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Diplomatically Presenting

Feedback to Your Boss

Concerns at work are not unusual. Sometimes, when they get beyond our comfort level, we need to air our uneasiness.  Who would you be more inclined to speak to, your supervisor, manager, vice-president or CEO?

Giving feedback can be quite sensitive, especially when the issue may be about your boss's conduct. No one likes to tell the person who pays his/her salary that they are doing something wrong. However, a true leader and fair boss will appreciate your feedback if it is, indeed, fair and true.


Leaders receive less feedback the higher they go in an organization. By sharing thoughts with your boss, you are giving a powerful gift. Because she/he may not receive much feedback, your boss may not know how to react. Even if there is no reaction (or a negative one) your boss needs to hear it and will most likely come to appreciate your perspective once he/she has had time to reflect!


Employee feedback is priceless. Do you think Facebook and Google would have had such outstanding success without feedback from their staff? Giving feedback to your boss in an appropriate manner is beneficial for all parties involved. Here are some tips to make this interaction more comfortable and effective:

  1. Schedule time for a quality discussion. Don't ambush your boss. You don't know what is on his mind at every moment, so grabbing him in the corridor or pantry is a bit inappropriate and you may not get his full attention, which can lead to your concerns being brushed off.
  2. Don't call your boss out in public. To avoid a possibly embarrassing negative reaction from your boss, try to give feedback privately. If it gets a bit intense, allow for both of you to cool down and take time to completely think over the issue...and, then, reconvene if necessary. Even in a formal brainstorming session, you need to have your boss's back in public.
  3. Do be open and honestYour boss may ask you a question in front of your entire team that you are not prepared to answer...it happens to the best of us. Some of us brush it off, and some of us become offended. Afterwards, if it bothered you, make sure to speak privately to your boss about how uncomfortable it made you feel. Tapping into the emotional impact it had on you is very powerful. If you were affected by it, and leave it alone, you may begin to resent your boss and in turn, your job.
  4. Do talk about the issue in a broader context. Make it relevant to what your boss is trying to achieve (i.e. be an effective leader, increase office morale, reinforce organizational values). For example, if your concern is that your boss is not conducting himself appropriately, or in keeping with how he always wants his staff to behave, say something like "I know it is important to you that you model our values, but your behavior is inconsistent with that."

It will serve you, your boss and your organization well to always remember that a consummate professional is constructive, positive, mature and generous...no matter what the issue. I know it isn't always easy to keep your cool...the very reason why spending time to frame the conversation and the setting is a smart way to maintain your professionalism and get your message across, so you and your boss can go home that evening feeling good about your exchange.


What advice do you have for giving feedback to your boss?




Appreciating today's rapidly changing business strategies and what it takes to become a market leader and great manager, JV Consulting strategically provides our clients with talent, performance and customer management solutions that are results-driven and spot-on accurate. Our solutions address: 
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