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How to Criticize Your Boss without Losing Your Job

You love your job…or at least, you love your paycheck. The work you do brings your life meaning and stability, and you genuinely enjoy the company of your coworkers and clients. There's only one small problem, one thing that you would change in a second if you could figure out how: your boss. He's not terrible, but he's not perfect either, and if he only knew that certain aspects of his behavior were holding you (and the company) back, he'd probably be willing to change them.

This year your company is embracing the practice of 360 reviews, or encouraging feedback from employees regarding the performance of their superiors. So how should you move forward? Should you boldly speak up and tell the unvarnished truth as you see it? Or should you fear for your own future, stay positive, and express approval for the status quo? Here are a few things to keep in mind before you decide.

The Purpose Behind 360 Reviews

Companies implement 360 reviews for two reasons: 1) to generate real data regarding manager performance, and/or 2) to make employees feel like their opinions are being considered and respected.

In the first case, your opinion about your boss will be collected with tightly protected anonymity and the data you offer will be put to use; it may be presented to your manager as part of a distilled report. In the second case, your opinion will received and probably discarded or stored in a database never to be retrieved.

Since you can't predict which of these will happen, move forward in good faith. Don't say anything to your boss that isn't just or fair simply because your anonymity protects you. (Your anonymity might not be as airtight as you think, and besides, this is mean).

But don't pass up an opportunity to right a wrong, stop a destructive behavior, break a negative pattern, or set the company on track to success. Remember: this company's future is your future, at least for now. Don't patiently endure a situation that actually makes your job less stable, your efforts less productive, and your company less competitive.

Words Have Meaning & Power

When you speak or write, choose your individual words with care. Honesty and diplomacy go hand in hand, and no matter how harsh your criticism may be, you can find a way to deliver your message that's clear, but not personal. Here are a few examples:

Truth: Your boss is a micromanaging, nit-picking, exhausting jerk.

Honesty: "Some employees respond well to a micromanaging style, but I thrive with a little more independence."

Truth: Your boss is disconnected and has no idea what you do or how you do it.

Honesty: "Perhaps Dr. So-and-So would benefit from some training or a seminar regarding the IT platform we're working to upgrade."

Truth: Your boss asks for more than you can deliver.

Honesty: "I would be more productive if our deadlines were more realistic, our budgets were more flexible, and we had the space, time, and resources to complete our best work."

With Strong Credentials, You'll Be Okay No Matter What

Remember: if your resume is complete and polished and your credentials speak for themselves, this simple challenge doesn't have to threaten your career. Stay light on your feet, and if your honesty lands you in hot water, you'll be able to recover and move on quickly. Visit MyPerfectResume for guidance and support.

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