asked to give feedback on my manager’s performance

A reader writes:

I’ve encountered a sticky situation. I have been at my current job for about 8 months and it’s time for everyone’s annual review. I’ve been asked by the director of my organization (my boss’s boss) to provide written feedback on my boss. This feedback is meant to be used in my boss’s annual review. In theory, it seems like a potentially useful opportunity to improve the organization. However, in practice, I’m not sure if it’s possible to do it gracefully.

A little bit of context: The director and my boss have worked together for many years and are good friends. However, I have a tense working relationship with my boss, as do many people in the organization, and my boss has been asked to attend additional management training based on previous feedback. From what I’ve witnessed, my boss does not handle criticism well. Given our tense relationship and my status as a relatively new employee, I’m extremely reluctant to do anything that might make our relationship more challenging, such as providing criticism of my boss. I am especially reluctant to do so in writing to someone who is apparently my boss’s good friend. The director has promised that my comments will be kept anonymous, but I am the only person my boss supervises, so I am not sure that my comments will be truly anonymous. Other staff members have told me that they have given feedback that was used directly in their bosses’ performance reviews and so it did not remain anonymous.

So, I have a couple of questions: (1) Is it common to be asked to give feedback on your boss to his or her boss? (2) What should I do? I don’t feel like I can give much positive feedback (and indeed, I am job hunting as a result of this difficult relationship with my boss). But I feel like simply giving a positive review, which is what several of my coworkers have suggested, would be a lie. I really just want to decline to respond, but then don’t want to be seen as difficult or “not a team player.” What are your thoughts?

Good organizations will solicit feedback on how their managers are doing, but there are a few problems with how this one is doing it: First, it would be better if your boss’s boss sat down and talked with you, rather than asking you to put it in writing — which is notorious for making people balk at giving candid feedback. She should realize that she’s more likely to get candid thoughts if she simply talks with you.

Second, they’re apparently telling you it will be kept anonymous, when in practice they’re not quite handling it that way. It’s probably “anonymous” in that they’re not attaching people’s names to their comments, but it doesn’t sound anonymous in terms of what actually happens — it’s presented in a way that makes it pretty clear where it came from. A more effective way of doing this would be for your boss’s boss to use the feedback to inform her thinking and synthesize it into her overall take on how your boss manages, rather than to just quote from it.

Alternately, another path is for the organization (and your boss’s boss) to give managers very, very clear messages about the importance of getting candid feedback from the people they manage, and the organization’s support for that feedback process and intolerance of any weirdness from your manager toward employees as a result. That’s a trickier path, but it can be a really effective one when it’s done right.

In any case, as for what you should do … If you’d actually like to give real feedback, one option is to say you’d be more comfortable doing it in person. But whether you should give honest feedback or not really depends on your knowledge of (a) your boss and how she operates, and (b) your boss’s boss and how she operates. If your boss is known to be reasonable and capable of handling feedback like an adult, and if her boss is known to be reasonable and capable of handling sensitive information delicately, then you might want to (assuming that you’re at least somewhat motivated to try to improve things, either for yourself or the organization). But if either of those factors is absent, I wouldn’t. (And in that case, you could simply give a small amount of bland feedback or just say nothing specific comes to mind.)

And I wouldn’t feel guilty if that’s your decision either — organizations that get useful feedback from employees are the ones who are thoughtful about creating the conditions where employees can safely give it. If they don’t bother to, it’s not your burden to take on.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 53 comments… read them below }

  1. Ms Enthusiasm*

    I think we have a great process where I work. A manager can sign up to get “360 degree Feedback”. It is a survey (I think they might even use Survey Monkey). The survey can be sent to anyone and everyone the manager interacts with or used to interact with. This includes current employees, past employees, peers, their boss, etc. The results are completely confidential and are summarized so no one response stands out. Managers volunteer to have this done because they want the feedback.

    1. Cruella Da Boss*

      I’ve been burned by the “annonymous” Survey Monkey feedback survey. Out of the 20+ members of my department, they knew I was the only one that didn’t take it!

    2. Anon*

      You also want to make sure your writing style isn’t too unique. If you have easily identifiable phrases, then you aren’t all that anonymous either.

  2. Victoria*

    Ms. Enthusiasm, I was just about to recommend the same thing. I’ve never done a 360 review (and I’d LOVE to), so the only hesitation I have is about the level of confidentiality, given that this manager only has one direct report.

