Working closely with someone gives you a valuable insight to that person’s performance, and that can be particularly true of your boss.  But knowing when to, when not to and also how to give feedback to your boss can be tricky because of the potential risks involved and doing it badly could damage your relationship.

Here are five invaluable tips to help you decide when to share your insights and when to keep quiet.

  1. Be clear whether or not your boss’ behaviour impacts your performance.  Your Boss may have some annoying behaviours but is their behaviour materially affecting your performance?  If they are then you have a legitimate reason to discuss it with them, if not – keep quiet!
  2. Wait or ask for permission. Don’t launch into a list of things that your Boss could do better. Given the nature of the relationship, it is better to wait to be asked for feedback first or alternatively enquire whether or not your Boss would like to receive some feedback.
  3. Focus on the benefits for them.  Simply giving feedback that focuses on how their behaviour impacts on you will make you look like a whinging employee. Instead focus on giving feedback that will ultimately help them to be more successful (as well as helping you!).
  4. Avoid telling them what you would do if you were boss.  No one likes a smart Alec. Stick to the facts and show how your feedback will help them to improve their performance.
  5. When in doubt don’t. If you don’t think your Boss will be receptive to the feedback, or the time perhaps isn’t right or if they have been known to lash out at constructive criticism, then you are better off keeping quiet. Find other anonymous ways (e.g. using staff surveys, 360° feedback etc.) to give your feedback.