It is amazing to see how deferential people can become when they interact with their bosses. Bosses are not always right. All bosses are also not necessarily intelligent and knowledgeable. It is also a fact that not everyone wants to become a boss. The roles of a leader and the followers are different, and, therefore, their modus operandi is also different. Many good leaders have been good followers. The job of a boss is like that of a caretaker who takes care of what is in place, and then tries to make it more efficient.
No one likes to work with over-dependent as well as under-dependent people. All bosses want to avoid the onslaughts of ‘yes boss’ people who never say ‘no’ to their superiors for they never want to offend them, and ‘no boss’ people who never say ‘yes’ as they get pleasure in disagreeing with them — be they insiders or outsiders. Some people are specifically kept in some workplaces to give feedbacks to the boss. They are paid to give feedback, including honest feedback. Many bosses can’t take honest feedback in the spirit it is given. Some bosses understand the spirit of the feedback and accept it accordingly.
One may ask — why should one be afraid to give honest feedback? The boss, after all, is the head of the family whose responsibility is to keep the family members in good shape. And for doing that, they themselves need to be in good shape by accepting honest feedback. But even then, some bosses hesitate to do so because they think that their authority is their perk, and it is their sacred duty to defend it with all the might that is available to them. Not many people can afford to spoil their relationship with the boss, because it is he or she who can push one up as well down.
Many bosses agree that honest feedback is important for them, more so for the workplace. An honest person can give truthful feedback. It also must be recognised that honest feedback strengthens, not weakens the bonds of relationship. One also must know that if some bosses accept negative feedback with magnanimity, they also like to receive positive feedbacks. Bosses love to hear pleasant things, but this doesn’t mean they should not be told the unpleasant ones. Putting the problems under the carpet is behaving like a tortoise; with its head inside the shell, it thinks if one can’t see something, others also can’t see it. An honest feedback may act as a good defence mechanism for the boss as well as the self. We all want to have a clear view of our expectations. If someone helps us in finding that in a collaborative atmosphere, one must welcome such an initiative. For giving as well as receiving honest feedback, both the parties must be confident about themselves. Healthy conflicts are often useful, but these become destructive when they are focussed too much on individuals. We often hold back our true feelings and beliefs. We feel, by doing so, we would not be hurting someone’s feelings. But that is not always the case. We often forget that it helps to let our true feelings known. Abraham Maslow’s maxim is quite apt here: “The loss of illusions and the discovery of identity, though painful at first, can be ultimately exhilarating and strengthening.” It is also good to remember that there are also many things bosses need not know.
(The writer is a biotechnologist and ED, Birla Institute of
Scientific Research, Jaipur)
Purnendu Ghosh