The New Daily: Yes, you can give your boss feedback - Michelle Gibbings

Thanks to The New Daily and Senior Reporter, Kate Jones, Michelle provides her insights on how you can give your boss feedback. 

Employees have long been accustomed to receiving feedback from their bosses. But what if the tables were turned and workers could critique their employers?

Only one in four of business leaders and line managers feel ‘extremely equipped’ in their ability to lead their team and 15 per cent feel ‘somewhat equipped’, a survey by human resources firm The Access Group found.

The results show there’s room for improvement among Australia’s corporate leaders and employees are in a unique position to offer up their observations, said workplace expert Michelle Gibbings.

“One of the critical things for leaders is self-awareness,” she said.

“Really understand yourself, your triggers and therefore the impact you have on people.

“If you don’t know yourself, it’s incredibly hard to lead effectively because you could be in a bubble thinking you’re doing this amazing job and you’re not.”

The difficulty lies in delivering feedback without endangering your position or promotion opportunities and not causing offence. Gibbings suggests some tactful approaches.

“It’s about how you phrase it,” she said.

“So it’s less about saying I’ve got to sit down and tell you 10 things I don’t like about you. It’s more about going into a conversation with really good intent.

“Challenge yourself, and if there’s something that’s not working and you need to be honest about your own role in the relationship, go in with good intent and a genuine interest in where your boss is coming from and a desire to achieve a good outcome.”

Rather than risking your standing within an organisation, critiquing the boss may actually boost your opportunities. A candid conversation may give employees the chance to clarify their role and their future within an organisation.

“I would start the conversation along the lines of, ‘I’m really keen to add as much value as I can to the work that I do and I would love to have a chat about what else you need from me and are you open to a conversation about how we best work together?’ and that way you’re guiding them into a conversation,” advised Gibbings.

“Sometimes bosses are in stressful situations and the best thing you can do to shift the dynamic is to understand that and how you can help them.

‘What you’re doing is opening the channels of communication. You’re giving them feedback, but in a way that’s not part of a ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’ approach.”

With labour shortages across just about every industry in Australia, leaders cannot afford to be complacent. Many are fighting to attract new staff and to keep top performing employees from looking elsewhere.

Job ads on employment marketplace SEEK Australia were up by 23.3 per cent in June 2022 when compared to June 2021.

In this job environment, leaders need to sharpen their skills to create an engaged and productive team of workers, Gibbings said.

“As a leader, you want to know if your team members are happy – are they fulfilled in their careers, are they getting bored, are they looking for something else?” she said.

“Because if they are looking for something else, what can you do to continue to help them grow their careers in your organisation?

“And if you do work out they do need to move on to somewhere else because you don’t have the bandwidth in your organisation, treat them with respect because you never know when they’ll come back.”

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