There are some things you can be itching to tell your boss but you just don’t know how to go about it. It could be to do with money, coworkers or even your physical presence at work. Whatever it is, if it’s eating away at you, it’s worth trying to resolve.
We asked some members of the SEEK community who work across a range of industries (Advertising, Arts & Media, IT Communications, Childcare, Fitness, and Trades & Services) what they wished they could say to their bosses. Then we asked career coach Nicole Grainger-Marsh to provide practical advice for how to broach some of these difficult conversations.
- “Just let me do my job remotely. I don’t need to physically be here.”
If you want to speak to your boss about this, you need to focus on the benefits for your boss and your organisation, not why it suits you, Grainger-Marsh says. “Think about how working remotely will deliver improved outcomes – maybe you will be more productive without the interruptions of a busy office.”
If your boss is reluctant, suggest a trial period. “During this time, keep track of benefits, productivity and any other improvements to sell to your boss at check-in time.”
- “The staff you hired are incompetent.”
Approach this conversation with caution, as questioning your boss’s decision can make them feel undermined, says Grainger-Marsh. Instead of criticising, ask your boss how you can help.
“Suggest ways that you could support the new hire in improving skills, learning processes or developing in certain areas. This way your boss is aware of what’s going on, feels that you can be relied on to help, and is in a position to take action with the new hire if your shared plan doesn’t pay off.”
- “Lead by example. Don’t just quote the company values.”
There are ways you can encourage your boss to define and align with organisational values without compromising your career. Grainger-Marsh recommends suggesting that your team creates its own mission statement.
“This is a great way to create a sense of shared meaning, values and goals amongst the team, providing more fulfilling working relationships, increased motivation and a sense of fun.”
- “Tell us what’s happening in the business. Don’t set a dialogue meeting and not turn up!”
Your boss may be so busy they might not even realise the negative impact their absence is having on you, so don’t go finger-pointing, Grainger-Marsh says. It’s better to have an upfront and honest conversation with them instead.
“Explain to them the value that you get from your meeting time together, for example getting their input means you can keep momentum going on projects, and that having an understanding of the wider organisation helps you operate more effectively.”
- “I love my job, but I feel overworked and undervalued and I’m looking elsewhere.”
Hard-working employees can sometimes find themselves with very hands-off managers, as they have complete confidence in their ability to do their job, says Grainger-Marsh.
Unfortunately, this can lead to the employees burning out.
If this sounds like you, tell your boss why you feel this way and the changes that need to be made to turn this around. “Agree to some tangible actions that you can both put in place and check in regularly to discuss progress. If your boss isn’t open to this approach, it’s time to look elsewhere.”
- “Pay me more money.”
If you want more money, you need to be able to explain why you deserve it, and back it up with examples, says Grainger-Marsh. “Maybe it’s that your duties have expanded, or you’ve started to manage people. Whatever the reason, go into the discussion with it clearly documented, along with your pay expectations.”
If they can’t give you a pay rise immediately, discuss a timeline for when and how it could happen. “You could even discuss other ways the organisation could recognise you, such as flexible working hours or a new title.”
- “I wish you’d value people over money when times get tough.”
“When organisations go through difficult times it’s not uncommon for leaders to retreat; sharing little information and seemingly focusing on the bottom line,” says Grainger-Marsh.
To deal with this, focus on what you can do for yourself and those around you to feel more valued. “Recognise your own input and the input of others, provide support to teammates, and let your boss know when a job has been done well.”
If you want more money, you need to be able to explain why you deserve it, and back it up with examples, says Grainger-Marsh.