What to Do When a Co-Worker Goes Over Your Head

It’s infuriating when a colleague goes over your head to your boss. Not only have they left you out of the conversation but they’ve potentially made you look bad. What can you say and do when someone tries to sidestep you? How should you address it with your colleague?

What the Experts Say
There are both practical and psychological reasons why a colleague might try to go above you, says Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School and coauthor of Friend and Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both. Practically speaking, they may want a different answer or outcome than you’ve given. Psychologically, it’s possible that they’re keen to show they have more clout or authority than you do. It could also be that they’re conflict averse and afraid to address the issue with you directly. You might be tempted to stomp over to the person’s desk and read them the riot act. “You have to be a saint to not be annoyed or stressed or nervous about something like this happening,” says Caroline Webb, author of How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life. But, as with any conflict, even when you feel you’ve been slighted, it’s better to take a more measured approach. Here’s how.

Amy Gallo