How to Handle Your Conflict-Averse Boss

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Do you have a manager who won’t advocate for you or your team? Is she afraid to say no to requests from above? Here are three ways to get what you need from even the most conflict-avoidant boss.

  • Focus on problem solving. If you need to talk about a difficult issue with your boss, focus on the problem, not people. Offer specific suggestions about how you might solve it.
  • Gather supporting evidence. If you want your supervisor to use her authority on your behalf, give her everything she needs to build her case: assemble data, write drafts, and zero in on how your request fits into larger unit or organizational goals.
  • Put it in writing. If your boss dreads face-to-face conversations, send him e-mails and brief documents outlining what you need. This will make it easier for him to engage in a productive conversation with you.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Managing Up and Across.

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10 comments
elMachoGabriel
elMachoGabriel

@TIME @timebusiness I usually just give my boss the day off when he's acting up. It always works.

mzayerz
mzayerz

Suggest to get a new job!“@TIME: Tips for handling your conflict-averse boss | http://t.co/Ro16JB2m (via @TIMEBusiness)”

handsgold5
handsgold5

@TIME @TIMEBusiness To the middle class, if you make less than 250k start withholding your funds from companies who have high turnover!

columbiasooner
columbiasooner

“@TIME: Tips for handling your conflict-averse boss | http://t.co/VXT95Vwv" thanks in advance @alexandrayap_ @caitjmyers

alexandrayap_
alexandrayap_

@columbiasooner I didn't really peg you as conflict-adverse. Should I consider this fair warning? @time @caitjmyers

columbiasooner
columbiasooner

@alexandrayap_ @caitjmyers Just remember where the fish are. #jerrymaguire

JennaDeutsch
JennaDeutsch

@columbiasooner @alexandrayap_ @caitjmyers I miss you guys

alexandrayap_
alexandrayap_

@columbiasooner I admit I haven't seen that movie, but here's what I'm gathering from this reference and some research. (See next tweet)

gwendykorny
gwendykorny

I don't think so, your boss controls the arena, it's either you suck it up or get a new job.@TIME @TIMEBusiness