Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Giving Feedback to Your Boss

Even when asked, giving feedback to your boss can be a bit touchy. The first thing that may run through your mind is, “Does she really want to know what I think?” Or, “Why is he asking me?” Or, “Do I trust my boss to accept my feedback without retaliating?” If you don’t trust him/her, you will likely ask, “How do I tactfully get myself out of this situation?” Here are a few responses that may help you address your momentary discomfort.

#1 “You are asking for my feedback on this and I would like a day or two to give it some thought.” If you believe the request for feedback is genuine, develop a few points that are both positive and if necessary, critical. Meet face-to-face and present your comments. If you have criticism to offer, do so as constructive suggestions – point out how something could be improved upon rather than what’s wrong.

#2 “Perhaps we should put this on a team meeting agenda and get everyone’s feedback rather than just mine.” This buffers the pressure and gives others an opportunity to share their opinions as well.

#3 “I don’t have much to offer by way of feedback.” This sidesteps the real issue of not trusting your boss to accept critique. It is not entirely honest on your part, but it is better than getting into hot water over something trivial.

When You are the Boss. When you are in a leadership role, asking for and accepting feedback from others is crucial to keeping open lines of communication and establishing trust. If you don’t really care what others think, don’t ask them. When you ask them, be willing to hear what they have to say. Listen carefully and be open to the opinions of others in your team. If you receive critique, ask questions to clarify but do not debate or argue. An effective leader keeps an open mind and invites different perspectives. Translate criticism into suggestion for how to do things better the next time round.

Finally, avoid asking counterfeit questions such as “What does everyone think? This is a great idea, right?” Or, “I think we’re on the right path with this decision. Does everyone else agree?” Counterfeit questions have implied “right” answers and are not really asking for feedback at all. Remember, accepting feedback is not about being right or wrong. People’s perspectives may differ from yours. Make this an opportunity for discussion, learning and relationship building.

Paula J. MacLean is the best-selling author of five human resource management books. Visit us on Facebook at Silver Creek Press.

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