One boss discusses ways to give candid feedback to an ineffective manager—and how it can be an essential skill to promote productivity and grow a career.
- Incorrectly navigating the critique of a manager can result in a blow to the worker’s career path or losing a job altogether.
- The correct way to approach a boss about an issue can be an invaluable skill.
- Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei gives some insight into approaching an ineffective superior.
- Employees should approach their manager with specific information in mind, provide workable solutions, and give the boss a chance to implement change.
Why it’s news
Having an ineffective manager in charge can be frustrating, but more importantly, it can hamper an employee’s effectiveness or his ability to move forward in a career. Depending on the boss, this can increase employee stress and create an unhealthy work environment.
VanderHei looks back on his career and gives a guideline based on his own experience. As a young journalist, he explains, he once approached a superior with a complaint. However, he says the meeting was impulsive, unplanned, and too personal. His poorly planned meeting yielded no results.
Looking back, VanderHei emphasizes the need to plan out a meeting before approaching a superior with a complaint
- First, sit down before and think through the root cause of the issue before trying to come up with a solution.
- Additionally, speak to a mentor or other trusted person to get another perspective. Ideally, this person is not involved with the company.
- Next, be sure to write out the complaint. Looking at something on paper can help streamline thoughts and make a more cohesive argument.
After carefully planning the meeting, how an employee presents himself to the manager is just as important.
- One of the most critical aspects, VanderHei says, is to avoid leveling accusations at the manager. An accusatory tone can put a boss on the defensive rather than allowing for collaboration.
- A simple complaint is not the best way to approach the problem. Providing solutions or alternatives to the current way of doing things can yield better results, VanderHei says.
- An employee should also express a willingness to participate in the solution, not just sit back and complain.
After the initial meeting, an employee may not immediately see a change. There are a few things to consider if the problem remains after the first discussion.
- Follow-up meetings after the manager has had an opportunity to digest the information can give the worker insight into how open the boss may be to change. At this point, the employee should be able to get a strong sense of whether or not their suggestions will be accepted.
- Even if a superior does not make an immediate change, the employee should give the manager time to adjust. Change takes time, and workers should exercise some patience. However, VanderHei says a gentle reminder would not be out of line if there is no progress after a while.
- Even after following all of these steps, change may not occur. In that case, VanderHei says, it may be time to consider other work opportunities, depending on how severe the issue is. Otherwise, the employee will have to find a way to be content with the status quo.
Effective leaders will be open to suggestions and criticism, even if they reject them. Of course, an employee must also be prepared for a manager who does not take feedback or criticism well. Properly preparing for the meeting can be a safeguard against this. Carefully avoiding accusatory language can facilitate a more productive conversation.