On Sunday evening in 2014, one of the world’s greatest golfers, Phil Mickelson, gave the world a perfect lesson on how NOT to tell your boss they suck (http://youtu.be/b4_5A8cPgdY).

Three reasons why what Phil Mickelson did was a bad idea:

1: It certainly doesn’t make him look good.  It makes him pretty much un-selectable by any future leader.   Who would want to have someone in their team that is just looking to rub your, and others, faces in their mistakes the moment things get tough. A great book that talks about this is (http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Asshole-Rule-Civilised-Workplace/dp/0749954035 )

2: No Respect: He showed little respect for Tom Watson or his team who were undoubtedly hurting.  Tom had undoubtedly made mistakes,  he had also tried his best.  His team mates were undoubtedly hurting and reflecting on what mistakes they had made over the two days.   His behaviour encouraged everyone to focus on the negative rather than the way forward.

3:  Abdication of Leadership:  Phil may not have been the Captain this week but he is, without doubt, a leader for the US team; embarrassingly, he abdicated his position of leadership.   His stature will have been diminished in the eyes of the younger team members who saw the way he behaved.   Even worse some may copy him in future years, which will only serve the European cause further.

Four fool-proof ways of telling your boss he sucks.

1:  Look at yourself first:  Before you point the finger of accusation at your boss, remember that when you point there are three fingers pointing back at you.  Ask yourself “what have I done to contribute to this situation?”

2: Think about “why” this is happening:  More often than not, your boss is carrying out a strategy dictated from above.  Most things happen in an organisation because they are needed to help the achievement of a strategy or objective.   Try to separate “what” your manager is doing (probably led by his boss) with “how” they are doing it, which reflects their abilities to communicate and execute change.

3:  Constructive Feedback:  Borrowing a simple technique from the centre for creative leadership (http://www.leadingeffectively.com/feedback-you-can-fathom/sbi-model-graphic-for-social-media/),   use the SBI (Situation, Behaviour & Feedback) method to provide objective feedback.   i.e.”John, do you remember in the team meeting this morning,  you cut across my answer in a way that seemed dismissive.  It made me feel like you did not value my opinion.  What can I do differently next time?”   WARNING:  Remember that if you are going to be giving feedback, you need to be prepared to take it back as well.

3:  Focus on Solutions:  Everyone can point out what is being done wrong.  Being constructive with ways to make things work, will open your manager’s mind to alternate options.   If all they see is you throwing blocks up at every turn, they will be much less open to your ideas for improvement.   If you have no suggestions for how things can be done better then you may be part of the problem…….!!!!!

What approach would you take if you had to tell your boss “you suck”?

Alex Moyle spends his time helping leaders of sales teams build high performing self sustaining teams.   His customer centric approach to consultative selling helps sales professionals elevate themselves above the competition.

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