When and How to Call Your Boss Out on a Mistake

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

We all make mistakes in the workplace — even bosses. It can be very intimidating to tell your boss when you notice they made a mistake, and you definitely shouldn’t always do so. However, there are certain circumstances when it’s necessary to tell your boss about a mistake. A truly good boss can accept criticism if it is given constructively; a good boss is approachable and doesn’t have an attitude of infallibility.

Although you always need to be respectful to your boss, sometimes keeping an important mistake that you noticed to yourself can be detrimental to a project. Still, the idea of correcting your boss — or even sharing a mistake that you know your boss would rarely make, but needs to be brought to his or her attention — can be daunting. Here are some ways to determine when you should call your boss out on a mistake and how to do so.

You need to be careful when deciding which mistakes you should tell your boss about. If your boss frequently makes mistakes, but they are all little and inconsequential (such as grammatical errors in a simple email to you or a few of your coworkers), you may want to let them go. If you constantly call your boss out on minor errors that really don’t affect anything, you will be setting yourself up as a whiner and micromanager (and really, it isn’t your job to micromanage your boss).

However, there are some areas that are a little less cut and dry. If your boss frequently sends out emails to your entire department, or creates project presentations that will be viewed by many people, you may be able to gently suggest that your boss let a few of you edit the work before it goes out. You don’t want to embarrass your boss, but you will ultimately be doing him or her a favor if you save them from further embarrassment in front of a big group (too many grammatical errors could leave other employees wondering if your boss is lazy, careless, or ignorant). Although many bosses have people who type up important documents for them, you especially might need to talk to your boss if they wrote something that is going to be published or shared with clients. You need to use your own discretion to decide when a problem really needs to be addressed if it is a small one.