A member of my team has had a terrible experience with other senior managers on one project. He used to work for them. While he worked for them he was misled on delivery dates, requirements and generally pushed around.

I am now managing him directly. However, the managers he used to work for continue to want to intrude into his work-life.

What is the best way to protect him?

  • I can't says that I understand the problem. How can the other manager intrude him, though you are his true manager? Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 8:38
  • @Hoang the other manager can pick up the phone and say "hey buddy, come to my office, I have a small job for you". It's just that simple (as someone said below) :)
    – yegor256
    Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 6:54
  • @yegor256: I can't believe there's something like that. Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 15:59

6 Answers 6


Tell them he is your direct and that you are responsible for him. So if they have any issues they should address them to you.


Are they "your" Management too?

If not, you need to firmly tell them to F*ck back off.

Tell them its unethical, unprofessional effecting his productivity, and adding unnecessary risk to your project.

It's just that simple.

  • 2
    It's that simple "to tell" but it's not that simple to resolve the problem.
    – yegor256
    Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 6:52

What is the reaction of the member of your team? How does he/she behave when getting instructions from someone besides you, the manager? I assume that he follows the instructions without letting you know. And this behavior causes problems for your plans. In other words, the member of your team doesn't deliver on time. Am I right?

If I'm right, you should focus yourself on this particular result, not the cause. The cause is the problem of the member of your team. Not yours. Let him/her manage it. Be objective and very explicit about your expectations in your project. Very soon the member will understand what distracts him/her from the work (the upper manager) and will resolve the situation.

  • +1 - It's a subordinate's job to understand his or her role and who he/she is responsible to.
    – jmort253
    Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 3:12

Unfortunately this happens quite often when there is an existing working relationship.

In my personal opinion, I would have a chat with the member of your team that is suffering from this situation. I would let him know that I will support and back him up whenever he needs it and that he should start being strong to say to his previous manager/s "Sorry but I can't help you on this. Perhaps if you talk to my manager he may be able to support you". If they really want something from your team they will need to talk to you first.

In my previous job I have a situation with an analyst that was approaching the members of my team when I wasn't around, asking them to do things that weren't their responsibilities and, whenever something went wrong my team was blamed. I called this analyst to a meeting with my line manager to discuss what kind of need was required and explore other alternatives to provide her with the right support. I explained to her that my team was handling specific tasks and were given specific deadlines so in order to do not compromise those dates she would need to start contacting me beforehand so I could allocate the right resource.

This became a new weekly meeting for me to assign resources to help her but my team didn't suffer from any inadequate approach any longer.

Good luck :)


If your organisation is in the habit of recording the time spent on every task, then ensure that there is a time recording allocation for interruptions or working for others. Otherwise, ask the employee to make an informal note of how often he / she is interrupted, and for how long.

Once you have the evidence, you can use this to take action with your employee (for accepting the other guy's work) and / or with the other guy (for consuming your team's time), based on hard facts. Anything else runs the risk of opinions and interpretation getting in the way of the truth. And the facts will help you if you have to escalate the issue to your own manager at any point in future.

As a manager, you need to decide on a course of action that will get the result that you want - so make sure you know what the desired result is before you tackle anyone. Then use the facts as the basis for presenting your argument - and keep it objective, not subjective.


File a complaint against them with the leadership saying they are undermining your department and management by subverting the chain-of-command. Instruct your team they are to only take orders from you, and proved them with a one-paragraph cut+paste text to email to persons trying to direct their work.

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