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Submitted by jhowse on


I am seeking input/advice on how best to handle requests for information/opinion from my boss's boss about policies/practices that he does not agree with that have been implemented by my boss.

My boss's boss - the  owner of the business who is based overseas from our business unit - used to be quite hands on in the management of the business, backed away for a few years but is now back with a vengeance and getting into the details.  He is finding that there are some aspects of how things are being run that he is not too keen on and is questioning.  No problem with that.  My problem is that he is calling me directly for information and opinion rather than asking my boss - and he is making it clear that he does not agree with the approach of my boss on these issues.  If it was hard data that would be fine.  It is the judgemental/opinion stuff that he is after that is conflicting me. Also he is asking about areas that are not my areas of expertise, sales and marketing, whereas finance is my domain.  This has happened twice now this week, so is a relatively new thing.  I hope it is a one off, but suspect it may happen again.

I feel that he should be asking my boss about these issues directly.  He does not see it that way, he is of the view that it his right to ask anyone anything, that there should be no secrets.  Yes, it is his business, he has a right to any information that he wants.  However I find this somewhat disingenuous, what he is really after is ammunition that he wants to use to aim at my boss.

I have kept my boss informed of these approaches and the information that I have provided.  He is not happy about it, but understands that I can't not provide him with information and that I won't lie.  The opinion related information I just have to walk a bit of a tightrope and explain the rationale as best I can.

Any advice on how I might best handle this would be much appreciated.

EffectiveChallenge's picture

Firstly I think its good that you've made your boss aware. I'd look for ways to see if you could draw your boss into the conversation. Along the lines of "my view about X is Y. Of course with something like X its very much about personal judgment. Have you spoken to my boss to see what he/she thinks. I'm happy to do that for you if it helps?"

Two things more generally:

1) I'd start to explore with the boss's boss the underlying reasons for his direct approaches to you. Seeking first to understand where he's coming from is really important. It might just be he trusts your view and opinion and doesn't want to burden your boss given that he's already asked him to do lots of things already.

2) Could you ask you boss why he thinks your getting the direct approach.

This is an interesting one that I'm sure others would benefit from how you get on.


jhowse's picture
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 Thanks for your advice Damian.

For now, things have gone quiet. My boss had a meeting with his boss and my input was about providing a different perspective.  The meeting has now passed and it seems to have gone reasonably well, the sky did not fall in.

I spoke with both as you suggested.  My boss's boss put it bluntly telling won't spin things, you will tell how it is.  I know I am going to get a slick answer from X, so I want to hear the unvarnished version from you first.  I'm wasn't sure if that was a compliment or not.

I also spoke with my boss about why and we also found a way to draw him into the conversation.  He was pretty good about it then and we have continued to have a good working relationship since.  

And so it is back to business as usual, till the next time.

Thanks again,