While it’s standard for managers and bosses to give critical feedback to their team members, you might not be used to giving it back to your superiors.
Feedback conversations in general can be nerve-wracking, but giving feedback to your manager adds additional pressure. However, keeping the line of communication open and providing effective feedback can help you both improve your performance and wellbeing, as well as your working relationship with your manager.
This guide will provide you with examples of feedback you can give to your manager or boss, including negative feedback and positive feedback, as well as tips to help you keep your comments productive regardless of what you have to say.
After reading this guide and our manager feedback examples, you’ll be more than prepared for your next sales performance review.
As an employee, giving constructive feedback to managers is important for a variety of reasons, some of which include:
Helping your manager or boss improve
Building up your professional dynamic
Improving your communication skills
Solving grievances before they escalate
Enhancing problem-solving skills
Creating a healthy work environment
Contributing to a healthy feedback culture
Manager and employee feedback is an important part of any thriving company culture. If you have a professional, thoughtful manager, they should welcome any constructive feedback that allows for improvement. Team dynamics usually start from the top down, so the better your higher-ups perform, the better chance the whole team has to boost employee performance.
Giving honest feedback to your manager also allows you to develop a mutually respectful, professional relationship. You want your manager or boss to be able to take you seriously, especially if you’re looking to improve your leadership skills and move up in the company. If you pass on your chance to speak up when employee performance reviews come around, you might not be seen as strong-willed or capable of formulating your own opinions, so make your voice heard when your manager asks for feedback.
Participating in upward feedback also helps solve issues before they get any worse. For example, if you’re able to tell your manager that the rest of the team (yourself included) needs clearer goals early on in the quarter, you’ll avoid miscommunication and frustration later on.
Overall, feedback in both directions is good for both manager and direct reports, as well as the company as a whole. If everyone feels empowered to share their point of view in an appropriate and productive manner, the team dynamic will prosper and employee engagement and positive behavior will skyrocket.
All you need to do is learn how to give constructive feedback, which we’ll help with by providing constructive manager feedback examples to use when the time comes for you to speak up.
Many companies implement quarterly, bi-annual, or annual reviews. If your company has a review period, that’s a great time for you to provide positive or negative feedback to your manager. As mentioned before, always take the chance to speak up and share specific suggestions for improvement examples, as it shows that you have helpful opinions and care about improving your team’s performance.
If your company doesn’t have regular performance management reviews, you’ll have to make your own opportunities to provide constructive feedback to your manager. Broaching this yourself can seem daunting, but if you choose the right time to approach your manager about your employee experience, it’ll make all the difference. Some examples of good times to give your manager feedback include:
During one-on-one check-ins (if you have them)
During a meeting, you can call to discuss current projects and bring up any issues you feel are necessary to discuss
During a team meeting if the type of feedback you’re sharing affects the entire team (be careful to not target your manager in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable in this group setting)
Any time your manager asks for feedback
It’s important to be sensitive and professional about how you give feedback, and the types of feedback you give, especially when it isn’t requested or part of an official feedback session. Setting up a sales meeting or choosing a time, such as in the examples of feedback for your manager listed above, will help you keep your feedback structured and intentional rather than impulsive or reactive.
As we’ve established, sharing your feedback is usually a positive thing that ultimately results in a healthier more successful team dynamic and feedback culture. However, there are certainly occasions when providing feedback isn’t the best approach, especially if it’s negative, even if it feels like you’re providing constructive criticism:
In the heat of the moment
In front of your manager’s superiors
When your manager seems stressed or during a very busy period
When you’re feeling very frustrated or stressed yourself
When the feedback is serious in nature and should involve human resources
When you’ve just started a new role and haven’t yet developed a rapport
In short, use your best judgment for when it feels appropriate to go to your manager with feedback. It’s best to set aside time between yourselves to broach the topic if your manager isn’t offering you the opportunity themselves.
Make sure to sit on any negative feedback for a while so you’re sure of your opinions. This helps you effectively plan out talking points (which our manager feedback examples and templates can help you with).
Luckily, you don’t have to worry too much about when to give positive feedback to your manager. If you have something good to say, you can bring it up in meetings, during casual conversations, right after a team win like closing a high-quality deal, or during regularly scheduled reviews (if that’s an option for your team).
If you feel like your manager needs a morale boost, especially if you’ve noticed them putting in extra effort lately, positive feedback is a great way to encourage that. Positive feedback can also let your manager know when something they’re doing is working very well and is empowering your team to do good work.
Here are some positive examples of feedback for your manager:
“Your positivity really helps boost morale around here and ensures the team feels recognized for our successes. I wanted you to know what an impact this has on our team overall."
“Our team has succeeded a lot this past quarter and I think some of that is due to your ability to boost morale in the times when we’ve been down. I’d like to thank you for going the extra mile to keep spirits high.”
“I recognize that finding a good balance takes effort, but I enjoy the style of management you use with me and I see myself continuing to thrive with this level of involvement."
“I’ve found that I thrive without too much hand-holding or micro-management and you’ve really offered that as a manager, so thank you."
“I’d like to thank you for the direction and detail you give as a manager; I thrive with clear direction more than anything, so this level of involvement on your part really allows me to succeed.”
