Important Tips for Presenting Topics of Concern to Your Boss

Dealing with challenges and obstacles is often a daily reality of the workplace, from the small and mundane all the way up to the wildly unexpected. How they are handled, however, is what sets true professionals apart from the average worker. As a point of clarification, we’re defining “topics of concern” herein as work related challenges, not internal conflicts more appropriate to the sphere of HR or mediation.

Depending on where you stand in the company ladder, your method of approach can vary quite a bit. However, we’re going to lay out a general stratagem that will hold water irrespective of where you happen to dwell on the corporate ladder.

Presenting Topics of Concern to Boss - Businesswoman and man at desk

Be Confident

Confidence is crucial; diffidence is a time-waster. In order to have real confidence, however, you must first have done your proper due diligence on the matter. Make sure you understand the entirety of the issue in your mind before you bring it to your superior. Give it the thought it deserves by figuring out the potential impacts on clientele or bottom line and gathering any pertinent documentation. Possessing a fully developed comprehension of the problem will allow you to approach the meeting with confidence. One point to bear in mind is — while it may be tempting — don’t walk into the room apologetically. You have to acknowledge that the issue is worth both your time and theirs, and thus make it clear in the subtext that you wouldn’t be bringing this to their attention if it weren’t necessary.

Furthermore, make it clear what you’re asking for; more specifically, make it clear going in that you don’t expect your boss to solve the problem single-handedly; you acknowledge your responsibility in the situation and you are coming to them to gain advice, insight, and suggestions. Owning the problem will go a long way toward boosting (or reaffirming) your superior’s opinion of you as a capable, competent professional.

Be Astute

In order to maximize your results, make sure you’re fully prepared going in to the meeting. Present a few highly relevant questions, and take copious notes throughout. Few things please managers less than having to repeat solutions, but many appreciate being brought into the loop when a challenge to the business arises. Even better than bringing a problem to their attention, is bringing the fix. To this end, brainstorm your way in and around the issue at hand, come up with a few plausible potential solutions and field them at the appropriate time (usually after you’ve fully defined the problem and ensured your boss has a solid grasp on all its facets).

Document, document, document. By the time you reach a resolution of the issue, you should have enough of a paper trail to ensure that should this come up in the future, you’ll be ready and able to effectively address it. More so, having these strategies well laid out strengthens the company as a whole, which in turn reflects very well upon you.

In Review

To review as well as supplement, the following are important aspects to keep in mind when approaching your superior with a crisis.

  • It is in the best interest of your boss or team leader to be informed if productivity is being negatively impacted.
  • Always approach your direct supervisor first. Avoid going “over his/her head” unless absolutely necessary.
  • If you have chosen to speak to more than one superior regarding a specific issue, opt to meet with each one separately.
  • Choose to have your conversation in the morning or relatively early in the workday to avoid a tension build-up throughout the day. Also, your boss may be more receptive before facing the day’s stresses.
  • Write down what you are planning to say prior to the conversation.
  • Keep your statement concise and direct, and choose your battles wisely.
  • Open and close your statement on a positive remark by reminding your superior of your respect for their work, guidance, and competence.
  • It is okay to let your boss know that what you are trying to say may be difficult for you to express so that he or she can allow you ample time to finish your statement. Remember to take a deep breath if feeling nervous.
  • Be sure to inform him or her that you are not making judgments, simply stating facts along with your feelings of discomfort with the situation.
  • Immediately following your meeting, write down a set of detailed notes regarding what was stated by each party.
  • Don’t despair if the encounter does not go as smoothly as planned or if there was something you forgot to mention. Remember that you did the best you could under difficult circumstances. Conversations can always be revisited at a later date.
  • If positive changes fail to ensue within a reasonable amount of time, then approaching a higher superior may be appropriate.
  • If this or other similar situations continue to persist over an extended period of time, it may be in your best interest to seek out a new and more positive work environment. However, it is always better to attempt to rectify a negative situation before giving up. Employees who find they are working under exceedingly negative conditions with no chance of improvement should review the unemployment laws of their home state if considering a resignation.

Presenting Topics of Concern to Boss - Professional Man and Woman smiling

In the end, the perceptive professional can turn nearly any workplace challenge into an experience from which to learn and grow.


Fred Coon, CEO

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