Article: Dos & Don'ts of giving upward feedback


Dos & Don'ts of giving upward feedback

Giving your boss a feedback can render you terrified or speechless, but there's a way out of the tremor zone.
Dos & Don'ts of giving upward feedback

Do you want to appreciate your boss for being not just a supervisor, but also a mentor? Do they call meetings every other hour which makes you miss deadlines? Have they embarrassed you in front or your colleagues? Well, all of this calls for a feedback session with them for it allows them to know how they are being perceived by people who they manage. Besides, it can only help them outgrow their weaknesses and fine-tune their behaviour. Sometimes, however this can backfire, especially if what they hear is contrary to their expectations. As a result it may even jeopardise your working relationship with them. 

Akashay Sharma, Senior Manager Human Resources Snapdeal says, “It is true that a harsh feedback can sabotage relationships. If this fear rules the mind then it is natural for employees to get worried too. They constantly dodge these thoughts in their mind, “will I be able to frame my sentences right” or “I hope I am not misunderstood”. Again, quite natural. But, I think if an organization encourages a 360 degree feedback, employees should be asked not to sweat so much.” 

Now, as tricky and scary as it might seem, if you offer your feedback thoughtfully, there is a reasonably good chance to improve status quo. 

Feedback ≠ spitting venom

You can’t step into the room and sit across your boss saying everything that comes to your mind. Adds, Akashay, “It is strange how some employees feel that giving upward feedback equals to emptying their trunk full of grievances. They forget that after they get out of the room, they are going to resume working with their boss and pretend nothing will change after all the heart-pouring. I would like to in fact warn people from committing this mistake.” It is only wise to spend time thinking about how you are going to chronicle your feedback so that the message is conveyed and so is your intent. 

Share your perspective based on facts

Meeting out a feedback that isn’t actionable make such sessions futile. You have to look back in time, gather a few facts that will add weight to your observations. You can’t say, “you haven’t been a good boss”. Instead cite a few episodes where you think they could have been a better boss. After all, one incidence doesn’t quite make them a ‘bad boss’. Moreover, you shouldn’t say, “had I been in your place”, say, “I noticed that during the annual event you seemed to have bulldozed your team and no one was quite happy see you do that.” This helps them see themselves more objectively and be critical of their behaviour. 

In your defense

Take into account your boss’ temperament and personality. You have got to be respectful of them, no matter the equation you share with them. They may get upset or hurt with your feedback even if you may have tried to be as careful as possible. Harsh Narula, Presales Consultant with Nagarro Software Private Ltd. says, “You know it is really a catch-22 situation for employees. We are expected to give a feedback to someone we report to. We have to be watchful of what escapes our tongue and constantly resist the temptation of turning the tables. I would say it is important to funnel our thoughts. As for me, fortunately, I have had bosses who have been extremely accommodating with feedback that comes their way. I wouldn’t say everyone is as lucky.” 

Don’t lie

It is a missed opportunity if you turn your back to feedback meeting or when you lie your way through the feedback session. Don’t sugar-coat words because you think it will get you promotion or just so they don’t become vindictive. You may think lying is better than receiving a backlash and losing your sleep for the rest of the time you will be working in the office with/under them, but it isn’t. You’re apprehensions are real, but give yourself the benefit of doubt.

Randomly soliciting feedback

Your boss might one day just walk up to you and ask for a feedback on something they are doing or about a colleague, but don’t immediately start digging your archive of experience. All they want to hear is a situational feedback and you have to be careful with words. Instead ask them what they specifically want to know and schedule a day and time to discuss it at length. This gives you a chance to be better prepared. 

When feedback is not welcome

Some organisations, however don’t welcome employees to give feedback. But, if your situation is dicey connect with your boss’s boss. Send an email asking for their time. Speak to them and make a request that they collate your feedback rather than just quoting you. 

Sharing feedback with your boss will demand some deep thought and preparation. When you do get a chance to speak, do so with empathy because you are only aware of half the situation. Your conversation with them should make them see you as an ally who is helping them to become a better boss. 

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Topics: #Culture, #Communication

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