“It really helps when hard work is fairly recognized and seen by seniors, the reward system you’ve implemented is a great motivation for myself and the team."
“I’ve enjoyed how much effort you put into employee recognition, it makes a huge difference, thank you.”
“I’ve really appreciated all the opportunities you’ve given me to show my worth to this team and company."
“I enjoy the opportunities you offer for us to learn and develop new skills. I’ve found myself enjoying the job a lot more since we’ve been given these opportunities, so thank you for your commitment to mentoring our team.”
“I recognize that you keep an eye on how much is being added to my plate and it really helps me focus on my duties and improve my time management, I really appreciate it."
“My workload has become a lot more manageable and I know you had a part in prioritizing that, so I wanted to thank you.”
Some powerful words from famous leaders on negative feedback:
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” – Winston Churchill
While negative feedback is usually the hardest to give for anyone, it’s often the most important. Take it from the famous leaders’ quotes above (or one of these specific sales quotes). While no one necessarily wants to hear negative feedback (managers and employees alike), if it’s recognized early on, it won’t be as big of a problem. Here are some negative feedback examples:
“I know it’s difficult to keep up morale when times are hard, but I think myself and the team would really benefit from some positivity even when we’re on a downswing."
“I understand that numbers weren’t hit this quarter, but I think if we work on keeping morale up, we’ll have a better chance at improving in the future.”
“While I appreciate direction from you, I need some more freedom to work in my own way in order to succeed. If possible, could I be given some more independence and ability to use my best judgment in some cases?"
“I genuinely appreciate your trust in myself and our team, but I think that some clearer instructions would benefit everyone in the long run."
“In order to succeed, I believe myself and the team need to have goals set out for us at the beginning of a sales period/quarter. Implementing clear goals allows us all to be on the same page about what’s expected.”
“I think it would greatly benefit the team to be rewarded for our hard work that was put in over the course of this year/quarter/week. It’s helpful to know when we’re doing the job right or hitting our expected goals."
“I absolutely don’t expect to be given false encouragement, but if you could let me know when I’m performing as expected, I would greatly appreciate it.”
“I would like to be given the opportunity to learn some more skills on the job, even if it means taking on extra responsibilities or spending some time with you one on one to figure out ways that I can grow here."
“I’m interested in developing more at this company, but have felt that my role has grown stagnant over time. Is there any way you could help me find opportunities for growth and development?”
“I’m feeling a bit stressed out with my current workload. Would it be possible to prioritize tasks differently, so I can have a chance to catch up?"
“I feel that responsibilities have been distributed unevenly. I need to lessen my workload in order to complete my work correctly.”
“While constructive feedback is always welcomed, I feel that you’ve been unnecessarily negative and critical of our team, and it’s slowly bringing down morale."
“I’m happy to have anything communicated with me, negative or positive, but I would appreciate it if it were done respectfully and preferably not in a public or high-stakes situation in the future.”
Essentially, all feedback (both manager feedback and employee feedback) should be constructive. If it’s not going to resolve internal issues or improve the dynamic or success of the team, you might want to rethink if it’s worth being said. Keeping that in mind, some feedback isn’t quite negative or positive, but rather a commentary on how to improve things amongst the team or organization in general.
Some examples of constructive criticism include:
Notifying your manager when you or other coworkers are feeling burnt out and need a morale booster
Using a loss as a time to review what could have been done better from a leadership perspective
Reviewing performance after a certain period, project, or client relationship is over
Phrases you might use as starters for constructive feedback examples to your manager include:
“I see room for improvement here…”
“I think the team could benefit from…”
“Perhaps a better way to handle this would be…”
“I see an opportunity to improve this function in [X] way”
Remember, managers will likely appreciate your constructive feedback, and if you word things the right way, they will come off as helpful and innovative rather than nagging or entirely negative.
If you feel that your manager has been especially helpful and you want to give them credit, you could send them a letter and even include their manager to make sure their efforts are recognized. Here is a positive feedback to manager sample letter:
Dear [manager’s name],
I want to thank you for all the help you have given me this year/month/week, especially on the [specific project/deal/challenge that your manager helped you with].
I really appreciate having you as my manager and enjoy working with you. You have also really helped me improve my [specific skill that your manager has provided training or coaching in].
Thank you again and I look forward to continuing to work with you.
Keep it short and sweet and make sure your “positive feedback to manager” sample letter comes across as sincere by mentioning moments when your manager actually supported you.
Although feedback to managers isn’t always easy, it’s a healthy process and an important one to take part in, even if you have to create the opportunities yourself. Make sure to follow our tips on timing, word your feedback professionally and recognize your manager’s strengths as much as you do areas that need improvement– you can find areas of improvement at work examples above.
Just as employees need an equal dose of positive affirmations and constructive criticism to keep up morale, so do managers and bosses. Recognize that being a leader of a sales team, company, or even just one direct report takes time, patience and planning – try to see situations from your manager’s perspective.
A good leader will gladly welcome constructive criticism. Armed with these examples of feedback for your manager, and manager performance review examples, you should feel confident in broaching important topics with your manager, as well as keeping the line of communication open in general. The more you both share with each other about what you need, the better.
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