My Boss has put me in a difficult position. (She's not an M-T manger)

I am a director in the organization with 5 directs.

I have 4 peers in the organization that are Individual contributors.

Since I am a Director, my Boss often likes to discuss administration and personnel issues with me.  She is grooming me for her position when she retires. (in 1 or 2 years)

I really love this Boss - despite some of her managerial shortcomings she is the best Boss I've ever had.

The difficulty is that I often know more of my peer's performance issues than I can ever lead on.  My Boss asks me to help her with these sorts of things from the outside and with advice to her.  Using peer relationships and my managerial outlook & knowledge (Shout out to M-T ! )

Recently, one of my peers got a meeting from the Boss about her poor performance and she now has to move her desk to where the boss can see her better, and do more reporting of performance.

This peer has approached me (and the rest of the peers) complaining about the boss and what she has to do.  She asked if I had been asked about her performance and if I said she was rude or not a team player etc...  what have I said about her ? etc..

I listened with sympathy and gave her one example where I thought she wasn't being a team player.

I suggested that she be extra nice to the other peers.

I also volunteered to share with her specific examples in the future - if she wants me to - if I see some behavior that might be interpreted as not being a team player.

* The summary is that many of the staff around here has complained privately to the Boss about this person (including me).  But, no one is willing to be completely honest with her.  I am probably one of very few people here that have a decent working relationship with her - because I am trying very hard to do so.


* I feel very deceptive and underhanded in that I know so much more about her issue than I can tell her.  Is that normal ?

* Can I use the "Peer Feedback" Model to help her (and the rest of the unit) improve behavior  and performance.

* How much sympathy should I show when she complains about the Boss's shortcomings (especially if I agree)  And still be in a supportive role of my Boss who I also agree with over this peer's performance ?

OK Thanks for any ideas....

I'm also keeping in mind that in the future I may have a managerial position over this peer.




Uncle A

mattpalmer's picture

If this peer is willing to accept your observations, then there's no problem whatsoever giving it.  As far as dealing with her when she asks things like, "what have you said about me?" -- well, she's entitled to an honest answer to any question to which she's entitled to an answer, and she's not entitled to an answer to that question, so you should answer "nothing".  You shouldn't feel deceptive or underhanded about being privy to details you can't share with a member of the team -- that's something that managers have to deal with frequently.  You really need to get over that if you're going to be effective as an executive.

As far as discussing the boss' shortcomings (or *anyone* else's shortcomings, whether they be boss, peer, direct, skip, or anyone else inside or outside the organisation) -- don't.  You should not show any "sympathy" or encouragement for -- and definitely don't *participate* in -- any discussion of other people's poor performance.  It's unprofessional and rude.  The furthest I'd want to take it is to say, "That definitely sounds like you've got something you need to discuss with the boss.  I'd say something like, ...".  If your boss is a good one, and wouldn't misuse the information, it would be polite to give your boss a heads-up -- along the lines of, "hey, has Jane talked to about X?  She seemed a bit worked up about it last week".  You should *not* do this, however, if there is *any* risk your boss might go footling over to Jane and say, "Auberon mentioned to me that you had some problems with X" -- no better way to destroy any hope of a working relationship than being seen as a tattletale.