“Jumping over the head”, or what leads to inconsistent interaction between employees of different levels of the hierarchy


“I am the head of marketing campaigns. I worked in the company for almost a year, put together a team and got some results… and everything collapsed. My boss ruined my team and blamed it on me. This is how I would describe the situation.
When I was alone everything was great. But it all started when people started coming to me. Since the department was new, I was completely immersed in debugging processes and communicating with customers. I didn’t have time to pay attention to how and with whom my guys communicate.
Over time, I got into trouble. My employee overdue the project and we were threatened with penalties. When I asked about the reason, she said that she was busy with the task that Alexander Ivanovich (my boss) assigned her. I did not know how to react to such an answer, since I somehow considered it wrong to forbid performing the tasks of the boss. Therefore, I decided to approach him and talk about this issue.
Our conversation was rather tense. My boss did not want to hear my arguments that it would be right to assign tasks to me, and not to my employees. He ended up calling me “inflexible” and “selfish” and that I was afraid that my subordinates would not love anyone but me. This topic was closed once and for all.
After our conversation, he began, as if on purpose, to come in more often, to be interested in the health of my guys, to praise them …. It seems that there is nothing wrong with this, but my people began to treat him better than they did me, and began to neglect me.
After some time, I had to conduct educational conversations with one of my subordinates, since her results did not suit me. During our dialogue, she told me that I find fault with her and that Alexander Ivanovich appreciates her, unlike me …. I was confused, but insisted on my own and said that if her results did not change, she would not finish well.
My boss continued to go to my employees, continued to set tasks for them, sometimes canceled my tasks and decisions in favor of his own, sometimes praised employees who have nothing to praise for.
A month later, the situation became so tense that my subordinates complained about me to Alexander Ivanovich. He called me to his place (by that time, our indicators were also going down), and gave me a strong dressing. I did not fight back, because I had already made a decision for myself.
I am sure that Alexander Ivanovich did this unintentionally. He did it without thinking, and it was stupid and stupid. He followed his “common sense” (as he liked to call it). He went not only to my department and other bosses complained about him. But they were able to adapt to such a regime, but I did not … “

The object of this type of demotivation (whom it affects) in most cases are managers (like the heroine of our case). The culprits of such a situation are leaders who allow non-subordination communications with subordinates of their subordinate (like Alexander Ivanovich).

Our case is described quite clearly and fully reveals the essence of the situation. Therefore, I will not supplement it and think it out. Let’s go straight to the problem.

A systemic problem and requires a systemic solution

Insubordination is a systemic, corporate-wide problem that can only be treated from the top down. That is, the director of the company must implement and maintain a culture of subordination.

Attempts to work through the issue from the bottom up or in a separate unit, of course, will bear fruit and reduce the scale of the problem. But they won’t insure 100%. For example, let’s imagine that the head of the department correctly uses the chain of command in relation to his subordinate line manager. At the same time, since this is not accepted in the company as a whole, the head of a department or the head of a neighboring department can come to an employee of this line manager and directly resolve some issues with him (thus violating subordination).

Employees lose their scent

The most serious consequence of a violation of subordination is that employees “lose their scent” and begin to stare at another “master” (a higher manager). That’s why:

1) Status
The superior manager is higher in the hierarchy than the immediate supervisor. Accordingly, he is more influential and status. He has great power. I want to earn his respect more than the immediate supervisor.

2) Distance
A person with whom you rarely communicate is more pleasant and more interesting to us than one who is always there and has already become boring. He has not yet got us and has not disappointed. He does not “build” us every day, does not force us to work, does not stick his nose into our affairs. For us, it still remains the same picture that we saw earlier in the corporate messenger. This is what the leader looks like.

3) “Unsynchronized”
And, most importantly, the superior manager does not know all the details and characteristics of these employees (subordinates of his subordinate). He does not know that Ivanov is regularly late, although he looks like a very pleasant person … he does not know that the overfulfillment of Sidorova’s plan is associated with a freebie (a major client came himself), but she, in fact, was relaxed all month …. This is known only to the immediate supervisor, who daily cooks in this.

And now, such a higher leader sits and thinks: “What good indicators Ivanov and Sidorova have. I’ll go as soon as I tell them: “Thank you!” And this will motivate them. He gets up, and with these good thoughts comes and begins to praise Ivanov and Sidorova. Employees, in turn, of course, will look at him as the most pleasant person in the world. “Not like ours…” they will say. And the relationship of employees with their immediate supervisor will be shaken (as in the case described above).

You can encourage subordinates of your subordinates only in agreement with them or in their presence! Otherwise, such actions will lead to the fact that the fields of power for you and your subordinate leader will be “blurred”. Employees will begin to confuse who to go to and from whom to ask, and who can do what. As a result, the situation will become more complicated.

It’s not just managers who suffer

Less often, but there are also reverse situations when employees suffer from non-subordinate raids.

1) Criticism
As I said above, the superior sees only superficial digital data. He does not know the reasons why a particular employee achieved these results. Such a leader, seeing that Kozlov did not fulfill the plan, can subtract it when meeting with him. At the same time, he does not know that Kozlov himself and his entire family fell seriously ill last month. And what exactly it influenced such work, and that this is an exception.

2) Priority
A higher manager can come running and assign tasks to an employee. All this by adding the word “Urgent”. The employee, of course, will leave his work and will perform these “urgent”. He will fulfill them, but he will not fulfill his own. Then, the next day, such an employee will “grab off” from his immediate supervisor. A hopeless situation for an employee…

3) Cognitive dissonance
The immediate supervisor can give a task, with the clarification “The layout should be bright”, and the superior manager will say “The layout should be beautiful. Remove this bright inscription, I do not like red.


Finally, the leaders themselves can be jealous of their boss for their subordinates. After all, they are also people and also notice that their leader is more supportive of his subordinates, is afraid that they will not leave, worries about them and praises them. And to them, he is more strict.

The illusion of injustice is created. Of course, the manager values ​​his direct subordinate manager more than his employees. And, of course, she is more afraid of losing him than others. He just doesn’t show it…


Jumping over your head is a demotivator that hits the company’s most valuable resource – middle and lower managers. These are the most valuable people, since the results of the company directly depend on their management and how they set up the work of the team. If subordinates do not consider the immediate supervisor “one and only”, they:

Under such conditions, the leader will not be able to create an effective team and will not be able to be effective. To achieve his goals, he will have to spend more effort and more energy.

When such a leader sees that his work is being nullified by his boss, this will be the final blow for him. What’s the point of working for this company if your boss is bothering you? There is no point…

Read the continuation of a series of cases about demotivation and management in my telegram blog: OS_management
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