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No one likes to deliver bad news to their supervisor. Even if the situation has nothing to do with you, there’s always the risk that she or he might “shoot the messenger.”

Unfortunately, there’s no steering clear of this situation. You’re going to have to bring various issues to your supervisor at some point, so you need to know the best way to do it. Consider the following strategies on how you should bring any concerns to your boss.

Get the timing right

Timing often means everything when approaching your supervisor about a challenging situation. If she or he currently has a big problem of their own, you may be the ideal target for an outburst.

In addition to being mindful of your supervisor’s own problems, try to avoid bringing up issue before lunch or the end of the day, when the last thing anyone wants to deal with is a new problem. On the other hand, if your supervisor is coming back from lunch or seems in a particularly good mood, you’re well-positioned to discuss the issue.

Keep it professional

There’s nothing worse than approaching your supervisor about an issue when you’re upset and unprepared. Before you approach your boss, calm yourself down and make sure you’ve tied up any loose ends, such as quick-fix solutions you might have overlooked. Be sure you have all the information you need to have a productive and comprehensive discussion.

Come with the problem and a solution clearly identified

Remember that your supervisor probably already has a set of their own issues to deal with and probably don’t want to do a lot of the heavy lifting on a whole new problem. That being said, supervisors also don’t want major problems ignored or put off, only to have them blow up in their face later on.

Before you approach your manager, come up with a general breakdown of the issue, the particular impact it has and how you’ve already tried to fix the issue. Suggest a particular approach, for your supervisor and some with alternatives. This gives your manager with options right off the bat without having to think too much.

Accept responsibility if it’s appropriate

If any part of the issue is your fault, you need to admit it. A good supervisor should appreciate your honesty and be more prone to help you out.

When you’re at fault, you ought to be willing to take advice. It can be difficult to swallow your pride or to see a different point of view, but your career success depends on being able to absorb criticism and use it in an effective manner.

Make sure you thank your supervisor for the input, and then actually attempt to put her or his advice into action. If the suggestion doesn’t work and the issue becomes an ongoing problem, you can always take another look at it.

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