Some background - although our company is large, it has a fairly informal culture.
We sit in an open-plan office, there is lots of open, back-and-forth discussion, and the company prides itself on this informality.
Now, our team:
- provides a service which is valuable to much of the business
- has, for reasons mostly outside our control, often had problems delivering that service satisfactorily
- very senior managers became involved at one point, due to the points above
I am senior "grunt", I sit next to my super-boss, but some distance from my boss.
Also, I regularly "bump into" my super-super-boss.
Both the super-boss and super-super-boss regularly ask me for updates on how things are going, what are our challenges and what are we doing to improve. As far as possible, I try to stick to the agreed "team line", but of course my boss is often on holiday, in meetings, etc, etc, and particularly during crises it is not always possible to align with him.
I have been reading through this site, and the advice is constantly given not to "go around your manager" and "make your manager look good". Although I don't want him to look bad, and I am not trying to reflect badly on him, I do sometimes worry that an open and honest style from me might give that impression.
Also, sometimes my super- bosses sometimes ask me for small things directly, although these are usually needed urgently, and again it often isn't practical to go through my manager.
From some one-to-ones, I do get the feeling that he occasionally feels undermined, although he has not said this directly to me in a way in which I can address it.
So the question - should I basically close down any discussion with my senior bosses, and refer them to my manager? This feels, to me, like it would be a career-limiting move, but I'm interested in the feedback of others.