When it comes to giving feedback at work, more often than not we think about receiving feedback from superiors. However, in many modern workplaces, constructive feedback is encouraged both up and down the management hierarchy. Despite this, giving feedback to your boss can still be a minefield.
The good news is there are plenty of ways that you can give honest, constructive feedback without jeopardising your career prospects. Here are six tips you should follow when it comes to letting your boss know how you feel.
1. Give your feedback when it is requested
Complaining about all the things you dislike about your boss’ management style is unprofessional and unlikely to result in any improvement. Ideally, you should wait to be asked for feedback before giving your two-cents.
Good bosses will ask for feedback on their leadership style which gives you the perfect opportunity to put your opinion across. They are also opening themselves up for feedback which makes them more likely to take your opinion on board and make changes. A win-win situation for everyone!
However, if your boss isn’t the type of manager who asks for feedback then you may have to be a little bit more proactive. For example, suggesting that your team give feedback on the performance of a new project, could create a good platform for you to provide constructive feedback.
2. Don’t act like you’re the boss
When you’re asked for feedback, what your manager doesn’t want to hear is how you would do things if you were in charge. This undermines their authority and could make you appear big-headed and presumptuous. Remember, you don’t know all the ins and outs of your boss’ responsibilities so don’t pretend to.
Instead, any feedback that you provide should focus on the things that affect you. How are their decisions impacting upon your work? Are there any improvements that could be made to make you feel better at work? Have you noticed anything going on in the office that should be brought to their attention? These insights are extremely helpful to your boss and will enable them to improve your experience at work.
3. Have a confidential conversation
If you are giving feedback to your boss, be sure to do it in private to keep your relationship with them positive. Saying something in front of your team could be humiliating and uncomfortable for them so it’s better to save your thoughts for a more private setting.
4. Prepare what you want to say in advanced
To make sure you get your points across in a positive and effective way, it’s important to be prepared. Make a note of the key things that you want to address and think of an example or two to support your claims.
This will also demonstrate to your boss that you are serious and have thought things through. The last thing you want to do is go into their office, get tongue-tied or say the wrong thing which offends them.
5. Be professional
We don’t like to be criticised, that’s just our human nature. However, if you can deliver your thoughts professionally and sensitively you won’t get your boss’ back up.
Feedback sessions should be a positive thing. It’s only by giving feedback that we can make positive changes and improve things for everyone involved. Emphasise the fact that what you are saying is in the interest of benefiting the whole team and their results. This will make constructive feedback feel less like an attack on your boss’ management style.
You should also round of your conversation by thanking your manager for their time and for listening to you.
6. Always try to give feedback in person
Written feedback can often be taken out of context or received with a different tone to what you intended. This is why it’s always better to give feedback in person when you can. This way you can use your body language and mannerisms to better communicate your points in a polite and professional way.
Bringing it all together
Giving your boss constructive feedback can feel awkward and like a lot of pressure. However, the steps above should make the whole feedback giving process easier. It isn’t always plain sailing and you can’t predict how your manager will take things, but these guidelines should give you the best chance of your feedback being well-received.