Never go to your boss with only a complaint. Instead, bring your concern and a solution. Frustrations arise at work. That is normal. You go to your boss or administrator to complain. They listen. They nod their head.
The air fills with uncertainty. Did they hear you? Did they agree?
One thing is certain. Your boss classifies you into one of two groups. You are a problem solver or you are a problem to be solved.
What’s on their mind?
Executives, managers, and administrators have many things on their minds. While your concern is the most important issue in the world to you, it is likely just one item on your boss’s to-do list. To get what you want, get out of your head and inside of theirs.
You want them to solve your issue. You don’t want the focus to be on solving you.
What is your strategy?
What do you hope to achieve? A strategic goal is critical. If you do not know the outcome you seek, then stop and take a breath. Now is not the time for confrontation.
Are you just needing to vent? If so, then reconsider the meeting. You may be better served by calling a friend.
Are you seeking change? If so, then strategize. Create a plan to optimize the odds of getting the results you desire.
Timing is everything
Choose the proper time and location to express your concern. Remember your goal is to get what you want. Set the table to win. The timing and location should be based on what is optimal for your supervisor not what is optimal for you.
You want your audience to be ready to listen.
Know your audience
Is your boss a listener? Is your boss open for suggestions or a “my way or the highway person?” Understanding your boss is key. There is no one way to address complaints. You must tailor your approach to their personality.
Schedule the proper venue based on their preferences. Do not choose based on your comfort zone. Getting what you want is about them not you. Some meetings should be one on one, while others are appropriate for a phone call or email. Choose the right method for addressing your concerns.
Chain of command
Have you gone through the proper channels? Most companies have an organizational chart to help manage the flow of information. In most cases, complaints should flow through the chain of command. Stepping around the chain of command is unavoidable at times. In most cases, respecting the companies procedures increases your chances of being heard.
Leave emotions at the door
We all feel passionate about issues bothering us. Emotional engagement is a key strength of rockstar employees. When addressing complaints, emotion clouds the air.
Focus on facts. Explain the problem logically and thoughtfully. Avoid assigning blame or playing the victim.
Emotion forces the supervisor to manage you and not your issue.
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry Robert Burns
Plot out the potential unintended consequences. Does your suggestion solve one problem but create another for yourself or someone else? Sometimes our virtuous intentions lead to unexpected outcomes. Anticipate the action your boss may take. Ask yourself how it will affect you, your coworkers and your company.
What is your solution?
Great managers respect input from others. Great companies grow by listening and respecting the concerns of their employees.
But no one likes a whiner.
Bring a solution to your problem.
Come with a problem and a plan for resolution. Managers will see you as someone who has thought through the issue. Be forward-thinking and engaged. You will be viewed as useful and helpful. Managers are more likely to try and understand your concerns. They may even implement your suggested course of action.
Now you are a problem solver and not a problem to be solved.
Previously published on Medium.com.
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