Boss Offers No Feedback Until Performance Review? Ask Madeleine

Portrait of a smiling business woman with an afro in bright glas Dear Madeleine,

I don’t know what to do about my boss. He’s canceled every meeting we have set up for the past six months. I’ve received absolutely no feedback all year—and then yesterday at my annual performance review (which he had cancelled three times so it was three months late), he gave me only negative feedback.

He didn’t comment on the fact that I am carrying three times more projects than any of my peers and that all of my projects have been on time and under budget.

Also, no comment about how my whole regional team is doing incredibly well.

The negative feedback is all vague hearsay from other people because he actually has no idea what I do or how I do it. I think he hates me. I am feeling like I have to quit because I really can’t stand it anymore. What would you do?

Ready to Quit

Dear Ready to Quit,

Well, I wouldn’t walk out in a snit without another job to go to. But I am so sorry, this sounds really awful.  There is always a chance he might actually hate you and be mounting an elaborate campaign to get rid of you—but to establish this as true, you would need evidence that his behavior is personal rather than simply clueless. If you prove he has a personal vendetta, then I would encourage you to start job hunting. It is really hard to win when your boss hates you.

The more likely scenario is that he, like many bosses, figures you are doing fine and his job is to help you always improve—thus the lack of attention and ham-fisted feedback. Also, because most managers never get any training on how to actually manage until well into their careers, he probably hasn’t the foggiest idea about the importance of regular meetings or how to give feedback in a way that is useful.

There is a good chance your boss has no idea what a terrible state you are in. So before you throw in the towel, at least try to communicate your despair. You must explain to him exactly what you need to stay engaged with your work. Tell him it is critical that you meet and share how discouraged you are. Tell him that the constant cancellations make you feel like a second class citizen, and that you need some positive feedback every once in a while. This would also be the time to negotiate a way to communicate all the great stuff you are doing using email. Does your boss have any way of knowing how well your people are doing? Perhaps a monthly excel spreadsheet that tracks actions and milestone achievements, so that he can at least say “Wow, how great is this!”

Your boss is probably insanely overcommitted and putting all of his attention on his underperformers, figuring that you are fine on your own. You owe it to yourself to send up a flare before you pack up your toys and go home. Good luck.

Love, Madeleine

About the author


Madeleine Homan-Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!

3 thoughts on “Boss Offers No Feedback Until Performance Review? Ask Madeleine

  1. Couldn’t agree more about managers not getting actual training on how to lead people (not exactly what you said, but the gist). Sadly, most treat workers as resources which drives me batty! Nice article 🙂

  2. “It is really hard to win when your boss hates you” – This couldn’t be more true. I always welcome negative feedback, but if there is nothing positive to say I would think it’s your boss’s issue.

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