    I suppose the OP could write her review in ways that wouldn’t identify her as a direct report (i.e., “Lakiasha doesn’t seem to have a good handle on how long it takes to move a project forward” rather than “Laskiasha gives me too much work and won’t help me prioritize.”

    1. Anonymous*

      Even with an organisational structure which fans out more rapidly, leaking information in the text is going to be a huge problem. If you start mentioning specific incidents, the list of possible authors will fall rapidly.

  3. Jamie*

    I really love the idea of a 360 review, done properly. I’ve never been part of an organization that used them, though.

    In the past I’ve had peer comments brought up in my performance review, but in smaller offices it’s pretty easy to discern who said what. Fortunately it was all positive, but probably not as candid because of the impossibility of real anonymity.

    As much as I love the idea in theory, I would be wary. Office politics being what they are at many places, people using them to grind axes and others retaliating, even if it’s covertly, wouldn’t be unheard of. Given the situation you described, I would put anything negative in writing.

    This is why some companies use external firms to conduct these. Because they can do what Alison suggested and summarize the compiled data in a way that presents the ideas without the identifying details.

    1. Jamie*

      *”Given the situation you described, I wouldn’t put anything negative in writing.”

  4. Student*

    The extreme cynic in me says that you should look at the feedback less in terms of an ethics/teamplayer issue, and more from a pure business perspective. And, when I say a business perspective, I refer to the business transaction where you come to work and your employer pays you. What does your employer want out of the feedback mechanism from you, and what do you stand to gain as an employee from participating in it?

    First off, you say you’re planning to leave. That means, if you provide feedback that could make your boss the best manager on the planet, you stand to gain nothing from it – you’ll be gone, managed by someone else. Serious feedback on how the manager could manage better gains you nothing, and might result in retaliation. Feedback on how wonderful the manager is might get you a good recommendation down the line as you job-hunt, though, and might make your temporary stay at the company go smoothly. You indicate that giving stellar feedback would trouble your conscious, though, so maybe the best compromise position would be to give tepid or neutral feedback.

    Now, the employer side of the equation. What does the employer want out of this feedback? As unpleasant as it is, some people really just want yes-men around. Other people want serious, critical feedback and new ideas. In your opinion, which is your employer? Ask other employees if prior feedback cycles have resulted in notable improvement, or business-as-usual, or retaliation and office politics. Then, give your employer what they want, rather than what they asked for. Is that butt-kissing or frank talk about management style? Only you know.

    I know it comes off as a bit bitter if you work for folks who want yes-men, but realize that you can’t change management, you can only look for a job where frank feedback is more appreciated and try not to get your career destroyed in the process.

  5. Matt*

    In my opinion, most of my employees are not really qualified to say if their managers are “doing their job”. However, they are qualified to say if their managers are properly equipping and helping the employees to do their job. This is the kind of feedback I look for.

    1. Jamie*

      While I agree that most reports aren’t in the position to evaluate how well their manager is doing as a whole, because the report is only privy to a portion of the managers responsibilities.

      But one of the most important aspects of a manager’s job is to manage their employees properly, so the people they manage are in the best position to give feedback and how well they do that.

      It’s kind of like how there are aspects to a marriage the kids to which the kids will never be aware. So they can’t speak with 100% authority on whether or not their dad was a good spouse, but they sure as heck know how he did as a dad.

      1. Jamie*

        Sigh. Sorry about the sentence structure…I’ll try to remember to proof next time.

  6. Tamsin*

    I’m sorry you have to go through a stressful situation like this. I love it when companies actually want feedback, but then to ask for it in such a way quickly diminishes those initial good feelings. I would definitely ask to talk in person about it. Unless these people are just not capable of handling the feedback in any good way, I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity – because nothing will change if no one says anything.

    When giving your feedback, frame your opinions in a way that gives your boss the benefit of the doubt, like Victoria recommended. Saying things like “it seems like” and “it appears to me” might help the negative feedback come across not-so-negative. For example, my director asked me and my coworkers for feedback on our supervisor. The supervisor is constantly coming in late, leaving early, and is unreliable. I framed it as, “I see John arrive around 10 when he should be here around 8 most of the time,” instead of “John is always late.” And instead of “John is unreliable,” I said, “Sometimes it’s difficult to get responses from John about projects and nail down a timeline for things.”

    And however they tell you to do it, write out your thoughts first at home – not at work. Get it all out, then analyze your thoughts and start editing it to be less emotional and more matter-of-fact. Remove any trace of emotion. Pare it down into more concrete things. I have done this many times before I talked with my bosses so that I don’t come across as whiny or entitled. Just stick to the facts.

