When to Bypass an Inefficient Boss

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Chain of command exists in most organizations to ensure accurate communication, proper allocation of time, and orderly business operations. The entire business can crumble when the chain of command is broken.

Ideally, everyone from the top down will adhere to the designated chain of command. However, there are instances when individuals will bypass the chain of command and initiate communications with people above or below them.

In recent years, the chain of command has been challenged by Tesla CEO Elon Musk who sent an e-mail to his workers. His email is as follows:

“There are two schools of thought about how information should flow. By far the most common way is chain of command, which means that you always flow communication through your manager. The problem with this approach is that, while it enhances the power of the manager, it fails to serve the company.

…Anyone at Tesla can and should email/talk to anyone else according to what they think is the fastest way to solve a problem for the benefit of the whole company. You can talk to your manager’s manager without his permission, you can talk directly to a VP in another dept, you can talk to me, you can talk to anyone without anyone else’s permission. Moreover, you should consider yourself obligated to do so until the right thing happens.”

This email challenges traditional organizations that rely on the chain of command to process information efficiently. Furthermore, it allows flexibility and creativity to flow, which intends to arrive at the best solution to the problem.

When there is a need to bypass your (inefficient) boss, here are some steps you may take:


Give your immediate supervisor the opportunity to address your workplace concerns or issues before talking to the upper management. Your supervisor will appreciate the professional courtesy, which can help build a cohesive team. Ensure that all communication will be in the form of email or memo so that you can both be acknowledged and protected.


During the onboarding process and periodically thereafter, you can discuss the workplace issues and concerns to the Human Resources Department and your immediate supervisor. This will help address the situation/s at hand.


Broaden your strategic alliances by seeking out the help of the organization’s “movers and shakers”. Shared collaborations can exist between you and them.


Make an effort to get noticed in your organization. For instance, you may sign up for your office’s speaking engagements. Doing this will help create a raised profile for yourself, which can influence your credibility once there is a need to communicate a serious matter.

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If your boss is holding you back at work and is dominating your every move, you would want to speak up. Some bosses are ego-driven and like nothing better than to see their employees take the back seat to relish the rewards of other people’s achievements. However, taking the issue to the upper management can be considered as bypassing your boss.

Breaking the chain of command can create confusion, conflict, and chaos. Remember to handle everything respectfully and professionally to ensure that you are doing what is best for you and the company.

Sources: 1, 2, & 3

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