Giving Feedback to your Boss

Feedback to your boss

Written by CareerNet Nation

September 25, 2023

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CareerNet Nation Members

Giving Feedback to Your BossOffering Feedback to your boss is like walking through a field of landmines.

But it doesn’t have to be.

In another great read from Monday’s WSJ, Rachel Feintzeig offers some sound advice to a tricky request from their boss, “I’d love your feedback.”

You should have a look if offering feedback to your boss gives you chills.

What Offering Feedback to your Boss could mean.

Let’s get right to it. When a boss asks for your feedback on a decision they make or made they generally are looking for 2 things:

  1. Your buy-in or approval of a decision they have made.
  2. Edits or language improvements that enhance their decision.

Here is an example that we hope makes sense.

You are a member of a small team. The team is you, a co-worker and your manager or boss. You need to get a marketing proposal together for a potential client.

  • Day one, your team meets and discusses the plan and responsibilities for a) the marketing strategy proposal, b) the outline and the highlights.
  • Day two, you assemble graphics, written paragraphs and collected images based upon the day one project discussion and submit them to your boss or the powerpoint team member.
  • Day three, you meet again to discuss the first draft, you then go back into the proposal and make the changes requested and at the end the day deliver your final changes to the proposal.
  • Day four, your manager sends the proposal to the client and uploads a copy of the final proposal to your team OneDrive.

Except that the proposal sent was significantly changed by your manager from your team’s last draft and has already been forwarded to the potential client.

The message is different. The strategy has big changes to it. You worked for hours with your co-worker and made a real effort. #Frustrating!

You have a strong suspicion the client will reject the proposal with the new changes. Then your boss sends you a slack note: Have a look at the final proposal submitted. I’d love your feedback.

The right way to offer feedback

This ask from your boss may trigger you a bit. But don’t let it. Here is a simple response that gives your boss constructive, positive feedback. Yes punctuation makes a difference, so use it to your advantage.

Hi [boss name]!

I read our final proposal and it’s been improved significantly. Your changes add a lot of value to the overall message. I think your selection of new images and graphics enhance the proposal and direct the client to a new way of approaching their market. I learned a bit more about the way you were thinking about the proposal in the last few days. It will be a great project with a great client when they sign on. Let me know what I can do to help as the project moves forward.

[your name]

The idea is to support your boss in the decisions they made and to infer that you are counting on their decisions for your team’s success without saying that directly. Your boss has a significant influence on your future, your experience, your training, your promotion, your compensation. Keep them on your side.

Think about it. If the client walks away and your team does not get the mandate your boss bears the responsibility. When things go bad you want them to rely on you for assistance in fixing the problems and they need to trust that you are on their side.

How not to respond to a request for feedback

Hi [boss name],

I had a look at the final proposal and TBH, it’s not what I expected. I thought the client was looking for [this] and I think we gave them something different. Maybe we should add another meeting to go over proposals in the future after you put your final changes to it, but before we send to the client. That way we are all on the same page and our work product is the best it can be.

[Your name]

Yes, as a boss I have received this kind of feedback.  So as a boss here is what I thought in order of thoughts.

[Your name] loves to complain when her/his ideas are not included.

[Your name] isn’t listening closely enough in proposal launch project meetings.

[Your name] Wasn’t available on slack/teams to discuss changes the night before.

Admittedly, these are defensive thoughts and not manager or boss appropriate. But they are human.  Even though I reflected on the comments and adjusted the Team process to match the good recommendations, my emotional take away is plain to see. And these emotions carry on and influence my decisions about working with you in the future.

Your Boss is Human

Remember your boss or manager is human. They too need affirmation. They have different responsibilities than you have and answer to different people. Clients yes but their boss as well. Their performance on behalf of the company has larger impact than your own. That is the way it is. One day you will be the boss and you will have the opportunity to set the tone, manage a team, have more impact on the business.

Until then, you need to manage your emotions and your bosses’ feelings as best you can.

What the Best Businesspeople Do Very Well

The best businesspeople we have known are exceptionally good at business relationships. They understand that creating and growing relationships are the key to long term business success.A single negative message will change their approach to you faster than it took you to write the feedback to them. Always be positive. You never know where the realtionship will lead.

Have a great week CareerNet Nation!

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