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Topics: Governance
How to Disagree with a Superior? Recommendations?
Recommendations?
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Anonymous
@Anston

I agree with the point on facts - 100%
What I am disagreeing with is seeking the support and input from colleagues BEFORE talking to the manager
Anonymous
Maybe I am wrong but here is couple of observations:

Have you noticed the bias in this post? Many are thinking that the employee is right and the boss is wrong, which might not be the case.

Second, many are assuming like the disagreement is about something technical that require research ... which might not be the case
...
2 replies by Anton Oosthuizen and Sante Vergini
Jan 22, 2018 11:57 AM
Anton Oosthuizen
...
Haha yes, you are right. There is an assumption that the boss is wrong ;)

This might not be the case and if all the facts are presented when arguing the case this will become apparent. There are situations where the subordinate does not have all the fact that might result in, what seems like a bad decision. So we should never assume that either party is wrong until all the facts are on the table and then hopefully both parties will be mature enough to accept the outcome. A true leader will make this possible.
Jan 22, 2018 7:29 PM
Sante Vergini
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I fail to see the bias Mounir. Certainly from my viewpoint a disagreement is rarely about right or wrong, just a disagreement, and this post has been about how to handle it.
Jan 20, 2018 2:31 PM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
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It depends on the culture you are in and on the personality of the leader. Hofstede introduced the Power Distance Index (PDI) and analysed many national cultures. With a high PDI, the national culture almost inhibits criticizing superiors (e.g. Albania has 90). In a low PDI country, this is not a problem at all (e.g. Sweden with 31).

This PDI expresses the degree to which the less powerful members of a society accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. The fundamental issue here is how a society handles inequalities among people.
I agree with you. I would also add a second level of the PDI in your company seen in the context of your country.
Be diplomatic and tactful.
"...Tact is the ability to deliver a difficult message in a way that considers other people's feelings and preserves relationships. It encompasses many things, such as emotional intelligence, discretion, compassion, honesty, and courtesy.

To develop tact, think carefully before you speak. Always consider how someone else might interpret your words. Use active listening skills, pay attention to your body language, and never react emotionally. However, make sure that you still get your message across, and that you continue to be appropriately assertive..."
If possible, try to find a past recorded experience (bad or good) that can support your position by giving real results, pro&cons, values, risks, ...
With that on the table also a third neutral voice could support the discussion.
George,

All what level of disagreement? At some level it might mean you can't keep working together.

Is there open discussion? can you bring something to support you side. Is there an history of disagreement and what where the outcome!
Haha yes, you are right. There is an assumption that the boss is wrong ;)

This might not be the case and if all the facts are presented when arguing the case this will become apparent. There are situations where the subordinate does not have all the fact that might result in, what seems like a bad decision. So we should never assume that either party is wrong until all the facts are on the table and then hopefully both parties will be mature enough to accept the outcome. A true leader will make this possible.
Anton great point I have disagreed with my boss before and presented facts as I see them from where I sit. However, he did take the time to explain that there were other things in play that I was not aware of and that he could not discuss at this time. I appreciated that approach.
Listen to understand their side of the disagreement. Take some time to digest what they are telling you.
I have recently taken a deep dive into the subject of "speaking truth to power" and the subject of "influencing without authority." Both of those subjects may intersect nicely with the discussion topic of this post about disagreeing with a superior. Fortunately, both of those subjects have matured to the point where solid research can inform us. The research I have reviewed highlighted the advantages for the subordinate to build their own base of power so that they can increase the odds of being heard by their superior, and for the subordinate to build trust through their ethical behavior. ProjectManagementcom is scheduled to publish an article I just wrote on this subject titled "How To Get Executives To Act For Project Success."
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