Learn how to provide your manager with constructive feedback that strengthens your working relationship.

Providing feedback can be intimidating, especially when you’re sharing your thoughts with your superior. Before you kick things off, step back and take a deep breath. You have nothing to worry about. If your manager has asked for your feedback, it’s because they genuinely want to hear your thoughts. 

What are the benefits of my manager asking for feedback?

  • They value your opinion

Having a great relationship with your manager is becoming increasingly important. In a digital landscape that favors primarily remote teams, oftentimes your manager is your main point of contact between you and the rest of your organization. 

Being asked for feedback is a gift and having the chance to provide your manager with both negative and positive feedback is a great opportunity to nurture your working relationship. When your manager asks you for feedback, it’s a tell-tale sign that they value your opinions and appreciate your contributions.  

  • They are looking for areas of improvement

Just because your manager is more senior than you, it doesn’t mean they’re perfect. Management is complicated and often requires continuous improvement. Remember, nobody has all the answers, and feedback is a gift! Help your manager improve by providing constructive feedback with specific examples. 

  • You can build a stronger relationship 

Relationships are built on trust and transparency, and having thoughtful check-ins that allow both parties to improve is a great way to nurture manager-employee relationships. Opportunities to connect with your manager one-on-one don’t come often. Make sure you take advantage of this opportunity by sharing your thoughts and honest feedback. 

Collect your thoughts

Prepare in advance when sharing feedback and jot your thoughts in a meeting agenda so you don’t forget to mention anything top of mind.

What feedback should I provide? 

1 Areas within your manager’s control

When you’re providing feedback, it’s important to get granular. Not only should you provide feedback with specific examples, but you should also set your sights on areas in which your manager could improve. Some suggestions may be out of their control and as a result, you may not yield the outcome you were hoping for. 

2Communication style

Communication is key, meaning it’s imperative that you and your manager be able to communicate in a way that is thoughtful and constructive. Asking for feedback and receiving feedback are both difficult to do. If your manager comes to you requesting feedback, be honest and share why you may be concerned. 

3Working style

Everyone’s working style is different, and it’s important to be transparent about which working styles you prefer to work alongside. If your manager’s working style doesn’t align with your own, it’s time to have an open and honest conversation so you can move forward and collaborate more efficiently. 

4Measurable actions

Actionable feedback is great because it allows you to measure your manager’s progress. If you provide vague feedback, you may never see results. On the other hand, if you provide actionable feedback with measurable benchmarks, you will be able to tell if your feedback has resonated. 

5What will be helpful to you

Your manager is most likely asking for feedback because their actions impact you. This is a great opportunity to bring up anything that directly impacts you as one of their direct reports. Use this time to have an open and honest conversation about how they can be more helpful. One of your manager’s main responsibilities is to help you succeed, meaning you have to be willing to provide them with insights that can help them shape your future. 

8 steps to take when your manager asks for feedback

1Take time to think about it

Providing feedback is a great opportunity to have your voice heard. Not only does the feedback you provide impact your manager, but it also impacts you, because this feedback may directly affect how you and your manager communicate and collaborate moving forward. When your manager asks for feedback, it’s important to not share your thoughts immediately. Instead, take the time to step back and reflect on your relationship. Taking your time to think about the feedback you’re going to be providing will ensure nothing goes left unsaid. 

2Write it down 

Oftentimes your thoughts may get lost in translation. In order to avoid miscommunications, it’s best to write out your feedback. Writing out your feedback means you won’t forget anything when it comes time to share, and it adds an additional layer of clarity. You may think you should share something a certain way, but after taking the time to write it down you may realize that you can approach the feedback differently. 

Additionally, writing down these important snippets of feedback means your manager can reference the information at a later date. If you want your manager to take your feedback seriously, you should write it down so they have the opportunity to process and reflect on the information. 

3Be specific with examples

Occasionally our teammates or managers may not be aware of the areas in which they can improve. They may not even realize that something they do frequently needs improvement, and this is why it’s so important to come prepared with examples. Providing feedback can be difficult, especially if you aren’t used to having these conversations. 

It’s easy for feedback to get lost in the wind, but if you’re genuinely striving for positive change, getting specific and providing examples of certain scenarios on whichthe recipient can reflect is imperative.

4Choose an appropriate time to give the feedback

Providing great feedback is all about timing. You have to be timely and respectful. It’s best to provide your feedback in a safe space. If you and your manager host a weekly one-on-one, this would be a great opportunity to discuss your feedback. Alternatively, you can always schedule an additional meeting between the two of you that is dedicated strictly to discussing the feedback you’ve come up with. In order to be respectful, you should avoid sharing feedback in a group setting like a team call or round table discussion. 

5Give positive feedback, too 

Strictly providing negative feedback may make the recipient feel as though they’re being attacked or as if you don’t value your working relationship with them. In order to protect your relationship, you need to be respectful and highlight the things they do well in addition to the areas in which they can improve. 

For every piece of negative feedback, you should be prepared to share a piece of positive feedback. Self-improvement is important, but it’s also important to make everyone you work with feel valued and appreciated. 

6Think about your tone

Providing feedback can be uncomfortable for both you and the recipient. In order to set the mood and ensure everyone feels comfortable for the duration of the meeting, you should keep things lighthearted and chat in a positive tone. Your body language and tone say just as much as your verbal communication, meaning it’s important to be mindful of all of your cues. 

If your tone is loud, abrupt, or demeaning, the recipient may be hesitant to take what you’re saying seriously. It may also lead to them refraining from meeting with you in the future. In order to keep an open line of communication, you should try your best to make the recipient feel comfortable and respected.  

7Focus on one thing at a time

If you’re constantly bombarding the recipient with information, some of it may get lost in translation. In order to avoid moving from one downfall to another, show up to the meeting prepared with a thorough meeting agenda that encompasses each one of your talking points. 

Bombarding the recipient with a whole bunch of negative feedback may also be extremely overwhelming for them. Instead, consider thoroughly talking through one point at a time. After you’ve talked about one piece of feedback, take the time to reiterate something the recipient does well. Remember, this encounter doesn’t have to be all negative! 

8Speak from your perspective

Everyone perceives things differently, and that’s why it’s extremely important to reiterate that the feedback you’re providing is based on your perception. When providing feedback, you should be solely accountable. Instead of speaking on behalf of other people, stick to what you know and speak only from your perspective. 

When should I give feedback? 

Knowing when to provide feedback can be tricky, but it ultimately comes down to these four occasions: 

  • You or your manager need additional guidance 
  • You or your manager feel stressed or overwhelmed 
  • You wish to express your appreciation via positive feedback 
  • You need to have an honest conversation about managing expectations

Feedback is a gift

Providing your manager with feedback can be extremely intimidating. Having the opportunity to share your concerns with your manager may seem foreign or unnatural, but these simple tips and tricks will ensure you have everything you need to handle the conversation with confidence. 

If your manager asks for feedback, it means they value your opinion. This presents a unique opportunity to strengthen your working relationship through an open and honest conversation that stems from thoughtful and constructive feedback.