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How to give constructive feedback to your boss

YS Community
10th Aug 2016
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Sometimes, bosses need to know that they are not always right. Giving feedback to your manager, supervisor or any senior colleague can be a daunting task. Anything from the fear of retaliation to the fear of unintended consequences can make you hold back your opinions. However, at times, it is imperative that you share constructive feedback not just for your boss’s benefit but also for your team’s progress. What’s more? It will improve your professional relationship with your boss and make you more confident. You can use these tips to drive a productive and diplomatic feedback conversation with your boss.

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Think ahead before reacting

Consider why you’re giving your boss feedback. Pick your battles wisely. Will your feedback make them better at what they do, improve your professional relationship with them or affect your happiness at work? Whatever the reason, it’s wise not to react impulsively. Take a day or two to think about your feedback and ensure if it’s something you want to discuss with your boss.

Consider your relationship with your boss

Before you give feedback, it’s important to consider your professional relationship with your boss. Is your boss open to feedback or does he or she get offended easily? Consider these characteristics when you’re planning to give feedback.

Schedule a meeting

It’s not pleasant to be caught off-guard. Schedule a meeting and give your boss or manager time to prepare for the meeting. Ask if it’s okay that you provide feedback as it affects the work you do together. At the same time, prepare yourself for the meeting, too. Make a list of what you want to say to him/her and how you want to say it. Give a relevant example to validate your claims or feedback. It’s important that you do this face-to-face and not over email.

Stay calm irrespective of your boss’s behaviour

During your meeting with your boss, be respectful and calm. Stay solution-oriented and professional. This is not a meeting to vent your frustration. You should not do anything that makes you come across as disrespectful or combative. Help your boss improve as a person and a professional with your feedback. Keep your calm even if things don’t go the way you planned.

Have a backup plan

While it’s best to give feedback directly, there are chances that your boss will be defensive. Stop the discussion if he or she is not receptive or, in the worst case, hostile to your feedback. A backup plan can be to discuss the situation with your HR manager.

Keep these things in mind before and after giving feedback to your boss. Even if the very thought of talking to your boss scares you, feedback given respectfully can prove to be fruitful for your career as well. Good managers will appreciate your effort to help them develop as a better leader.

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