Tell the boss he is wrong

So, your boss has made a mistake. To err is only human, but then bosses belong to the non-human (not necessarily a demigod) category. Therefore, telling your boss he was wrong may guarantee you a life worse than the gallows. How do you go about this seemingly suicidal job and emerge unscathed? There are ways to tell the boss that his (or her) judgment was not in the best interests of the firm. Remember, though, some of it was learnt through bitter experiences.

Bell the cat without ruffling the fur:

Pallab Bandyopadhyay, director, human resources, Citrix R&D India, had once tried to get into a war of logic with his boss regarding a change in the organisational structure of a business unit that the latter had decided upon. The battle lasted over an hour and as it often happens, the boss had the last word, which was: “Pallab, you should know who’s boss.” That little tryst taught Bandyopadhyay a valuable lesson.

This distinct difference in power is what sets the hierarchy. “It is natural to accept a negative comment from one’s seniors, but the line is drawn when it comes to peers and subordinates. Therefore, it is crucial to focus on the impact of the wrong decision than on the decision-maker ,” says Bandyopadhyay, wiser from experience. Ensuring that it is a discussion rather than a duel between right and wrong, thereby saving embarrassment for the senior employee, is a smart and gentle way of winning the battle.

Accusatory tones are a strict no-no:

Elango R, HR head for EDS MphasiS, had once appointed the business development head without realising that there were other hopefuls for the coveted position. Two such senior hopefuls felt slighted and met him after the appointment; While one barged in, demanding reasons, the other asked him calmly why he had lost out in the race.“The latter, had shown an interest to know the reason behind my decision. I decided to make him the business development head on a rotation basis,” says Elango. Questioning the decision — but intelligently — has its pros.

Don’t say ‘I told you so’:

Sunil Goel, executive director for Global Hunt, had to remind his superior that the client they had considered, was a wrong decision. It had cost the company its billing amount and there was an impending threat of losing a client to competitors. “Since all discussions on the client were put on mail, it was a more professional approach to revert to the mails to prove a point rather than argue it in an ‘I told you so’ manner,” says Goel.

Don’t go by the spoken word:

Gone are the days when the most reliable mode of communication was verbal. Kumud Rajendran , CEO of PPC Worldwide, learnt it the hard way. While he was the regional head in a previous firm, his boss promised him a larger role at the national level if he met his targets. He worked for it and achieved his KRAs (key result areas or primary job responsibilities), but he wasn’t given the position. “I was upset and decided to speak to my boss about it, but the conversation became unpleasant, leaving a trail of bitterness on both sides. I had no proof of what was promised because nothing was documented,” says Rajendran. It is sometimes an arduous path one has to take in order to achieve the perfect balance with the boss. And till that is achieved, staying mum may be better than interjecting with a ‘But…

By : Devina Sengupta, ET Bureau

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