If your boss asks for your opinion on how he or she is doing, or you participate in a formal performance review, take the opportunity to provide valuable feedback and improve your working relationship. At the same time, it can be difficult to make sure you’re being honest and not setting yourself up for a clash of personalities.
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The folks at Forbes have some great tips for giving your boss the feedback he or she needs to work — and manage — better. It all starts with understanding exactly what it is your manager is looking to hear. If the feedback is solicited, especially spontaneously, be cautious in your response. You don’t know what your boss is digging for, so offering up something unexpected could dangerous.
As with most employee/manager personality issues, the key here is to make sure your expectations are in line with your boss’s expectations. Here’s an example:
That first time a boss asked me for feedback, I didn’t realise she was trying to get answers to a few specific questions, rather than my general input on how she was doing. She had just had a review with senior management, and they felt her team needed more guidance on a particular product offering, so she was speaking to the entire team to get a sense for how comfortable they felt with the information she’d provided. She did not, it turned out, want to know I found her habitual tardiness and long lunches demoralising.
If a manager comes to you for feedback, make sure you’re both giving her what she wants and having the discussion on your own terms. For example, if your boss pops by your desk and asks how you think she’s doing, tell her you appreciate the opportunity to share your thoughts, and ask her to go into more detail about what she’s hoping to learn.
Once you have a handle on what it is your manager wants, you can work out an appropriate response. That way there are no errors in translation, no miscommunication, and everyone walks away happy (and without their careers in jeopardy). Making sure you’re talking about exactly what your manager is interested in hearing will make sure your feedback is specific, professional and honest without causing more friction. Hit the Forbes link below for a few more tips.