Get Shift Done: Management
Your boss is going to make a mistake at some point. And you might be the lucky one who notices. The question is, what should you do about it, and how do you handle it?
First, it’s important to make sure you’re raising appropriate concerns at the proper time and in a productive way. Happily, there are some basic dos and don’ts you can follow to guide you through this potentially sticky situation.
Let’s Start With How
Why start with how? Because why and when won’t matter if you talk to your boss in a way that makes them tune out.
DON’T literally use the words “You’re wrong.” I don’t care how awesome your boss is, and how much you think they can handle it. Don’t say it.
No matter how cool they are, people feel attacked when someone bluntly tells them they’re wrong. And when there’s a lot tied up in being wrong — like budgets, other people’s jobs, team productivity, and even their own job — it’s completely natural to get defensive. It’s what humans do.
DO soften the blow. Be diplomatic. “I was thinking about what you said…” and “Did you know about…” are much easier way to start the conversation and won’t make your boss defensive. Give them an out, an opportunity to change their mind or a way of re-thinking the situation without feeling the need to explain themselves. Make it a conversation, not an accusation.
When should I talk to them?
Your timing can mean a lot to the way the message is received, and how it’s acted upon. It can also say a lot about you and your professional skills.
DON’T confront your boss in front of other people, or worse, in front of his or her boss. To get your message across, you’ll want to give them a chance to hear what you have to say and respond without feeling like everyone in the room is judging them.
DO try to talk to your boss about the situation before it becomes an issue. Try and have the conversation before a decision is put into action or shared with a wider audience. You’re almost always better off raising your concerns sooner rather than later.
Why should I bother?
If you have to be mindful of the timing of your message, and your delivery, just speaking up sounds like a risk. This begs the question — should you even bother?
DON’T assume that your boss is aware of all the possible angles to the problem. Leaders do their best, but each has a bias of our his or her experience through which decisions filter. While your boss may be looking at the problem from their perspective, your perspective is unique and worth mentioning if you really feel like they’re headed the wrong direction.
DO remember that the decisions your boss makes will need to be carried out and dealt with by you and your team. A misinformed or poorly planned decision may take your team off on a wild goose chase and away from more productive work. Also, going down the wrong path could hurt your boss’s career, and be costly to the company. Not only are you helping them out but you’re also keeping your company and your team going in the right direction.
The GSD Management channel is brought to you by Work Market, the leading labor automation platform. Work Market empowers businesses and skilled professionals to unlock new levels of productivity, engagement and growth across the entire lifecycle of work. Learn more at www.workmarket.com.