Boss vs Grandboss

Let’s say your boss and their boss disagree on a way to do something. You attend a meeting and watch them argue or whatever.

Then your boss tells you separately to do it their way and to disregard the grandboss. But then your grandboss calls you and tells you to do it their way without letting your boss know about it.

What do

For a friend of course

Other than find a new job where the work environment isn’t hostile and toxic?

Approach each with your concerns about what they’re asking you to do, tell them that they’re putting you in a situation you’re ethically* uncomfortable with, and request it be resolved as a team or else you’ll need to involve HR. Or something less threatening, but that’s the gist of what I’d do.

*As you don’t believe in ethics, adjust this for however it’s making you feel.

I would probably tell whichever one I had a better rapport with that the other is giving conflicting direction, and let them hash it out.

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I’d come clean to boss since they more directly hold your destiny in their hands in hopes that boss reconciles with grandboss so your broader destiny isn’t at risk.

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Believe it or not I had some fun stuff with conflicting directions from great grandboss vs boss + grandboss, but that was easy. Great grandboss is hardly even related to me.

what is your personal opinion and why? I’d just explain to whomever that I feel the other person’s method makes more sense for reasons X, Y, Z.

if it’s something where they are looking for information and time permitted, I’d probably do it both ways. However if it’s one of those things, like a rating algorithm, i’d default back to what i said above.

um, whoever approaches you second you just respond accordingly

Boss: Do it this way
Me: Okay

seconds later

Grandboss: Do it this way
Me: But Boss told me to do it this way a second ago
Grandboss: I’ll talk to him, but do it this way
Me: Okay

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tenor (3)

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Maybe the right thing to do is to go one step further and consult the great grandboss on which route has the higher probability of getting promoted.

I think there are too many unknown variables to really come to a conclusion. It would depend on the ultimate work product, who is signing off on it, and which methodology I am more comfortable with.

I have been in a situation where one actuary (let’s call him boss) decided not to sign a report because they disagreed with the methodology (grand boss) wanted to use. As someone who wasn’t signing the ultimate work product I made it clear that I would perform the work as requested, qualify my own work product based on what I thought was appropriate and it was up to them to decide what ultimately went out the door and who signed it.

In the end, you are responsible for your own work and must be comfortable with the analysis you provide, including the ability to qualify any work you do where you might disagree with some aspect of the analysis. Obviously taking care that what you produce is not then used in an inappropriate manner. If the boss and grand boss are also actuaries, they have their own responsibility of care in that regard.

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Do it both ways, send both to both, and have them settle it at 3PM out at the bike racks.


Do you think one is wrong, or is this something that can reasonably be done either way?

If you are professionally comfortable with either approach, what JS Mill said – do the one you were last told to do, and make sure they both know what you will be doing any why.

If you feel one approach is wrong, think about how to explain this to the one who is backing it, and tell them privately.

In any event, consider NerdAlert’s suggestion to find a workplace where you aren’t stuck in the middle of fights, and especially where you don’t have a boss and a grandboss who hide things from each other.

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Have had this happen but one way was clearly wrong. Grand boss was not an actuary, and their request was ridiculous. Consulted with boss on how to do it boss’s way and effectively explain why to grand boss without explicitly telling grand boss their plan was idiotic. No longer work there though, since this kind of thing happened all the time and was problematic.

I have also had this happen when both boss and grand boss were actuaries, but I tended to side with boss. Boss was closer to the work and better understood the practical implications of the decision, whereas grand boss was looking at things more high level and not understanding the intricacies of the work. In that case, boss generally took the responsibility of explaining why we deviated from grand boss’s demands.

I’m generally okay with this as long as my boss has my back and the reasoning is good.

I get on perfectly with boss and grandboss, so this is not a problem.

But Uber-Boss is an accountant by trade, so everything needs to be painfully simplified for him, sometimes to the extent the results can lose their real meaning.

We’re getting new minions later this year, so I will outsource some of this work to them. They can spend hours explainimg it to him.

I’d probably do whichever method I thought was better and let them duke it out later.

Obviously depends, but I think the politically best option is side with your immediate boss and let everyone know you’re doing it how he says because your hands are tied. If Grandboss wants it done his way he should get you promoted or get your boss to do it his way. You want people higher up to wish you reported to them. Either way you should still opine on what you think is best.