Honest employee feedback is a precious commodity.

Sometimes the boss is on a pedestal where he rarely receives honest employee feedback, because nobody has ever seen him at eye level.

He is the rock star boss, an icon to behold with awe and sometimes, fear. We know little about him except that he signs the checks and that he doesn’t like mustard on his hoagie. You may have met or heard of him. Or you may be a leader that fits this description.

Employee feedback is key to business growth. It ensures processes are working efficiently and conducive to a great customer experience, and gives insight to the unpleasant truth when they are not. How can we understand and help the rock star boss?

Employee Feedback

You have something to say to him, but how do you say it?

If you meet your favorite TV star, will you offer honest feedback and tell him his last role was off character, or will you tell him the sweeter truth- that you are his biggest fan, then ask for his autograph? You may assume he doesn’t value your opinion, so you opt to say something that you think will put you in his favor.

Such is true for the rock star boss. When you finally have a chance to talk to him, you know your time is limited. Are you going to tell him that a process he has put into place is broken, or just smile and ask him what he would like from you next?

He is human, for real!

Being a rock star doesn’t make him unappreciative of his stellar crew. Maybe he organizes special outings for the company, gives generous bonuses or buys lunch every Friday. But nonetheless, he is an enigma of sorts who is often surrounded by yes-men and deprived of the honest employee feedback he needs to enrich and evolve the customer experience.

What are some of the classic characteristics of the rock star boss?

1. Speaking through people, not to them

When the rock star boss has something to say to you, he often has someone say it for him. If that person is not present, he puts it in writing and sends it to you. He is usually too busy to exit his office and address you personally. On the rare occasion he tries to connect with the staff, it leaves them fidgety and untrusting of the feigned interest suddenly displayed.

2. Disregarding the workplace rules

The rock star boss is the only one who can wear shorts in the office. He parks where he can keep an eye on his car from his window while the rest of the staff has to park out back. He is the only one who leaves a mess in the sink. The rock star boss makes it clear that the rules are for you, not for him.

3. No news is good news

The rock star boss keeps to himself and you seldom hear a peep out of him. But when he is not happy, watch out! It is often urgent and everyone will hear about it, NOW.

It’s tough and often lonely at the top.

The rock star boss is much in demand. But he has double-booked appointments, three phone lines and a relentless work load- signs of success and business growth. So connecting with his staff can be very difficult but never impossible. Unfortunately, it requires even more of his time and resources, but it will pay off with a healthy relationship that encourages honest employee feedback.

What can the rock star boss do to earn their honesty?

  • Schedule a “day off” once in a while, but dedicate that day to connecting to the staff.
  • Hire a good “agent” who is comfortable speaking directly with him and the staff.
  • Random in-person acts of praise and kindness can go a long way to open up the lines of honest communication.
  • Spend lunch hours or break time with the staff instead of hiding out in the office.
  • Be as outspoken about satisfaction and success as disappointment and failure.
  • Adhere to the rules of the workplace. Being the boss has its perks, no doubt! But walking all over the rules can breed resentment.

These little things can make a world of difference!

Image Credit: Christian Haugen via Creative Commons

How do you stay connected with your staff and invite honest feedback? What advice would you give to the rock star boss? He can always use help finding ways to encourage honest employee feedback.