What's your problem?

Please help me. I'm feeling more and more like a lion led by a donkey. I have so little faith left in my boss that I'm tempted to let rip and tell him exactly what I think of him.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I've put up with his bad decisions and poor judgment for far too long - and I'm not the only one to think like this. I can't believe that the senior management aren't aware of his incompetence - I'd like to raise it with them. What's the most diplomatic way of handling this?

A: By the sound of things, your company doesn't have an official 360 degs appraisal system up and running. That's a pity. Such systems may not be loved by all (particularly by those who find themselves critically appraised) but they offer people like you the chance to make forceful comments about their seniors in comforting anonymity. And because it's mandatory rather than voluntary, you don't have to feel in the least bit guilty about it.

Although this is not an immediate answer to your problem, you might get together with some of your mates and suggest, in writing, that your company instal such a system. If your senior management are at all alert (which, from what you say, seems far from certain), they should correctly decode your request as evidence of lurking discontent.

That's your safe if long-term option. It's not going to provide you with instant frustration relief, but you shouldn't be looking for that, anyway. 'Letting rip' and 'telling the boss exactly what I think of him' are both wonderfully exhilarating fantasies - but they should remain that way. Once put into action, they invariably backfire on their instigator.

Such is the accumulated pressure of your discontent that you can't just let the eloquent facts speak for themselves: you get into irrelevant and personal invective. To any third party (and there's bound to be one involved sooner or later) you will sound vindictive and irrational. A good case is lost by being wildly overstated. Your best bet is to depersonalise the whole thing.

You say you're tempted to tell your boss exactly what you think of him. Much better if two or three of you approach him with some well-thought-through suggestions for improving working methods and decision-making. If he turns nasty or just totally ignores you, you're now in an extremely strong position to involve senior management.


- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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