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Dealing with an employee that went over my head

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I manage a small team and recently hired for a new position. In the job posting it clearly stated that the work hours are from 8:00-4:30. No concerns about these hours were mentioned during the interview process at all.

Recently after accepting the job offer, the new hire expressed an issue with the hours of work, and proposed their own hours. The hours were not even consistent every day, they requested different work hours for each day of the week (they did all add up to the same total number of hours). I rejected this request.

The employee(before the first day of work), then emailed my superior with the same request and was approved.

How do I carry on managing an employee that is willing to go right over my head on an issue like this? How do I address this with my manager so that it doesn’t happen again. ( the first words out of my managers mouth should have been “Have you discyed this with your direct manager first?” )

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  1. You’ve got to start out by realising that this is not a problem with your employee, if anything, it’s a problem with your boss. Unless it is typically his / her responsibility to set your employees hours, (s)he’s out of his / her department by approving the request.

    It is quite probable that (s)he didn’t know that the employee’s original request was denied, and it is just possible that (s)he believed that the employee, being new to the company, wasn’t quite sure where to put in the request.

  2. Company work hours by default don’t mean everyone has to work them. They only mean company business hours, when someone can come in. Small companies usually have the most flexibility in this regard, so it’s natural for people to assume that flexible hours is a norm for non-customer facing roles. Is this a helpdesk or sales position? Is it a software developer / network admin / another technical role? Two different treatment plans.

    Regarding how to deal with this or similar situation (when employee requests a non-standard accommodation), you need to try your best to accommodate them. Talk to your boss, see what you can do. If you can allow some flex in work start/end time, do so. If after all this you are absolutely sure hours are strict, you must provide a reasonable explanation why this would be the case (unless it’s obvious to everyone, like a bank teller – need to cover a specific shift). In 2017 you cannot just reject them “because I said so”.

  3. This is not a problem with the employee. This is a problem between you and your superior.

    As a middle-level manager, I would be aghast if my boss allowed someone to go around me and get their acceptance on such a request without even first letting me know about it.

    I’d immediately request a one-on-one meeting with my boss and discy what my role was, what my authority was, and why this end-around happened.

    Hopefully I would hear that this was all a mistake or misunderstanding. But if I found that I actually had no real authority and that this sort of thing would continue to happen, I’d re-evaluate my role and decide if it was still a role that I wanted to fill or not.

    • And if I chose to stay, I’d talk with my manager about why the hours of 8:00-4:30 were important enough to make them part of the job posting, and how I was going to move the new employee back to those hours. (This all assumes that coverage of those hours wasn’t arbitrary and that adherence really was important).

      I would then inform the upcoming employee of the work hours I expected to be covered, and I’d prepare for the scenario where the new employee chose to not come aboard after all.

      I view backing up middle-managers (at least publicly) as vitally important in a workplace. I wouldn’t work for a company where I was expecting my decisions to be undermined on a regular basis.