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Escalation methods - Having to go over someone's head to address an issue

M

mlthompson

#1
A friend, who also works in Quality, boss just got canned because as it was put, he went over too many heads one to many times. This may be due to a lack of tact in dealing with situations, or maybe it was a legitimate problem he had and wasn't getting support/help from the necessary management levels.

My question: How do you handle the situation of having to go over someone's head to address an issue without getting voted off the island?
 
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Cari Spears

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
#2
Re: Escalation methods

This may sound flip but...I don't. I document that I told whomever I told and when it comes back to bite someone in the butt - mine's covered. I spent too much time in my younger days trying to fix everything and becoming frustrated at no results.

The exception is if it is a safety, health or environmental issue. If someone could get hurt or something is happening that can cause environmental damage - then I go all the way up the chain until someone does something.
 

SteelMaiden

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#4
ah yes, the good ol' [email protected]#^ed if you do and [email protected]#^ed if you don't situation. :notme:

I, like Cari, try not to go over someone's head if at all possible. But if I need to, What I usually do is follow this practice. Call and ask for what I need. If I do not have it within the agreed upon time frame, I will send an e-mail reminder of what we agreed would happen and the schedule. If I still don't get an answer, I will forward that same e-mail back to the person, and then I will forward it back one more time and copy it to my boss (general manager) and the employee's manager/supervisor. It rarely comes to this. Most of the time my boss was aware of what was needed from the beginning, and usually he will send an e-mail out to those involved encouraging their participation from the onset. Otherwise, it comes up in management review.
 

errhine

Involved - Posts
#5
I haven't had to go over too many heads yet. When I have I have made sure to document everything. I have even issued CAR's to cover CAR's and filed all pertinent e-mails with the affected CAR's. :frust: So far it's almost working. Unfortunately management support leaves much to be desired so I have to take what I get.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#6
A friend, who also works in Quality, boss just got canned because as it was put, he went over too many heads one to many times. This may be due to a lack of tact in dealing with situations, or maybe it was a legitimate problem he had and wasn't getting support/help from the necessary management levels.

My question: How do you handle the situation of having to go over someone's head to address an issue without getting voted off the island?
I spent a career crawling, marching, and slinking through the corridors of power. There comes a time when dealing with a customer, a supplier, an opposite number in another department in your own company, a clerk in a store or on a phone, a waiter in a restaurant, or any number of situations where the individual creates a roadblock to your own forward progress (as you perceive progress.)

That "moment of truth" defines YOU and no one else.

Here are "some" possible courses of action - you need to perform the FMEA (failure mode & effects analysis), carefuly weighing the risk versus reward for an entire host of "concerned parties" - yourself, your family, your organization, the public, your customer, your supplier, and even the mope who is blocking your progress BEFORE implementing any of them.
  1. Give up
  2. Give up, but document and record the incident to use for the future
  3. Give up, but carry a grudge and look for a way to "get even"
  4. Try to negotiate a WIN-WIN resolution (did you really try before?)
  5. Ask the mope if he has the power to resolve things to your satisfaction or if he needs to go to someone with more ink in his pen - offer to help the mope make the case so the mope looks like a hero
  6. Consider going over the mope's head - his boss, your boss (to deal with mope's boss), government authorities, etc. - all on the assumption the mope is arbitrarily refusing to resolve your issue
  7. Burn bridges and salt the fields by arbitrarily deciding the mope's entire organization is dedicated to keeping you from forward progress - cancel contracts, file suits, organize protests and boycotts, etc.
So - if you follow one of the above and get burned, it probably means YOUR FMEA was flawed.

For example, I know dozens of folks who got fired or at least deadended in their careers for not being proactive in resolving roadblocks (so much for the idea of doing nothing by giving up.) This has happened all the way up into the "C-level" suite.

I also know of folks who didn't realize the mope was "connected" (sleeping with the boss, related to the Board Chairman, a mob associate, etc.) and ended up getting fired to appease the "superpower" protecting the mope.

All in all, only #2, #4, and #5 above have a good chance of working out by getting you what you want (or at least a reasonable compromise) without endangering your own career.

#6 and #7 are really "last resort" and are very risky for everyone involved - sometimes leading to mopes going postal - which happened at a wholesale autoparts distributor on the south side of Chicago when a fired "mope" (who had alienated a customer who complained) came back and shot and killed two of three owners and five co-workers before killing himself. One owner only escaped because he was late getting to work.

If it were MY decision, I'd sure think twice or more before going into action or nonaction.
 
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