Hey, My Boss’ Boss is Asking My Opinion!
You have been beavering away in the bowels of your company, feeling as if you’ll be stuck in this job forever. Your boss (let’s call him Trevor) is something of a stick-in-the-mud who wants to do things as they’ve always been done. Then one morning, out of the blue, your boss’ boss (Jennifer), appears at your cubicle.
|Jennifer:||Hi, Matt, have you seen Trevor?|
|You:||He’ll be in later—something about his daughter.|
|Jennifer:||Okay. I wanted to ask about the Waverly contract. Do you think it’s worth going ahead?|
|You:||Oh, absolutely. There are huge upsides.|
|Jennifer:||Yeah, but some downsides, too. They’re such a new company.|
|You:||But with great potential. We could be their supplier of choice as they grow.|
|Jennifer:||Yes, that’s a thought….Could you put together the pros and cons—something I can take to the VP?|
|You:||Sure, I’ll get right on it.|
You have died and gone to heaven. Not only does Jennifer know who you are but she’s asked your opinion! This is your chance. You knock off the pros and cons right away and send it to her. Within the hour, she gets back to you. Good work, Matt. I’d like points 3 and 5 expanded. You knock that off immediately and send it to her.
Your boss knows about the boss’ boss encounter.
At the end of the day, Trevor appears at your cubicle.
|You:||Hi. Everything okay with your daughter?|
|Trevor:||Yes, fine. I just ran into Jennifer. She said you’d done some good work. What’s that about?|
|You:||She just wanted some pros and cons on the Waverly contract.|
|Trevor:||And you sent them?|
|You:||Well, yeah, she wanted it.|
|Trevor:||Without running it by me first?|
|You:||You weren’t in.|
|Trevor:||You could have phoned. I’m always reachable.|
|You:||Sorry, Trevor. It sounded like she wanted it immediately.|
|Trevor:||All right. Send me a copy of it.|
You thought that you were doing the right thing and it seems to have pissed Trevor off. You shrug. Just more of his follow-the-rules stuff. Which is probably true. Trevor may well be one of those managers who wants to control everything going out of his shop.
However just because he’s a control freak, doesn’t mean you can write the incident off. Control freaks’ response to threats to their control is often to pile on more. If he starts to think that you’re going behind his back, he can make things tough for you.
What could you have done with your boss’ boss?
Well, obviously, you couldn’t tell Jennifer that Trevor has to okay the work. She’s everybody’s boss, after all. But you could have:
Sent the report but notified Trevor
If you were really a goody-two-shoes, you’d have called him before you did the report. But you already know that he’d insist that he vet it first. This is an opportunity to strut your stuff, so do the report and then text him what happened. Same for the revisions.
Sent him a copy of the report
You should have sent it to him as soon as Jennifer okayed it. Otherwise, he’ll think you’re keeping things from him.
Is this really necessary?
I know—does seem to be pandering to the insecurities of a stickler for the rules. And it is. So you need to weigh doing what are (let’s face it) rather minor things to keep the peace against his pissed-off-edness if you don’t.
Unless there is some strong ethics/values reason not to, I’d remember that you have to choose your battles. Is this a hill to die on?