Should I Given An Honest Opinion About Supervisor?

Question:

My supervisor asked me to come up with something negative to say about her for her review. I think she is very critical and judgmental. Are those things I can say? Bear in mind that if she does not get a good review neither will I, and it is due now.

I don’t want to attack her personality because we have been knowing each other for over twenty five yeras, but my review is sometimes a personality attack. Please help.

Signed,

Honestly Worried


Answer:

Dear Honestly Worried:

It sounds as though you have already written an upward review and now have looked at it and think it sounds harsh. If you think that, it probably is!

I doubt that your supervisor specifically asked you for a negative review. She may have asked you to identify anything negative about her that you could put in the review. (Although that is a very poor way to do an upward review.)

Why don’t you try the method some supervisors use and ask her to list three traits, habits, knowledge or skill areas that she would like to improve. Then, use those in the review.

You can encourage her to do that by saying that you can’t think of anything specific but figured she would know some things she would like to work on.

If this was being handled correctly, I wouldn’t suggest that approach, because it isn’t a real review by you. But apparently the process is not being done right anyway, so there is no point in creating animosity for something that isn’t likely to be helpful.

Another approach is to think about the two descriptions you gave, “She’s critical and judgmental.” What could be another way to say those without sounding like a personality attack?

You might say, “She tends to have such high expectations that it’s difficult for most employees to meet them” Or, “She holds herself to such high standards of work that she sometimes expects all employees to give 200%. This may not be reasonable in every case.”

Or, “She has such an eye for detail that even the most minor flaws can seem like major problems to her.”

Think about how you could use different words. Instead of “judgmental and critical” try strict, tough, exacting or firm.

I like to be honest, but it doesn’t sound as though it will be helpful for you or your supervisor if you are completely honest with this.

So, your best response is probably to let her make a few suggestions that you can adapt.

Best wishes with this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what develops.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.