Managing Up

We all have a boss. And we’ve all experienced the time when a direction doesn’t make sense.

Sometimes we need to accept the request – they are the boss, after all! Other times we feel the need to point out the obvious – well, obvious to us.

It often depends on the relationship with your boss, but now we are in the ‘raising concern’ territory. You don’t want to appear to be a downer—a wet blanket. But sometimes, you feel the need to point out what you’ve learnt from previous experiences when such a wild request was put forward. And you feel obligated to warn the boss about the impending doom.

How to highlight the apparent while at the same time supporting the intent – that’s the balancing act.

One way of looking at it is to think of your response in terms of a continuum of emphasis.

How about this for creating rising emphasis:

  1. Tell me more about this.
  2. Can I ask a question about this?
  3. I do have a concern about this.
  4. I can see a bit of an issue with this. We’ll have to work out a way to address the issue.
  5. I’ve been tossing and turning about this for quite a while.
  6. Alarm bells are going off in my head about how this will work.

It’s all about the words you use.