Confronting Your Boss About Problems on the Job

Be professional when you approach your boss with a problem.
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Problems at work need to be brought to the attention of your boss. She can't do anything to help you unless you let her know what's happening. Some people are afraid to bring up negative subjects with their boss in fear of reprisal. You don't want to be a tattletale, but real problems left unresolved can grow into bigger problems.

Assess the Situation

    Review the problem and determine how important an issue it is. Examine the pros and cons of taking the problem to your boss. Assess whether your boss can help with the problem. If she cannot, you might reconsider taking the problem to her, as you don't want to appear as someone who complains. If she can help with the problem, figure out what you want her to do. Ensure there is a benefit in taking the issue to your boss before you approach her with the problem.

Let Go of the Emotion

    Even though you have feelings or might be emotional about the problem, let go of the emotion. Emotion clouds the issue and you need clarity to be able to discuss it. Before you speak to your boss, get calm and centered. Clear your head by taking a walk around the block or talking over the problem with a trusted coworker to vent your feelings. Don't contact your boss with the problem until you are sure you can speak calmly about it.


    Take the time to prepare. Write out the facts of the situation to avoid getting emotional when you speak with your boss. Review the problem and try to see it from your boss's point of view. As someone outside of the situation, your boss might have a different take on the issue. She might be more objective, so think about how she might respond. Preparation helps you discuss the issue clearly and avoids wasting your boss's time.


    Come up with a solution to the problem. When you come up with a solution ahead of time, you show your boss that you're being proactive. Instead of coming off as just a complainer, by providing a solution to the problem, it lets your boss know that your goal is to resolve the problem. Make an appointment to meet with your boss when her schedule is free and she can give you her full attention.


    Make a point to be assertive, but not aggressive or confrontational. Actively listen to what she says and keep an open mind. Be professional. Don't make personality judgments or talk negatively about a person to your boss. If your problem is with someone's offensive or harassing behavior, discuss the behavior, not the person.

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