It can be hard when you know more than your own boss. At the same time, it doesn’t have to be a punishment. It is possible to get along.
If you know how to play your cards right, you can even become an invaluable asset. And before you know it, you’ll be in charge and try to figure out how to be a good leader.
If you don’t know how to handle the situation, then you won’t win your boss’s gratitude. Instead, you’ll win their resentment. And then you’ll be even further from your goals.
So how do you make sure that what happens is the former rather than the latter?
1. The Power of the Question
Avoid declaring statements. Statements suggest that you know you know better. That is something that can make a lot of bosses feel threatened.
For that reason, re frame what you’re saying as a question. Instead of saying, “We should do X, Y and Z” ask them, “What happens if we do X, Y, and Z?”
Note that some questions will still backfire on you. If you ask something like, “Wouldn’t it be better if we did X, Y, and Z?” you’re still undermining your boss.
Learn to stick with an open question (these are ones that don’t require “yes” or “no” replies), and offer a way out.
2. Know When to Address the Issue
If your boss has just outlined a plan in front of the whole team, and then you call them out on it, they’re probably not going to be happy. And the more right you are, the worse it’s probably going to be.
When you see something that you think is a serious mistake, ask to speak with them afterward.
Then, when you’ve removed the chance that they’ll lose face, tell them what your concerns are. Chances are, if you take care of it in this manner, you’ll run a lot less risk of offending your boss.
You can even decide to write an email about the content. Just make sure you know your way around words.
3. Curiosity, Not Judgment
If you ask something to understand it better, then the person who is answering your question will be far more likely to consider what you have to say.
To avoid a defensive response, do not initiate with judgmental comments or questions.
It might make you feel good to show the boss up. But in the long run, that kind of stuff is going to backfire.
Ask out of a place of curiosity, and you’re going to get a lot further.
To avoid sounding judgmental, avoid using words associated with judgment. That means, don’t talk about ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and most certainly don’t refer to intelligence or a lack of it. Instead, be open to hearing what your boss’s solution is.
4. Know When to Take the Next Step
Of course, sometimes the boss will start to take steps that are unethical or nonsensical. In these cases, framing your ideas as questions and timing your actions so that they don’t lose too much face won’t do the trick.
You’ll have to take the next step, and tell somebody higher up the food chain. Of course, sometimes you might think this is the case, when some deeper reflection demonstrates the contrary.
So start by questioning yourself. Think about whether you’ve got the best interests of the company, instead of trying to look good in the eyes of your superior.
If you’re left looking like a backstabber, then you’re never going to win back the trust of your current boss or the people above them.
Your best bet is to use similar strategies as you used with your boss.
Don’t go to the next step up the ladder and tell them your boss is foolish or stupid. Instead, tell them you have some concerns, present the evidence, and let them make up their minds.
Do that and you’re a lot less likely to look like somebody who can’t be trusted. And avoiding that kind reputation will help you in the long term.
How Can You Voice Your Concerns to Your Boss?
If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
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