How to Stand Up to Your Manager

Something at work is making you angry.  You’ve been putting up with it for a while, but if you don’t speak up you feel like you might explode.  Here are some tips to help you address a problem with your manager in a way that won’t get you fired.

Be certain that it’s worth it.  In the workplace, it is essential that you selectively pick your battles.  If you confront your manager about everything that annoys you, you will quickly find yourself out of a job.  However, if you save your voice for issues that really matter, people will take you seriously when you raise a concern.

Be respectful.  The way that you communicate is just as important as what you are saying.  If you are unprofessional in the way that you confront your manager, you probably won’t get a good response.  However, if you are polite and respectful, people will be much more willing to listen to what you have to say.

Be specific.  Nothing is more frustrating to a manager than an employee who comes to them with vague problems.  Statements like, “You’re not very supportive!” or “The office environment has gone downhill!” are both negative and unhelpful.  Instead, provide your manager with a specific example of the problem like, “At the staff meeting, when you said that my plan was impossible, I felt unsupported.”  or, “Since the new system has come into effect, the environment in the office is much more tense”.  This gives your manager the information that they need to both understand and solve the problem.

Be open.  During the conversation, listen to what your manager says to you.  Be open to their feedback.  There may be something that you are doing that’s contributing to the problem.  If you demonstrate that you are open to changing your own behaviour, your manager will likely be more receptive to your concerns.

Addressing a problem with your manager can be scary.  You may even be afraid that you are putting your job at risk.  However, it doesn’t have to turn into a heated argument.  If you treat your manager with respect and stay focused on solving the problem, you should be able to address the issue without losing your job in the process.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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