What do I do now that the boss wants to collect more input after a 360?

He is scheduling a half-day workshop where he and all of his directs (5 including myself) can interact and he can get more input. We'll do various team-building exercises. One of which is sharing one thing we like about working each other (boss included) - and one thing that makes it difficult to work with each other (boss included). I have seen my boss eviscerate people who give him simple suggestions for improvement. He qualifies for the MT definition of angry and demeaning. He also holds a grudge - once you are in the enemy category, you're marked for life.

This is somewhat complicated by the format of our recent 360. This 360 was the third in the last year, but the first to be administered in person only. We provided no written input. We only spoke with an external executive coach. The executive coach is a licensed LCSW and he swore confidentiality on his license. The feedback was damning - very negative - and my boss received the "dirty dozen" - 12 recommendations for improving. My boss shared some - which was obvious to everyone in the room. Even he said he knew this about himself. In the very next meeting he continued his disturbing ways which were the subject of the "dirty dozen" and which he said he knew he needed to change. Now we are to have a workshop to discuss the "dirty dozen." I trust the anonymity, but my boss knows the input came from the group - I won't be able to sit silently or water-down my comments like I did last time. I'm sure we'll all have direct questions asked of us.

Now I am faced with a situation where enough people opened up (foolishly) in a 360 and we are all expected to share something in person, face-to-face. I don't think I can get away saying only watered-down versions of the truth.

What do I do at this workshop?

Kevin1's picture

Hi engineer76

I don't envy you.   It is hard to avoid when being asked point blank, face to face.

Firstly, I'd start making a list of all the good things you can say.  This may be difficult while thinking about the negatives, but it will really help if you can say some positive 'when you do X, it helps me to Y's.

When asked about negatives, I would be inclined to let others go first.  Once anything is out there, you can use that as a shield and say something like 'I don't have anything to add to what the others have said other than that I really haven't felt that strongly about the items that have been brought up.' or 'I know that I'm not privy to all the information that you know at your level so I generally accept you make decisions from a better position than myself.'   or 'I can't say that I've noticed that happening'  or 'It is not somethign that affects my work'.

I might also think about saying other things that could grow and develop the relationship and move the conversation tangentally - like 'sometimes, the more I know about your goals, the better I'm able to support you in achieving them'  This could redirect conversation into a more positive direction.

And I'd practice saying these out loud prior to the session.

hope that helps at least a little bit.


engineer76's picture

Just to let veryone know how this worked itself out...

My boss said he had "figured out who provided the negative input" and woudl be excluding them from future strategic meetings.  At the next strategic meeting he derided them as non-team players.  He dropped the idea of an off-site workshop.  He continued the same behaviors the 360 told him were negatively affecting his team; he just moved on not changing anything.

Oh - and then he was fired.

journeymen's picture

Hi engineer 76,

I totally understand where you are coming from and totally feel you in terms of voicing out your ideas to your boss. Sometimes it is difficult to say the truth because there will be an unforeseen backlash. On the other hand, like in your case, if the opinion is too watered down, the boss will not like it as well. This is a tough situation that you are being placed in. Personally, I have experienced similar issue too. It is really tough. However, it is not unresolvable.

If you would like to know how to deal with the situation or similar situation, feel free to click on the link: It will provide you with the necessary information:)

Great Manager Institute's picture

Ideally, your organization needs to indulge in anonymised surveys. Direct feedback is usually detrimental.

Anyway, since the damage is already done, we suggest a "Could it be me" method.

What you need to do is in front of your boss try to look into the mirror and examine your behaviour. We are sure you are convinced about your behaviour, but try to discuss with your boss whether there's a fault in you. Be willing to consider that you are the common denominator in things not working. Make sure you try to pose as if you are taking the blame and don't take the blame. After a point, your boss would realize it's his fault and would take the feedback seriously. He may not say this, but if he is smart he would understand that it's his fault, not yours.

We are sure you would see a change in his behaviour within a few months of this subtle hinting.

Do let us know if this makes sense to you. 

And next time encourage your HR to partner with organisations conducting an anonymised survey, otherwise, it beats the purpose. We at Great Manager Institute undertake the same as a part of the Great People Manager Study. Do check it.