If your direct manager was instructing you to do something you disagreed with, how would you handle it?

Note: as I’m currently evaluating and interviewing for product manager opportunities, I’m publishing many answers to the product, behavioral, business, and life questions I’m researching/practicing publicly rather than keep them private in a Google doc.

If your direct manager was instructing you to do something you disagreed with, how would you handle it?

I believe you can break this down into two categories:

ethicEthical: If it’s an ethics issue, then I believe it’s in the employees right to refuse to follow a managers instructions. For example, say your manager asks you to illegally steal trade secrets from your competitor or to outright lie about the timeline to a client/customer.

Strategy / Execution: If instructions are related to execution of a business or product strategy you don’t agree with — then, that’s instructions that need to be executed. That said, I’d discuss my thoughts and alternative strategies/solutions with my manager to ensure he/she knew I disagreed with the decision — and why. Once I had that discussion with my manager, then I’d execute their instructions without continued questioning of their decision.

[Graphic via https://ec.europa.eu]

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