How To Disagree With Your Manager – And Still Retain Your Job

Is your boss sometimes wrong? Do you know it and they don’t? Does confronting your boss make you quiver with fear and make you want to ‘just get on with your job and not rock the boat’?

I know what you mean. You’re worried that you might be seen as negative, or the boss might trigger a defensive reaction and you’ll suffer in the short and long-term.

However, my discussions with top managers and senior directors tell me that they would welcome some new perspectives, and most tell me they don’t get nearly enough.

Remember, the boss isn’t some fabulous guru, gaining all their knowledge through osmosis and making sensational, well-informed decisions every moment of the day. They need information, feedback and advice just like anyone else. Knowing the methods of how to give that feedback will give you the confidence to approach them and drive change forward.

Here are my tips on how to do it:

Relate your feedback or new ideas back into your manager’s and company’s goals and objectives: For example “I think the customer care feedback system could be improved, as we are losing a lot of valuable information with the current one”

Bring up actionable suggestions rather than just objections: For example “What if I talk to other companies who use different systems and identify if any of them provide better results than what we get at the moment?”

Explain how your ideas help protect against possible risks or challenges: For example “A new system will help us gain better feedback and prevent us from losing potential customers. If we try a new, more robust way of getting information, we could improve our customer loyalty”

Offer more choices to your manager: For example “Either I could do the analysis myself, or we could get IT to support the new mechanism and find out if new systems could give us more valuable information”

Reflect their concerns in your conversation: For example “I know you’ll be concerned about the extra costs, so I’ve done some research on developing new systems and in the long-run it would be more cost-effective to maintain loyalty rather than marketing for new customers all the time”

Remember to always share the same goals as your manager…that way, you won’t get bogged down with methodologies or minutia, and disagreements will be less likely.

Identify your boss’s main motivations and present them in such a way as to encourage positive discussion and make your boss look good. That way, you’ll get a hearing ear and potential agreement to your ideas.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

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