    1. Anonymous*

      “And however they tell you to do it, write out your thoughts first at home – not at work. Get it all out, then analyze your thoughts and start editing it to be less emotional and more matter-of-fact.”

      This is excellent advice in my opinion.

  7. Anonymous*

    I would treat this situation by trying to use positive reinforcement to encourage the behaviors that you can tolerate from your boss, rather than trying to point out the negative behaviors that your boss won’t be open to changing. For example, you mention that your boss was sent for managerial training. Can you pick out anything that your boss improved after that training, no matter how small? Like “I’ve noticed that over the past six months, Boss has definitely improved in responding to questions that we have.” Since you know that your boss won’t handle negative criticism well, I’d think that openly complimenting when your boss is doing something you like is the next best plan.*

    *And if your boss hasn’t made any improvement whatsoever, pick out things about your department that don’t reflect on your boss personally and use that as your feedback, like “It is sometimes frustrating that Boss hasn’t been able to approve training that will help our department out.”

    1. fposte*

      Seconded. I also think that since the OP is pretty new, it can be phrased as improving as the working relationship develops. It also might be worth talking about things in terms of office impact rather than boss behavior–“It would be help us to have a regular meeting once a month rather than every other month.” But basically, look up the Wikipedia guidelines against weasel words and use everything they say not to. (Sigh.)

      But I’d also fully support a survival response that avoids the report or just fluffs it. This isn’t set up reasonably or fairly, and it’s not appropriate of them to expect you to make your own life more difficult to compensate for their bad protocol.

    2. Anon*

      Thirded! If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. If the guy is an awful manager, maybe he’s insecure, and having you point out something positive will help to settle him down. It will improve your relationship too, since it’s not brown nosing if you’re anonymous, and anonymous or not, he’ll probably know it’s you anyway. I’d recommend avoiding even the most constructive of criticism. I pointed out in an anonymous survey of 10 in our team that our team’s projects never finished but dragged on to eventual cancellation; I’d like to see my manager to push us for results. Then my evaluation came: “Pushes too hard for results.” Though manager and manager’s manager were trustworthy sorts, the coincidence seemed suspicious.

      1. fposte*

        “Pushes too hard for results”? As opposed to “Splendidly accepts our failure to achieve anything”? Sheesh.

  8. Anonymous*

    Honestly, if you’re planning on leaving, you really have nothing to gain from giving truly honest feedback. I completely understand feeling morally obligated to tell the truth, but sometimes telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth will not serve you well. I’m not suggesting you lie. I’m just suggesting that it is morally okay to hold back from telling all in these situations.

    I’ve tried to learn from my own past mistakes as well as others, and In certain situations, I’ve seen more than once that giving honest negative feedback actually can hurt you. A friend of mine gave a scathing but completely truthful and honest exit review when he left a job, and his next company lost contracts because he had soured his relationship with that particular individual.

  9. Anonymous*

    Sadly, I have been burned by the whole 360 feedback thing. It’s great if they can keep your responses anonymous. But your boss might still guess it’s you if you give honest feedback or if you are not in their group of favorites who simply suckup. My manager was livid (and I had even toned down my responses in antipation of an immature response from her) and acted vindictive and punitive towards me post-evaluation. Fast-forward a year later and we’re asked to evaluate our manager again. Having learned my lesson, I didn’t even really read or think about the questions- I just randomly ranked my manager high on the positives and low on the negatives, with a few random “neutrals” to make it look believable. I realized when both HR and management demonstrated that they did not care to improve or change this manager that I didn’t need to give any real feedback. Nothing is going to change with this manager. But unfortunately I am stuck working here for now. My friend helped me to see this from a different perspective- give the evaluation that will help YOU in your job. In this case, a glowing yet utterly false eval.

  10. Camellia*

    I agree with Jamie’s earlier comment, don’t put anything negative in writing, but is there anything positive you can say? Perhaps he is well-organized? good at seeing the big picture? meets target dates? You don’t have to address how he affects people as he is doing these things, just say that he does them.

    Or you can re-frame his actions. Does he run roughshod over people? Then he is “not afraid to vigorously implement his decisions”. Does he lie to people to manipulate them? No, he is “flexible and adaptive in relating to people”. The possibilities are endless and entertaining, and you are not lying but also aren’t worsening the situation between you and your boss. At this point you don’t have to care if he can be improved; you just need to survive until you can leave. Good luck with the job search!

  11. Lisa*

    Can you simply tell the boss’s boss that you would like to supplement your written feedback with some confidential feedback shared verbally?

