When Your Boss Criticizes Your Direct Report, Don’t Protect Them

Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

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It might be tempting to try to protect your employee from negative feedback that comes from above. Maybe you allow behaviors or work styles that bother a senior executive because you know they’re not standing in the way of performance.

o But if your boss has complained to you about something your subordinate does, don’t let the situation fester. The ongoing tension could affect your relationship with the boss and hinder your subordinate’s career prospects.

o To address the situation, make sure you understand precisely what your boss doesn’t like. Ask focused questions to identify the issue. Then share that feedback with the employee — in detail.

o Don’t sugarcoat it. You might need to give specific recommendations, like when to arrive for a meeting or how to write a certain kind of email.

Make it clear to your employee that your intention is to help them improve their image in your superior’s eyes — and that it’s in their best interests to do so.

Adapted from “What to Do If Your Boss Doesn’t Like Someone You Manage,” by Liz Kislik

Here’s a direct link to dozens of other Management Tips.



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