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Submitted by O.H. on


BLUF: My direct said something negative about my manager towards a customer, and my manager overheard it.

During a customer dinner, my direct and a customer were talking and eventually the conversation led to the topic of my manager and his leadership style. Both were joking around and then my direct said something in a joking manner to the customer about how little she thinks that my manager is a capable leader and my manager overheard this.

Now the expression 'the s**t hits the fan pretty much describes the situation.

My manager did not say anything to my direct that evening. But he called me into the office and informed me that he is planning to confront my direct about this tomorrow and that I am not supposed to call my direct and give her advanced warning.

Co-workers who overheard the conversation confirmed that it happened that way. I myself was not at the event.

I am particularly surprised at this, as my direct and I have been working on a development plan for her, to get her promoted, which may now have fallen apart.

My question: Should I call her and hear her side of the story and give her heads up to prepare for the session with my boss? My boss can be quite emotional and so can my direct. There is the potential that this meeting can escalate to ultimate damage and I don't want to and can't afford to lose my direct at this stage.

Or should I just sit back and wait what happens?

Any advice is greatly appreciated.



hyubdoo23's picture

Your direct did something stupid and your boss specifically told you not to forewarn her. Don't put yourself in the firing line, too. You might lose the direct, but she did that to herself.



BariTony's picture

I was in a similar, though not identical situation, recently.

This is one of those few times that I would talk to my boss and ask them to let me manage my own team. You said your boss is emotional - they may calm down before their planned meeting with your direct so that you have an opportunity to intervene. At any rate, if this direct is otherwise a good performer, letting your boss throw a temper tantrum could cause more damage to the company. Point out that you're responsible for this person's performance and that you would like to talk to your direct. I would tell my boss exactly what the message would be that I would be giving my direct. (ie, that sort of behavior is unprofessional and unacceptable, and was deemed insubordinate by multiple peers/managers and is groups for firing. Don't do it again or you will be terminated. - shot across the bow.)

If your boss won't listen and still insists on confronting the direct themselves, and orders you not to inform them, then you have to stay out of the way. Assuming they're still around after the meeting, make sure you talk to your direct afterwards.

Good Luck



mistermike38's picture

I agree with Baritony.  I would speak to my boss and ask to handle the situation myself.  This allows your boss to see you in a positive, proactive light.  Advise your boss you will address the unprofessionalism of the direct.  Give feedback about the behavior not how the exchange happened.  If you boss says no and they still want to speak with your direct report, honor the request and do not tell the direct about it.  If your boss finds out you shared the information about the meeting with the direct, you will severing the trust your boss has with you and this is a huge mistake to try and come back from. Ask you boss to be present in the meeting and find out what he/she wants your role to be in the meeting.  If you cannot be present, do not force the issue and wait to find out the results of the meeting.  I hope everything works out.  Remember stay frosty through out it all.