sad businesswomanEarly in my career, I was so passionate about my work and the company I worked for that I wanted everything to be perfect. I would get very upset when I noticed that there was an issue that I felt needed to be addressed by senior management. My frustration would escalate when change did not come quickly and the problems prevailed.

At this company, we had regular conference calls to go over sales and operations and I was often very vocal about the problems I thought needed attention. My passion often led me to be very emotional about these situations. I thought I was doing a great service to senior management by giving them information that they may not know. What I didn’t realize is that I was coming across as negative. I was the one who was always bringing up issues, but never the one who offered solutions.

Of course, now decades later I realize the mistake I made by bringing up problems without solutions. Not only was I considered to be negative, but I was not perceived as having leadership potential.

How do you react when you see or uncover issues at work?

What do you do when you realize there are potential problems on the horizon that perhaps you can see very clearly and others seem unaware of?

It is important to be cognizant of the way you deliver the information to senior management.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Try to remain neutral and make sure that you are not implying any blame for the situation.
  • Don’t get emotional. It’s ok to be passionate about your work, but don’t let you emotions drive the conversation.
  • Think about the best way to present the issues given the audience. If you are speaking to your boss or to senior management, what do you know about them? What is important to them and position your conversation accordingly.
  • State the issue clearly.
  • State the consequences of the issue and the impact on the business.
  •  Leave your ego out of it. Your job is to let management know about the issue and the impact if not addressed. If management decides it’s not important at this time, you need to let it go. Chances are the issue will arise again and you will be more than willing to help the organization deal with it at that point in time.

Remember, people don’t gravitate to negative people. While it’s important to communicate the issues you see in the workplace, it’s critical to do so in a clear and positive manner to establish and support your reputation as a leader.