Never Step Out Of The Middle

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • What do I do if my boss wants to speak to my direct?
  • What do I do if my boss insists?
  • How do I help my direct in this situation?

This guidance recommends managers never willingly allow their boss to talk to a skip directly.

What do you do if your boss suggests he or she talk to one of your directs directly? You intercede and say no, you'll do it.

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Stars wars joke?


Was that a Star Wars joke I heard in the podcast with avoiding all Imperial Entanglements?  Almost missed it - I had to rewind and make sure it was there!  My wife always accuses me of being a geek for knowing movie lines but every once in a while it pays off when I get a subtle joke like that:)



And that's not the first time I've ever used that one, either.  It's one of my favorites, from Mos Eisley spaceport, the negotiation between Han and Obi Wan.

Next thing you know, I'll be citing parsecs as a time and not a distance. ;-)


Focused on feedback?

There are routine circumstances where I'm asked (or told) that my manager will be talking to my direct reports in order to hear how I'm doing ("skip level feedback"). This situation wasn't addressed directly, and I would pose the question "Would you give the same guidance if your manager asked to talk to your direct for skip-level feedback?"

Not only does my manager do this "skip level" meeting, I have also benefited from doing it with my team in order to help gain insight into the quality of communication through my direct reports. I wouldn't expect my direct to either be able to handle this information gathering for me, nor "sit in" on that meeting. 

As I listened to this cast it felt like it had the underpinning of being focused on the situation where your manager wants to talk to your direct in order to give feedback. It wasn't stated explicitly, and as I recall the examples focused on situations where the guidance is to retain the place in the middle as the "translator" and work the benefit of your relationship with both individuals.


Is this guidance also intended for project activities?


Great cast as always, and I want to make sure I understand the scope of the guidance. I have team members that perform roles that serve the heads of many departments, one of which is of course my own run by my boss. This requires my people to meet with the department heads frequently to understand their needs and ensure they are delivering on commitments.

My folks are very good at their roles and do effective work with little supervision. Should I be sitting in on all of these sessions, just the ones with my boss, or only as needed to observe their work? My thinking is that it probably doesn't make sense for me to insert myself in these types of meetings between my direct and my boss yet I am willing to change if there is sufficient benefit.