I have recently written a series of articles on the topic of how managers obtain feedback on how they manage. Conclusion: It’s spotty. I’ve also recently published a series of articles on how employees can give feedback to managers. Conclusion: It’s possible, but takes a lot of work. Even the people who would best be able to give feedback, the manager’s employees, have to go through many machinations just to get to the point of providing corrective feedback, and it still isn’t without the associated risks of recrimination over time. Boo to that!
This is an important topic, because receiving performance feedback on how you are doing a job is a critical component for obtaining minimally acceptable performance, and then — let’s aspire to this — accelerating to high performance. Getting better at what you do simply isn’t possible without some sort of systematic performance feedback mechanism.
So that leaves one more option to consider: Bringing in a 3rd Party.
Let’s take another look at the grid of options for how managers receive feedback on being a manager (initially published in How to give feedback to your manager: Some possible openings).
Step 6 for Employees Providing Feedback to a Manager: Phrases to use during the feedback conversation
This is the last in a series of articles designed to help you give feedback to your manager. In the previous articles, we discussed the previous steps:
Yes, it’s a lot of work to get to this point. But hopefully you’ve discovered that the very act of doing the previous steps will a) Actually solve problems you’re experiencing already and b) keep you focused on what areas you’d like to give feedback.
Today, I’ll provide you some phrases to help you perform the feedback discussion on behaviors you’d like to change in your boss.
1. The setup
Here you want to ease into the conversation with your boss based on your preparation. The more you are focused on the intent (provide feedback) and result (better results), the better the setup will be:
“I’d like to provide some feedback to you in regards to what happened last week. Is this a good time?”
2. The context Read more
Step 5 for Employees Providing Feedback to a Manager: Identifying what the feedback is and when to give the feedback
On to step 5 of giving feedback to your manager: Identifying the feedback and doing the final preparation for the feedback! If you want to give feedback to a manager, you have to make sure you have engaged in step 1 (prepare and start a log) , step 2 (give positive feedback on the behaviors you do like), step 3 (set up a contract for when the manager wants feedback) and step 4 (talk to HR). If not, you are taking some risks that your feedback may backfire. That is, your manager could be resistant to the feedback, not trust your feedback, could directly or indirectly engage in recrimination over time.
Yes, giving feedback to your manager is a risk, and no, it’s not fair that managers could engage in some bad behaviors solely on you trying to give them feedback! The emerging field of Management Design needs to address this design flaw of Managers engaging in immature and recriminating behaviors based on an employee trying to help the manager improve, but until then, here’s an approach to take to get that much needed feedback to your manager.
OK, assuming you have a log of observations of behavior, you have already started giving positive feedback where it is merited, and have contracted for that moment and you have discussed your plans to talk with your boss with HR, where you might want to give corrective feedback, here are some options for your next move:
1. Analyze your log to make sure that you know which feedback you’d like to prioritize.
This is the latest in a series of posts to help employees give corrective feedback to their manager. If done well, the manager improves at being a manager, the team works better together, and there is less cost of poor quality management. If done poorly, the manager can recriminate on the employees trying to give feedback, making a bad situation worse.
This series is designed to help employees maximize the likelihood that feedback to the manager goes well, and minimize the likelihood that the manager does not accept the feedback and causes further damage to the team. Here are the prior steps:
Now step 4: Make a pre-emptive trip to Human Resources:
Step 3 for Employees Providing Feedback to a Manager: Ask how your manager prefers to receive feedback
This is the latest in a series of articles designed to help employees give managers feedback about the manager’s behaviors as managers. In previous articles, I describe how keeping a log on what the manager does helps you identify strategies for changing your own behavior, and when to give systematic, positive reinforcement. The key to both of these is that you identify the specific behaviors that you’ve observed, rather than summarize the general behaviors, and this creates the ability to provide feedback that works at actually helping you manage your boss’s behavior.
In today’s article, I’ll provide some tips for how to approach a manager whose behavior you’d like to change for the better. This is a more risky than providing positive feedback or changing your own behaviors (as discussed in previous articles), but sometimes it is necessary, because a manager who is doing things wrong can have a huge negative impact on the team, and typically only the employees are close enough to the situation to be able to correct it. But how?
1. Ask your manager how and when he or she wants to receive feedback
At some point in your relationship with your manager, preferably earlier in the relationship, but any time works, ask your manager the following, “If I notice something that you do that I think could be done differently, do you want to receive that feedback?” Most likely the answer is “Yes.”
