12 Things to Practice Before You Confront the Boss
The number one challenge of confronting the boss is being viewed as a supportive team member before you do it.
Constant antagonists are viewed as adversaries.
12 things to practice before you confront the boss:
- Get past being against things. What are you advocating for? When the boss does something you disagree with, going against is the easy response. Constantly going against weakens relationships.
- Don’t be the source of complaints from colleagues. The boss doesn’t feel you’re on their team if they’re always putting out fires you start. Choose behaviors that make life easier for your boss.
- Go to them for advice. Frame your question in the plural. “What options do you see?” Always create multiple options that give you choice. (Bring some of your own solutions to the table.)
- Understand, articulate, and align with their goals. Hidden agendas are seldom hidden. Work on improving the big picture, even if you struggle with some decisions.
- Protect their reputation. Never gossip. Never assume you know their motivations, if you haven’t asked.
- Send thank you notes. Explain the positive impact they have on you. Gratitude feels like loyalty. (Make this a sincere practice that’s disconnected from disagreements.)
- Support decisions you disagree with, as long as they’re ethical.
- Excel at your job.
- Help others excel at their jobs.
- Apologize when you screw up. Make things right quickly.
- Respond with humility when you hear “no”. Humility is always appropriate, especially when expressing disagreement. Receive correction well, before you give it.
- Find ways to offer alternatives without making bosses feel attacked. Disagree in private, for example.
Bonus: Always work to make things better. Never use disagreement as an excuse to pull back and not bring your best.
The number one challenge and opportunity of confronting a boss is convincing them you’re pulling the rope with them.
What should be true before you confront the boss?
Confronting the Boss can be a challenge for sure! Be prepared with all your facts first! Know your discussion can be perceived as disfunction within the corporate views too, should things go array! Be persistent if your goals are a betterment for the company as well as the future of the organization! Be humbling if they shoot you down, and pay attention to the Bosses responses for a future discussion if your ideas are tabled for future meetings and your not totally shot down! “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and neither are successful corporations.
Thinks Tim. You added really useful suggestions. Get your facts right and don’t give up easily are important.
The ability to keep pushing for something without pushing others away is a requirement of successful leadership.
An interesting topic yet difficult to generalize!
The given 12 tips are quite good and useful. Your disagreement usually is not taken in the right spirit unless backed by relevant factual information and data. The boss may not agree on the spot yet he/she will certainly look into your suggestion/recommendation if presented in a polite manner.
The major anxiety here is how is the boss and his style of working! At times, an autocratic, authoritarian boss/owner will not be in a habit of listening to the newer ideas in front of others. So, it is better to meet him/her alone and put forth your views with a conviction or send a written communication prior or post meeting for the needed consideration.
My experience points that semi-professionals usually build a perception of yours and weighs your views accordingly. In this context, once my senior colleague gave me a friendly advice, “Not to open your mouth whenever you are not in agreement or differ on your views unless asked for”. Restrict yourself to your own assigned role & responsibilities and never have a critical approach even if it is in the interest of an organization.
In general, bosses are difficult to be understood. They need to be handled with a care in most cases.
The penalty of being open and extrovert is heavy in a non-professional environment. In India, we experience more of ‘a yes-man culture’.
Thanks Dr. Asher. The thing I’m taking from your comment is be sure to understand you boss … their style, personality, strengths, and preferences. This makes so much sense.
Having the facts is of course very important, but more important is having a “Plan” when you confront the boss and you have to be prepared to execute that plan and be accountable for the results you lay out on the table. I actually don’t like the word “confront” because it is so negative. I prefer to strategize or brainstorm with the boss.
Liked your positive approach!
A professional boss usually listens and appreciates new better ideas and at times gives the consent faster to implement the same with full support. I feel, every boss looks for a good subordinate to provide a good solution and work on creativity with the desired results.
Thanks Joe. I particularly enjoyed your push back on the term “confront”. You might use, “I’d like to explore some alternatives….” 🙂
I read a book called “Crucial Accountability” and it was life-changing advice on how to bring up a sensitive topic safety. It describes all of the steps that are taken even before the conversation happens. This may be helpful for anyone that has struggled with these conversations. It discusses how to ensure you establish mutual purpose and what to do when people go to silence or violence.