Monday, December 27, 2010

Positions of Trust

Going to the boss and explaining to them that they have made a bad decision is not an enviable place to be. If you've pulled them out of the fire in the past they are a lot more likely to listen. But what if you have been wrong before?

There are many different scenarios in the way this could play out. Bottom line is: Are you going to say something or go quietly along with their decision? I believe that as leaders we are placed in positions of trust for this very scenario. As a leader I value the opinion of my team and the fact that they can provide much needed perspective on decisions made.

“It is far better to be trusted and respected than it is to be liked.” ~ unknown

Here are some simple steps to take in approaching the boss when you think they are wrong.

    Stuart Corlett
  • Get your ducks in a row: Before you walk into their office and confidently proclaim their error in judgement. Make sure you have looked at not only the tactical aspect of the decision but the overall strategic environment in which they made their decision. 
  • List all the possible reasons as to why they made the decision and try and look at it from their point of view. Many times are bosses have information that we are not yet privy too. Evaluate if they have had a recent meeting or conference call that could have influenced their decision.
  • Go to a trusted confidant and get another opinion. I have found talking to someone else outside of the decision is a good way to get a neutral point of view on it. It should be someone experienced and proven in providing good feedback.
  • Determine why your decision or idea is better. Sit down and really look at the Pros/Cons of your decision and then that of your bosses. Is their decision really that bad and is your solution right? 
  • Practice what your going to say before saying it. Either practice in the mirror or with someone else. Ensure that your "speech" is respectful, relevant and to the point. You don't want to go in and give a grandiose speech that has nothing to do with the decision made.
  • Determine the proper place and time. Deciding to confront the boss at the shareholder meeting would be a real bad idea. You know your boss, are they a morning person or someone who is more "chipper" in the afternoon? Approach them when they have shown that they are most open to discussion. Most important, make sure it's in a private place when no one else is around. 
  • Talk to your boss. You have done your  homework,  bounced the decision off others, practiced what to say and where. Now all you got to do is execute.

It's never easy thing to challenge decisions made by others, especially our bosses. From my experiences though, when done properly, your boss will respect you for having his best interests and the companies at heart. You never know, you may provide them with a point of view that they may have not considered prior to making the decision. Your boss will be grateful for pulling them out of the fire.

Have you ever had to approach your boss about a decision they made? How did you handle it? What was the outcome? Please share your experiences with us, we want to know.

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