How do I give my boss feedback?” This is one of the questions I get most often from managers and other training program participants after they’ve learned a skill to give their employees feedback.

“And how can I do this safely?” they add, “without getting into trouble with him or her by making them defensive, being criticized or ridiculed, having them retaliate with a bad performance evaluation, downgraded work assignments, not being considered for a promotion, or even losing my job?”

What they most often want to give their boss feedback about is something that would help them improve their own performance. And, if their boss agrees with their request, it will likely make the employee’s job easier, improve their motivation and performance, and improve their manager’s track record. A true win-win.

Here are 6 of the most common items employees would like to give their managers feedback about. This information may be shared between an employee and his or her supervisor or manager, or a manager reporting to an executive, including the C-Suite.

  1.  Ask for my ideas and input more often, especially about things which impact my work.
  2. Please give me advance notice about making a verbal report during an upcoming meeting so I can be well-prepared.
  3. Give me more feedback about how I’m doing, including the things I’m doing well, and the things I need to improve. (One of the most common ones).
  4. Consider me for “stretch” projects, plus tell me why you did-or didn’t choose me-so I can learn and grow.
  5. Provide me with answers or information when promised.
  6. Schedule project updates and review meetings with me on a regular basis.
How reasonable do these common requests seem? Notice that they’re not criticism, but requests for the boss to do something that will benefit the employee-and likely others in the organization, including the boss.

Many employees suffer in silence and frustration when they’d just like to pass on a little useful information in a polite manner.
 They don’t share the information because they fear negative reactions from their boss; their boss may have never asked them for feedback, or let them know that it’s okay to give it; or, they may have had a bad experience with a previous boss.

Plus, they simply don’t know what to say and how to say it, which is the heart of giving most feedback.
 However, we’ll correct this with an easy-to-learn and use skill, with safety built in.

Here’s one employee’s actual request using the skill below with her boss. It’s just three steps.

1) It’s Important to Me 

     “It’s important to me to do the best job I can,
and to be certain I’m meeting the needs of our clients on a continuing basis.”

2) Request

     “Something that would help me do this would be to receive weekly feedback from you about the tasks I’m doing well, and the ones I need to improve.”

3) Approve? 

    “Would you please approve my request?”

What boss wouldn’t be receptive to such a request? And the big question: if you have direct reports, would you be offended if one of them used this skill with you in a polite and appropriate manner? 

Here’s the purpose of each of the 3 steps, and what they accomplish:

Step #1: Notice how your reason for asking consists of meeting important workplace objectives. The above request begins with, “It’s important to me to do a good job…” (There can be a large variety of other reasons, including, “It’s important to me to be certain my work is accurate…or that I complete projects on time…or that I support my co-workers when needed…or that I have the data I need to finish my part of the project on time.”)

Step #2: You specifically request what you’d like from your boss that will help you achieve the important objective(s) mentioned in Step #1.

Step #3: You ask for their approval: you ask if they’d please approve your request, recognizing that they have the right and the authority to grant it or not.

Employees who’ve used this skill report that their bosses: a) find such requests difficult not to consider, b) aren’t offended when approached in this manner, and c) are often receptive to granting the request.

Feedback, no matter who gives it, is essentially asking another person to do something different. This skill can be used for almost any workplace situation or improvement an employee might need or want, say employees who’ve used it.

Practice it before you use it, with someone other than your boss, until you become comfortable and skilled at using it. Remember that your tone of voice and body language are also important, and so is the timing and location.

Most bosses agree that more two-way communication and feedback would be beneficial. When it occurs, both managers and employees improve their performance, feel more comfortable sharing information, and accomplish more results together.

It’s what happens in more productive workplaces.


 Free people to communicate & do more productive work.

Conversations at Work helps people in organizations have the workplace
conversations they’ve been avoiding—and improve productivity.

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