Thursday, December 13, 2012

7 Ways to Disagree with Your Boss . . . Without Losing Your Job

Most managers don't want someone who will simply go along with everything they say. Most likely, they hired you for your expertise, knowledge, and the value you can bring to the team. However, just because they want your opinion, that does not mean you can speak it freely, however and whenever you want.

Remember, if you are not contributing to the organization then you become expendable and irrelevant. You just need to find the proper balance. These seven strategies will help you diplomatically and professionally voice your disagreements with your boss.

  • Establish a dialog with your boss from day one. Clarify and adopt your boss' and the organization's goals, objectives, and priorities. Ask your boss how they prefer to receive ideas or concerns. Be prepared by being informed.
  • Back your concerns or ideas with facts. Do your research and come to the discussion about your disagreement backed with measurable value that can be attained by making modifications to policy or procedure that you are proposing.
  • Don't approach disagreements head-on. Use "what if" scenarios or say "Can I make a suggestion?"  This approach is much less contentious and less likely to put your boss on the defensive.
  • Pick your battles. Before you air a disagreement, ask yourself: Is this worth the effort and potential conflict? If you see the company losing money or going against its values and you want to air a concern, that is valid. However, don't nitpick.
  • Carefully choose your battleground. There is an appropriate time and place to bring up a disagreement with your boss. In a meeting with a large group or with your boss' boss is not the best place. During crunch time of a critical deadline that is stressing your boss out is not the best time. You may have to wait, but the reception will be much more positive.
  • Never disagree with the sole motivation of promoting yourself. If you can not honestly state a reason that the disagreement will help the company better attain its goals, then you should not air the issue. Disagreeing just to be noticed is not the best way to get ahead.
  • Know when to throw in the towel. There will be battles that you can not win, no matter how well you present your case. Be diplomatic and walk away once your boss has made the decision. Never look back and say "I told you so."

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