Giving Feedback to Your Boss: Be a Confidant

“You don’t understand. My CEO doesn’t realize what’s really going on here…”

I hear this at least once a week. The good news is my client realizes their CEO is not seeing the entire picture. The bad news is my client gets distracted with other “fires” and forgets to give this feedback directly to his boss.

The issue is an OPPORTUNITY to be your boss’ confidant, NOT to shy away from it. Abandoning it makes it worse. Said a different way, the glass is half full, not half empty.

Confidence as a Confidant

Providing valuable, constructive feedback to your boss is an opportunity for you. Observing a situation and realizing what it takes to cure it illustrates your commercial judgment and desire to help the entire team. And, you can partner with your CEO as you present your recommendation to fix the issue.

It’s natural to feel that giving your CEO feedback about the situation is risky but it’s worse to let it go. Being preemptive and solution-oriented is always a plus. Do it.

How you bring the situation to his/her attention, though, is an art. You don’t begin your conversation with the issue… you begin it with the value of curing it. It’s the value of the cure that you both share.

Give Counsel and Stay Strong

Here’s an example:
SVP of New Business Development says: “We are too often bringing a machine gun to our client presentations. We present everything we can offer versus listening to our client’s first.”

This is a great awareness and one that potentially fifty execs on the team need to realize and take responsibility for.

The play to the CEO could be this:

“I realize our primary goal this year is to procure new business as efficiently and quickly as possible, right? The problem now is we are “machine gunning” our value story to new prospective clients and not listening to them to understand what they want to achieve first.

My recommendation is to systematize this new business process so that our entire team is more forbearant (patient restraint, keeping oneself in check when provoked) in our presentations and disciplines themselves to trap the client’s desires before presenting our value story.

What will occur from this is that we will tailor our presentations to exactly what our client desires and in the process, illustrate how advisor-like we really are.”

Constructive Feedback Leads to Partnership

You have just given constructive feedback to your boss but in a way that says you are a partner, you are looking out for the best interest of the department/company and you want to make him a hero. Who would argue with that?