There are some conversations that we worry about having.
Most of us are cautious about what we say to our bosses, as the slightest slip-up may break our career.
But what happens when your boss is the one who slipped up?
Telling your boss he or she is wrong can be a sticky situation.
Managers and leaders make mistakes - after all, they are humans too. Errors made at their level can be costly. Not only is money lost, reputation and even the organisation’s image can be at stake too. This makes it more important to speak up when you know that you boss is wrong. However, the prospect of facing up to your boss about his or her mistakes can be daunting. After all, your boss is the one who gave you your job and approves your paycheck every month. Your boss might not appreciate being “told off” by someone lower in rank.
When’s the best time to talk? How should you approach your boss?
Here are some advice to help you tell your boss he is wrong:
1. Choose the right time
When it comes to difficult conversations, approach your boss at a time when he can give you his full attention. Catching your boss off-guard or at the end of a meeting will not yield the results you are hoping for, because your boss could be tired and distracted. Avoid poor timing by scheduling a meeting in advance with your boss. As much as possible, speak to your boss in private so that you will not risk embarrassing him in front of others such as his boss or other colleagues.
2. Do your homework
Giving feedback to your boss is one thing but calling him out for an error could be risky business. Furthermore, your boss has access to more information than you. Therefore, ensure that you have already checked the facts thoroughly and support them with data before presenting your case. Do your research and find out facts and figures about the situation. Understand what the big picture is all about and know what the possible repercussions are to help you arrive at an informed decision.
3. Mind your words
No one likes to be told that they are wrong or they have made a mistake. Be polite and tactful. Start by saying something right about the matter before identifying what you think isn’t. For instance, “I appreciate that you have provided valuable insights on current trends for our report but I noticed that one section of the statistics quoted does not seem quite right”. This is called the sandwich approach to giving feedback and is often used in giving negative feedback. People are more receptive to accept negative feedback if it comes with positive feedback. Furthermore, avoid being emotional and deliver the bad news in a direct and straightforward manner.
4. Offer solutions
To avoid appearing as if you are merely lecturing the boss or being a nit-picker, offer suggestions on how to fix the mistake. Not only do you help to rectify the issue, you also score points with your boss by proving yourself to be a valuable employee. According to Brian Tracy, an American motivational speaker, “Leaders talk about solutions, followers talk about problems”. Nobody likes to know that they are wrong, but it appears to be worse when it seems like there is no point to it. Thus, offering solutions would be more helpful than merely harping on the issue with your boss.
5. Respect your boss's decision
While you may have handled it perfectly, there is no guarantee that your boss will admit that he is wrong. Let your boss have the final say. If he listens and takes in your feedback, it shows that he is a good listener. Good managers are often better listeners than speakers. But if your boss completely refutes your claims or disrespects you, you know what kind of person you are working for. Maybe you failed to convince your boss, or your boss refuses to accept the fact that he is wrong. Whatever it is, let it go. If for some reason, your boss insists on sticking to his erroneous ways, it is best to exit the conversation and refrain from bringing up the issue again.
We hope that this article is helpful. Do you have any tips you would like to add?
Let us know in the comments and please share this post with a friend/colleague if you enjoyed it!