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I'm looking for advice on how to deal with a boss who doesn't agree that there is no why in feedback.  Whenever she doesn't like something (which is most of the time) she tries to be helpful by asking why I (or somebody else) did something or didn't do something etc.

I would characterize her as somewhere between angry and annoyed. The "my boss is angry"-cast gives the advice to stay calm and agree but what do I respond when she asks me why I did something? "Because I was stupid" is generally what she seems to think but it's not a very satisfying answer. To lay out my entire rationale isn't either. 

Any advice or questions for clarification are be very appreciated. What's an effective way to deal with the "why?"?

AppleJack's picture

Even though I give Manager Tools feedback, I find myself having to resist asking why: generally it is because I do not understand why someone would behave in a way that is so counter to their intent or our department's goals. The why is for the direct to reflect on, only if it helps them solve how they can do different and better next time.

You haven't mentioned whether or not your manager follows manager tools feedback model or does O3s. So I'm guessing that they don't and don't know there is know why in feedback. However, when your boss is giving you "feedback" and asks "Why?" -- what they are really asking is "what could you do better next time? Just acknowledge the feedback and let them know that you will do better. If you can be specific about how you will do better -- that may be what they are really looking for.

 

buhlerar's picture

Respond  with an action plan (framed as "what went wrong and what I'll do next time to make sure it doesn't happen again").  It's a legitimate question from this perspective, and helps focus on the future.  If you join your boss in focusing on the past, the whole discussion will be unsatisfying because you can't change what happened and you'll sound defensive and full of excuses.  So respond with an action plan.

rwwh's picture

Whatever you do, do not try to change your boss. As you write, she is "trying to be helpful". Be fair to yourself, you did not do it "because you are stupid". You probably did what you did with the best of intentions. If you phrase those intentions, your boss may be able to tell you why it did not work, and that can help you take better decisions in the future.