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They should come to you first…

When an employee feels the need to go over your head it can be both maddening and exasperating, not to mention a very uncomfortable feeling.

It shows all your colleagues that there is a lack of understanding between you and your direct report and it just makes you look bad overall.

Some people always feel the need to go straight to the top.  This can cause conflicts and it’s a must to deal with it quickly.

When there is an employee who goes over your head, they attract negative attention and give the impression that you are not able to handle matters on your own.

This usually happens when there is an employee that starts to lose respect for you, your authority and influence can quickly be damaged.  Even if you aren’t aware of a problem employee the effect can be extreme, productivity levels can drop, accountability fades, and the problematic behavior can extend to other team members.

So what can you do?

  1. Keep in mind that the problem may not be what it looks like. Try to understand the reason why your employee is going over your head.  Maybe they have taken the open-door policy a little too far or perhaps this was normal at their last job.  Before you presume the behavior is a dirty deed against you, rule out other possibilities that are less threatening.
  2. Remind your people about your expectations, including your preferences for conveying issues to you directly. Explain the benefits and the consequences associated with your request, along with the possibility for something to be misinterpreted or taken out of context.
  3. If this happens repeatedly, try talking with the employee directly. Tell them your expectation that they should always speak to you directly and if they feel a superior must also be involved, he should ask you to arrange for it.
  4. If the employee refuses to change or continues to go over your head, they risk creating chaos among your staff and damaging the workplace.  You can consider moving them to another department.  You can also, maintain open dialogue and listen to why they are unhappy; make an attempt to address the issue and ask for their feedback.  If nothing works, it might be time to let them go.

Winning back the respect of an employee isn’t easy.  In some cases there is no amount of coaching or fine-tuning in management style that will work and it might need to be a company decision to let the employee go.

Try to establish yourself as a source of support and help your staff member to see you as a valuable resource.

Difficult employees are all a part of the management process.  It is important to maintain your professionalism and to try these strategies to help develop, maintain, and even regain the respect of your employee without resorting to disciplinary measures.

Remember, how you react to the disloyalty of one employee will show your expectations to others and teach them how to act in the future.

What strategies do you use if an employee is going over your head?


Dave Baney is the founder and CEO of 55 Questions, LLC.  We work with successful top executives with a driving ambition to crush their competition.  We help CEOs and Entrepreneurs improve alignment, communication and accountability throughout their organization. www.55Questions.com

Follow Dave on twitter https://twitter.com/55Questions


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