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By Fred Kofman
Philosopher and Vice President at Linkedin

Damned if you hear it, damned if you don’t.

Such is your predicament as a manager receiving an unclean escalation.

If you “hear the case”, you allow a team member to present the issue without the other. If you tell the person to not delegate upwards and just “fix it,” you alienate a team member who wants your help, and probably lead him to make a bad decision (with or without his colleague).

Whenever you’re offered two equally bad alternatives, choose a third.

This third option is to ask the team member to go back and escalate the issue jointly; that is to say, together with his counterpart. This allows you to preserve cultural integrity (by not allowing end runs), interpersonal relationships (by having both teammates collaborate), and organizational effectiveness (by having the most complete information possible to make a wise decision).

In the following video I discuss with Johanna how she can help two of her team members resolve a conflict through clean escalation.


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