by Joanna L. Krotz
1. Don't walk in mad to a meeting. Typically, it takes a while to discover that a new policy or initiative isn't working. Company changes won't occur without bumps and glitches. Make sure you've given the new policy a real chance before you act. Likewise, the impact of a wrong-headed policy doesn't happen overnight. It's cumulative. Effects ripple out and, little by little, everyone becomes increasingly impatient, irritable, overworked, or worse. Don't carry that volatile mixof unsettled and bad feelings into the meeting and simply vent. "If you are angry or frustrated and want to just blast your boss, before your meeting, talk things through with a friend or talk into a tape recorder," Gibson says. Play back the tape and listen to yourself. No doubt you'll want to develop more constructive ways to persuade the boss to reverse course.
2. Ask for permission. Before launching into your arguments, ask the boss if it's OK to proceed. For one thing, most people like some warning before hearing tough criticism or feedback. Then, too, sometimes the timing isn't right. The boss might be preoccupied or dealing with other issues. If you don't get permission, back off and try another time.
3. Be honest about your motivations. If all you have to offer is complaints, don't bother. Instead, think through the specific objectives you want to accomplish by the end of
the meeting. Stay focused and provide the data, case histories or events that prove your points. "Employees are often those closest to problems, so they have facts at the ready the boss may not have," says John Baldoni, a management consultant in Ann Arbor, Mich. Use hands-on experiences or the day-to-day points of view of peers to command credibility and provide perspective.
4. Accentuate the positive. "You can say [almost] anything to your boss as long as you say something nice first," says Deborah Brown, a career coach in Long Beach, N.Y. Avoid being confrontational and don't assign blame. Keep emphasizing positive factors whenever you can.
5. Listen carefully. You shouldn't do all the talking. Try to engage the boss in a dialogue about the issue that concerns you. Make an effort to listen more than you talk. There could well be reasons or motivations for initiatives that you haven't been told about. By listening, you'll not only show your concern for the company's well being, you'll build the boss's trust. You might also gain insights into future directions for the business.
6. Treat the boss like you would a customer. Present your case as if you're selling a client, suggests Maura Schreier-Fleming, a sales consultant based in Dallas. "Customers buy the way they want to, not the way we want them to." If the boss is analytical, bolster your argument with graphs and charts. "If the boss is a people pleaser, tell him whythe idea will hurt the people he cares about," says Schreier-Fleming. Match your style to the boss to put over your case.
7. Don't give up too soon. You can't expect one meeting to make the boss reject his position instantly. Few leaders will abandon policy or strategy after hearing one disagreement, especially when that comes from a subordinate. Usually, the manager has deeper skills and more experience than you do. More than likely, he thought through the policy for some time before coming to a decision. Don't expect a single try to make the difference. Make sure you're respectful and understanding, but try again. Then, too, if a boss must take the case to his own superiors or to a board of directors or investors, he might need more to go on. "Very often when a boss says 'no,' he's just asking for a stronger case to be made," Treasurer says. To try again, marshal additional arguments and go through the steps of setting specific goals and figuring out how to calmly present your case. Gathering new evidence will help. But be sensitive when the boss draws the line. If he remains unconvinced after a few tries, give it up. Make sure your exit is both gracious and professional. Thank him for opportunity of sharing your views, and avoid any semblance of sulking.
Most bosses prefer employees who care about improving the company. If you're clearly a team player after voicing your arguments, the next time you have something to say, you're likely to find a much more receptive boss.
P.s: Don't give up so soon! Yep, that's right.... Just for your reading peeps!