Several months ago, there was just one department and let’s say, Alex is the director this department and he reports to the CEO. I report directly to Alex.

A new personal was hired (Joe) and he split the department into two and he reports directly to the CEO. He seems to be the yes-man for the CEO (given that he was allowed to split the department and reports to the CEO instead of Alex). This was a new position and it didn’t exist before.

Joe is implementing a process change that is affecting the entire team managed by Alex. Joe’s team has setup several meetings/training that severely (and negatively) impacts my team and the project I am responsible for.

I have not received any communication from Alex’s office saying that he approves of this change and/or that we should attend the meetings/trainings.

In an email conversation couple weeks ago with Joe, Alex and myself, Joe mentioned that my team will not be affected by this change and things would continue to work as before.

I am trying to communicate this issue with my supervisor Alex, but he is in vacation (or was he forced to take a vacation?).

How do I politely deny these training/meeting request organized by Joe’s department?

Joe is not Alex's boss. He is probably at the same level as Alex (or lower, I would say).

  • 2
    can you let us know why you are declining them, given they're organised by someone quite senior? – bharal Mar 28 '18 at 15:24
  • Are the training sessions you were invited to just for your team or are other teams attending as well? – Dukeling Mar 28 '18 at 15:28
  • @Dukeling, thanks for the advice. I have made the changes. @:bharal, I communicated my concern and received written approval that my team won't be affected by this change. – elixir Mar 28 '18 at 15:30
  • 1
    Is there any precedent for Joe or Alex to direct each other's teams when one of them is away? It's common in some orgs for execs to back each other up, while in others you would never act under the direction of another exec when yours is absent. – dwizum Mar 28 '18 at 15:37
  • 1
    Confusing. There has to be a more clear way to identify the structure. – paparazzo Mar 28 '18 at 17:04

Reference (or forward) the email where Joe claimed no impact, mention that you're concerned that there now appears to be impact and because of responsibilities Alex has given you, you're unable to attend the training. Copy Alex on the email (even though he presumably may not see it immediately).

Mention that you're unsure how to proceed with getting your team up to speed on the change due to Alex's vacation - and that you plan on focusing on the responsibilities Alex had given you prior to his departure, until Alex directs you otherwise.

This puts it all on the table, gives you a paper trail, and lets Joe know your concerns. If he wants to bother Alex he can. If he wants to override Alex and "force" you to take the training before Alex returns, I suppose he can, and you've done what you can to protect your responsibilities to Alex.

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