Feedback isn’t just the ultimate business buzzword. As a manager, you should be giving your employees positive and constructive feedback on a regular basis so they feel valued and can improve their performance at work. You may be used to receiving feedback from your manager, too. However, it’s likely that you don’t seek personal feedback from your subordinates. 

Let’s talk about employee feedback, what questions to ask, and how asking the right questions can make you a better manager. 

Why feedback is important 

Giving and receiving feedback is important and helps improve efficiency and evaluate performance in the workplace. You may be an excellent communicator or a thoughtful delegator, but you’re definitely not a mindreader. When you ask for feedback, you’ll receive insight that can help you make personal improvements to help your employees, your team, and your company. 

Feedback is a gift

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How often should managers ask for employee feedback?

The frequency at which you should ask for employee feedback depends on a few factors. If you’re a new manager or are managing a new team for the first time, you’ll want to ask personal feedback questions more regularly to build trust and to best understand how you can help your team succeed. If you’ve been a manager for a while, asking feedback questions will ensure that you’re able to stay up-to-date with workplace best practices and will show that you’re committed to self-improvement.

20 questions managers should ask their employees to get valuable feedback 

Are there any blockers you’re experiencing that I can help with?

First and foremost, it’s important to check in with your employees and see how you can best support them. For example, if you’ve told your team that you’d like to review a project before it gets finalized but your competing priorities are holding back their progress, this will be the time to address the situation. 

Are there any workplace processes that you feel are not helping you?

You know those pesky, time-consuming processes that management values as part of the workplace culture but the rest of the company secretly views as a burden? If your employees are honest, there are likely a few of these they’ll bring up when asked this question. Maybe they’re tired of spending time completing online training modules once every three months on topics that could be more easily discussed in person, or perhaps that new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) the company implemented has made everyone’s jobs more difficult. While you may not have the power to resolve every employee headache, it’s important that you do take the time to listen. 

How do you prefer to receive feedback about your work?

Every employee will like receiving feedback differently. Asking this question will show that you care to give your employees thoughtful suggestions. While some individuals love informal feedback, that approach will make others deeply uncomfortable. 

What could I do to help you work more productively?

Maybe you have a digital-guru on your team who previously used software that will help them be more productive in their current position. Or perhaps your employee who works from home believes that a change to their working hours could better accommodate their busy lifestyle. Different employees will require different tools to be successful. Use your feedback conversation to discuss how each individual can maximize their own productivety.

Looking back on the month, is there anything I could have done better as your manager?

Asking this question will let your employees know that you care to improve your own leadership skills. Your team should be able to provide specific examples. For instance, if you didn’t make time earlier in the week for an individual who wanted to discuss their professional growth, they’ll now have the chance to share what’s been on their mind. 

I’m working on [task name]. Do you have any feedback for me about this project?

Your employees will appreciate your willingness to grow with them! If you’re the only one who gives written and verbal feedback on tasks, how will you know how you can improve yourself? 

How can I further support you in achieving that goal?

Encouragement breeds innovation and productivity. If you don’t support your employees’ professional goals, they won’t be keen to support your objectives as a manager. The next time your subordinate lets you know that they’re interested in ascending to the next level of their career or improving their presentation skills, put your mentorship skills to use and encourage their drive to succeed. 

How do you feel about the direction of our team? 

Everyone has a unique leadership style. You can be a decisive decision-maker, an individual strength nurturer, or a “laissez-faire” supervisor and still have the same high-performing team.  As the head of the group, you should aim to understand your own management style as it will help you identify how you can adapt to meet the needs of every employee. 

As a supervisor, I’ve been doing [name of task or change in behaviour]. What do you think about that?

For instance, if you recently changed up your primary method of communication with employees or have implemented a tool that automates administrative tasks, ask your team directly if they support the decision. 

What is something that I do well as a manager?

It’s time for some positive feedback! When your actions are praised, you’ll be able to celebrate your own successes, be more confident, and feel encouraged to work harder. Embrace your strengths and watch your good attitude boost the team’s morale. 

What currently works and doesn’t work with our team?

Employees will know how they can best collaborate as part of a group. Asking this question will ensure that there aren’t workplace systems or norms that are setting back the team’s progress. Your employees’ answers will also provide valuable insight on what current practices are beneficial and should be continued. 

What is something I do that you find limiting or frustrating?

Don’t be afraid to ask uncomfortable questions. When you give constructive feedback to improve a person’s performance, it’s only appropriate to approach the topic without harshness or personal attacks. If you’re having a feedback conversation with your subordinate, they too will act in your best interest by providing you with tips that are practical and focused on improvement. 

What is something that I bring to my relationships with members of the team?

You are responsible for building strong working relationships with your subordinates. Embrace your role as a leader by learning where your own strengths lie. It’s okay to be vulnerable and seek positive feedback from your colleagues every now and then. We’re all human and we all like feeling valued. 

If you were in my shoes, what would you change?

Your team may look like a well-oiled machine from the management level, but some individuals will beg to differ. Each employee has at one point thought to themselves, “If I was in charge, I would… and this would make everyone’s job easier.” Ask this question and be exposed to your blindspots. 

How is my attitude when facing challenges?

Your team may appreciate how calm you remain during challenging times, but dislike how passive you become when conflicts arise within the team. If your attitude prompts negative emotions among your subordinates, it will be important for you to learn how to keep lines of communication open and remain level headed. You want a team that views your presence as both warm and competent during stressful periods. 

Based on your observations of me, what would you say my values are?

Do your personal and professional values help your team thrive or hold them back? This question will help you view how well your own values align with those of your company. Once you have an answer, you’ll understand how these values guide your decision making, establish your priorities at work, and affect how you evaluate your own success. 

How clear am I when communicating my instructions and expectations?

While some employees are self-starters, some will require a bit more instruction to complete tasks. If you ask this question to a few teammates, the answers will likely vary, but they will provide you with valuable insight on how to delegate to different individuals. 

How supported do you feel in your current role?

Support is a two-way process. Leaders need to make sure their team has access to regular feedback, and employees should strive to support their manager by working to achieve objectives that benefit the team. While you should never micromanage, you can ask this question regularly to keep everyone on the same page. 

How can I best support your growth as an employee?

Keep your employees satisfied by providing access to employee growth and professional development opportunities. Ask individuals often about their goals and the specific steps they’re taking to achieve them. 

Was there a recent meeting or discussion where you did not have the chance to share your thoughts? Would you like to share them now?

This isn’t a personal feedback question, but it can let you know when the team is holding back their thoughts. For example, if you were recently boasting during a team meeting about how excited you were about a new workplace initiative, your employees may be nervous to admit their own hesitations about the project in a group setting. Ask this question during a one-on-one meeting or in a written questionnaire. 

Free meeting agenda templates to help you get valuable feedback

Personal feedback for professional wins

Consider this: your employees have experienced your strengths and weaknesses firsthand. Every member of your team will be able to name an occasion where they’ve been happy or disappointed with your leadership style. All this to say, you’re not a perfect manager and that’s fine! You aren’t expected to stop growing when you begin supervising. In fact, you probably became a manager because you worked hard to implement the feedback you received during the earlier years of your career. Next time you provide your employees with feedback, ask for some in return. Then, self-reflect and use the feedback to become the best manager possible for your team.