I got a promotion last year for a program that I started that had become a major successs. We went from me formalising and starting it and her joining after 9 months. To 10 members of staff. However, since she joined wants to run the program that I have formalised and run it in three other centres her own way dipping in and out as it suits her.

In addition when she has an issue she leaves me out of the loop and goes directly to our boss. She doesn't take my phone calls unless it suits her and the same with e-mail. My boss wants us all to sit down and talk about it. I think he and I should sit down first. I believe he should back me and needs to tell her the proper reporting line.

She is a dominant person with a strong personality. I would appreciate any advice.

  • 1
    What is a "red personality"?
    – HorusKol
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 21:20
  • Did you run it in three other centres or is she rolling it out to 3 other centres? Is she the same level as the other 9 staff in the team? I also note you say she goes directly to "our" boss, not "my" boss.
    – thelem
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 14:40
  • You say "our boss" but it's not clear if you're a "team leader" or "manager" or even "senior XYZ". Are you sure she's clear on whether you're her boss? What did her original offer letter say about who her boss is? Was it communicated to her in writing if/when you became her boss/team leader?
    – smci
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 23:12
  • Without excusing her behavior, but: "She doesn't take my phone calls unless it suits her and the same with e-mail. " Are they minimal, relevant, clear, concise and clearly communicate if/whether/when a response is needed, by whom and when? How often do you phone her or subordinates? Does this happen with anyone else who reports to you? Do you use group meetings efficiently to cut down on passdowns, discussion, FYIs, general team stuff and any other non-actionable communications? Is there general email overuse?
    – smci
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 23:15
  • Please don't post duplicates workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/87380/…
    – smci
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 23:22

2 Answers 2


You definitely do need to sit down with your boss and discuss this issue before doing anything else.

If your boss is an experienced manager then your boss should have suggested that this is an issue to you and that you need to do something about it. Your boss could have also potentially offered you some advice on how to deal with the issue.

When you sit down with your boss you need to tell your boss that you are a very hands on manager, and you think that because your boss has responded to your subordinate directly, your boss is reducing your effectiveness to manage your team. The terminology used here is important, so I've highlighted the key bits in bold. You should also try and be as polite as possible, as the last thing you want to do is fall out with your boss.

As your boss has suggested all 3 of you sit down together, you should proceed to do so to avoid undermining your boss, but you need to make it clear to your boss prior to that happening that your boss is there to act as an observer, and that you expect your boss to back you up if the atmosphere becomes tense.

You should also ask your boss to avoid responding to future requests because you think that if your boss does, your effectiveness to manage your team is reduced. (It is import to repeat this point in a slightly different fashion so that it is very clear.)

When all three of you sit down together, your boss should give relatively little input, allowing you to direct the meeting. You need to be stern with your subordinate but not too stern so that it does not come across as if you are causing problems. You need to say that all requests should be coming through you first, because you need to be kept in the loop of what is going on, and by being bypassed, your subordinate is stopping you from being able to do your job effectively. Worse still, your subordinate could also be wasting the time of others by not doing so.

I would not go down the route of a Performance Improvement Plan if this does not work because it is quite drastic to jump straight into doing so. Instead, I would set up regular 1-2-1 meetings with your subordinate and keep relaying the same message, asking your subordinate if there are any particular reasons as to why your subordinate is not coming to you first.

At the end of the year I would have an annual performance review where you raise what has been happening as an issue and mention that the problems your subordinate is causing have been reflected in the review. You should mention that because of this your subordinate is less attractive to the company so has lost out on benefits others have been offered as a result, this should make your subordinate listen, as your subordinate will accept that you are the one in charge of your subordinate and not your boss, and by continuing to ignore you, your subordinate is the one losing out.

If after the annual review, there is still a problem, then I would consider putting together a Performance Improvement Plan. But as I said this is slightly more drastic and may draw attention to this problem more than you want.

I would also keep your boss in the loop, but make it clear that you are in control of what is happening. Explain your plan, saying you are happy to manage the issue by yourself at the moment, otherwise your boss may feel like you are not in control. Make it clear to your boss that you are happy to manage the issue by yourself, otherwise your boss may think you are asking for help and may try to get involved again.

Failing to get this right could see you becoming less and less relevant, so you need to nip this in the bud as soon as possible.

  • Wow thank you so much That is spot on. I really appreciate that. Thank you and I wll let you know how I get on.
    – SBW
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 12:11

Don't rely on your boss

As a manager, it's your responsibility to control your underlings. If you insist that your own superior help you, you are not appearing reliable and in control, like a manager should be.

Propose your own solution

You need your boss's cooperation, since he's involved. But don't ask for it. Tell your boss that he should forward all messages from her to you, and then deal with her yourself, with the boss in an observer role. This makes you appear assertive and in control to your manager.

Act like her boss. Make it clear that she needs to keep you in the loop and report to you. In fact, ask her to report on everything that she does. If she still refuses, it might be time to formalize a Performance Improvement Plan, so that she understands that what she's doing isn't "assertive" but harmful to the company and the team dynamic.

  • Thanks for that. But I didn't ask for his help she did and went to him. I sent a solution to a issue she had as a reply to her report that she cc Ed him on. He then suggested we all sit down. I agree I believe he should have sent her to me and let me continue to deal with it as her manager. That's probably what makes it more frustrating.
    – SBW
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 19:06
  • 1
    I've got the same problem, my boss said he would direct my underlings requests to me, but has since taken it upon himself to go direct to my team when I'm working from home and ask them how things are going, give them additional work, and set deadlines without speaking to me first. If I'm not mistaken you need to assert your employee and I need to assert my boss, but either way we both need to assert some accountability. Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 19:12
  • I wouldn't even mind him asking them how things are but by him saying we all need to sit down and talk about it really undermines my authority as a manger I believe. It's a tough one to know what to do. I have ten others working for me and no problem with any of them.
    – SBW
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 19:18
  • You're not in control if your boss let's your people go over your head.
    – user8365
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 22:35

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