Q. In addition to doing annual employee reviews, our company requires employees to provide a review of their boss. Since my current manager took over our department a year ago, she has created a very negative environment for everyone.
My manager's boss recently sent me an e-mail asking for feedback about her, and I don't know what to do. Is there a correct way to give your boss a bad review?
This is a politically tricky situation, so you must tread carefully. Your goal should be to give an accurate review, not a bad one. Including both positives and negatives will increase your credibility.
First, consider your boss objectively and look for her strengths. Very few people are all good or all bad, so she undoubtedly has some. Discuss those first, and in some detail.
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For example: “Beth has excellent critical thinking skills. She is able to effectively critique proposals and identify possible pitfalls. Her analytical ability consistently helps our department produce better results.”
When describing your concerns, phrase them in terms of business issues, not personality traits. Make specific, constructive suggestions for improvement. Focus on the future, not the past.
For example: “Beth could be more effective by giving negative feedback to employees in private. If performance discussions were held in her office, we would feel less embarrassed and have more productive problem-solving conversations.”
Finally, don't send your feedback by e-mail. Because e-mail messages can remain on corporate servers for a long time, there's no telling who may see them. Instead, deliver your comments personally in a sealed envelope, along with a written request that they be kept confidential.
Q. After receiving a cancer diagnosis, one of my colleagues was immediately placed in a lower-level job. When she returned after her treatment, she was given very few assignments, then terminated without notice due to “lack of work.”
A year later, when I was diagnosed with cancer, the company initially treated me well. But when my cancer returned, I too was abruptly terminated. They said it was for financial reasons, but no other employees were let go.
Too late, I learned that cancer patients are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. I have missed the deadline for filing a claim, but hope you will print my letter to help educate people with cancer about their rights.
Thank you for taking the time to help others avoid your unfortunate experience. Regrettably, some business owners are motivated solely by self-interest and feel little or no responsibility to their employees. Your former employer seems to fall into this category.
The Americans with Disabilities Act provides many legal protections to those with an illness or disabling condition. Anyone wishing to learn more should visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Web site at www.eeoc.gov or call the EEOC office in their area.