5

Sometimes I disagree with a boss's decision. That's ok, I can disagree and commit, no problems at all.

What really bothers me is passing my boss's decision to other stakeholders outside the team. I would like to tell people what the decision in a way that would attend the following criteria:

  1. I want them to know it was not my decision;
  2. I don't want to sound like I'm blame-shifting;
  3. Not sounding like a politician weaseling out with corporate language would be a bonus.

So the answers I usually came out are something like

  1. "It is not going to be this way."

    Precise, but sounds like I decided it.

  2. "My boss decided it is going to be this way."

    Sounds like blame-shifting.

  3. "The team decided it is not going to be this way."

    Mumbo-jumbo that manages to give both bad impressions at once.

I know it is quite a general question, and a hard one, and I am most probably missing relevant information or carrying wrong preconceptions, so thank you for reading it.

8
  • 5
    Why would it be "blame-shifting" if the decision was indeed your boss's?
    – sf02
    May 5, 2022 at 14:29
  • 1
    @sf02 well, I think it would sound really bad to my superior to say something like "The boss decided so and so" and when confronted again, say something like "Yeah, I agree, but the boss said, what could we do?" It may even sound bad to my interlocutor. But again, let me know if you agree or not.
    – 白迪孜
    May 5, 2022 at 14:34
  • 2
    I usually go with 1. "It has been decided that...". Did you decide it? Maybe. Did your boss decide, and you have to go along with it? Maybe. But really it's neutral and non-identifying. It's just been decided . The decision has been made. Now we deal with the consequences of that decision. May 5, 2022 at 14:44
  • 1
    I disagree with the close vote: This question is about communication within the company, while the linked question is about communication with the public. I think the different audience matters.
    – meriton
    May 5, 2022 at 18:36
  • 1
    Ah, I was wondering why the community bot was casting a close vote. I see. Well then, fine with me.
    – meriton
    May 5, 2022 at 18:50

5 Answers 5

8

The possible phrases you mentioned sound like blame shifting because the phrasing itself leads someone to believe that the entire decision is deserving of blame.

You may want to try and phrase it a bit more neutral and open for interpretation. Something like this may work nicely for you.

There have been some internal discussions in regards to x and going forward it's been decided that we are commiting to do xyz.

The first part about discussions is probably always true and the ultimate decision is at the end of the day always made by your boss.

1
  • 2
    I think the passive voice is key here. "It was decided x", implies that you have been made aware of the decision and that you'll uphold it, but maybe that you don't fully agree or aren't the one formally making the decision. May 5, 2022 at 15:22
3

This happens a lot, nothing too uncommon I would say. While we may have differences in our viewpoints, if a decision is made / approved, you need to carry that considering you are involved and responsible.

However, you do not need to appear solely responsible for the decision. You can always say something:

"We discussed about it, and finally the decision which we could agree upon and got approved is ..........".

3

Your job is to support the decisions your boss makes. Back door messages to let everyone know you don't agree undermines your boss and your career as well. There is no way you can convey a message to that effect that does not make either you, or the boss look bad.

If you send mixed messages to your team, you will cause divided loyalties and confusion. State the objective/ideas plainly, and take it from there, and accurately report back to your boss, the execution of the ideas. The boss needs you to be his advocate for the team. If anyone questions you, simply say "The decision has been made" and no more. Let them infer from that what they will

2
  • I feel there are plenty of occasions where it makes sense to tell the team you disagree with a decision but it's been made. If your boss decides a much loved member of the team has to be made redundant it doesn't seem like you'd gain much saying you agree with that May 5, 2022 at 20:35
  • @mattfreake The point of disagreement ends in private where you have given your input. Once the decision has been made, you support it wholeheartedly. Now, you don't have to be a cheerleader for the idea, but you cannot make a public statement of disagreement. That said, saying nothing than you want your team to be dedicated to this new idea, without commenting further speaks volumes May 11, 2022 at 12:33
1

I want them to know it was not my decision;

This is not the same as disagreeing and committing. This is disagreeing and continuing to disagree as you present the decision to others. Don't weasel around the words, just say this is it, the company is moving in this direction.

If you can't support the decision, you aren't the right person to present it.

3
  • 1
    And I would add that if you can't support the decision you may want to look for employment elsewhere. As a responsible person in the chain of management, you represent the decisions of your upline managers regardless of your personal opinions on the matter. In other words, you buy in or you leave.
    – jwh20
    May 5, 2022 at 17:19
  • "This is not the same as disagreeing and committing. This is disagreeing and continuing to disagree." Well, if we could not continue to hold our opinions, I guess it would not be called "disagreeing and committing," it would be called "agreeing" ;)
    – 白迪孜
    May 5, 2022 at 18:21
  • @brandizzi, no. Committing means you make the dcision your own and support it like it were. Saying "well, the boss decided this" or some weaselly passive-voice "the decision was made to" means you aren't committed to it. Doing anything other than fully supporting the decision in public undermines it and hurts the organization.
    – Tiger Guy
    May 5, 2022 at 18:29
-4

Rather than phrasing it as your Boss's decision, just present it as a request from the Boss.

This lets the stakeholders know that:

  • It was not your decision ( it isn't even a decision)
  • You aren't blaming anyone, just simply relaying a request
  • You aren't weaseling out of anything since you are just passing along what was requested.

If anyone questions you over the boss's request, you can refer them to the boss and let him deal with any disagreements or questions that you personally can't answer.

4
  • 2
    Weird to decide a boss's decision is only a request, not a decision. That's a high-risk strategy. I'd say at minimum, check that interpretation with the boss first... speaking as a manager, there are times when I'm making a request, and there are times when I'm making a decision, and I always make sure to be extremely clear about the difference, and if someone treats a decision like a request, there will be hell to pay. May 5, 2022 at 15:16
  • @BittermanAndy If the boss wants to be extremely clear, he can relay the decision himself rather than relying on OP as a middleman. Regardless, whether the OP relays the info as a "decision" or "request", in any company that I have worked for it means that it needs to be done.
    – sf02
    May 5, 2022 at 15:41
  • middle managers are literally there, in part, to act as middlemen/people. Senior managers tend not to have time to go around individually explaining their decisions to everyone on the front line; if they did, what are they paying middle managers to do? As for the rest: if I make a request, I'm happy for my staff to come back to me and tell me they disagree and that we should be doing it differently. They're often the experts and closer to the problem than I am, and I welcome them telling me I'm wrong, it's what I pay them for. But if there's been a decision, there's no further debate. May 5, 2022 at 16:06
  • 2
    @BittermanAndy According to the OP, they are a technical IC not a manager.
    – sf02
    May 5, 2022 at 17:13

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .