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Submitted by regas14 on


Perhaps a better question is should it be done and should I attempt it.

I must begin by pointing out that I am not a manager (yet!) and the person I am referring to is a peer. This individual has a significant strength in terms of understanding the technical details of the products we manufacture and sell. This individual is also very disciplined and regimented in their consistent application of processes and systems for addressing the day-to-day requirements of the job.

The problem is this person's approach with team members and general lack of professionalism has all but eliminated their credibility costing our team the benefit of applying and learning from their strengths to our work. They talk down to team members, attempt to exercise authorities they clearly do not have, and frequently turn meetings and conversations into a power-play. It seems the problem is being ignored or at the very least allowed to continue.

If this person reported to me, I could overtly provide feedback and coaching. As a peer, with whom I have a decent relationship despite their behaviors, I cannot overtly take on a coaching/feedback process without invitation. Does the feedback model still work? Is it "galactically" stupid of me to try and address this?

ctomasi's picture

My quick suggestion... take it to their manager. Provide them with some feedback about the issue and ways you might want to approach it (without sounding like you're telling him how to do his job.)

It's always best to let a manager deal with these situations rather than a peer.

HRmgr's picture

I think the feedback model absolutely does work peer to peer IF the recipient is open to the feedback. I'd also suggest providing feedback only on those behaviors that you have observed & been on the receiving end of. Saying "hey, I heard you really upset Susan the other day" wouldn't be effective - even if you used the framework of the feedback model - because you'd likely be viewed as "tattling" or "meddling" or worse.

I would actually counsel against going to the person's supervisor for a few reasons: 1) it could backfire very easily & the mgr could tell this person that so and so approached me on such & such an issue and damage your relationship further- I know my first question would be "why didn't you come to me first before going to my boss?" Do unto others... 2)you don't know what the supervisor may already be addressing with this individual and, to be perfectly blunt, it really isn't your business.

Your job is to add value and achieve your performance objectives - to the extent that this behavior is impacting your ability to do so and/or to the extent that you have a good relationship with the person, by all means offer the feedback. If not - focus on your own stuff. :)

akinsgre's picture

I had considered using the feedback model for some peers, and my own boss.

However, the last part of the feedback model, asking for improvement, doesn't seem subtle enough for peers or managers.

Does anyone agree? If so, how about some alternative ways to provide feedback in those situations?

Greg Akins

bflynn's picture

[quote="akinsgre"]However, the last part of the feedback model, asking for improvement, doesn't seem subtle enough for peers or managers.

Does anyone agree? If so, how about some alternative ways to provide feedback in those situations?[/quote]

Greg - I think you're onto something - giving feedback horizontally or up the chain is something that probably needs a different ending. I've only thought about this briefly - but it seems to me that you need to suggest action rather than ask for/demand it. I'm thinking something on the order of:

"When you(we) behavior / this is the result. I really think something needs to be done differently. Do you agree?"

Even softer would be to describe the behavior/result. Then ask a couple of questions that only have one answer and lead to the conclusion you want. I believe that probably takes a good deal of reflection, but if you're trying to manage your boss this way, its probably best to step very carefully anyway. The downside of this is that your boss might not remember where the idea came from and will think it was their idea to begin with. But, I guess that if you get the behavior you want, who cares where it came from.


ctomasi's picture


Thanks for the info. Looks like I'm showing my lack of experience again. :oops:

MikeK's picture

I'll give a bit of advice that has worked for me in the past in giving feedback to a boss that was generally NOT very receptive or open to change.

I would use the feedback model but instead of asking what they could do to change, I would simple ask, "Can you please consider if there is anything that can be done to improve this." Often the feedback portion had involved comments or hurt feelings to other team members and I noticed it so the feedback was neccessary.

Once this had been delivered, at the time and leaving it in my bosses hands felt like a cop out, but I would then follow up (in a one on one if you have them, I didn't with my boss) and ask if they had thought about it any more. I would not ask what they were or were not going to do, simply, "Have you thought about it." I found that it either led to some committment (or discussion at least) or other times it had been forgotten and then was a good reminder of what the problem was.

This way, I didn't have to ask for any change but it was still effective. Hope that might work for you as well.

Mark's picture
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Great question!

First, NO, you cannot covertly coach anyone. Or, if you do, don't use our name with whatever you're doing. :wink:

I've been waiting to talk about peer feedback for a long time. I've been hoping someone would figure it out, but now's good.

The feedback model for peers is just the existing model... [b]without step 4.[/b]

That's it. "Hey, can I share something with you? When you say what you said there like that, it kind of irritates us. Some of us feel put down, and sometimes you take us on tangents and we don't finish our work."

I don't include their boss, ever, unless the situation was egregious, and it's VERY situationally dependent. (Chuck, your comment was based on the fact that you'd be cool if someone came to you, and you'd handle it well. Trust me, you're different.)

Sure, make it private. Or, even better, just take them aside at the end of a meeting, and quietly say something with others around so only they can hear. It will come across more casually.

Walk away with an attitude of, "hey, just thought you'd want to know, no big deal."

Works beautifully.