How does the law of uncertainty apply to situations wherein a direct is asked by a boss a question for which the direct has no ready answer for?

mercuryblue's picture
Licensee Badge

Why can’t you say you don’t know, and commit to either find out or give it some thought (whichever is relevant)? I don’t understand why this would be a problem.

angelicdoctor's picture

Perhaps it is just my director who has a low tolerance for his managers' "I don't know" statements.

mrreliable's picture

This might not be on target, but I have had experience with a director who had a low tolerance for "I don't know."

Long ago I had my first promotion to manager of a retail showroom. My director traveled to our location and we went around on an inspection. I've never embraced excuses, either other people or myself. "Why isn't this done?" "Why is this here?" Where is the display?" I didn't give excuses, and kept track of what I needed to accomplish. I was given feedback about the director's concern that I didn't have answers for many of his questions. It was a tough day for me.

The next time he came around for an inspection, you can bet I had an answer for everything. "We're working on it." "A big delivery came in and we had to shift our attention." "That's temporary, and we'll complete it tomorrow." Blah blah blah.

The guy praised me up and down for being so much "better prepared" than I had been the last time he visited. I felt greasy, but the guy got lots of lip service every time he showed up. I learned something about real life that day.

Fast forward a few decades. A small company I worked for was acquired by a huge corporation. My head spun at the reversal of concern over quality assurance and the primary focus on playing the corporation game. I dug my heels in a few times when I saw quality going down the toilet, and I was met with feedback that my "negative attitude" was a concern. The day I stopped caring about quality and started caring about saying everything was peachy and wonderful was the day my life became much easier, and I immediately began advancing in the company. My annual review documented my negative attitude in the beginning, and praised me for figuring it out and adopting a more positive attitude, just before I left and started my own company.

Sometimes you need to give answers you wouldn't necessarily be satisfied with yourself.

angelicdoctor's picture

Thank you.  This is helpful advice especially as it might apply to my high D boss.