Bottom-line: Do I give feedback on my boss and risk the chance of my boss taking anything negative badly?  Or not give feedback and be seen by upper management as unable to give adjusting feedback on people?  Or give something lame and look lame? 

I've been asked by my boss's boss for feedback.   I was told by someone else in the organization that there are people don't think my boss should have been put in the job and is not capable of doing it!   I think that's a little harsh because he doesn't control some things they blame him for.  They laid off one whole project group under my boss and just gave 1/3 of my boss's team to another manager.  BUT my boss seems to be really tight with his boss...  Several people have said he seems to be the favorite - until the recent shift in staff.

Until a few years back, I usually gave my top 2 things they did well and 2 things to improve with positive suggestions on actions.  I'd also cite specific examples for everything.  I had been told by Management above me that one of the ways they judge managers is on their ability to give good critical feedback. 

An added wrinkle is that the review scores are already set. The company does that before we actually do our reviews.  I personally solved this problem by asking people for feedback all through the year and doing quarterly reviews.


dhaidle's picture

I keep remembering an often repeated quote by Mark & Mike:  "Tell your boss (boss's boss) the truth and the truth shall set you free."




dhaidle's picture


  • Do nothing:  I always feel compelled to do something in this type of situation.  It is not like receiving feedback about one of my directs, which I can evaluate and do nothing with the feedback the feedback is not affecting effectiveness.
  • Slam your boss:  And the truth really sets you free.  This is almost like having a scathing exit interview. 
  • Write a politically correct, watered down review:  I see this all of the time, but it is not effective, which appears to be what you are struggling with as well.
  • Share whatever you write with both your boss and boss's boss (laying all cards on the table - but we are back to the truth setting you free).

There are a number of other factors that play into this as well:

  • Do you feel as you have the full intent of the request?  
  • Has your boss's boss provided guidelines for the feedback?  Such as, I would like to know how you feel about your boss's communication skills.
  • Do you have any feeling/assurance that the information you provide will be held in confidence?  (And if you have received assurances that your feedback is anonymous, do you believe it?)  At my current company, I actually have a great deal of trust in our evaluation methodologies, which includes anonymity.

Well, that is just a start.  I am interested in reading about other potential solutions.

Jason.T's picture
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I had a similar situation not to long ago. I did provide both positive and negative feedback. There are things my boss does well and definitely things that he can improve upon (can't we all).

There is no way to help people develop unless feedback is given. If it's done in a professional manner, focused on behaviors and potential solutions it should be safe, although there are not guarantees. 

mmann's picture
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It appears to me you're facing a pseudo 360 review.  The 360 Reviews - Providing Input cast should give you your answer. 

My $0.02:  In your situation there's obviously no anonymity.  I suggest you identify a handful of the excellent things your boss does and detail them in your response.  Keep in mind that ~90% of what your boss does is probably positive for the organization. 

If asked about weaknesses reply with something to the effect of, "Hmm... I'm sure he has them, but I don't dwell on whatever they may be.  I find it more productive to enhance his strengths."

  Good luck!

TomW's picture
Training Badge

I'm with Michael.

Telling your boss everything you don't like won't get you anywhere but the unemployment line. Telling your boss the things that you DO like could serve to tell your boss ways that you like to be managed. Remember: 90% positive and 10% negative feedback for your directs. If you've been doing that, you probably have lots of practice finding posistives.