As an employee, how should you handle a situation where you disagree with the direction given to you by your manager?

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    Its a manager, not a deity, just approach them rationally and discuss it. Like-wise its an employee, not an indentured slave, listen to the concerns and address them. – Ron Beyer Mar 15 '16 at 16:56
  • Can we assume that the disagreement has nothing to do with ethics or legality? – djohnson10 Mar 15 '16 at 16:57
  • @djohnson10 yes – smaili Mar 15 '16 at 17:09
  • As it stands, this question is far too broad to be answered in this format. Please see our Help Center for some tips on how to ask a good question. – David K Mar 15 '16 at 17:19
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    @smaili There is a reason that theoretical questions don't work well here. We ask for specific questions because the answers to different scenarios will vary greatly. How long have you been working at the company? How much do you disagree? Will your manager's decision run the company into the ground or just put you on a project you don't like? Are there ethical violations? Are you more knowledgeable on the subject than your boss? What do your coworkers think? Would your boss be willing to listen to reason, or are they "always right no matter what"? I could go on an on. – David K Mar 15 '16 at 19:26

The only time to disagree with your manager is before the decision has been made. Even then it is providing a professional opinion not a disagreement. If you don't like the decision after it has been made, that's tough but it is your obligation as an employee to try to the best of your ability to implement it nonetheless. There are many factors besides technical that go into management decisions and you are not privy to all of them. The manager is paid to make the decision and is the one responsible for the ultimate outcome. There are very few occasions when a manager makes a decision that makes 100% of all subordinates happy.

Also do not ever disagree publicly with your manager after a decision has been made especially if there are clients or other outsiders present.

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  • Other than the last part of your answer I'm not sure I agree with this. You as an employee should be free to voice your opinion at any time, especially when the outcome can still be changed. Often at the end of a bad project the manager is chastised for it, but the employees may end up paying with their jobs. Layoffs are bottom up. – Ron Beyer Mar 15 '16 at 16:58
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    When the outcome can be changed is before the decision has been made. – HLGEM Mar 15 '16 at 17:00
  • I disagree, at any time before the idea is fully implemented can it be changed. A decision to do something at the beginning of a project does not mean that it cannot be changed later. The only time it can't be changed is after it is delivered, and sometimes even then it can. Take for example the software industry, I can make a decision to use method X for feature Y, then later be convinced that it is better to use method Z... – Ron Beyer Mar 15 '16 at 17:02
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    Ron, you're going to have to get used to this until/unless you are your own boss. People can honestly disagree without either being "wrong". The boss is your immediate customer. See recent discussion of how to argue with a customer, but the basic answer is you can't! You can only offer your best advice, then do it their way if they don't agree... Or go find another customer. Remember that in the real world we're doing engineering, not science, and good enough is sometimes good enough. – keshlam Mar 15 '16 at 17:12
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    There are bosses who listen. There are bosses who listen but disagree until you can demonstrate why your answer is better, which may take half a development cycle or more. There are bosses who listen, agree with your point, but have to do it another way because that's what has been demanded by the customer or upper manglement (sic). Raise the issue, then shelve it until it's clear the decision must be reevaluated. – keshlam Mar 15 '16 at 17:40

I think good managers understand that feedback, even critical feedback is appreciated when it is respectful and backed up by a good well thought out reasoning. Everyone regardless of level should appreciate the point of view of others.

However; It's important to understand who the people making the decisions are and when a decision is final. Pointing out a well thought out idea, or pointing out a solution to a problem that might be different then your boss's is great, hammering your boss about the same thing just because you think he is wrong is not. I use the 1.5x rule myself. Bring up the solution once during discussion, if your boss decides not to follow that's fine, let it go. Only bring it up again if a specific case could be solved using your solution (The .5). "I think this might be a good case for that archiving solution we talked about last month". Anything more when your boss is not receptive can be seen as offensive.

This is based of my experience in US customs, different cultures will have radically different beliefs.

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