I’m in a supervisory position in a field in which hierarchy is taken pretty seriously—in other words, it would be considered inappropriate for someone I directly supervise to approach my supervisor about an issue without coming to me first. I have a new employee who is fresh out of college and eager, if insecure. I’m not much older than her, but I have much more experience. She often comes to me with questions that I think she’s capable of researching herself, but I try to help her the best I can, remembering that she’s new and probably overly cautious.
The thing that really annoys me is when asks me a question, I give her an answer, and then she poses the same question to my supervisor in a later meeting with both of us present. To me, this makes it look like she didn’t trust the answer I gave her. To my supervisor, it looks like I didn’t know the answer in the first place or like I’m not communicating clearly with my team.
For the record, each time this has happened, my supervisor has given her the exact same answer I did. I don’t want to embarrass her in front of my boss or seem like I’m being defensive, but I also don’t want my boss to think I’m not doing my job—and honestly, I’m offended that she doesn’t trust my expertise. I can’t tell if she’s doing this just to appear thorough in front of my boss or what. How do I handle this without seeming like I’m too consumed by my image? I’m really worried about appearing incompetent.
—Can I Tell My Subordinates to Quit Making Me Look Bad?