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Craig Kerstiens

Issues Aren't Always Bad

I often encounter people whether at my office or at other places of employment that are distraught after getting an earful from a manager from some problem arising. The problem usually isn’t in their control, and therefore they don’t understand why they get heat for this. Most managers though do actually understand when issues come up, however what they don’t appreciate is late notice, lack of problem solving, and dictating what should be done next.

Managers typically want individuals to take control of a situation and work towards resolving it.

One thing you can do to ease the backlash that may occur for issues coming up is to communicate proactively as things develop/occur or lack there of. Keep in mind this should relate well to your managers style, some managers only want details when they absolutely have to have them. In that case you’ll want to gradually give your manager a heads up, but not burden him with too much information. I would venture to say however that most managers appreciate details, details are great to give them insight into how things are going and allow them to feel engaged at a lower level.

So assume you’ve communicated regularly to your manager, this still does not prevent any issues from happening, but rather reduces the shock when something does. At this point a manager still does not want a fact stated that there’s a problem. In every case I’ve encountered the manager wants you to take ownership of the issue, meaning to give some options. Once the problem has arisen you should instantly start looking for ways to solve it. Often time these ways are not within your power to make the final decision, though you do have a great deal of control in presenting the case to a manager.

Finally if you want brownie points, take less credit for any of the work you’ve done and give your manager more. If you’ve communicated early, laid out various options for how to resolve the issue with pros and cons of each you’ve done what you can. This should make it very easy on your manager to simple say, go with Option B, and follow back up with me on Monday. At this point if you give your manager most of the credit for helping the issue, it will only come back to you. While this is potentially the least critical of the three points, it can often pay off equally as much.

This is easier to do as you pay attention to issues and start to become pro-active. Taking ownership may not be in your job title or description, but it will definitely get you less earfuls from managers, and likely move you through the ranks faster.