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How to get my boss fired?

Let me first say that I really enjoy my job and feel committed to the company I work for and the people I work with. I've been here for a couple of years. About 4 months ago they hired a CFO from hell. The only tool in her employee management toolkit is nastiness. One of her main skills is apportioning blame to others. This has resulted in her maneuvering some good people toward the door. The truth is, I probably don't have to make 100% of the effort to get her fired as she has started to visibly irritate the CEO. Sadly, our company very rarely fires top management. I've only heard of this happening twice and both were a few years before I arrived here. So, I imagine that the gradually more irritated CEO will probably tolerate this at least for another year.... and that's too long! If I'm convinced it would be best for all concerned (including myself of course), if she were fired as soon as possible, what should I do?

Answers

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

If you talk to the CEO, which in a small company and your role, I'm sure you do ask to speak privately with that person.

Calmly and professionally lay out the issues. If the CEO is already as you say irritated, it may encourage either corrective action on the CEO's part sooner than later.

Thank the CEO for their time.

Caveat: You never know the back deals, so make sure you've surveyed the employment scene in your area. This could backfire and exiting may be the better choice for you.

People are human....

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

I will differ from Wayne's suggestion....

I am placing myself in the shoes of your CFO and how I would personally want someone under me to handle this. I would rather have you approach ME first and tell me your concerns and issues than go direct to the CEO. Maybe we can resolve it, or maybe I just need an eye opener. At the very least, I cannot accuse you of bypassing me and not going through the "chain of command". Afterwards, you need to document our discussion by email (to the CFO) and HR (BCC) ...both confidential.

How I handle your issues and concerns and our discussion (as documented by your email) should be the basis of your decision if you need to approach the CEO. Please also note that by making this move, you are making yourself vulnerable or a target (I am now talking about her). The email may give you some ammo (legal) just in case your CFO is really vindictive.

Of course the tone of your approach (to me) will be EXTREMELY important.

This much I know (and my management style), you being my second in command or my direct report, has a lot of bearing/effect in MY success or failure.

That being said, here is what I see from your post....."How to get my Boss fired?" is just an indication of how you are approching this from an adversarial point of view. I think you should first exhaust all "collegial" ways to resolve conflict and not "advocate" for someone else's firing without first trying to resolve it. You may be accusing her of something you are also doing...but the difference is...she has more power.

I agree with Wayne on his caveats. Always have Plan B's, C's or even D's.

Anonymous
(CFO/Board Advisor) |

This is a mine field. Everywhere you step, there is the likelihood that something will blow-up. I think you really have two choices: (1) grin-and-bear it; or (2) find another job and leave.

While discussing this with the CEO or CFO may be the adult and mature action to take, it requires adults on both side for this to be successful. Doesn't sound like this is the situation for you. In addition, I am old school, so I believe in chain-of-command, and would be very upset if you went direct to the CEO without discussing with me first. There are a few exceptions to this, e.g. fraud, sexually harassment, drug problem. Remember this also says something about you to the CEO. Because his first question will be, have you discussed this with the CFO? And, if not why? Your CEO may view this a back stabbing, and showing a lack of loyalty. No matter that your intentions are good and for the better of the company. In his mind, if you were CFO, does this mean you would go directly to the Board to complain about him? You need to start any discussion with the CFO. After that, the CEO.

Again, since this seems to be more of a "style" or personality issue, if you decide to stay, then you should discuss you issues with the CFO first. Of course, doing this, as pointed out by others, may not fix the "problem" and it could in fact make it worse. It boils down to: Are you fearless? Are you willing to take the risk?

Dennis Grahl
Title: Partner
Company: 1950
(Partner, 1950) |

I agree that you should speak privately with the CEO and probably late in the day so the CEO has time to consider options overnight. Stay clam, do not get irritated. Remember that a torpedo goes down with its target so walk softly and quietly. Be certain of your facts and leave the emotion in your office.

Robert Rochester
Title: VP & CFO
Company: Edcor Data Services LLC
(VP & CFO, Edcor Data Services LLC) |

I agree largely with Anonymous (CFO) | Sep 27, 2014. Once you raise the issue, you potentially place you own job in jeopardy. My advise is learn to deal with it, learn to work and get along with your CFO, and find the spot that allows you to co-exist. You may never change the CFO, but you may stay employed. If you can be a survivor, eventually the CFO may leave and solve the problem. It is the survivor who adapts and learns to get along and co-exist with all types of people. If you can't do those things, you better find another job.

