Heather Foley looks at how you can give upward feedback without losing your job.
Managers know very clearly that part of their job is to give feedback to the team. They should praise when a job’s well done, motivate when the going gets tough and be clear when performance needs to improve.
Yet very few employees recognise that giving their manager feedback is part of their job.
Giving your manager constructive feedback can improve your enjoyment of your job, as well as your own career prospects. But it’s understandable to feel at least a little uncomfortable giving feedback to your manager.
Here is a step-by-step guide to delivering valuable feedback to your line manager:
1. You need to be prepared and know exactly why it is important
Firstly, you need to be prepared. Have very clear in your mind what it is you want to cover, why it’s important and how things will improve as a result.
Once you feel confident that you can clearly describe what you wish to express, take the next step.
2. Book some time together when you won’t be interrupted
This next step is very simple but should not be overlooked.
Typically managers need to deal with a number of things at the same time. Sometimes these things can be urgent and important.
To give yourself (and your manager) the best opportunity to speak calmly and listen carefully, book some time together when you won’t be interrupted.
3. Establish permission to give feedback
How you start the session will radically influence the outcome.
Managers, like many people, tend to imagine the worst when they don’t have information. Therefore, it’s important in the first few moments to establish two things:
- Permission to give feedback
- The intention for giving the feedback
When you ask for your manager’s permission, you are helping him/her to become more open to receiving it positively. When you share the intention to give feedback, the manager will feel more relaxed.
Useful ways of doing this include phrases such as “I know how much you care about being the best manager you can be” and “I’d like to share some perceptions with you that you might find helpful. Is that ok?”
With permission granted, you can then give your feedback in a secure and open environment.
4. Be clear and objective about what you would like to change
There’s sometimes a tendency to try to be kind and skirt around an issue. However, if the manager is not given feedback clearly, how on earth can you expect improvement?
A useful way to give feedback clearly, but to remove any hint of accusation, is to use the phrase “my perception is that…” near the beginning of any feedback.
For example, an agent might say “when you hover over me during my calls, my perception is that you don’t trust me and it makes me feel a little demotivated”.
Approaching it this way shows you are not accusing your manager of anything and that you can work together to solve the problem.
5. Agree the next steps to make sure action is taken
Unless you agree the next steps in the process, the impact of your feedback will be will be short lived.
Ideally, your manager would lead this process, but if it doesn’t happen, make sure you take the lead!
6. Thank your manager so you can easily repeat the process later on
Finally, you want to make the whole experience as positive as possible so that you can repeat it on another occasion if you need to.
Conclude by thanking the manager for the time to listen so constructively to your feedback. This will lay the foundations for a positive future session.
Heather Foley is a consultant at 360 feedback expert, ETSplc.com