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I was recently asked by my boss to give feedback, or more accurately ratings, on 18 management competencies (e.g. Action Oriented, Delegation, Planning, and Communication Skills). I am to rate him on each competency as either a S - Strength, E - Effective, N - Needs Improvement or X - Not Able to Assess and to provide comments on why I rated him the way I did.

While my boss and I get along quite well and I believe the request is well intentioned, we have only worked together about a year so I am really not sure of how he will take the feedback. I do believe he could improve in several of the areas but I don't want to seem pretentious in giving him that feedback (he is, after all, the boss).

Thoughts? Comments? Advice?

juliahhavener's picture

I'm not sure I like the ratings, but I suspect the intention is good. I ask my team members frequently for feedback, though definitely not in the formal, written manner he's requesting.

What's the purpose of the exercise? Is he working on development opportunities for himself? Is it an annual request as part of the review process? Have you discussed it at all? I think I'd want a better understanding of what HE is looking for before I went anywhere.

jwyckoff's picture

To quote Mark --

"Tell your boss the truth, and the truth will set you free"

In short -- beware. You should use your judgment on what you want tell your boss, it could come back to bite you.

James Gutherson's picture

Is this something he initiated himself or is it something driven from higher up? If it was his idea I would think that he was really looking for some honest feedback - if however it was something he was told to do form his boss/hr I would be much more nervous about his level of engagement and his readyness for (any) feedback.

jhack's picture

Jim's right: if this is from HR or his boss(es), you're in a tough spot.

If it's just him, try to provide feedback in a different way. How about a list of behaviors (related to each of Action Oriented, Delegation, etc)? For each, you identify one thing that you would like to see him "do more of in the future"

You'll avoid talking about the past (dangerous!) and weaknesses (very dangerous!). It's all positive, and it's all about future.

John

rthibode's picture

My boss asked for something similar when she was enroled in a leadership course. All the staff were asked to complete it, and it was anonymous. Even with these protections in place, most of us felt it was difficult to criticize her. After it was over, my boss mentioned the results only in a roundabout way, to defend a skill on which she'd earned a low score. I didn't note any changes in her behaviour over the long term.

WillDuke's picture

Tough spot. I agree with others that I'd try to feel him out a little more before committing myself.

Then I'd probably stick with mostly S and E. I'd be real careful with the N.

Trust your instincts on this one, you have a year's worth of data you have collected. Your subconscious is trying to tell you something. :)

asteriskrntt1's picture

I would be pretty frightened. Do you have any evidence or pattern of his receiving feedback over the year you worked for him? How did he react during those times? Or when his bosses gave him some negative information? I suspect if he acted poorly after those incidents, he will act worse receiving "feedback" from those below him.

*RNTT

James Gutherson's picture

I just had a thought - it is possible that he is quite enlightened and possibly a Drucker reader or MT listener :wink: . Have you tried tossing around a few terms like 'O3' 'the trinity' etc and see if you get any reaction? (I do this on occasion)

Mark's picture

Unless I knew it was truly an organizational effort, or that I trusted him completely, I would be cautious. If I felt I HAD to respond and I couldn't be sure, I would water the negatives down.

Doesn't anyone else find it fascinating that SOMEONE'S DIRECT HAS BEEN WORKING FOR THEM FOR A YEAR AND IS STILL NOT COMFORTABLE WITH GIVING THEM FEEDBACK?

THIS IS HOW YOUR DIRECTS FEEL ABOUT YOU.

Mark

Mark's picture

Let me also add something based on rthibode's comment above.

When your boss is sent to an external course, and he or she asks for input, and many are asked, you can be reasonably sure that you are protected, and NOW is the time to be honest.

I recently worked with an executive - at the other end of the spectrum from rthibode's boss - who asked for and got detailed feedback (I know because he asked me, and then showed me (and everyone else) his report). He used it as one "should", and for him, it was such good feedback I told him to stop looking at the one or two areas he could do better in.

I hope no one reads cynicism into my comments about feedback to bosses. I'm an inveterate optimist...but I know bosses, too.

And...when it's an outside source, and widely requested, and anonymity guaranteed, be honest.

Mark