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My grand boss has communicated out an unrealistic expectation to the board that we are unable to meet.

My subordinate has complained to the board about my grand bosses conduct but won't elaborate to me what he said in his complaint.

The subordinate has a history of ignoring the chain of command and going straight to the top so his concerns are often ignored now.

However, in this case I think he has a valid point and I asked my grand boss what could be done to help us meet the expectations set, such as overtime and mentoring. My grand boss agreed to both but said no matter what we have to deliver on the date said.

I told my grand boss that my subordinate had put a complaint in about my grand boss and my grand boss responded saying that this has happened one too many times and that he wants my subordinate gone.

After discussing what has gone on with my wife, she said to keep out of it.

If I do so, the pattern will continue to repeat itself. So I am looking for a list of actionable points I can take away to resolve this situation and prevent it happening again if at all possible.

  • As conformed by "My subordinate has complained to the board about my grand bosses conduct but won't elaborate to me what he said in his complaint" and "The subordinate has a history of ignoring the chain of command". Pink slip time. Show him the door. Give him the sack. Fire him. DTMFA. – Mawg Nov 27 '18 at 9:31
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I see two issues:

  1. The grand boss set an unrealistic deadline.

Take a look at the PM iron triangle. I've heard this paraphrased as "Features, Resources, Delivery Date - pick two". It means that if the boss has specified the delivery date and the resources (i.e., you can't hire 20 more people quickly enough), then the features delivered will be whatever they are.

Note that you can sometimes juggle features and quality - deliver 2 great features and 5 horrible ones, or deliver 7 terrible-but-not-quite-horrible features. Another option is 3 great features only - the others remain undone.

You'll need to negotiate with the grand boss on this and have him prioritize.

Whatever you do, just know that this is a separate issue that has nothing to do with the subordinate.

  1. Your subordinate has a history of ignoring company hierarchy.

This one's easy. As Joe Strazzere mentioned in a comment, fire the subordinate. Ignoring the hierarchy is extremely disrespectful much in the same way that throwing a brick at someone's face is considered impolite.

You should start the process by meeting with your grand boss and HR. Expect them to guide you through the process. They'll know exactly what documentation you'll need, what warnings you'll need to give, etc. The process may take a long time, but it will be worth it in the end.

  • I'm assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that you're in the US. Please let me know if I'm wrong – Dan Pichelman Nov 26 '18 at 19:40
  • @JoeStrazzere in that case firing the subordinate may be more difficult but hopefully not impossible. – Dan Pichelman Nov 26 '18 at 20:03
  • Firing the subordinate would be challenging, so would it be sensible to give a written warning first? – Matthew Bonner Nov 26 '18 at 20:43
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    Talk to your grand boss and/or HR about giving written warnings. A badly composed written warning could cause a lot of the kind of trouble that HR exists to prevent. – Dan Pichelman Nov 26 '18 at 20:55
  • @DanPichelman The grand boss doesn't want to participate in the actual firing. HR is the place to go. – David Thornley Nov 26 '18 at 21:40
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Your subordinate has a history of this behavior. Your grand boss verbatim told you this happened one too many times. You will be doing some fighting if you want to keep this person. I am assuming this issue was addressed before with the expectation it would not happen again. And yet it happened again.

So the question is do you want to fight for a subordinate that repeatedly goes behind your back and damages your reputation? I'd say you already tried and it did not work. There is not much you can do except to let your subordinate go.

  • Why would you want to keep someone who shows you so much disrespect? – Mawg Nov 27 '18 at 9:41
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TL;DR Fire the subordinate

The subordinate has a history of ignoring the chain of command and going straight to the top so his concerns are often ignored now. However, in this case I think he has a valid point

The problem is that subordinate has "cried wolf" too many times to where their opinion is not valued anymore. It's likely the previous instances of jumping the chain of command were not warranted. Even though your subordinate may have a valid point, they've burn all of the credibility in the company, which makes their word worthless.

I recommend you fire the subordinate and work with the grand boss' on setting realistic deliverable without the subordinate's backing.

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