I was wondering if anyone has guidance (or a cast to suggest!) about the steps to follow if a skip sends an email to your direct with complaints about specific actions of the direct, and cc's you. First I am going to get my direct's side of the story, afterwards, how do I decide who replies to the skip (my direct, or me)? Would the steps differ if the complaints were founded or unfounded?

Thanks for any advice.

mrreliable's picture

You will undermine your direct's authority if you respond to the skip. Whether that's appropriate depends on the issue. Copying you on the email shows a lack of respect or trust from the skip. Unless the direct is committing some kind of malfeasance, the skip shouldn't see any incentive to jump the chain of command.

NFPmanager's picture

 Thanks. I think you are right about the lack of respect. All people concerned are very young and the environment is informal. I think may be struggling with balancing friendliness/coaching/creating relationships vs the lines of command. 

I had to decide how to react last week (had not seen your response) and based my response partly on the conflict resolution cast. I tried to adapt it to the direct/skip situation. I gave feedback to the skip on the way she had broadcast her complaint. I asked her to apologize to my direct. I talked to my direct and asked her to suggest how she would address the complaints with the skip. I will follow up at our one on one. The skip apologized to everyone and seemed to regain perspective and the direct seemed relieved I had her back. Any further advice on how I should have handled this differently is welcome, I am learning every day.