Things to Consider when Giving your Boss Feedback
October 23, 2019
Image from https://www.canny-creative.com/rebranding-a-company-7-things-boss-wants-to-know/
If you spend a lot of time working with your manager or boss, you’re likely very familiar with their style and performance in different work situations, from client meetings to presentations to partner negotiations. Often, you are privy to their strengths and weaknesses, their blind spots and unrecognized talents.
But how do you give feedback, especially negative feedback, to someone who’s got your future in their hands? What do you say if your superior asks you how you think they are doing? Here are a few things to consider if a feedback conversation comes up and you want to deal with it in an emotionally intelligent, productive, and diplomatic way.
Consider your reputation
Giving constructive criticism to your boss is highly influenced by your reputation and relationship with them. If you have a reputation of constantly providing negative feedback without any solutions, your feedback may come across as a complaint or annoyance and might be ignored. On the other hand, if you have a reputation for only speaking up for big things that really matter, your boss will know that and give your feedback more weight.
Consider your relationship
At play in a feedback conversation is not only your reputation, but your relationship with them. If your boss trusts you, feedback is much easier to receive. Amy Gallo writes in the Harvard Business Review that “if you have a rocky relationship, it’s better not to say anything”.
Consider your company culture
Is your company very hierarchical? Is upward criticism to managers and bosses discouraged? Gauge your company culture and attitude and act accordingly. If your company discourages lower level employees from providing input up the value chain, consider other methods of giving feedback, such as anonymous input. If your company values open lines of communication, focus on how you can deliver the feedback intelligently and tactfully.
Consider these approaches
To give constructive criticism, you’ll want to employ a mix of strategies. You can, for instance, practice your delivery beforehand, making sure to write down notes so you know what you want to say. When delivering feedback, give a mix of positive and negative feedback, and ask for feedback in return. Don’t focus so much on your boss—instead focus on their behaviors and actions. Emphasize the future –what can be done— instead of the past, as this can focus the conversation on the positive that will come out and not the negative that has transpired.
Of course, be polite and empathetic as a listener, and be professional in your tone and language.