You Can Bring Problems to Your Boss Without Looking Weak

Nancy Anderson
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You have questions and concerns you want to ask your boss about, but you're not sure how to broach the subject. Maybe you're nervous because you have no idea how to solve a work-related issue or bring problems to your manager's attention. Examine these five steps that teach you how to go to your boss for help finding possible solutions to problems.

1. Determine Your Approach

Figure out how you want to bring problems to your boss. Can you discuss the problem through email, or do you need to have a closed-door session in his office? Perhaps this issue requires input from the entire team and requires a staff meeting. The seriousness of the issue should indicate how to ask your boss for help.

2. Compile Data

Gather as much data about the problem as possible. Before you ask your boss to help you with an issue, make sure you're armed with all of the tools you need to lay out your case. Determine how the problem started, who might be involved and if there are any documents that back up your position. Gathering as much information as possible shows your boss that you're not just talking to him to rant, but that you want something done about a situation.

3. Try Not to Apologize

You may realize that you caused the problem, but try not to apologize to your boss. You're human, just like everyone else at your office. Everyone makes mistakes, even CEOs with decades of industry experience. Instead of saying, "I'm really sorry to bother you," try the tactic of "I would appreciate your help trying to figure out how to deal with this situation." Make it sound as if you're in a collaborative mindset, and ask your boss to help solve a problem that benefits everyone and not just you.

4. Take Notes

Take as many notes as possible so you can refer to them later. This does several things, including showing your manager that you are serious about solving the issue. Notes also help you remember the situation, so you'll know what to do if the situation arises again. Summarize your notes in a list or cheat sheet that is easy to read.

5. Explain the Potential Consequences

After you ask your boss to help you with a company issue, make sure he understands the serious repercussions of not resolving the problem. That way, he pays attention to the matter at hand and works with you to come up with a solution. Understand that your manager needs to know about problems before they blow up and have a detrimental effect on the company.

As you talk to your boss, remember to keep the meeting as professional and polite as possible. Try to leave your personal frustrations out of the situation.

Knowing how to ask your boss for help takes the nervousness out of the situation. You're on the same team, so remember that your boss is on your side and wants you to succeed.

Photo courtesy of AscensionDigital at


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