Specific phrases and examples for how to ask for feedback from your employees

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My previous articles outlined the steps a manager can take to request feedback from employees.

In today’s article, I provide some specific phrases and examples for what a manager can say to employees to request feedback on how the team is managed.

1. Introduce your expectation that you will receive feedback

“I want to be a great manager to this team, and in order to get to that point, I need your help and guidance in providing me your feedback and ideas for how this team is managed.”

2. Make the request for feedback an ongoing request for feedback, where the feedback can be given in regards to specific behaviors and as close as immediately following particular events.

“I want to get feedback from you on an ongoing basis.  If you have an idea for how a meeting could have gone better, how I could better support you, how I can better resolve blocking issues, and better reduce ambiguity, I want to hear it from you.”

3. Set the expectation that the feedback to you, the manager, will be behavior-based. It should focus on the specific actions that were performed, and not include generalizations or value judgments.

“I want to make sure that when you give me feedback, you focus on my specific behaviors and actions.  Tell me what I did and what impact you feel it had.  Try to avoid summarizing all of my actions and generalizing it – like saying I “always” do this or that.”

4. Ask your employees that to offer a better action that could have been taken:

“And if you have a suggestion for what I could have said or done differently, I’d like to hear it.”

5.  Use these feedback moments to better strategize how your team operates and works together:

“Many times it won’t be clear what the best path will be, so I hope that we can use these feedback conversations can be seen as an opportunity to strategize on how we as a team function and operate.”

6. Note that the feedback will be treated as input and assumed to be of positive intent:

“I won’t be able to act or change based on all the feedback, as I’ll be getting input from multiple areas on what I can do to improve.  Know that I will treat your input as an effort to help me be better at my job.”

7.  Remind to give positive feedback when things are done well. Not all feedback is negative!  Make sure your team members are expected to identify things that are done right, and cite these:

“Remember to give positive feedback as well.  If I do something right, or get something done that makes your job better in some way, I need to hear about that.  Same guidelines apply: It has to be related to something I did specifically and why you think it helped.”

8.  Provide a way for your employees to indicate they’d like to give you feedback:

“When you want to give me feedback on my performance as a manager, you can introduce the conversation with, ‘You know how you wanted feedback on your performance as a manager? Well, I have some feedback.’

9.  Provide the context when such conversations can happen:

“I will have regular 1 on 1 meetings with members of the team, and this will be a good venue to have these conversations.  Also, many of the opportunities to give feedback will come after some sort of event, like a big meeting.  This could also be a good time to de-brief and discuss how things could be done better.  Receiving feedback isn’t always easy, so make sure it is a context where I’m likely to be ready for it.”

10. Indicate that these feedback conversations are not a reflection of the employee’s performance in the employee’s job:

“These feedback conversations I’m expecting you to have with me are not something I will evaluate as part of your job.  These are conversations designed to help me and the team get better.  I will evaluate your job performance based on your actions in performing your job, not in giving feedback to me.”

11.  Reserve the right to help the employee improve in how they give feedback:

“Now, giving feedback to your boss isn’t easy, so it may be difficult to do at first.  I’ll try to help you in giving feedback as part of the conversation, so we can get better and better at it over time.”

12.  Use your receptiveness to receiving feedback as way to provide expectations that you will give performance feedback to employees. Once you have established yourself as open to receiving feedback, now you have more credibility to say that as the manager, you will be giving ongoing, specific and immediate feedback:

“As part of the feedback culture I’d like to establish on this team, I’m asking for your feedback on how I can do my job better.  Also know that I’ll be giving you performance feedback on an ongoing basis as well, and I expect that you will be receptive of my intent to help you perform better and for our team to operate better.”

How often do managers ask for feedback on how they manage?  And do they do it like this?  Have you actually ever given feedback to a manager on how they manage?  If so how did the feedback sessions go?

For you management designers out there – how difficult would it be to institute this as a practice for managers to perform on their team.Edit

In my next series of articles, I’ll provide tips on how to prepare and give feedback to a manager – even when the manager does not specifically request the feedback.

Related Articles:

How about managers ask for feedback from their employees?

How to ask for feedback from your employees on your management skills (part 1)

How to ask for feedback from your employees on your management skills (part 2)

How to ask for feedback from your employees on your management skills (part 3)

How do employees give feedback to their manager?

Using surveys to provide feedback to a manager: How effective is this?

Employees leaving bad managers – what kind of actionable feedback does this provide the manager?

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About Walter Oelwein
Walter Oelwein, CMC, CPT, helps managers become better at managing. To do this, he founded Business Performance Consulting, LLC .


2 Responses to “Specific phrases and examples for how to ask for feedback from your employees”
  1. Jason says:

    This is a great list of phrases for feedback sessions. Thank you.


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