WORKING ABROAD / APR. 15, 2016
version 8, draft 8

How to Give Constructive Feedback to a Toxic Boss

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There are two main kinds of bosses. Bosses who are leaders, and bosses who are dictators. Those who are leaders make it easy for their employees to approach them, talk to them about their concerns and generally encourage an open dialogue.

See Also: How to Respond to a Crazy Idea From Your Boss

There’s no need to explain what dictators do, just look at Hitler. Unfortunately, loads of them fit into this category.

Have you ever tried to give feedback to an evil boss? If you have, you know that it is both a waste of time and in extreme cases may be the reason you lost your job. If you haven’t tried it yet, you are lucky. Read the following tips you can use when giving feedback to your toxic boss. The first and most important thing you need to do is arrange a face-to-face meeting and then apply the following strategies.

Before The Meeting

Acknowledge Your Role

Take a moment to think about your contribution to the issue. Have you done anything that may have added to the tension in some way (your attitude or silence)? Have you distorted any facts? Did you let your emotional state influence your work? Try to be as honest as possible with yourself and acknowledge your role in this issue.

Identify Your Desired Outcome

Try to think about what you would like to achieve with this conversation. Do you want to just make your manager aware of what is going on? Do you want them to change their attitude? Or do you want them to apologize to you? If you know what your desired outcome is then, it will be easier for you to have a constructive conversation.

During The Meeting

Reassure Them

Usually, bosses aren’t truly aware of what the problem is. However, bear in mind that managers may act the way they do (defensively, angrily or even aggressively) because they may feel threatened, i.e., they feel like you are challenging their competence, authority or ability to manage the team. So, to make them feel relaxed reassure them of your actual intentions for the face-to-face interaction. You could say something like these:

  • Reassure them that you respect them and their position of authority
  • Inform them that there is something that has been affecting your abilities to perform at your very best
  • Reinforce your wish for a stronger and more positive working relationship with your boss

Neutral Observations.

No one likes to be blamed, and the worst thing you could do in these meetings is start off the meeting with full-scale accusations and negative conclusions. So, what you should do is start off this meeting by describing your boss’s impact on your work before even sharing how this has affected you. Stick to neutral observations only for now.

Summarize

Try to always keep your cool during the meeting because if it is an emotionally-charged discussion, this may cloud you and your boss’s judgement. Try to maintain a calm atmosphere of respect and ensure that both you and your boss’s views are heard. Don’t forget to summarize everything that was said and talk about what has been resolved, what remains to be resolved and what needs to be done to achieve a positive outcome.

After The Meeting

Be Thankful

Always say thank you after the meeting, no matter the outcome - this will show your professionalism and general respectful attitude.

Follow Up, If Necessary

If there wasn’t a satisfactory conclusion to this meeting, or if there are still things that need to be discussed make sure to arrange a follow-up meeting to re-examine the issues and hopefully reach a mutual agreement.

See Also: Is it Ever a Good Idea to Get Friendly with the Boss?

Do you have any other tips on how to give feedback to a toxic, evil, bad, whatever you may call it, boss? Let us know below…

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