Most of us don’t like our bosses. Getting a good boss is nothing short of a miracle. Your boss is like your family – you really don’t have a choice there. So, what do you do when you have a difficult boss? Of course, one part of you wants to storm into his cabin and give him a piece of your mind. But, what if he fires you after that?
It is not what you say, but the way you say it matters. I know this sounds cliché, but it is true. Just a little bit of sugar coating never hurt anyone. So, how do you go about telling your boss that he is awful?
It is not very difficult. You just have to be tactful. Here are a few tips that could help you.
Know when to talk
There is always a time for everything. Don’t rush into things. If you just barge into your boss’ cabin and demand an audience and then start berating him, you’ll be out of the office quicker than you can say ‘unfair’.
You need to take a number of things into consideration before you decide to give your boss feedback, the most important being his mood. You never know if he has come to office after a huge argument with his wife. Gauge his mood. Even if he does enter in a foul mood, his mood will change for the better if he sees everything going on smoothly. When everything’s going fine, he’ll be open to suggestions and negative feedback.
The lesser, the better
One important thing about negative feedback is that it has to be short to be effective. Keep it as short as you can without missing out on getting the message across clearly. It’ll help to write down the points before you go and meet him. If you are giving feedback over an email, use bullet points. If you are talking over the phone, keep the written points handy. If you are giving the feedback in person, go carefully through your points before you go and face him. Don’t give a lot of details. If your boss cares enough, he will ask you for them. Then you can go ahead and give the details.
Lessen the impact
Whenever possible, intersperse you negative comments with positive ones. When you say, “You give me so much work that I can’t take it anymore”, you could also add something like “I love my work. I am happy doing what I am doing. But it does get too much most of the time”. But you don’t have to get overtly emotional about the positive points. You could add points about why you like working for the company and how you find the work challenging and riveting. He’ll like to hear things like that.
Remember – It is not a blame game
Well, in a manner it is. But, essentially, it is about you not liking certain aspects and finding certain aspects to be very daunting. State the problem you are facing, not what everyone else is also facing. If all of you are facing the same problems, then let them go and do the talking. You talk from your perspective and how the problem is affecting you. Also, don’t blame your boss. That does not display a good character. I am not being judgmental here, but that’s the way it is. Instead of saying, “You think I am competent enough to do challenging work”, say “I need work that is more challenging”. This is, of course, an example.
Know what you are talking about
If, by way of giving feedback, you wish to suggest some new methods of working, then you’ll have to first think of a lot of factors. You’ll have to consider whether the new method will actually work in that organization, and what changes will be required to maintain it. You’ll also have to take into account the fact that maybe this organization does not have systems that will adapt to the new method. Just because it worked somewhere else, does not mean it’ll work here. After all, what cures Martha may make Mario sick.
Practice what you preach
Before suggesting anything, try to do it yourself and see if it works. If you have a wonderful idea that’ll enhance productivity, do it yourself first. When your boss notices your increased productivity, he’ll ask you himself. If the idea is complex, chalk out a plan before you go and meet your boss.
Your word is not etched in stone
You might have some brilliant ideas and suggestions. But don’t expect them to be accepted like it’s the cure for cancer. Be ready for any rejections that your ideas may face. It is not a sure event (statistically speaking), but neither is it an impossible event. Being prepared will help you not feel extremely bad about rejections. Be a sport. You might come up with a better suggestion next time!
You don’t have to take things lying down, but you also need to proceed with caution. Your relationship with your boss is always a very sensitive area. Do try out these tips and let us know!
Sajan works for Jombay, a job site in India that helps job seekers find the right kind of employment opportunities.