Employee Bypasses Me And Goes to Manager

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about bypassing boss.

One of the employee that I supervise has never accepted me as a supervisor and continues to go to the Operation Manager who she has worked with for several years. The Operations Manager will not tell her to go ask me but will handle it herself. What can I do?

Signed, Bypassed

Dear Bypassed:

It sounds as though the Operations Manager creates part of this problem by continuing to let some one who should be reporting to you, come to him or her instead. Consider talking to the Operations Manager and explaining how problematic it is. Ask the Operations Manager to help you by not encouraging any employee to bypass you in that way and by letting you know if someone comes to him or her,so you can talk to them instead. If the Operations Manager has more experience than you, consider asking him or her for feedback about ways you could more effectively work with the employee. You say they’ve worked together a long time. He may have insights that will help you.

The next action is to talk to the employee directly when you know she has bypassed you. If there is a company rule, cite that or just explain why it works best for her to work with you rather than jumping to the Operations Manager.If you have talked ot her before, you may have to use a more formal disciplinary process. If you have a manager other than the Operations Manager, enlist his or her aid, or talk to HR, to get ideas and advice.

Also, look at yourself, your communication style and your interactions with the employee on a daily basis. Work to establish yourself as a source of support and help. If the employee sees you as a valuable resource she will be less likely to go over your head.The bottom line is that there are probably only three ways to deal with this: Convince the Operations Manager to not participate in the employee’s actions, get the employee to voluntarily stop going over your head, use negative sanctions or disciplinary methods to stop the employee’s actions and force her to come to you first.

Hopefully you can get this resolved in a way where the employee will think of you as a supervisor with whom she can work and who she can trust.Best wishes!If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know how this works out. It could be helpful to other supervisors.

Tina Lewis Rowe