Anonymous
(Controller ) |

If you want to find out what your options at the company are, I would suggest go to HR and talk to them. This would be a confidential meeting and you can get the best feedback. Following the chain of command is not always good, especially if you already feel threatened or a hostile environment has been established by the CFO. From what you are saying she does not seem like she would accept your feedback, then the option going to the CFO will cause more problems.
HR will advise you of the best course to take, especially if this is affecting the work / job performance of others.

Anonymous User
Title: CFO
Company: Local Government Agency
(CFO, Local Government Agency) |

Reliance on and, trust in HR is a fool's errand. HR is NEVER confidential. They have a fiduciary duty to the organization and that means to their bosses. They will convey everything you say to them to either the targeted CFO or, to other execs.

That is why so many HR types seem to relish the role of "spy". It gives them kiss up power to the higher ups and plays into their own, self promotion schemes.

I've seen this from many angles at several organizations. When it comes to HR, my motto is treat them as your captors and you are a POW. Name, rank and serial number is all you should provide. Any more, and they will have power over you. That power can be used for nefarious purposes.

Anonymous
(Controller/HR Director) |

Not enough information. I'm seeing it from my side, with a clerk and the CFOs. I'm just the Controller and new, and the CFO is new. This clerk has thrown the CFO under the bus, as well as me. This clerk has been there longer and is trying to save her job. The previous regime and accounting dept were clueless, and we have a mess to clean up. And this clerk is fighting every change we are trying to do. In a passive aggressive way. So, why is this CFO nasty? Is she trying to accomplish things that are a directive by the Board and CEO? Is it a personality conflict? When you are trying to manage a team, you need that team on board. How did you get along with the last CFO? I know the clerk I am working with == who reports to the CFO as do I, hasn't gotten along with the prevoius 3 CFOs. Because this clerk has very little accounting background and the company is in a position of need of people with more knowledge, I believe these games are played by the clerk to hide the lack of talent and avoid losing her job. I think Emerson has it right -- it is an adversarial question. And what I see as a game of power play -- instead of being a team player. I have worked for CFOs I have not liked, but I respected their position and their title.

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

I would have a face to face discussion with the CFO and state your concerns. But, you may have to admit it is time to look for opportunities outside the company if you are unhappy.

Topic Expert
Patrick Dunne
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Milk Source
(Chief Financial Officer, Milk Source) |

Do your job and do it well and things will work out. I would start leveraging your network and get a pulse on the market.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

As part of our leadership growth we read the book The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni. The basis is cross accountability, but it does require trust and there is none of that. I too have several questions similar to the ones Anon asks about this person, however with the information presented I am a huge fan of the direct approach. I also understand this is very difficult to do especially if you have never done it before. My advice would be to approach your CFO in a servant leadership manner, (e.g. "It seems like you have a lot on your plate and you seem a bit stressed; is there anything I can do to help make things easier for you or how can I help ease your frustration?" Most times if you get to the root cause of this person's behavior you possibly can help change the behavior. If you can get them to open up you are building trust, which opens the door for you to be open and honest with this person. The CFO and Controller's roles should be very connected and you should be assisting and gaining an open trusting relationship.

Steve Sheridan
Title: Associate
Company: Dean Lewis Associates
(Associate, Dean Lewis Associates) |

I think Christie has a good point. What is the cause of the nastiness? I heard a story I love to tell about a church group that had one dissenter. This dissenter always complained about every new initiative and fought against them. One woman in the group found herself praying that God would change the man. She was driving her son home one night and asked him if he new the dissenter. The son told her the dissenter had been in the military and lost many friends there. The woman realized that the dissenter needed to feel in control of situations. The church group gave the dissenter some directing roles in the new initiatives and the dissenter thrived in the roles as he had some control back.

Joan Ifland
Title: CEO
Company: Victory Meals, LLD
(CEO , Victory Meals, LLD ) |

The exeuctive sounds like she could use support. Her behavior might stem from past experiences with discrimination as has been the case with many female executives. Look for ways to support her. I'm sure she's doing something right. Point these things out to her. Make her feel like she's successful in your opinion. Thank her for feedback, even if you don't agree with it. Go the extra mile to find tasks that make her look good.
You may not like the situation, but you can like yourself in the situation. Keep track of your good-faith efforts.
Several advantages to this approach. 1. It relieves you of the stress of taking hostile action. 2. It just might work to soften her approach to you. 3. If you do eventually need to bring in the CEO or HR, you will look constructive as you share your record of good-faith efforts.
You might also consider doing some reading about gender perception. When we're confronted with a member of the opposite sex in a position of authority, it's easy to make problems very big and successes smaller. I'm noticing that all of the responses to this question assume that the female executive is not salvageable. That's sad.

