Employees usually find it more challenging to talk to a boss or manager about how they do their job. And there is no question about the role of a manager being so demanding and stressful. Also, there will always be someone who thinks they know better than a boss and has ideas of how things should work. But if you get the chance, suggest what they could do better. It’s essential to know what to tell your manager to improve on.
Good managers always solicit feedback. They are eager to find out what they can improve on. So you need to know what to say when your boss asks what they can do better.
How to suggest improvements to your boss
The best way is to phrase your improvement suggestions regarding what you, the employee, can do better if your boss supports your proposals. Consider this as an example, rather than saying, “We need to start meeting earlier,” try, “I’ll be more prepared for early morning meetings if we start at 7 am instead of 8 am.”
That way, your boss can see that you’re taking ownership of the situation and are committed to helping things run more smoothly.
There’s no doubt that giving your boss constructive feedback can be nerve-wracking. But it’s also one of the most important things you can do to help improve your working relationship.
Make sure you are clear, concise, and, most importantly, positive. Avoid coming across as bossy or dictating. The last thing you want is for your boss to feel defensive or attacked.
There are many ways you can suggest things to improve on without appearing disrespectful or annoying.
So, here are 14 great examples of things to tell your manager to improve on:
1. Suggest developing a culture of creative disagreement
A manager who wants to foster creativity must give their employees the freedom to advocate for their opinions, even when they are unpopular or incorrect.
A culture of creative disagreement is a workplace environment created purposely for all employees to feel comfortable voicing their opinions in an unfiltered way, even when it means going against conventional wisdom or their boss’s opinion.
Creativity thrives on challenges. Employees who are not afraid to say, “I think you’re wrong,” are more likely to reveal powerful and unique ideas.
Creative disagreements are not just a matter of saying the opposite of what your boss or colleagues says or getting in their faces and arguing with them. The only way to determine if an idea is any good is to subject it to vigorous debate.
The culture of disagreement requires a tolerance for heated debate and tugging back and forth of opinion. But it doesn’t just magically happen on its own.
A manager must create an environment where people feel comfortable telling you when they think you are wrong.
2. Ask your boss to mentor more employees
Managers must help guide and develop the people they manage. Supporting employees to develop their skills and succeed is an essential part of a manager’s job.
A lot of this information is available to your manager, so there are no reasons why they don’t use it to help employees grow personally and professionally.
Mentoring also provides valuable feedback on performance and improvement areas which helps employees feel supported by their manager. A good relationship between managers and mentees will lead to increased engagement.
Read also: 14 Key Areas of Improvement for Managers
3. Suggest to your boss to shadow all direct reports
Your manager is supposed to lead by example by shadowing their employees once in a while. Shadowing employees means blocking scheduling your calendar and spending a day following them and doing what they do.
The goal of this is twofold. First, it’s an easy way to build trust with the employee. Second, it’s good for the manager to have some exposure to their daily work.
It is a simple but effective way for managers to see and learn what their employees experience daily. And it helps managers make better decisions, which leads to more effective and satisfying work.
4. Propose to give each employee specific goals
A manager must have the skills to set goals and give people control to achieve them. Setting goals is a better way to empower employees, so long as the goals are quantifiable. And here is one way to do it.
Your manager should create a specific goal or a plan for the team over the next quarter. Once you have a clear goal, break it into tasks that have to be completed by each team member in a finite period.
The manager should let every person work out the order to complete those tasks. Remember, the goal should be something everyone involved in the project can understand.
It will be a great way to establish a shared goal for the team and promote personal accountability. This approach gives people a sense of ownership.
5. Suggest improvement in responding to emails
Many employees work daily with managers who don’t respond to their emails or bother to read them.
Emails can be a nightmare for many managers. Unless someone has a decent email system that enables you to respond — everything is fine. The moment a manager has to reply to 100 messages a day, there will be a problem.
However, not responding to emails is problematic and can make the working experience with a manager who doesn’t reply a nightmare.
A few missed emails may not matter when you are busy or distracted – but over time, repeated non-response may communicate a message of disregard that leads to poor morale.
Silence from a manager can cause employees to feel undervalued. You want your employee to feel as if you care about their work and work progress. Anyone leading others is supposed to act responsibly and professionally.
Related: 13 Good Training Topics for Managers
6. Ask your manager to praise employees in public
Employees do not like a manager badmouthing or criticizing them in front of colleagues or other people. It is good and more professional to praise employees in public but criticize them in private.
A manager should ideally only give feedback to team members when alone. When someone does a poor job, it can be helpful to call them in one-on-one meeting for a chat and tell them where they went wrong.
If a manager must scold someone in public, they should not belittle the person and must keep their tone as professional as possible. Otherwise, they can explain in private what they want an employee to do differently.
There’s no reason to make them feel bad. It doesn’t benefit anyone and will only cause people to feel demoralized.
Public humiliation is not constructive, and it is difficult to get help from employees who have been publicly humiliated or shamed. Instead, use this time in private to help them improve the quality of their work.
