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How to Encourage Upward Feedback


While there are many opportunities for team members to get feedback, management may not easily get the same opportunity. Managers need feedback to develop too! Upward feedback helps managers develop and perform better. This is particularly important when you consider a recent poll that reported that 84% of respondents thought they would do a better job than their manager.

Upward feedback also helps build trust between managers and their team members, which in turn helps foster better workplace relationships. If your organization is trying to create and sustain a culture of feedback, having managers receive upward feedback is incredibly important. In this article, we discuss how your organization can encourage upward feedback.

1) Help managers see the value in upward feedback

Feedback can be uncomfortable for everyone. While direct reports are getting more comfortable with receiving feedback from their managers, many of them still have concerns about providing feedback, particularly to their boss. In order for upward feedback to be accepted by all employees, management needs to get on board. They need to understand the value and the benefits of upward feedback. Proper feedback training can help make
the feedback process more comfortable for everyone (see more details in point #2).

Managers should also be encouraged to ask for feedback. One idea is to end 1-on-1 sessions by asking questions to the direct report. Some examples include:

  1. What could I do (as a manager) to make your work easier/more effective/more productive?
  2. Do I follow up frequently with you? How can I improve the clarity or cadence of my communication?
  3. Would you like more or less direction from me?
  4. How can I better support you? Is there anything I could be doing better or differently?
  5. Is there a situation/objective/task you’d like my help with?
  6. Do you have any questions for me?

2) Train employees

Let’s face it: usually direct reports know their manager’s skill set and leadership capabilities better than most people in the organization. Direct reports have some great insight – they should be encouraged to provide meaningful feedback to help the manager develop and manage more effectively. Education on providing and receiving effective feedback can help make employees feel comfortable with giving feedback to their boss. It also helps managers feel comfortable receiving feedback.

Having a regular training session on giving/receiving feedback every year can help ensure that everyone is ‘on the same page’ when it comes to feedback. Implementing a continuous feedback software (if you do not have a tool already) allows for upward feedback to be shared and stored. A tool like Pavestep is a great example of a software that helps you store and analyze data to make better decisions about your talent.

3) Encourage employees to provide recognition

Employees love to be recognized for a job well done. So do managers. In fact, up to 53% of senior leaders and 42% of senior managers want more recognition in the workplace. Positive feedback/recognition can truly engage and motivate managers. Something simple like a recognition moment of the week can go a long way.

4) Encourage follow through

While managers may be on board to receive upward feedback, they still need to be prepared to process that feedback and take action. If managers are not taking any definitive steps to change their behaviors, employees can easily become discouraged and stray away from providing upward feedback altogether. HR and talent leaders should have access to feedback data to make sure that there is follow-through, particularly if there is feedback that could cause potential performance problems for the manager or the direct report in the future.

Has your company implemented upward feedback? – Let us know!

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