2 reader questions: Going over your boss's head & reapplying for a job you turned down

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Dear Joan:
I am rattled because my immediate boss accused me of not doing my part of my job when I had and I proved it. I emailed his superior about it because I felt backed against the wall.
 
His superior then called me into my boss's office and read my email to him right in front of me. I am stunned. My immediate boss is known for yelling at the women in the office and now he knows everything I emailed his superior. I guess there is no confidentiality whatsoever. I really hope to hear from you.

Answer:
Going over your boss’s head is always risky business and now you know why. When you jump the chain of command it always seems to make sense...after all, you aren’t getting anywhere with your manager, so the next step is to go to his or her boss and try to get it resolved at a higher level, right? Well, it never quite works as smoothly as we’d hope. The reason is that managers, being human and protective about their reputation in the eyes of their boss, don’t react well to being “outed” by one of their own employees. They want the employee to work it out with them, rather than going over their head, or to someone outside of their department, such as HR. It just makes them look bad.
 
And then there is the problem the manager’s boss faces. They read the email about their subordinate manager and think, “So, what am I supposed to do with this? If I keep it to myself, nothing changes. I can’t tell if this is just a disgruntled employee complaining, or a real issue.” They don’t want to encourage anonymous letters, since they can’t put much stock in them. And if they get a signed complaint, they either have to say nothing and try to coach with subtle hints and guesswork, or lay it on the table. Your manager’s boss did just that. It must have been quite a shock.
 
What I would have advised your boss’s boss to do is to call you in, hear you out, and send you back to your manager with some advice about how to approach him, with an agreement that you would report back on how it went. That approach would have held you accountable for solving your own problem but would have provided some guidance and “backup,” in case you needed it.
 
Now, the best you can hope for is that your boss has heard your issues and he is accountable to his manager to resolve it. You haven’t said if he has retaliated, given you the cold shoulder, or made any attempts to rectify the situation. But if the accusation is behind you, there may not be much on which to take action, so now you’ll just have to do your job and hope this blows over.
 
One proactive step you can take to try to avoid problems in the future is to go to him periodically and ask, “Do you have any issues with my work? I want to make sure we are in communication and I’m meeting your expectations and I’m not surprised.”
 
If your manager does start to pick at you in subtle ways—or seems to be holding a grudge you can’t document in any tangible way, you may want to start looking for a new opportunity. The relationship will probably never be mended.
 
Dear Joan:
I will appreciate if you can tell me some tips on how to re-approach an employer which I had a job offer from.  I declined because of compensation but want to contact the firm regarding reconsidering me.
 
Answer:
You will lose nothing by approaching them again. Unfortunately, you have to eat a little crow, owl and osprey, and it may not work. The reason is this: since you turned them down once, they will reason that you are only coming back because you can’t find anything that matches your salary requirements. They will worry that you will bolt as soon as you find something that pays more. So, I doubt they will reconsider but you never know. Perhaps they haven’t found anyone they liked better than you…it may be a marriage made in recession.


Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
 
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