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Just the Facts

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By Online Career Tips Staff

Imagine this scenario. It’s the middle of your workday and your boss suddenly appears and asks bluntly, “What do you think about Jim?” Jim is one of your work colleagues by the way, and now your boss just tossed you a question more loaded than a baked potato. You’re wondering, what is my boss really asking me? Is Jim up for promotion? Is this an HR issue or is my boss is just looking for a general peer evaluation?

The situation might feel uncomfortable, but the answer is simple. Stick to just the facts and always be professional. Base your answers in terms of how well you were able to accomplish a business task while working with Jim. If you had a favorable experience, then say so. If he didn’t meet expectations or was a barrier to the project’s success, then don’t hold back. If you haven’t had enough interaction with Jim to warrant a valid response then that is fair too. There are no wrong answers, just accurate information. Whatever you do, do not try to predict the answer you think your boss wants to hear.

When your boss asks this type of question, it’s because she is trying to harmonize the team and optimize performance. She values your input. Imagine if she’s thinking about assigning Jim a complex and vitally important project. If there’s a performance gap that you know about, and you hold back, imagine how poorly that might reflect on you down the road if the project doesn’t succeed.

Feedback is always valuable to your boss, whether it is positive or negative. Yes, anything you say is “out there,” and can be documented. So, never state anything unless it can be supported by the facts. Keep it concise, fair and move on. Just remember, your boss probably asked Jim what he thinks about you too.

J. Thompson is the Vice President of the Content team at American Public University. He earned an M.F.A in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and performed his undergraduate studies in English literature, political science and business management between the University of New Mexico and East Carolina University. His career insights draw upon experience as a communications vice president supporting learning management, applicant tracking, and talent and leadership development for Bank of America and other Fortune 500 firms.

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