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Boss’s request dicey? Here’s what to do

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in Admins,Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Office Management

Occasionally, your boss may ask you to do something that is against your better judgment. Maybe her request seems like a bad idea—like sending an emotional e-mail in the heat of the moment. Or maybe it seems downright unethical.

“Admins are where the action is,” says Nan DeMars, an office ethics trainer and author of You Want Me To Do What?

“They’re sometimes asked to do things they feel uncomfortable doing. I think the old-fashioned assistant of years ago would do it. Today, the biggest change in this world is that you must be accountable.”

The bottom line: Admins must know how and when to push back on a boss. Scott Eblin, author of “The Next Level” blog, offers these suggestions:

1. Ask, “What’s your goal?” Do your best to understand the goal or motivation behind the boss’s request. 

2. Offer alternatives. “If you understand the true motivation, you’re in a better position to offer alternative courses of action,” says Eblin. “Explain how one or more of those alternatives will accomplish the goal as well as, if not better than, the request.”

3. Keep it short. Your boss is likely moving at 350 mph and hasn’t stopped to consider the impact of her request. And she’ll be moving at that pace when you push back. “If you want to be heard,” he says, “you’re going to have to keep it short enough to keep their attention.”

4. Know when to fold ’em. If your attempt at a push back fails, you have to decide whether you’re going to hold ’em or fold ’em. Use your “holds” for situations that seem unethical. Simply say, “I’m not comfortable doing that.” Fold on the little things.

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