  12. Anonymous*

    Don’t do it! I have a close relative who is a boss, previously managing a team s/he inherited (didn’t hire him/herself). The company forced all employees to participate in a survey giving feedback about their managers (they said it was voluntary, but then tracked who participated and nagged the managers mercilessly to get all team members to participate). Her/his team, for better or worse, did a lot of complaining. I’d say some was my relative’s fault fault (management style didn’t jibe with what they needed) and some was theirs (a couple of very negative people, never happy). As a result, when s/he started getting pressured by bosses to replace her/his team, s/he had no incentive to resist – they all got laid off, had to re-apply for their jobs and only one was re-hired. All new team.

  13. Wannabe a good manager*

    I’d like to know what OP means when he says “From what I’ve witnessed, my boss does not handle criticism well.” Most people don’t handle public criticism well and it was public if OP witnessed his boss being criticized. Would it be alright if OP described his boss’s reaction, but also the provocation?

    I assume OP didn’t criticize the boss directly, since “witnessed” shows he was a bystander. This is good, since I think a new report’s complaint that his boss can’t take criticism well probably reflects more badly on the new report than on the boss.

    I could imagine the OP witnessing the boss dealing badly with criticism from members of the public, but I would classify that as a performance issue which the boss’s boss should be dealing with, rather than asking the report for feedback.

    1. Esra*

      It depends what industry you’re in. I’m a designer, so public critiques and feedback are part of the job. And depending on the size of your office, private meetings/discussions/criticisms are not always so.

  14. Karyn*

    At my old company, my boss was HR. We used to have to do these evaluations, but they’d all be routed through her – so while every other department got to be anonymous in their evaluations (since they were distributed anonymously through HR), I never did – because she could see all the names before they were given to the managers. It was irritating, because I wanted so badly to give an honest evaluation of her, but didn’t feel safe enough. It’s bad enough when the manager knows it’s you – it’s WORSE when that manager is HR.

  15. Anonymous*

    OP here. These are some great suggestions! Thank you all. I’m especially grateful for AAM’s permission not to let my conscience be bothered if I decide not to respond.

    So far I’ve opted not to send in the written form. I’m thinking about suggesting the 360 approach for the future, and I’d love to hear more from those of you who have gone through it about effective ways to do it.

    As far as my boss’s response to criticism, what I’ve seen is that any suggestions (from me or others, even if the boss specifically solicits them) about alternate ways to approach a problem or project are immediately shut down in favor of his approach, often with unnecessarily harsh words. This is a known issue here at the organization and affects the boss’s working relationships, but no one seems to want to address it.

  16. CatB (Europe)*

    OP, some time ago I reviewed one of my client’s evaluation policy and protocols (incidentally, anonimity wasn’t airtight there either) and, though that wasn’t in my objectives, I noticed three types of responses to a situation somewhat similar to yours:

    a. Bull-types: subordinates that spoke their minds no matter what. They were always ready to support their feedback even in harsh working environments

    b. Sugarcoaters: those trying hard to be nice / appeasing, while conveying at least some of their disenchantment at their boss’s management style

    c. Survivors: those giving in useless, bland or false reviews.

    None of the categories had conscience issues; each one took the road that appealed most to them, in relation with their percieved objectives for the (near) future.

    So, my only say in this issue is for you to go for a decision with which you can still look into a mirror the next day and not avert your gaze.

  17. Joey*

    Play dumb. As in play dumb and ask your director how the whole process works so you can understand how your feedback will be used. Good 360’s avoid the whole figuring out who said what by getting feedback from a big enough of a variety of folks that it’s really hard to pin someone down even when they manage 1 person. Whatever you do avoid talking about specific situations since they may quote you. Another tip: if you can tell they’ve gone to some lengths to protect your anonymity that’s a good sign that the process is taken seriously.

  18. Tax Nerd*

    I agree with Anonymous. All of them. (Except when the OP is giving additional facts, because I can’t agree or disagree with the particular facts and circumstances.) I’ve had a difficult boss who had admitted to trying to figure out who wrote anything critical. (He also retaliated for it, but he didn’t admit that part.)

    If you can get away with not doing it at all, do that. If they insist, I would write it as if you expect your name to be on it. You don’t have to be a kiss-up, but just say what you do like/would like more of. “I’m new at this, so it really makes my day when my boss tells me “Good job!” when I’ve earned it.” But there’s only so much of that you can do. If you’re bold, put down something like “Boss solicits the opinions of others, which is greatly appreciated, but he typically goes with his preferred approach. I would like constructive feedback and/or his understanding of the business case when my suggestion (or someone else’s) is not the one selected so I can better understand Boss’s line of thinking.” If you think that’s laying it on thick, than don’t bother.

