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The Benefits of Upward Feedback


People do not quit their jobs, they quit their bosses.

You have probably heard this phrase before, and there is some truth to this. One study found that 57% of employees have left a job because of their manager! Managers play a critical role in hiring, training, developing, motivating, and engaging employees. But managers need feedback!

In this article, we discuss the benefits of upward feedback.

1) Upward feedback creates better leaders.

A study done by Gallup claimed that managers who are receiving feedback are leading teams that are 8.9% more profitable than those who are not! To help improve leadership skills, managers need to be open to receiving feedback from direct reports. In matrix organizations like professional service firms where employees can be involved in many different teams and there is more than one line of reporting managers, upward feedback becomes incredibly important to managers; they need to know how they can better support their staff.

Managers should ask for feedback during 1-on-1 meetings with their employees. Remember that continuous feedback is the best way to constantly improve.

To encourage upward feedback, some questions that managers should be asking their employees include:

  1. How can I better support you?
  2. Are your objectives clear? What can I do to make them more clear?
  3. What obstacles are in your way?
  4. Do you think I provide enough feedback? Do you want more feedback?
  5. How can I help with _____?

For a list of more questions, feel free to check out our guidebook on 100+ review questions.

2) Improves employee engagement

Employees with poor managers are more susceptible to being less engaged with their work — and research has shown that disengaged employees cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion per year. Moreover, all employees want to feel that their opinions are heard. Upward feedback is a strategic way to give employees a medium to address how the manager can better support and guide them. It also a great opportunity to give appreciation and recognition to their manager. Up to 53% of senior leaders (such as VPs and directors) and 42% of senior managers want more recognition in the workplace.

Upward feedback can be hard for direct reports to give (in fact, feedback can be hard for anyone to give). One thing that all employees should keep in mind when giving feedback is that it has to be effective. It needs to focus on behaviors, it should be real-time, and direct.

3) Strengthens relationships

Relationships play a big part in employee engagement. McKinsey reported that 75% of people picked their immediate boss as the most stressful aspect of their job, and those describing a bad relationship with their management had substantially lower job satisfaction. Research also shows that employees are more inclined to find new jobs rather than staying loyal to one company if they don’t trust their leaders.

While many employees care about their career development, they also care about the relationship with their manager. Upward feedback can help create trust in workplace relationships, particularly when managers ask and welcome feedback.

When providing feedback, employees should keep the following questions in mind (these questions can also be part of an upward review form):

  1. In what ways does my manager hear out my opinions on projects before making important decisions?
  2. Do they [my manager] provide me with constructive feedback to better my development in a kind way?
  3. Do they [my manager] communicate advancement opportunities for my career?
  4. In what ways are they [my manager] recognizing me when I do something well to keep me engaged in my work?


Upward feedback, although intimidating, can be a critical part in the performance management process. There are many different ways to implement upward feedback (as part of the formal evolution process, candid 1:1s, creating anonymous surveys, etc). Regardless of the method, make sure it fits with your current performance management processes and your workplace culture.

Has your company implemented upward feedback/reviews? If you are looking for a feedback solution to help facilitate feedback conversations, make sure to check out Pavestep!

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