Breaking trust

Today a friend exposed a situation he is going through. Paraphrasing him:

I am having issues with my new team lead. I don’t think he is really listening to anyone. I don’t think he is the best person for the role. How do I go about this? Talk to his manager, or?

Doing skip-levels for negative feedback is a declaration of war. And if you are going down this path, be prepared for the consequences. There are cases that require such an approach (e.g. the person is being inappropriate, rude, or completely unprofessional). Regardless of the outcome one thing is certain: the trust between both people is severely damaged. It’s very difficult to restore it - and remote work makes this even harder. When you ask their manager to solve the problem, you are trading trust for power. It’s their manager’s hierarchical power that will solve the problem - and you are paying that exchange with trust.

It’s tough, especially when the person you are dealing with doesn’t want to listen, or improve, or change. But it’s always worth having a sincere conversation with them, and explaining the problem. Explain why and how their behaviour is impacting you and the rest of the team. But at the same time giving them time and space to improve on that, rather than expecting immediate results.