Give effective feedback to your boss

Giving feedbackRemember that feedback should travel up the ladder as well as down, because even bosses need to hear how they’re doing.

Giving effective feedback to your boss can be tricky, so here are some tips from experts on how you can do it well.

Ask if the boss wants feedback. Doing this creates an invitation rather than you just throwing out unsolicited advice, says Valerie Streif, a senior adviser with Mentat, a job search and mentoring firm. Phrase your feedback so it’s clearly you expressing your opinion, and don’t speak on behalf of other employees.

Be on your manager’s side. Be kind and present yourself as trying to help, not criticize, says Dawn Rasmussen, president of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services. “Saying something that puts them into the driver’s seat and not in a defensive posture is always a smart move,” she says. “That means you have to manage up by taking the lead in the conversation.” For example, say to your boss, “I’m sure you’ve thought of this, but have you considered xyz?”

Find out the goals and frustrations of your manager. Know what your boss is trying to achieve in the organization or what problems he’s dealing with, and tie your feedback to those things, says David Naylor, executive vice president for global leadership and learning development with 2logical, a leadership development firm.

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“By doing this, inherently the manager becomes less defensive because they can see how the feedback will help them achieve what they need to achieve,” he says.