What to do if you have a different opinion to your manager

Throughout your career, there will probably be times where you’ll have a different opinion to your manager.

And it’s not hard to understand why this happens given that you and your manager have different roles to play.

While your manager might be accountable to executives who have a strategic view of the work your team does, your dedication to core business functions means it’s easy for your interests and professional views to differ from your manager from time to time.

Jay Munro is head of career insights at Indeed.
Jay Munro is head of career insights at Indeed.

Aside from role requirements, there are also plenty of other, sometimes more personal, reasons why you and your manager might not always agree. For example, if they’ve been promoted from your role to management, they might have a different idea about how you should be doing your duties.


Or, if you’ve had different experiences from past jobs, for example if you or your manager have worked at the company for many years, it could influence your approach and behaviours.

It’s important to show understanding and respect for the fact that your manager is likely to be working in a different context, under different pressures and towards broader objectives. So, knowing when to address a difference of opinion is an important first step.

If you have an opinion about a managerial decision that doesn’t affect you personally or your ability to perform in your role, then this is a boundary you probably shouldn’t cross. At the same time, having a different view about how your manager communicates or interacts with others is also not a reason for you to raise your own opinion, unless you think their behaviour is inappropriate.

But, you should always be ready to find a professional resolution during those times where it seems like your relationship is at stake or your productivity is suffering from having conflicting opinions.

When addressing a difference of opinion, it’s crucial to do it openly while encouraging a constructive conversation. Avoid confrontational or defensive language, including defensive body language, as this is likely to encourage your manager to keep their guard up. Conversely, if they perceive your behaviour as a sign of disrespect, it could close their mind to any resolution or alternative course of action.

For example, if your manager asks you to perform a task, just refusing to follow their instructions won’t encourage the open communication required for both you and your manager to properly understand each other’s position.

With a more positive and constructive approach, you might get a better understanding of the strategic context of your work or discover some shortcuts and tips that could help you out. On the other hand, you could have information that your manager was unaware of which could shift their opinion.

The reality is, it’s not always going to be possible to align your thinking to your manager’s – no matter how positively and openly you approach your differences. In this situation, the most ideal outcome is that you just agree to disagree and move on.

But if your differences continue to have an impact on your work, morale or working relationships, then it might be time to reach out to someone in HR.

Maintaining professionalism and showing you want to have a conversation will put you in the best position to resolve your differences directly with your manager.

Having a respectful and open conversation not only frames your opinions in a more persuasive way, but it could also teach you a few things about your own personality, style or outlook that you might want to change for the better.

This content was produced in commercial partnership with Indeed.

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