    If he’s shooting down other ideas with “That’s stupid. Loser!”, then I wouldn’t even address it in writing – he’s clearly not interested in the opinions of others. If it’s “I hear ya, but we’re going to go with my idea (as usual)”, then maybe he could be trained to at least share his line of thinking. Maybe not, though.

    “Unnecessarily harsh words” is something I would verbally discuss with the director, because you can give examples. If your boss dropping f-bombs, or using language more appropriate for a locker room than a conference room, then say so. (But not in writing. Odds are good it will come back to haunt you.)

    Good luck dealing with this, and with your job search.

  19. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I just want to say, for what it’s worth, that I once had an employee give me some pretty hard feedback in a situation like this, and while I was stung, I was also profoundly grateful for it.

    On the flip side, early in my career I was honest on a survey like this and was met with such negativity for it that I ended up getting pissed off and leaving soon after. (And hey, doubled my salary in doing so — there’s a post about that here somewhere.)

    So I’ve experienced both ends. But it’s important to remember that both are possible, and the key is to know who you’re dealing with.

    1. Anonymous*

      I just want to say, for what it’s worth, that I once had an employee give me some pretty hard feedback in a situation like this, and while I was stung, I was also profoundly grateful for it.

      What were the benefits for the employee who gave the feedback?

  20. Anon*

    My company put out a manager survey one year. First and last year they ever did it. ;) I was still pretty new then and very honest, but I didn’t feel any retribution from my manager. She was a very mature, business-first type of person so while I’m sure she wasn’t happy to see any negatives, she wasn’t the type to take it personally or retaliate.

    Honestly, I would love it a 360 review system. There aren’t a lot of avenues for “official” positive feedback either, not just negative. Unfortunately, I don’t think my company does a very good job with just regular, yearly reviews so who knows how poorly they’d handle 360 reviews.

  21. Emily*

    I yearn to be able to give feedback—positive and negative!—about my managers, but I don’t think any area of my company has a system for it in place. That said, it’s only in the past two or three years (of five) that I feel like I’ve had legitimately constructive things to say. I don’t know what I would have done if I’d been asked to provide feedback after less than two years, let alone eight months! I wonder if you can deflect based on your very short tenure. You’re still new in your own role, you couldn’t begin to evaluate someone else’s performance in theirs, something like that.

  22. Tim C.*

    I was subject to a 360 review. Unfortunately I was the new guy who had the task of “cleaning up” a disorganized and unpleasant area. Basically I had to tell people what they were doing wrong and to do it right. I did not have many friends. My first 360 was a disaster! I knew exactly who said what but did not hold a grudge. A good director will see through such bias. A good manager will take evaluations objectively. If you feel there will be retaliation, lie till your pants catch fire! BTW – the director will know you are fibbing. There is a history here and a 360 review is a sign there have been complaints.

  23. Anonymous*

    Tell them what they want to hear, and console your conscience with the knowledge that you still have a job and can pay your bills. Being honest in this case is just going to cause you grief (the boss doesn’t take criticism well, and the boss’ boss doesn’t know how to maintain confidentiality).

  24. OP*

    You know, I’ve been wrestling with this for a few days, and I clearly should have written to AAM much sooner! You all have painted it in a clearer light and given me ample permission to do what I have to do to keep my job and my sanity. Right now I’m the sole breadwinner in the family (spouse is job hunting) so it’s extra important that I not jeopardize my job.

    Many of you have commented that whether I can successfully give feedback depends a lot on the characteristics of my boss. Given what I know, I think that avoiding feedback is the best choice for now. If upper management pushes me for it, I’ll ask to do it verbally instead of in writing.

    Alison, I think you should run every workplace everywhere. Or at least reading your website should be mandatory for every manager ever. Thanks for answering my question, and many thanks to all the commenters who chimed in.

    1. M-C*

      I’m really not at all sure that you’re helping yourself by asking to do it orally. First, because it shows you’re skeptical of the process, and fearful of retaliation, and so that you must have some negative thoughts. Second, because it doesn’t allow you to think carefully over every word that you submit. You can’t just show up and give a prepared speech and hope no questions are asked, it doesn’t work that way. So having the opportunity to write things down, mull them over, get advice from friends, you lose all that by giving up the writing. It’d ever add a third potential pitfall, which is that you’d be giving an oral report to the boss’ friend, and you words could get distorted in the reporting, consciously or not.
      Be careful…

    2. Charles (in another's shoes)*

      No, I would suggest that you NOT do it verbally – they have a written process in place. Follow procedure, otherwise you ARE the difficult employee.

