How to Proceed When Going Over the Boss's Head

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Ideally, the boss is the person you turn to when you have a dilemma. When they are the problem, it's a different story. Traditional advice says going over your supervisor's head is never an option. Realistically, it may be necessary. When going over your boss' head is inevitable, proceed carefully. Exhaust every opportunity to resolve the matter.

  • Determine if the issue is serious enough to warrant this action. There are crucial situations that make it necessary to proceed over the boss' head; when the company is at risk; supervisor is engaged in unethical or illegal activity; or the boss exhibits harassing behavior.

  • Attempt to resolve the problem by addressing the matter with the boss directly and in a variety of ways. Have an optimistic attitude, and evaluate your options before you go forward with any action.

  • Consider whether it's in the best interest of the company to proceed. Gather evidence and facts to support your case. Collect all relevant email and correspondence with your boss. Use information that shows how the issue transpired and how you tried to solve the problem.

  • Go to your Human Resources department to find out the policies that are in place.
    Make a final decision whether the matter dictates going to the boss' immediate supervisor.

Tips & Warnings

  • Settle the matter tactfully, if your boss is habitually inefficient or an incompetent manager.
  • If your boss' immediate supervisor is not the right person, try someone further removed from the situation, but still able to affect it.
  • When presenting the circumstances to the immediate supervisor, do so with dignity. Do not become emotional or angry. Maintain a calm demeanor. Be professional and have your documentation.
  • Do not set out to "get" your boss.
  • If there is no one in upper management who will support you, it may be time to cut your losses and find another position. Give proper notice, which is 2 weeks in most instances.
  • If you decide to take action, proceed with caution.

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