Giving Constructive Criticism to Your Boss: Do It Right

Getting feedback is an excellent way for employees to know if they are doing their job well or if there are things they should improve on and as an employee, giving one to our colleagues is easy because you get to work with them every day and you have the same rank as them.

But, it is quite different when it’s your boss that you need to give feedback or constructive criticism. There is the fear that whatever you say to them can be used against you, carry some kind of vendetta against you, or they will ignore it completely. However, even bosses can benefit from feedback to help with the workplace’s operations and foster good relations with their team.

Don’t know where to start? Here are some tips on how you can give constructive criticism to your boss:

Give The Feedback In The Right Place And At The Right Time

Whether you are giving feedback to a colleague or your boss, it is vital that you time your feedback and know where to speak to them about it. In this case, you can talk to your boss about your input during your one-on-ones, performance reviews and even after the meetings.

These times will allow your boss to digest the feedback you are giving and double-check the feedback they received from other employees.

Practice Your Feedback

If you find it scary to provide feedback, why not practice or develop your feedback before meeting up with your boss?

Start by setting your feedback based on your observations and supporting facts before following with your criticism using the same observations and facts. It is essential that your tone is professional and not personal because it may sound like you are attacking the boss rather than giving them what they need to improve.

Seek Their Position Or Side

Sometimes, your boss’ actions may be driven by their beliefs or initiatives that you may not be aware of. When you give them your feedback, ask them about their position or side so you can determine what motivated them to act a certain way. This can also lead to a discussion that will confirm that everyone understands the situation and that the feedback is well-received.

However, you must be prepared that there is certain information that your boss may not be able to share with you as it may be sensitive and confidential.

Offer Solutions

You can also speak to your boss by giving them constructive solutions. This will show your boss that you want to help them be better and improve the team dynamic. Work through those solutions with your boss and show them how and why you came up with them.

Provide Positive Feedback

You can also give them positive feedback to show your boss that they did an excellent job leading the team. You can cite even the most minor things like leading the team throughout the project or giving you more time so you won’t feel stressed regarding the project.

In Other Words…

If you find it scary to give feedback to your boss, it’s perfectly normal, but you can get past this fear by trying the tips above. Remember, a true leader will look upon criticism (good or bad) as a testament that there is open communication within the team and be appreciative that someone is willing to provide constructive feedback.

Every person in the team can benefit from constructive criticism, even the bosses. Without constant feedback, it can be challenging for anyone to improve and progress, including the bosses.

Do you have a difficult boss? There are effective ways to deal with them without losing your job, and here’s how:
How to Deal with a Bad Boss
How to Stop the Boss from Sabotaging You
Is Your Boss Difficult to Please

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. Gregoryno6 says:

    I’m sure you won’t be surprised, Kally, that I know a thing or two about constructive criticism to the boss done the wrong way.
    I saved it for the end of my resignation letter, when I called him a dangerous idiot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Wah you’ve got balls!!! I haven’t done this to a boss yet. Maybe I’m too timid or maybe I haven’t met a bigger idiot than yours.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gregoryno6 says:

        This was a national company, too, so the letter had to go through several layers of administration. Safe to say that word got around.


  2. Keith says:

    Kally, this is a great post. It is an old story that successful single contributors are promoted into a managerial role, one that they don’t really like doing nor take the time to be good at it. The best thing for a subordinate to do is manage up. Here is an example someone shared with me which is brilliant. After experiencing her boss’ inability to tell her effectively what she needed to do, she would set-up fifteen-minute blocks on his calendar a couple of times a week to ask questions and share progress. The manager loved this because it helped him give the proper instruction and problems were managed or avoided.

    Most managers do not realize they need to spend time preparing work for others to make the task at hand clear. This helps the doer learn how to do. The managing up example is an excellent way to get the manager to be better at his or her job.



  3. Dragthepen says:

    Great information 👍


  4. newwhitebear says:

    Right! We need to offer solutions and not problems. He knows the problems, but he doesn’t know the solutions.


  5. Seoul Sister says:

    Great post, Kally. I believe that I was unfairly terminated because I gave constructive criticism to my boss. I complained that I didn’t think staff were supported/advocated for with angry patrons who were constantly threatening us. One said he’d come to the library with a gun to kill us but she dismissed it saying it was “hearsay”. That’s just one incident. Anyway it became a heated but professional conversation. I listed the occurrences, backed up the information and I think she felt humiliated with the reality of what I was saying. Within 3 hrs they terminated me, forced me out of the building (in the middle of my shift) in front of colleagues and the public. I’ve never been fired my entire life. They claimed I was being fired for not complying with their illegal vax mandate. They refused my religious exemption for no reason. Why was I the only one to be humiliated out of the building? They could’ve waited for my shift to end. I wasn’t a threat to them, why have me escorted out by security? I should’ve sued them but I didn’t since I was moving out of state to escape the mandates. Oakland Public Library has certain terrible upper management that repeatedly fire people that they simply dislike. I guess I should’ve asked her why she implemented decisions as you mentioned but I think this woman couldn’t stand any kind of criticism. Thank you for writing this post. Sorry for my long rant.


  6. I have found that when constructive criticism if given to those in management (even when it is asked for) they do not accept as truth and tell me I have a bad attitude! Ugh!


  7. I always start with positive and then improvement later which works best. Great post Kaly! 💖


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