my boss and I wasn't comfortable ignoring something that I really knew I should be doing. As a result I was told that my boss was wrong and cannot override this request and I am absolutely to do it, and the potential consequences if I don't could be bad for me.

plucked it isn't fucked up at all. Boss's boss isn't some bigwig sat in an office, they are around and accessible and I am able to talk to her, and indeed need to at times because she deals with a different area that me and my boss don't so we need her say so or input on things. Yes I did question her judgement because she had no reason at all for me ignoring a direct 'order' if you like from another team, other than she gets to tell me what to do and I have to do it. It also isn't on when big boss has already given me an instruction for something, it isn't something my boss agrees with or likes so gets me to ask again because she basically wants a different answer and gets funny when she finds out I asked on a day she wasn't there. As I knew, I got the same answer and I feel it made me look a bit stupid to have to ask again.

HermioneWeasley Wed 25-Apr-18 20:38:04

My team deal directly with my boss fairly regularly but I expect to know what they’re seeing him about and what the output is.

CrapBag Wed 25-Apr-18 20:40:12

But I take on board that it's not the done thing to bypass my boss, which I don't do, but there are certain things that she cannot answer or have been a direct request from higher up, surely then it's natural that I'd refer to the person who made the request in the first place.

Phuquocdreams Wed 25-Apr-18 20:44:06

Hmm, I can maybe see your reasons but I would say you’ve really made an enemy of your boss. I wouldn’t trust you at all now.

AmazingPostVoices Wed 25-Apr-18 20:44:27

But whether you still need to speak to your senior manager or not your manger is entitled to know what their staff are doing.

It’s only good manners to keep them in the loop, copy them in emails etc.

ScreamingValenta Wed 25-Apr-18 20:45:44

It's expected where I work that the line manager is the 'filter' and point of escalation to the next level; it would come back to me if my manager thought I should have handled whatever it was, so, yes, I would want to know what the query was.

CrapBag Wed 25-Apr-18 20:48:52

Ok that's fair enough then. I just found it odd as our work is fairly informal tbh.

I think saying I've made an enemy because I needed to ask a simple question which is derived from something the big boss asked me to in the first place is utterly ridiculous.

ScreamingValenta Wed 25-Apr-18 20:53:06

I doubt you've 'made an enemy' of your boss, but you could clear the air by asking her to clarify exactly which queries/processes need to go through her and which (if any) should go straight to her LM.

Muddlingalongalone Wed 25-Apr-18 21:05:59

I talk to my boss's boss all the time and she would ask me direct questions about my area of the business not via my line manager as well. I think it completely depends on your organisational structure and leadership culture though.

NapQueen Wed 25-Apr-18 21:10:29

This is all a bit too political for me. Im bottom rung in my workplace and still pop into the Chief Execs office to ask for her approval on certain things or get her signature for stuff only she can sign etc.

My line manager is there to delegate down to me, monitor my performance, approve leave, answer my general qs etc. This is in addition to his actual workload. If I put every little thing I needed from other managers through him he would think i was incompetent and also wouldnt have time to do his work.

CrapBag Wed 25-Apr-18 21:38:23

Nap, similar here. There are certain things my boss cannot answer, hence me not wasting her time by asking her, when I know I'm going to have to go to the big boss anyway. I do run nearly everything past her because I do see that that it what shouod be done. But with some things it's just not necssary.

HundredMilesAnHour Wed 25-Apr-18 23:24:24

You may not realise it but you do appear to be undermining your boss. Not the smartest move. You need to be a little more politically savvy.

I speak to my boss's boss and my boss's boss's boss (who is C-suite level) but my boss is always aware of this BEFORE I do it and he knows I will stay absolutely on message at all times. I would never do anything to undermine him and I always have his back.

EBearhug Thu 26-Apr-18 01:29:09

If you're asking your boss's boss because only they will know, if it's by email, will it help to just cc your boss?

I'm probably not a good person to ask...

Pretty much everything is meant to go up and down the ladder with no skipping. But I know a lot of stuff gets filtered out in both directions, because my boss's boss is a micromanaging controlling dickhead.

I am not one to quietly accept whatever comes when they are making inexplicable decisions, so I give feedback directly, which has caused me to have a 1-2-1 with boss's boss, in which I refused to just give in and agree with everything he said - because it's okay to have different opinions, and not agreeing doesn't make it a personal attack.

But also, I have also good relationship with boss's boss's boss, because we have similar mindsets, and he does respond to my many questions - not always positively, and some feedback has been difficult, but useful, and I can trust him, and he is fair. I have done quite a bit to cultivate this relationship over the years, partly because it's protection for me against the toxic relationship between my boss and his, but mostly because I like and respect him, and there are some things he does which are amazing. And it's okay to disagree with him. He does pull rank occasionally and point out I need to discuss something with my manager, but it's good.

I have also spoken to his manager (4 ranks up), and today, sent a query to his manager (5 ranks up)... and I once sent a mail to the CEO (8 ranks above), giving feedback on something he'd said in a company-wide broadcast. I'm on first name terms with the head of HR in EMEA, too.

I am not that bothered about hierarchy - if someone is the one who will know the answer to a question I have, I ask it. I don't think I'm normal, though - most of my peers can't even name our entire reporting line, let alone have corresponded with them.

I can see why some people get pissed off with me sometime's, but we'll all survive. I'm probably not a good example to follow, though.

AmazingPostVoices Thu 26-Apr-18 03:04:31

There are certain things my boss cannot answer, hence me not wasting her time by asking her, when I know I'm going to have to go to the big boss anyway

It’s not really about asking your boss first, it’s just about keeping them in the loop and telling them stuff.

So yes, CC your boss in on emails or let them know in your weekly 1:1s what you’ve been up to.

You Boss clearly wants to know. Personally I always see it as my job to keep my manager happy. Letting them know you are off to meet with their boss about something surely isn’t that big of a deal.

Want2bSupermum Thu 26-Apr-18 03:15:13

Totally agree about you undermining your boss. You should never speak with your bosses boss without your boss being away. How you communicate that can be formal or informal but they should always be aware.

Want2bSupermum Thu 26-Apr-18 03:15:39

Aware not away.

CrapBag Thu 26-Apr-18 16:17:45

I think other people's work places are clearly more formal than mine. We do not have weekly 1:1s so this would not be an opportunity to update. We hardly ever have a 1:1. To go to my boss every time and say "oh I'm going to ask X a minor question when I see him" would be an absolute waste of her time and she would probably wonder why on earth I was bothering her with that information. I'm not having a meeting with boss's boss, I am clarifying a task or following up something they have spoken to me about, as they walk past me at some point, nothing more.

There are various lines of management and not once have I seen others run it past their boss before speaking to the bigger boss.

This is not some formal thing, but general queries within a work environment.

CrapBag Thu 26-Apr-18 16:18:28

Oh and I don't email boss's boss so nothing to copy her on on either.

iklboo Thu 26-Apr-18 16:24:56

I once got bollocked by my boss for going to the 'big' boss to ask an urgent question that needed an immediate answer. My boss was off sick at the time I needed the info!

CrapBag Thu 26-Apr-18 21:56:24

That's ridiculous iklboo. Some people are just on a power trip I think.

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