Leadership Challenge Question 4

WalkTheTalk.com’s
Friday Leadership Lessons Blog Challenge

We have had 3 winners so far!! Let’s do it again! Answer the following question (as a comment below) with “what would you do?” for a chance to win a FREE COPY OF the beautiful Walk the Talk hard-cover gift book. Now….here is today’s Friday Leadership Challenge question.

As a senior manager, how would you deal with an employee (two levels below you) who has gone over their immediate supervisors head to you and is complaining about his/her managerial style? The complaints are not violations of policy or illegal.

Comment below (by Midnight Sunday 4/15) with your answer for a  chance to win a Walk The Talk gift book. Winner will be contacted via email next week. Anyone can enter but we can only ship the winning book to a U.S. address. Thanks for your responses.

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  • Chris Leonard

    I would ask if they have talked to their manager about their concerns. If not, I would suggest they do so. I would suggest that it is generally inappropriate to go over their managers head unless there was a policy or legal violation on the manager’s part. I would also suggest that part of the leap frogging employee’s duty as an employee, is to find a way to work with all of their coworkers at any level, whether they like that person’s style or not. That is one of the key factors in showing leadership and helping the overall organization’s success.

  • Bpbass226

    First, I would determine if they’ve tried to have an open conversation with their manager. If not, I would encourage them to follow the chain of command and speak with their supervisor about their concerns and how they can improve communications and teamwork between them. If they have attempted this conversation already, I would offer to bring the two together and facilitate a dialog to assist both with finding effective styles for working together effectively. Mentoring and coaching may be a necessary intervention on my part to improve the situation and enhance the skills of the supervisor.

  • Bette

    First I would ask for examples to clarify whether it is a personal conflict or if it is truly a management style matter. Next I would ask what steps the person has taken to address it before coming to me (eg. has s/he talked to manager? colleagues? others?) Ask what solution to the problem s/he would like. Finally, depending on the issue, I would talk to the manager privately (without disclosing who had talked to me about it) to hear their side of the story. If it is truly a style issue, it may require coaching and I would assign a mentor to help the manager improve. If warranted, I may want to bring the dept and manager together to “talk things out” peacefully to help both sides understand each other and to try to find resolution to the issues that divide them.

  • Rita Suiter

    I would use it as a teachable moment reminding them about protocols and that everyone has different managerial styles. I would recommend they pick an appropriate time and place to address their respective concerns and to make sure they were not personal attacks but questions/recommendations.

  • Frenchf

    Try and understand what the issue is. Give reassurance. Find out how it affects him and why he came to you and didn’tgo to his immediate line manager.
    When you have identified the issues and found out whether the personality of your employee prevents him talking to his line manager I.e issue is sexual/harassment/bullying/ etc arrange a meeting with line manager to obtain his version of events then a joint meeting with all.
    If employee can talk to his line manager then ask him to do so
    Thank him for asking your advice in the first instance

  • Sunflower_62

    I would aks the employee if they have spoken to their supervisor regarding any issues they may be having with the manager. If not as the employee may feel they can not approach their manager then I would set a time to meet with both the employee and their supervisor to ensure mediation can take place to sort out the issue.

  • Tammy Mc

    I would listen to his/her concerns and ask questions that would help me understand why he/she feels that they can not talk to their manager about their perspective. I would try to determine where the training was truly needed. This could be a reflection of a lacking of training of my direct report; which lands in my lap. After gathering info, I would need to conclude what further training this manager may need to better lead his/her team so that communication would be open to encourage growth all around. This also may unfold that employees are not aware of the order to address their concerns. This again is a higher level leadership problem.

    • Nschoychid

      Great point about training that may be needed and it may in fact involve YOU.

  • Gary J. Olson

    First, I would weigh the significance of the comment. Listen well to the complaint. Ask if this person has made an attempt to address the issue with the respective supervisor. LISTEN WITH COMPASSION and depending on the nature of the compaint, evaluate the significance for the idividual and the organization, and the repective supervisor; then decide the next step.

    • Nschoychid

      well said!

  • Kim Swistock

    This is a tough one on both sides. I would have a discussion with them regarding their issue and make sure you have all the information. Pointing out any directives that I have given the immediate supervisor regarding management if that is part of the issues raised. I’d also thank them for being able to come to you and confirm with them that you will be speaking to the immediate supervisor and scheduling a group meeting. Once the employee is assured that you’ll get back to them, I’d meet with the immediate supervisor and discuss what is working with their management style and what doesn’t appear to be working. I’d schedule a group meeting with myself, the immediate supervisor and staff member to discuss how to proceed working together. Meeting and communicating is the only way to work through issues on any level within the office place and moving forward in this type of situation.

  • Kim Swistock

    This is a tough one on both sides. I would have a discussion with them regarding their issue and make sure you have all the information. Pointing out any directives that I have given the immediate supervisor regarding management if that is part of the issues raised. I’d also thank them for being able to come to you and confirm with them that you will be speaking to the immediate supervisor and scheduling a group meeting. Once the employee is assured that you’ll get back to them, I’d meet with the immediate supervisor and discuss what is working with their management style and what doesn’t appear to be working. I’d schedule a group meeting with myself, the immediate supervisor and staff member to discuss how to proceed working together. Meeting and communicating is the only way to work through issues on any level within the office place and moving forward in this type of situation.

  • Nicole Schoychid

    Congrats to Tammy! Your response was chosen to win the FREE Book. We will send you an email shortly! And thanks to all who submitted responses for this Leadership Challenge. Great responses here!

  • Nicole Schoychid

    This weeks winner is Tammy Mc! Big thanks to all that sent in a response this week! Such insightful responses. Let’s do it again!!