Skip to main content

How to Talk Back to Your Boss

How to Talk Back to Your Boss

By Caroline Levchuck, Yahoo! HotJobs

Telling your boss what you really think about something can be a slippery slope, depending on your supervisor's disposition (and ego). Disagree with her and you could wind up on the unemployment line. Conversely, being a yes man or woman and blindly supporting all her ideas probably won't do much for your career (unless you work for Donald Trump).

"Providing insightful feedback and ideas to senior leadership allows up-and-coming managers to position themselves as thought leaders, increasing their value to the organization and opening the door to career advancement," says Sharon Daniels, CEO of AchieveGlobal, an international training and consulting firm with a leadership development practice.

So how can you share your opinion with your boss without offending her ideas? Read on for five pointers

Build Up Your Credibility

Don't be too vocal on any job until you've proven yourself to your team and your boss. If you establish credibility by achieving results with your own performance, then you'll find it easier to convince others of the value of new ideas, Daniels advises.

Be Solution Oriented

When speaking up to your boss, resist pointing out problems until you've thought through a possible solution. "We tell our junior staff not to come forward with a problem unless they also bring ideas on how to solve it," she says.

Remember There's No 'I' in 'Team'

Keep in mind that you're part of a group, and use your voice to drive change that will benefit everyone's performance. "Adopting a collaborative approach will position you as an emerging leader," says training and organizational development expert Daniels.

Be a Copy Cat

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, especially where giving feedback is concerned. Daniels believes adopting your supervisor's style is key to being heard around the office. "Learn your boss's style and how he or she likes to be approached," she says. "You'll get a more willing audience for your opinions if you present them appropriately."

Don't Go Over Anyone's Head

Even if your team leader doesn't have the power to effect the change you're proposing, you must still propose it to her first. Says Daniels, "In a multi-layered organization, present the idea to your immediate supervisor first for her/his input. Then you can go together to discuss the idea with the boss -- an approach more likely to result in a productive discussion." 

Education programs to fit your profession