Anonymous
(VP Finance) |

I am bewildered by this response. You make the assumption the writer of the question is male even though the author makes no such representation. I am not sure if the CFO is behaving as badly as the author says, but giving someone an excuse about prior discrimination rings hollow to me; particularly considering she was hired as a CFO.

Edward Thill
Title: VP - Finance & Operations
Company: Performance Trust
(VP - Finance & Operations, Performance Trust) |

My first question is how unbiased and unemotional is your assessment of the CFO's actions? If you can list multiple examples of unprofessional nastiness and pass-the-buck leadership habits, you may have an issue -- but can you clearly articulate those examples to the CEO in a manner that shares them as facts and not just whining or style differences? Will he recognize those same lethal traits? If not, I think you need to bide your time a bit longer to either build a case or settle into a more comfortable position with your CFO. If the case can be made factually, it would present as a serious character issue on the part of the CFO and I would buck the chain-of-command (which I agree is usually a bad idea) and go right to the CEO assuming you have earned a reasonable amount of respect with him over your four years. I don't expect a private chat with a low-character CFO would prove fruitful -- and is more likely to be damaging to your career there. In either case, as so many have pointed out, have plan B ready because you'll be lighting a fire you won't be able to control.

Denise Wilson
Title: QA Consultant
Company: Unum
(QA Consultant, Unum) |

Personally, I’m appalled at all who say look for another job or just grin-and-bear it! I do agree with those who advise to speak to the CFO first. We had a similar situation with a high-level superior. This person was…well…just awful. The disrespect displayed was abysmal. I’m happy to say, once this was pointed out in a very well documented and logical approach, the turnaround was nothing less than astounding. This person became one of the best leaders we have…and very approachable with an “open door” policy.

This may be an uncommon result but many people simply do not realize the effect their actions have on others until they are made aware. Telling someone they are “nasty”, as you put it, is hard. There’s really no such thing as constructive criticism. That’s an oxymoron…and criticism hurts! So be nice but provide specific examples. It will either work or it won’t, but you will have the satisfaction of trying to make things better.

David Rau
Title: CFO
Company: Cornerstoner Building Alliance Lumber SW
(CFO, Cornerstoner Building Alliance Lumber SW) |

I agree with the advice that Robert Rochester has provided. You should begin your new job search before you have a discussion with the CEO.

Anonymous
(Chief Financial Officer) |

It's been four months. That's actually not a lot of time to acclimate to a new role. Anytime there is a change in leadership different cultures come into conflict. Perhaps both cultures need to adjust a little.

It's never a bad thing to have an updated resume and your pulse on the market. So I agree with people like David Rau.

I also agree with those who suggest that you have a CONSTRUCTIVE chat with the CEO. But don't be shocked if he/she sees something in the CFO that you don't see. A CFO has many responsibilities/objectives and although being liked by the employees is certainly prized it isn't at the top of the list.

Robert Price
Title: CFO/Board Advisor
Company: Not Disclosed
(CFO/Board Advisor, Not Disclosed) |

I'm amazed by the question itself! It implies you have already made your mind up that there is only one solution - the CFO must go. And, if she doesn't go voluntarily, you are looking for a way to get her terminated. Nice. Very professional. (NOT!!!)

C'mon man. Have a discussion with her. Find out if there is some common ground to improve the relationship. Remember, what goes around, comes around. And by that I mean, are you willing to be held to the same standard. Are you willing to have your direct reports go directly to your boss and complain about you, without ever discussing the problem with you first? All over style or personality.

At some point in your career, you will have a relationship with a Peer that is less than perfect. Are you the type of person that would go directly to the boss and try to have your Peer fired, rather than attempt to work out your differences and come up with a reasonable working relationship? What kind of Teammate does that make you? (Does A-Rod come to mind or Jeter?) Would you want your Peer(s) to go directly to the CEO and try and have you fired?

My recommendation is for you to turn this into a learning and growth experience. Find a way to get along with a difficult person. Give it a try, you'll be amazed by what you'll learn.

Anonymous
(Accountant) |

A lot of good feedback on here. But they are indirectly answer your question. I will answer directly. Sounds like this person has enough rope to hang themselves, eventually, so let them do so. All you need to do is your job. Do not do anything that will help your boss excel. Just survive.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

I disagree and here's why. If not Now then When, if not you then Who? Take ownership, step up and be the leader that you were hired to be. Sit back and do your job? Is that serving the best interest to you, the CFO or your company? When faced with difficult situations we can't simply bury our head in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist!

