How To Evaluate Your Boss and Avoid Future Friction
Of the many things I have learned in the school of hard knocks, this one is a lesson I will never forget and learning it caused my supervisor and me a lot pain. I never knew the importance of company evaluations and the importance of keeping my supervisor's boss of my supervisor's back, till this experience. Making this mistake has had many bad repercussions and has caused my supervisor and me, to have a rather strained work relationship, instead of one of trust and good will. If I could repeat that day, and if I had the chance to rewrite that awful evaluation, I would do so in a heartbeat.
My story began about four years ago. I was new at this company that required that my supervisor train and mentor me. I was supposed to go to some meetings at another location and there I reported to the corporate division. I was to let them know, if I was making progress. At those meetings, I also learned additional skills that I needed for my job.
After my initial training, I was supposed to answer a questionnaire style evaluation, regarding my training experience. In that evaluation, I was suppose to rate how satisfied I was with my training and with my mentor.
I was feeling very frustrated with my training at the time. We worked in a very busy venue and my supervisor had to do many other duties besides training me. It turned out that every time, I had an issue on the job, or a question, my boss was called away and needed to attend to other matters. I ended up having to ask other co-workers for help. I felt that wasn’t fair to my co-workers or me, since it was my supervisor's responsibility to make sure that I was well trained. When it came time to do the evaluation, I answered the questionnaire angrily and I gave my supervisor a very poor grade. This was a bad reflection on both my boss and me.
Even though, I always believed that honesty is the best policy, and I still do. I realize that in the business world, a little mercy goes a long way. In the business world things are not always black and white, and you can't just always answer with your emotions, you have to think things through.
I realize that before answering that questionnaire, I should have had a heart to heart talk with my supervisor and I should have addressed these issues with her privately. Little did I know, that giving my supervisor a bad evaluation, would mean that there would be many problems between my supervisor and corporate? I also didn’t realize that this would ruin our work relationship.
I’m not saying, I would lie on an evaluation, in order to avoid problems. On the other hand, I should have answered the questions with a little more mercy and a lot less anger. I know now that I should have had more objectivity, when answering the evaluation and I should have tried harder to put myself in my boss’s shoes.
To a large degree, I didn’t really understand the corporate structure very well. I thought that by answering the evaluation honestly, I would actually get what I wanted from my supervisor and that was more of her attention. This is definitely one of those situations, where what you get and what you hoped for, are two very different things. I hoped for more attention and to be able to have a better grasp of my duties. What I got was a very hurt and angry boss, who never spoke about the matter, but without having to say a word, I realized that I had created a lot tension for her with cooperate and I had created a great void between us.
I later left that company and I spoke about the matter with a very wise job counselor, who told me that I really messed up that time. She advised me that on evaluations, I have to look at the big picture. I have to try to put my boss, in a positive light with her bosses, yet express my own concerns in a way that puts the blame on me, rather than my supervisor. She told me that being new; they would understand and try to reach out to me and at the same time, I let my boss know that I need help, without discrediting her, or causing any injury to her reputation. I told this very wise woman how much I regretted acting on my feelings that day, rather than thinking things through. I learned a lot from this experience, and I want to share some tips, so that way you don’t find yourself making the same mistakes I did.
Tips for Giving Your Boss a Positive Evaluation, While Being Honest About Your Needs
- First of all, remember that although, corporate does not reside at the same building you work at; they are still your boss' boss. Therefore, if you want to have a good relationship with your supervisor, it is wise to make sure that your supervisor looks good from the corporate viewpoint, and this especially include evaluations.
- Take your time filling out your evaluation. Read through it several times, if necessary. If this means taking your lunch hour to fill it out, so be it. This is a matter of crucial importance, and don’t worry there will be other lunch hours.
- Evaluate your moods. If you are feeling angry with your supervisor, decide to address her privately on the matter. Have a talk with your supervisor, prior to filling out the evaluation. Let her know how you feel. Don’t let any anger be reflected on how you evaluate your boss, otherwise there will be a high price to pay for both your boss and you.
- Put yourself in your supervisor's shoes, when reading through the questions. Make an effort to answer each question as mercifully as you can. I’m not telling you to lie, or embellish the truth. On the other hand, feelings of frustration can create a distorted picture that will haunt both you and your supervisor for the rest of your working relationship.
- If one of the choices on the questionnaire is to give your boss ratings such as “poor” try to give your boss a "fair" or "average" rating instead. You don’t have to give your supervisor an excellent rating, if she doesn't deserve it, but try not to give her a "poor" rating either.
- If asked if you were satisfied with your training experience, answer that question with a merciful response, and try to not put the blame on your supervisor. Try if possible, to shield your boss, as much as possible, from having to deal with corporate backlash.
- When you are done answering all the evaluation questions, check all your answers, and make sure you thought through each and every one of your responses.
- Try to imagine how this evaluation will be viewed by corporate. If you feel that corporate will view the evaluation in a positive light, than go ahead and hand it in. If you still have doubts, than change your answers, or at the very least ask yourself why you feel that way, and if there is any way you can change your answers to something a little bit more corporate friendly, do so immediately.
- Finally, when it’s time to hand in your evaluation, make sure you have checked all your work. This is, believe it or not, the first major decision, you will make in your job. Try to realize, that corporate is not only evaluating your supervisor, but they are also evaluating you, as well. It is important to respond wisely, any future promotions you seek, may depend heavily on how you answer evaluations, regarding your boss’ performance.
- In everything you do and in all of your choices, always remember the Golden Rule. Treat other how you would like to be treated. If you were the one being evaluated, how would you like to be treated? With this in mind, try to act accordingly.
The business world has many unwritten rules; therefore it is wise to proceed with caution and not to let your emotions dictate your actions. It is important to remember that in any job setting, you are working with other human beings and they have feelings, just like you do. Try to be respectful of their feelings, in how you address them and when it comes time to evaluate them. If you do this, there is no reason why, you won’t have the best possible chance of succeeding in your work relationships.