7. Suggest to your boss to be more precise with expectations
When your manager fails to communicate expectations clearly, it can be frustrating. It’s quite common for managers to either forget or not bother at all letting employees know what they want.
While not all managers are like this, it can be frustrating when they don’t communicate their expectations.
They throw a bunch of documents and spreadsheets on your desk, but they need to give you an indication of what they want. They tell you to get on with it. So, you are not sure of how they want it done or if they would prefer something else entirely.
Sure, you can guess what they want based on previous projects. But since they didn’t specify anything, it is unclear what they expect.
As a result, you do what you think is right, and your manager gets upset when they receive something different from their expectations.
8. Ask for a degree of freedom
When your manager makes an appearance, take them aside and explain that the most fulfilling way you can contribute to the team is by being a self-directed worker who is trusted to manage your work.
Point out that you like to have a certain degree of freedom to do what needs to be done best with your know-how. You want to do your job well and for it to be judged on its merits, not micromanaged.
Good managers do not micromanage their employees. They always have implicit faith in your ability to do the job. They believe you have the intelligence to handle your work without them being intrusive.
If your boss walks over and asks one or two questions about a project you’re working on, that is not micromanaging. If, on the other hand, your boss interrupts your part of a project with endless ideas or keeps nagging you for more details, that is micromanaging.
Good managers learn when the right time is to discuss new ideas or seek updates on a task or project.
Your manager may be someone with good intentions who trust you to do your job. That’s great, but you may also need to explain to them why micromanaging is wrong and counterproductive.
9. Ask your boss not to pass judgment
Passing judgment without understanding the situation is another way your bosses may be overstepping boundaries. Your boss should avoid passing judgment and ask more questions to understand better what’s happening before concluding.
Judging people without actually understanding a situation or context is like having tunnel vision which is not good. That can lead to your manager coming off as insensitive and hurtful to you and your team members.
10. Suggest to your manager to frame criticism along with solutions
Suggest to your manager that it would be beneficial if, when giving us criticism, you also provide us solutions or ideas to improve.
When a good manager gives feedback, she also provides solutions along with her criticism. This way, employees will feel like they have a roadmap to follow.
It’s always best to give specific and actionable feedback when critiquing someone, both to help them improve and also so that they know what they need to work on.
So, instead of telling someone to be more assertive, try saying something like, “I noticed you were quiet during the meeting — next time, I recommend trying this.”
Or your manager can say, “I noticed that you didn’t speak up during the meeting. Would you like me to give you some feedback on why I think that was and, if it’s true, how to overcome it?”.
Including solutions or ideas for improvement and critiques gives the employee a roadmap to improve. And it is also an excellent way to show that you’re not just interested in tearing them down but in helping them grow.
11. Encourage your manager to admit failure
Admitting that you messed up or failed is a sign of strength, not weakness. If your boss makes a mistake and lets people know about it, that does not make them weak or reduce their authority.
It makes them more human and believable because they are willing to admit they are not perfect.
Tell your manager that you have high regard for their work, but you expect them to fail sometimes. So, they should be bold and admit they are wrong, making them look more trustworthy and open to their employees.
12. Suggest to your boss to let go of anyone unreliable
Don’t hold on to chronically underperforming, untrustworthy, or unreliable individuals. They may have been working with you for some time, but that doesn’t mean you should keep them around.
Letting go of such employees might be difficult because you’ve known them for quite a long time. Your boss should always not shy away from taking drastic measures to benefit the team and the company as a whole.
13. Your manager should step back and analyze the team’s performance
Sometimes employees make suitable suggestions, but getting buy-in from your manager takes much work.
Managers often have many responsibilities and are constantly under pressure to deliver results. It can be difficult for them to step back and assess how they and their employees are doing.
One way to get your manager on board is to make the case that taking a step back every once in a while can help them improve the team’s performance.
You could point out that assessing how we are doing as a team can identify areas where we need to improve and that we can all be more successful by making changes based on this feedback.
14. Sharing information about what’s going on in the company
Your boss is the one who should keep abreast of any changes within the company and share them with the team so you can all move together as a unit. Sometimes, things happen within the company that employees need to know about before they affect their jobs.
It may be a merger, an acquisition, or even changes in the company structure — which can result in moving resources around or changing office location.
Yes, it isn’t always easy sharing potentially sensitive information with employees because of the possible negative reaction and the uncertainty of how people will take it.
But there should be a proper communication flow within the company so that people are aware of what’s happening — it’s vital that everyone is on the same page and moves in the right direction.
You may not know all the details about being a manager, but there are ways to offer suggestions on how your boss can improve.
For instance, if you notice a recurring issue on the team that needs solving or an opportunity that would benefit from someone else, mention them in a way where your manager will not feel forced into doing something they don’t want to do.
In other words, if there is something you think your boss should work on to improve, always be respectful in communicating it with them. Take the time to explain why you feel they could benefit from improving in that area.
If necessary, provide examples to support your point of view. Without an objective viewpoint, your manager will likely assume you are entrenched in your agendas.
What are some things your boss may not know about their job but could benefit from knowing? Let us know in the comments below