How to Give Upward Feedback With Confidence

Published December 3, 2021
woman giving upward feedback to manager

Feedback doesn't always have to flow from a manager to employees. This type of feedback is referred to as downward feedback, because it travels from a boss to their direct reports. The best managers also want to receive feedback from their employees. When employees provide feedback to their supervisors, that is called upward feedback. Discover how to confidently provide this type of feedback.

Upward Feedback Questionnaire Template

Upward feedback is often provided via a survey that a group of employees completes within a specified timeframe. This type of feedback is usually gathered as part of a company initiative, with HR and/or the executive team making a decision to ask employees to anonymously answer a set of questions about their manager. The results are aggregated and provided to the manager as a whole. They don't know exactly who said what, but they gain perspective on how they are perceived by employees.

Examples of Upward Feedback Comments

Like the template above, most upward feedback surveys provide a place for employees to leave comments. Think carefully about the comments you leave, as they will most likely be provided directly to your supervisor as written. If you want your supervisor to know what you said, feel free to mention your name. Or, if you'd prefer to remain anonymous, don't include any information that would reveal who left the comment.

Examples of Positive Upward Feedback to Manager

Phrase your feedback carefully. Reinforce the things your boss does well with phrases like these:

  • Provides very specific feedback that makes it easy to know what needs to be done in order to improve
  • Supervises in a way that makes me feel trusted, yet also aware that assistance is available
  • Actively helps employees set specific goals and implement plans for achieving them
  • Regularly expresses appreciation for employee contributions
  • Proactively makes training and development opportunities available to employees
  • Communicates to employees in a respectful manner
  • Does a great job of making remote employees feel like part of the team

Examples of Improvement-Focused Upward Feedback

Let your boss know where they have room to improve with phrases like these:

  • Feedback tends to be vague; it's hard to know what to improve when simply being told to "do better"
  • Such close supervision of every detail makes me feel micromanaged and untrusted
  • Dictates individual goals without discussing them with employees
  • Seems to take employees for granted; doesn't often say thank you or otherwise express appreciation
  • Seems hesitant to allow employees to participate in training and development opportunities
  • Often yells at employees who make mistakes, or talks down to team members who ask for help
  • Doesn't integrate remote employees into team activities; focus tends to lean toward on-site team members

Individualized 1:1 Upward Feedback

Upward feedback doesn't have to be limited to questionnaire responses. Many managers welcome and encourage employees to share feedback at any time. In this case, feedback would be provided in a private meeting between the employee and the supervisor. Managers will often specifically ask employees for feedback during 1:1 discussions, which is an ideal time to share such information. Employees who have feedback to share with their supervisor can also request an individual meeting. In that case, simply schedule a time to discuss the feedback you'd like to share with your boss. Be sure to communicate in a professional, tactful way that focuses on specific situations, rather than making the conversation personal.

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How to Give Upward Feedback With Confidence