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When the Boss Is Wrong: A Self-Storage Manager's Professional Guide to Finding Middle Ground With Superiors

By Gina Six Kudo Comments

At times in our lives, we’ve each made the occasional business mistake. Most of the time, there are no financial ramifications for our errors. But what if you are a self-storage site manager and the blunder of all blunders is about to be made by your owner? What do you do?

First, do not cross the line. Where’s the line? You’ll know when you’re just about to cross it, or the second after you’ve stepped over. I crossed that line once with a boss, using a line akin to Johnny Paycheck’s musical hit, “Take This Job and Shove It.” I’m not proud of letting things get that far out of control.

Thankfully, my supervisor had firsthand knowledge of what I was facing and knew I had been pushed to the breaking point and beyond. As we backed away to our opposing corners, there was time to breathe, reflect and determine how to best handle an emotionally charged situation. We were fortunate enough to move forward to a highly profitable and, most important, mutually respectful arrangement. We survived the tension-filled circumstances. Hopefully, you’ll take away information from this article to help you if you ever face a similar one.

Disagreeing With Tact

While disagreements between employees and superiors can be sparked by any number of things, let’s use marketing as an example. This is the place where I’ve seen the most discourse between self-storage owners and site staff.  

Let’s say the boss wants you to execute a marketing idea you think would be an embarrassment to you and the facility. Your first thought? This guy is nuts. Of course, that’s not something you should blurt out. In fact, don’t knock his idea from the word go.

Instead, since you’ve already built a good rapport with your owner, ask for some time to mull the idea over. This buys you time for evaluation, and you’ll have the ability to research and gather some ideas, facts and figures to dispute the concept without making it a personal attack. Or perhaps you can add or enhance the idea to make it more workable.

Abruptly dismissing anyone’s idea outright may lead to a negative confrontation. The idea-maker will naturally become defensive, and you’ll find yourself in a battle of egos rather than on the path to creating a great marketing program. Don’t inject emotions into the discussion; keep it based in fact.

You also need to learn the best way to approach your boss with ideas or changes. Some people have better analytical or critical thinking skills, while others are more emotional or reactive thinkers. This doesn’t mean one type of thinker is any more intelligent; it’s just a natural predilection of the individual. Some people are more inflexible in their thought processes, so you may need to adapt to their thought methodology to get your ideas across. The goal is to identify the other person’s preferred methods and adapt to meet him in the middle.

We’ve all made our share of mistakes. Taking ownership or responsibility for an error in judgment is a good place to start; forgive yourself and move forward. Accepting that others suffer from the same human faults is another good starting place. Besides, what will happen tomorrow? A new day will begin with yet another opportunity to make a mistake or a good call. Each day is like a do-over with the knowledge gained from the days prior.

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