      If you don’t feel that you can be fully honest; then so be it. But, in writing is how they expect it. In writing is how you should do it – it is part of your job.

      You already have a difficult relationship with your boss – don’t give her boss a reason to agree with her. (“see, she didn’t even bother to do the review!”)

      They have asked you, once already, to do this. Waiting until they “push” for it is not professional. They have asked you to do it – just do it for crying out loud!

      Sorry to be harsh here; But, ask yourself if there isn’t a reason why you have a difficult working relationship with your boss – does she have to “push” you to do other stuff as well?

    1. Tax Nerd*

      Thanks for this.

      (I hate and loathe podcasts, and would much rather read 45 pages than listen to a recording for 45 minutes, but this is helpful.)

      1. Tax Nerd*

        [The executive summary, for those who don’t listen to podcasts is that you should NEVER give feedback to your boss. Their rationale is that it’s inappropriate to tell your boss how to do their job. Even if your boss seems receptive or asks for it, and says there will be no repercussions, they are human, and there probably will be. But mostly, that it’s inappropriate. As someone with a junior staff who tries to tell me what to do, boy can I sympathize.]

  25. Bonnie*

    Three-sixty degrees are difficult to do correctly even if the information is anonymous or there is no retribution. There are two hurdles that have to be overcome. First is making sure that staff know how to give constructive feedback. Many staff members have never given constructive feedback to others before and the forms can become complaint lists or even things they heard from others but never experienced themselves. The second is you have to have a management really committed to taking the reviews seriously and making changes as a result.
    We did them for three years. The first year was when we realized that many of staff didn’t know to give constructive feedback. But by the fourth year we suspended the process because it was clear that upper management was not willing to make the changes in behavior being requested. At that point even if there is no retaliation it seems pointless to the staff to keep filling out the forms when nothing is changing.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In addition, putting together the 360 is a skill in and of itself — a company can’t just decide “we’re going to do 360s” and make it happen — you need expertise in synthesizing all the feedback and presenting it in a way that doesn’t make it obvious who said what. A lot of companies hire outside firms to do this.

      1. Bonnie*

        I agree. We used an outside firm to develop the survey and synthesize the results but we are not a number/ranking feedback type of firm so the form relied a great deal on free form comments which the staff was not really prepared for.

    2. Charles*

      “Three-sixty degrees are difficult to do correctly . . .”

      Double agree – so many companies, as AAM says, decide let’s just do it (without any prep work). And then they wonder why they fall flat!

      Interestingly, I just did a short 20 minutes presentation on 360 feedback for a job interview a couple of weeks ago. Really, it was just stuff I pulled from a couple of google searches. The two interviewers seemed rather clueless about 360 themselves even though they are HR folks. As, I so often do, I wondered if that was the reason they asked me to do a presentation on 360 – because they are too lazy to do their own research. (Oh, and asking me to describe my “ideal job” is kind of a dumbass question too)

      And, Bonnie, if the powers-that-be aren’t willing to make the changes needed; then, yea, why bother!

  26. Anonymous*

    I would definitely not say anything in person either. If management really wants “yes” employees, then the bosses boss will let the boss know who said what.

    I do fill out 360 but only if done by an outside firm and I am careful of what I say.

  27. The recruiter.*

    How about telling your boss’s boss your true feelings face to face? Frame it around how you do have some feedback but due to a lack of anonymity in the past from other sources, that you feel it best not to partake in your boss’s review and that you’re not comfortable with it.

  28. Dan*


    One of the things I love about your advice is that it recognizes the realities of actually being in the trenches. Too many advice columnists would says something along the lines of “you owe it to the company to help it improve” whereas you recognize the realities of the situation.

  29. Coincidence*

    I was asked to give feedback via survey about my boss this week. I found the whole thing to be completely odd especially because my boss only has two direct reports (the others are not permanent employees and cannot take the survey). Although, my answers will be “confidential” (as per the rules) I find this whole thing very transparent as my boss would easily be able to find out which of his two reports said what. My boss is well aware of the review and talked to me about it. Now, I can’t pretend the email got lost in cyber space. I feel like I can’t be honest in the review and think the whole thing is crazy.

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