Keep your ego in check when correcting your boss



    Jul 26, 2016

    Keep your ego in check when correcting your boss

    CORRECTING a boss or co-worker is a double-edged sword. People want to know when they have made a mistake and want to fix it immediately.

    Yet, they do not like to be seen as being wrong, much less have their error pointed out to them- particularly if it is a sensitive issue that involves the boss.

    Timing and tact are key. Also check your motive for wanting to correct the person, boss or co-worker if you want your input to be taken positively.


    Imagine your boss is giving a presentation to key stakeholders and makes a mistake about a piece of information.

    If it is something minor, it is probably not worth saying anything. Or, you could casually bring up the matter on the way back to the office.

    However, let's assume that it is an inaccuracy that could lead to a misunderstanding and harm the audience's perception of the company's image.

    Do you point out his inaccuracy in front of the audience?

    Do you seek out your boss right after the meeting, interrupting him while he is talking with a smaller group?

    Or, do you make a note of the blunder and find a strategic time to discuss his gaffe behind closed doors?

    The answer seems obvious but, in the heat of the moment, another factor comes into play that could cause you to speak up too soon.

    It is called ego - perhaps a personal desire to be "right".

    That ego could leave you in a vulnerable rather than a strong position - for instance, when you give in to an impulsive moment, only to regret it an instant later.


    So how do you avoid embarrassing your boss while keeping your foot out of your mouth? Show empathy, approach the situation at the right time and be discrete.

    A misstep is not an opportunity to put someone else down.

    Think of the situation as an opportunity that could benefit both your boss and your relationship with him.

    Take time to reflect on your boss' oversight and gather your thoughts into productive and useful feedback. Once you think you are ready to discuss your superior's snafu, be sure to assess his readiness.

    No matter how well thought out your presentation may be, calling him out in front of other people is a no-no.

    One way is to text him to say that you have discovered the public slip-up, then talk to him alone.

    Or, if the matter can wait, try to schedule a meeting to speak to him in private.


    The discretion should continue past your discussion with your boss.

    Avoid using the incident as watercooler talk. Do not brag about it on social media.

    Learning how to successfully navigate this type of sensitive situation is a critical skill that you should spend time becoming fluent in.

    Keep in mind that everyone slips up, and that it is up to you to use the eureka moment to your - and others' - benefit.

    This article was contributed by

    Right Management, the global career experts within United States-listed

    HR consulting firm, ManpowerGroup.

    Managing your own missteps

    Management guru Peter Drucker once said: "The better a man is, the more mistakes will he make - for the more new things

    he will try.

    "I would never promote

    a man to a top-level job who had not made mistakes, and

    big ones at that. Otherwise,

    he is sure to be mediocre."

    That is not to say that you bungle up on purpose. It is

    how you handle yourself after an error that defines who you are.

    1. ADMIT IT

    It is a terrible feeling when

    your mistake leads to what appears to be a major

    disaster for the company.

    However, take responsibility when you drop the ball and never pass the blame to someone else.

    Be humble when you admit your failing.

    Once you have discovered the lapse, alert the people who need to know - you want to quickly defuse the situation.


    Explain how the mistake happened. If it involves just you, fix the problem quickly, even

    if it means working extra hours.

    If others are affected, discuss the situation with them, allowing them to give you their views.

    Keep the bigger picture

    in mind - avoiding a similar occurrence - and explain how you have taken steps to do so.


    Ask yourself how you can turn the misstep into an opportunity that will lead you to achieving your career goals.

    What pointers have you come away with? How can you use the experience to help others? The spirit of generosity shows that you have leadership potential.

    4. MOVE ON

    Sticking out a pie-in-the-face situation is better than the kneejerk reaction of handing in your resignation.

    Tenacity shows leadership.

    But once you have taken the steps to manage the misjudgment, do not dwell on it.

    Forgive yourself and move on.