Giving your boss feedback on their performance and management skills can be terrifying. It feels like they hold the keys to your career success in their hands, and you don’t want to cause trouble.

Companies see 14.9 percent decrease in turnover rates when implementing regular feedback. Click To Tweet

Actionable feedback gives your boss an opportunity to improve his working relationship with everyone in the office exponentially. It’s vital to the company’s success and can lead to significant benefits for you and your team.

Here are a few ways your company will benefit from upward feedback:

  • Lower turnover rate: According to the Zenger Folkman Feedback study, employees who receive regular and effective feedback stay in their jobs longer. Companies see 14.9 percent decrease in turnover rates when implementing regular feedback.
  • Improved communication: Employees that are able to discuss negative issues with their superiors are more comfortable and able to discuss other topics on a level playing field, meaning communication improves for the entire company.
  • Professional growth: Most people want to be successful in their careers, by receiving feedback they are given the opportunity to grow, make important improvements, and perform better in their jobs. In fact, 65 percent of employees say they want more feedback in their jobs.
  • Respect for managers: Those who are willing to take feedback from their employees are often regarded as better leaders and role models.
  • Profitability: In a study by Gallup, managers who regularly received feedback were 8.9 percent more profitable than those without feedback.

Managers who regularly received feedback were 8.9 percent more profitable than those without feedback.

Altogether, the Zenger Folkman feedback study shows that employees who have an open relationship to discuss issues with their managers are much happier in their positions, and stay in these positions longer.

Companies with a strong feedback culture may find feedback easily flows both ways. Exceptional managers may have built up the skill of requesting feedback from reports. But, not every environment is conditioned to reward feedback givers, and offering suggestions to a manager can be daunting. While this can be a delicate situation, the following tips will assist you in your feedback conversations.

When and Where to Give Feedback

If you know you have a meeting with your superior soon, you can wait for that time to give feedback. Don’t try to offer feedback in email or casual discussions; this is part of the business of working in an office, and it should be a face-to-face discussion.

If no meeting or one-on-one is scheduled, ask your leader for a time to talk. Tell her there are a few things you wanted to review together to help you stay productive. This meeting can be short and concise; you will exchange your thoughts, and possibly get some feedback to help you perform your job better as well.

92 percent of respondents said that appropriately delivered feedback can improve performance. Click To Tweet

In the Zenger Folkman feedback survey, 92 percent of respondents said that appropriately delivered feedback can improve performance.

Fears and Mistakes

The first few times you give feedback may be nerve-wracking. Chances are, your superior has received feedback before and wants to improve their business practices to further their career. Being prepared will help you avoid insulting them, and by practicing you can work out your nerves before sharing your comments.

A common mistake is being too specific. “Yesterday you showed up 5 minutes late, and then the meeting ran long.” This comment isn’t as useful as “Sometimes I have meetings back-to-back, would it be OK if I left one to get to another on time?”

Additionally, it helps to understand how people handle feedback. This information will improve how you set the tone for providing effective feedback.

Preparing to Provide Feedback

Most likely you’ll know when you’ll be giving feedback, and you can prepare your thoughts ahead of time. Start by bringing up the topic with a question such as, “Can I give you some feedback?” or “I have an idea for how we can work better together.” Zenhabits also suggests framing constructive feedback as a suggestion, not criticism.

Frame constructive feedback as a suggestion, not criticism.

By preparing for your conversation, you can have a list of items to share, and can structure your feedback in a way that is beneficial, not embarrassing or off-the-cuff.

You might take notes, or practice your comments on a friend. Over time you’ll be used to giving feedback and be able to give it in-the-moment.

Position Feedback Positively

Helpful: “It would help me respond to emails more quickly, if they were concise, and split based on topic.”

Not Helpful: “Your emails are too long, and cover so many issues that I can’t quickly respond.”

Focus on What They Can do Better

Helpful: “You might find it practical to send agendas two days before a meeting because we would have the time to prepare.”

Not Helpful: “You never tell us what we’ll be discussing at meetings, and get upset others don’t prepare.”

Leave Emotion Out of the Feedback

Helpful: “I could contribute to more projects if you asked for my opinion.”

Not Helpful: “It hurts me that you always ask Jenna for her opinion, but not me.”

Positive feedback allows colleagues to take appropriate action to correct their behaviors, without feeling like they’ve been insulted.

Positive feedback allows colleagues to take appropriate action to correct their behaviors, without feeling like they’ve been insulted, made a terrible mistake, or have been embarrassed. Your organization might also benefit from using two-way feedback where both parties offer suggestions in a regular meeting. This can greatly decrease tension, and help all parties continuously improve their professional personalities.

Upward Feedback To Your Superior’s Leader

Your company may not have a strong feedback culture, or you may lack a relationship with your manager that allows you to offer up feedback. In this case, don’t force it. As an alternative, you may consider providing feedback to your boss’s superior. For instance, John works under David, and Mary works under John, here Mary would offer her opinions to David who can then pass them on to John in a constructive manner.

Upward feedback from employees of all levels is beneficial to the entire company. Click To Tweet

This works, because Mary doesn’t have to sit face-to-face with John and tell him how he should improve. She won’t be worried that he will react negatively. The same rules apply, though: Be specific, don’t criticize, and be careful to communicate that your intent is to help.

Conclusion

Upward feedback from employees of all levels is beneficial — in numerous ways — to the entire company. As more businesses use this approach, there will be fewer in-office personal issues, and more honesty, as everyone works to be the best professional they can.