What Should You Do When Your Boss Is Obsessed With A Terrible Idea?

Business Insider

View photo

.
broken lightbulb

LASZLO ILYES/Flickr

All of us go through phases, and the same is true for bosses. But when your manager is obsessed with an idea, it can be hard to know how to handle it. Especially if the idea seems really, really bad.

The first question to ask yourself, career experts say, is what exactly do you have against your boss's idea?

Maybe you think it's unrealistic, know a similar project has failed before, or just don't understand why your boss is pursuing it. The first step in addressing the problem, experts agree, is to have a conversation about the proposal with your boss.

"It may not be a bad project if your boss is focused on and obsessed with it; they may just not have explained their reasons," says Vicki Salemi, author of " Big Career in the Big City " and a human resources expert.  "If you have an open dialogue, then you can better understand where they’re coming from."

If you still feel strongly opposed to the idea, your next step should be to do some research and arrange to follow up with your boss. Don't be confrontational — be ready to explain, politely and with specific details, your concerns with the idea.

"I don’t know what 'it won’t work' means — tell me why ," says Barbara Pachter, author of " The Essentials of Business Etiquette " and president of business communications training company Pachter & Associates . "If you give me the specifics it will be harder to argue with that."  She suggests using numbers to back up your argument, such as,  "Even though we may budget $50,000, when you look at all the other factors, this may cost us $3 million."

Most important, Salemi notes, is to come to your boss with alternative proposals. That way you're not just bringing up a problem, you're also offering a solution.

To be sure, if you have an ethical objection to an idea, experts agree  it's worth bringing forward and standing up for.  "If your boss is really into a project that seems unscrupulous, by all means, have integrity and speak up," Salemi says .

Barring that scenario, however, your ultimate responsibility is to execute the tasks your manager assigns you. If the boss is determined to pursue the project, you should give it a whole-hearted effort. Just because you hate an idea doesn't necessarily mean it's worthless.

"If it’s not an ethical issue and it goes through, give it your best," Pachter says. After all, you'll likely succeed or go down together, no matter whose idea it was.

 

What are your most pressing workplace challenges or concerns? What questions do you have on how to get ahead in your career today? Email the Business Insider Careers team at careers@businessinsider.com, and we’ll find the answers.



More From Business Insider
View Comments (5)