Don’t Be A Bad Boss

Fact #1: Effective feedback can lead to happier employees.

Fact #2: You don’t need to be a “bad boss” to shudder at the thought of giving negative feedback to an employee.

Let’s talk about feedback.

The only way to be a good boss is to have been a good employee – but it’s not too late to be that good boss! Think back to your worst supervisor ever. Whenever they gave you criticism, it felt like one of many attacks, right? As a result, your work suffered, and so did you. The effects are multiplied if you worked for several bosses over the years. Funny enough, the “bad bosses” of the group end up being the ones you remember most vividly. These bosses leave a lasting impression of what not to do when it comes to delivering criticism.

As a boss, giving effective feedback is to strike a very delicate balance between directly conveying your point without making your employee feel defensive. Feedback is necessary to create lasting change, and it does not always have to be unpleasant.


Russ is an imaginary boss (and, simultaneously, an incredibly useful mnemonic device) to help you remember some tips to giving feedback effectively at your next performance review.

  • Relate: Take the time to see the situation from your employee’s point of view. Doing so will help you frame the comments in a useful way. Remember – mistakes are almost always accidents, and the behavior was probably not intentional.
  • Use facts: Gather details regarding what happened. This way, the feedback is less personal because you have hard facts to back it up.
  • Specify: For feedback to be useful, explain how the behavior affects other employees or the company. If the behavior breaks a rule or policy, explain why your company or organization instituted the guidelines in the first place.
  • Solve: As you wrap up the discussion, state what you hope the outcome will be, and seek your employee’s input. By being involved and taking ownership of the solution, your employee is more likely to accept the feedback and feel less defensive because you are asking them for input as well.

This tip was adapted from an article by Vicki Anderson as it appeared in The Temple Group’s newsletter, Preventive HR.

Are you dealing with a lousy boss yourself? Click to read Theresa’s article, How to Build a Relationship With a Boss You Hate.

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