It could happen that the manager then replies with, “Is there something that you want to tell me now?” Read more
Step 1 for Employees Providing Feedback to a Manager: Prepare for it and you might get some insights
The Manager by Designsm blog advocates for a new field, “Management Design,” which systemically attempts to create great managers by design rather than by accident. I have recently run a series of articles examining a flaw in the current management design: Managers don’t receive specific and immediate feedback on how they are doing with people management.
The series concluded the best candidates for providing feedback are the manager’s employees themselves. However, this has its risks, since the less artful the feedback the more dangerous the situation for the employee.
It is perhaps best if the manager ask for feedback from their employees, and this blog provides tips for how to do this. However, whether or not feedback is requested, employees must be careful in how they provide feedback to their managers. In the coming articles I’ll walk you through the steps to give feedback to your manager.
Today I’ll provide step one in helping employees provide feedback to their manager: Prepare for providing feedback. Read more
This is the final part of a three part series on how managers can ask for feedback on how they manage. Managers get spotty feedback on how they manage, and employees are perhaps the best source of feedback, but it can be tricky. In my previous articles, I outlined how the manager can set up the conversation, and how to handle the actual conversation. In today’s article I discuss how to take this feedback conversation to the next level.
Here are the tips!
1. Help the employee provide better feedback
It’s a little “meta” to give feedback on giving feedback, but since employees are not necessarily skilled at it (nor are managers), coaching in this area in private and in a structured conversation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. First, if the feedback is artfully given (behavior-based, not generalizing, no value judgments), then reinforce that this feedback was given well. If the feedback is not artfully given, you need to clarify what you are looking for, and provide examples. For example, if an employee gives you the un-artful feedback that “You are a terrible manager,” ask, “Can you give me examples from your experience that led you to this conclusion?” Then if the employee provides examples, then say, “That’s what I need, specific examples so I can take action.” If you give un-artful feedback on un-artful feedback, i.e., “Your feedback sucks,” then the conversation will not go well.
This is the second part of a three part series on how managers can ask for feedback on how they manage. Managers get spotty feedback on how they manage, and employees are perhaps the best source of feedback, but it can be tricky. In my previous article, I outlined how the manager can set up the conversation, in today’s article I dive deeper into the actual feedback conversation initiated by the employee. Chin up and get ready for the feedback!
1. Don’t actually recriminate
The employee gives you feedback and you don’t agree. This is kind of an obvious point, but if you don’t like what the employee says, or don’t agree with it, you now have to follow your own rules and not react negatively to what the employee has to say. Don’t be surprised, either. You asked for it, now you have to take it. Swallow your pride, no matter how much you disagree or didn’t want to hear what you just asked to hear. All of your other interactions and discussions have to be separated from this feedback. The better you can do this, the more you will create trust on your team.
2. Avoid debates
When asking for feedback, that’s what you get, feedback. If you then start to try to convince the employee that your actions are correct, and either debate or react as though the employee is wrong, you’ve just trained the employee to not give you feedback, and perhaps not share anything with you. You asked for the feedback, now take it. You don’t have to do anything differently based on the feedback if you don’t agree with it. You should take it into account, and allow this other opinion improve your decisions and approach.
In my previous article, I explored the channels that are most likely to provide specific and immediate feedback to managers on how they manage. The most common channels (like relying on your boss’s boss) are not reliably effective, while the channel with the highest likelihood of success is to receive feedback directly from employees. So why don’t managers get feedback from their employees?
Many managers are not good at being a manager, and the ones who suffer most directly from poor management practices are the employees. Similarly, employees are also the ones who are most likely to observe the behaviors of the boss, and have the ability to identify different ways for the boss to behave that would help the team perform better (i.e., “Instead of yelling, I would like it if you would speak to me in a calm voice.”) Read more
The Manager by Designsm blog seeks opportunities to design how managers improve in people and team management. A key opportunity is to seek ways on how managers receive feedback in managing.
In my previous blog post, I looked at nine ways employees can give feedback to their manager. However, they all lacked as effective channels for an employee to give feedback, as they were either indirect, high risk, non-specific, have a time-lag, or the feedback provider isn’t necessarily skilled in providing performance feedback. That’s a lot of hurdles!
In today’s post, I’ll provide an examination for where there is the most hope, and what can be done to increase the chances that employees can give useful performance feedback to their managers.
In looking at the nine ways managers get feedback, all have their flaws. Good performance feedback needs to be directly given, be specific and immediate, provided by someone who is able to give performance feedback using behavior-based language, and in the case of the employee giving feedback to the manager, the risk for recrimination needs to be either designed-out or mitigated.
Here’s a grid showing how the various channels stack up: Read more