How to Tell Your Bosses They're Wrong

Video Transcript

What do you do if you think your boss is in the wrong? Call him or her out straight away? Or bury your head in the sand?

The more power your manager has, the less likely you are to pick him or her up on mistakes – because, well, they're the boss. But errors made at a senior level can be costly, even disastrous.

So what do you do when you know your boss is wrong?

First, double check that your boss has actually made an error. Remember, he likely has access to more information than you do.

If you're sure, you should have at least one potential solution to offer. If possible, support your idea with data.

Think carefully about whether it's worth mentioning your boss's mistake. Don't speak up just for the sake of it, or to make a point. It's often best to let minor matters drop.

But if there's a solid business reason to worry, your boss may be relieved to hear your concerns.

When confronting your boss, allow her to choose a time when she can give you her full attention.

However, if it's a critical problem that needs immediate attention, speak out before it's too late. But remember, it's still your boss's responsibility to decide how to proceed.

Speak to your boss in private, so that you don't embarrass him in front of other people.

Don't make it personal. Stay professional and focus on how the error will affect your team and the company as a whole.

Tread carefully when using words like "wrong" and "mistake." Be polite and tactful, and clear the way for your boss to buy into your solution without taking offense or losing face.

If you feel that your boss's error has legal, financial, or health and safety implications, you could be justified in escalating your concerns. Talk to your HR department, in confidence, before you turn to your boss's boss.

And when the issue is very serious, it's important to put your concerns in writing.

If it turns out that your boss hasn't made a mistake after all, take the correction with good grace. Apologize, if it's appropriate to do so.

Sometimes, you have to accept that your boss will "stick to her guns." If this happens, it's usually best to bow out and avoid raising the issue again.

To learn more about how to tell your bosses they're wrong, read the article that accompanies this video.

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