ArLyne Diamond
Title: Owner - President
Company: Diamond Associates
LinkedIn Profile
(Owner - President, Diamond Associates) |

I like the last response from "anonymous". Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing to do. Just don't help. Also, be careful that you don't harm yourself in the process of "bad-mouthing" your boss. He or she might have valuable allies in the company - and you can get hurt.

Robert Price
Title: CFO/Board Advisor
Company: Not Disclosed
(CFO/Board Advisor, Not Disclosed) |

One last recommendation, read: "The No Asshole Rule", by Robert I. Sutton, Phd. Dr. Sutton is a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University. I would pay particular attention to Chapter 5, "When Assholes Reign: Tips for Surviving Nasty People and Workplaces", and Chapter 6, "The Virtues of Assholes".

Kevin Pan
Title: Vice President
Company: sequoia Capital China
(Vice President, sequoia Capital China) |

First of all, make your judgement on the purpose of the CFO, then act accordingly and tactically.

Kwabena Aboagye-Heming
Title: CEO
Company: Hemingway Consulting Ltd
(CEO, Hemingway Consulting Ltd) |

You did not indicate precisely what the CFO is doing that warranted her exit. Is it a personality clash? As suggested by previous contributors, whatever the situation, meet her and discuss your concerns. It is not advisable to jump to the CEO. Watch your steps very well.

Anonymous
(Senior Manager, CCAR, Treasury) |

I think there is only one question to be asked. Do 'You' want 'That' job? If the answer is yes, then present yourself as an alternative based on the relationship performance grid. You will hear then, why her and not you OR, why it could be you and not her. Warning, you may hear an answer you don't like, but noone is ever blamed for presenting a competitive analysis. Now, if your answer is that you do not want that job, find a way to respect her for accepting the challenge that you didn't want, or move on my friend. You are not required to work, there. Find a place that fits your personality.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

I'm going to comment on the tone of your question. The answers here have given you the standard pat answers as well as some very good advice.

The tone of your question tells me you are emotionally invested in the people that work around you and that you feel badly that some people could be under qualified and are becoming uncomfortable with the change in leadership that might demand more quality work from them than they are able to provide. Your tone also tells me you have a very high opinion of how important you are to the organization that you could instigate a revolt and get the new CFO fired.

The company has chosen a new CFO to lead them in a new direction. There will be a time of assessment of the staff, probably 6 months, stressful situations will be employed by management to determine who stays and who goes based on how well the staff can positively react and reinvest in the new direction. This is how change occurs.

If you want to keep your job, you should keep quiet and determine how best to support the new CFO. If you spend all your time gossiping and working to undermine them you will be the first one escorted out the door.

Honestly, your question tells me your motives do not align with company goals.

Sometimes people need to hear the truth.

Topic Expert
Scott MacDonald
Title: President/Owner
Company: AlphaMac Resources, Inc.
(President/Owner, AlphaMac Resources, Inc.) |

If the CFO truly has the personality deficiencies you talk about, they will be gone shortly. If the CEO doesn't see the problem, your whole organization appears dysfunctional.

Inserting yourself into the situation will only end badly.

Going to the CEO will make you appear as a back stabber, going to the CFO with the type of personality you describe will probably get you fired.

So buckle down and wait for the CFO to make that final fatal error, and hope the next CFO is a human being. If the CFO doesn't get the ax, then it is time to find a better place to work.

Anonymous
(Accountant) |

Christie, you simply cannot insert platitudes and make it all better...and how do you know that person was hired to be a leader? Even with a title of "controller", they may not have much leverage and say-so. Regardless, the new CFO is the writer's boss, you cant go around showing them up and confronting them. And last, "just doing your job" is never a bad thing. I'm sure that place has enough wanna be chiefs and not enough Indians, so to peak.

Elisabeth Bagdiul
Title: Consultant
Company: None
(Consultant, None) |

I see some emotions involved in description of the situation.
Giving feedback means to give facts - from the post is quite difficult to say what are the facts behind behavioural assessment. The other point is that possibly new hired does not actually sees that he/she is perceived in a such way [maybe this type of behaviour was acceptable in another company but not in this one]. People come from different cultures and different types of company's culture, hence I would suggest the first step is to openly talk, express in a structured way your feedback based on facts and listen to what the counterpart says. That would give some start point on possible solutions.

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