How to Get Great Feedback from a Reluctant Boss
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Specify the feedback topics you want to hear about Make it easy to get going by asking for feedback about something specific:
“Can you give me some pointers on how I can improve my report in the weekly project meeting?”
“Can we meet for a few minutes about the X project?”
“Since I’m preparing myself to take on a whole project next time, can you give me some feedback on the finance piece?”
“I’d really like to improve in generating more sales leads. Can you give me some tips?”
All of these are openings for your boss to give you feedback and your requests will make it easier and safer to climb out of their bunker of feedback avoidance.
During the feedback discussion, ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand and offer specific ideas on how to act on the feedback your boss provided. Make a plan for some actions you plan to take, based on the new insights.
Make every effort to use and appreciate the feedback Even if you disagree with the feedback, take some extra time to inquire further before arguing with the feedback. Remain aware of the fact that this is really an opening for better overall communication with your boss, not a point-by-point debate of who is right about the feedback topic. If you can find an ounce of wisdom in your boss’s feedback, bring out how you see it as helpful and show appreciation for it.
Apply the feedback and then follow up a day or a week later about how you are applying the feedback. Feel free to ask for more advice as you move forward with some changes.
If the feedback seems crazy or wrong Ask more questions to clarify the advice within the first conversation. If you are concerned about the consequences of the change, express your concern in a non-defensive way. “Sounds like I need to call more sales prospects within the same company. I’ll give it a try, but I’m concerned that their whole team has already decided against a new purchase, and I should branch out…” Or “I’ve been reluctant to do X in the past because of Y. Can you explain our rationale here for going in that direction?”
Make every effort to keep your cool. If you show anger or irritation, you may blow up your boss’s willingness to engaged in feedback conversations with you in the future.
Read The Feedback Imperative for more information on how to give great feedback!