my terrible boss asked for feedback — should I be honest? — Ask a Manager

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my terrible boss asked for feedback — should I be honest?

A reader writes:

My boss, Kate, has asked for feedback. The thing is … she is not a good manager. She doesn’t respond to questions asking for feedback or our requests for documents that we need to complete our work. Then she throws a temper tantrum that we didn’t do X thing in the way that we wanted (which we would have if she had responded to our requests for feedback). She doesn’t read comments made in Word documents, so I have to call her and go through every comment I’ve made in the Word document and ask for a response. That is, when I can get ahold of her because she’s almost impossible to reach. On the other hand, she also loves having long, unnecessary calls (anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours) that could just have been an email or a text message.

She also doesn’t want to deal with any administrative duties. That means that when our admin team needs information, they will contact me instead of her, which requires me going back to her to get their answers. She will whine about how she doesn’t care about whatever the thing is, which leaves me unable to answer the admin team, and they keep following up and asking.

Kate recently sent our team a form asking for feedback about herself. The feedback will not be anonymous. How do I approach this? Should I be honest in a way that could lead to positive changes that would benefit our working relationship, or should I just tell her that she’s awesome at everything to keep her happy? My work situation is very precarious — I am on very short contracts that can be cut with no notice, so if she gets pissed off, that could be it and I would be beyond screwed, as my legal residence depends on this job and going back home to my country is not an option.

Obviously, I would not phrase my feedback in a rude way if I decided to be honest, but I don’t even know if she’s a reasonable enough person that this is something that it makes sense for me to be considering.

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today. Head over there to read it.

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