How To Give 360 Feedback To Your Boss (Steps and Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The 360-degree feedback system allows members of an organisation to provide feedback about their performance from colleagues, including subordinates. Providing feedback to your manager can help you improve your performance and workplace satisfaction. Knowing how to give 360 feedback to your boss can improve your relationship and help your superior have a better understanding of things that matter to you at work. In this article, we evaluate steps to give 360-degree feedback to your manager and provide examples for guidance.

What is 360 feedback?

A 360 feedback, or 360-degree feedback, mechanism measures performance of an organisation's employees based on feedback provided by those who interact and work with them. This could include their managers, coworkers, juniors and even clients. A company could ask you to give 360 feedback to your manager, meaning you can review their performance. You may choose to mention their strengths and suggest tips for improvement.

How to give 360 feedback to your boss

Here's a step-by-step guide for giving 360 feedback to your manager:

1. Start with positive feedback

When giving 360-degree feedback, it's good to lead with a positive appraisal of your manager's performance. This can soften the impact of negative feedback if you were to offer constructive criticism later in the review. It also balances the criticism and shows that you're not only focusing on the person's mistakes.

2. Review your relationship

While 360-degree feedback is compulsory in some companies, you can limit the details you share. What you say about your manager's performance may be based on your relationship with them. If it's someone you trust, then be honest in your evaluation. However, if trust is limited, keeping your feedback positive is the safest bet.

3. Give examples

Your 360-degree feedback can be objective and backed up with facts and examples for proof. Beyond stating your manager's positive or negative actions, provide examples to back up your statements.

For example, instead of saying, "Mr Daniel doesn't listen to employees," you could say, "Mr Daniel often interrupts others when they make points and doesn't consider alternative points of view. I was making a point at the last meeting, but the manager disagreed with me before I concluded and steered the conversation elsewhere."

4. Be objective

Being objective while giving your manager feedback is important if you want to make the most of the opportunity. Facts and observations can influence your appraisal of their performance, not your judgment. Staying objective can also help prevent conflict in case your manager disputes your claims.

Related: How To Deal With a Difficult Boss

5. Plan your feedback

When you plan your feedback, it has more chances of being effective. Planning your feedback ensures that it covers all the important parts of the manager's performance. Here's a guide for planning manager feedback:

  • Evaluate leadership style: your relationship with your manager often depends on their leadership style, so it deserves a spot in your feedback. Review your supervisor's managerial approach and note down the positive aspects and areas that could use improvement.

  • Evaluate processes and systems: if your supervisor has a special process or system for work, your feedback could contain your thoughts about it. Include what you like about the existing system or process, and identify things you want to improve.

  • Evaluate areas of conflict: 360-degree feedback allows you to highlight areas of conflict with your manager. This is important for resolving issues and improving relationships. You can identify situations where your manager left you frustrated or provoked negative feelings and include these situations in your review.

  • Evaluate positive areas: while preparing your feedback, identify areas where your supervisor performs their job effectively. Think about your past interactions, note down positive aspects of your manager's personality or leadership style and include them in your feedback.

6. Be empathetic

Try to deliver your feedback in a manner that shows you want to improve the other individual. Reverse the roles in your head and notice how you'd feel if you received such feedback. Showing empathy can increase the chances of your supervisor responding positively to your feedback.

7. Practise

When it comes to delivering feedback to your manager face to face, practise your delivery beforehand. Get a friend or trusted colleague to watch you deliver feedback. Notice their reactions and adjust your delivery based on their advice.

Related: 10 Types of Leadership Styles

Examples of 360-degree feedback for a manager

Here's how to give 360-degree feedback to your manager using examples based on various scenarios:

Appreciating your manager for a favour

"Last month, when I asked you for help on the sales pitch for our potential investors, I struggled with researching industry trends and feared the document wouldn't be ready on time. Your help in getting the required information was invaluable and made creating a fantastic pitch possible. I think the presentation was impressive and believe a deal will come out of it. Thank you for taking the time to help and provide support."

Giving feedback over lack of communication

"I understand that your enormous responsibilities have put you under pressure, but the recent lack of communication is disheartening. I have tried leaving messages with your assistant, receiving no response. I'm available to have a meeting at a convenient time and would welcome the opportunity to discuss the improvements made in my work."

Thanking a manager for their support

"Thank you for defending me from the unfair criticism of the board members over my accounting error. I have learned from the mistake and promise to pay more attention to detail in the future. Once again, thank you so much."

Asking your manager for direction

"I appreciate our weekly check-ins on the Kalilo brief and believe they are invaluable to the project's success. However, I'd like to get more feedback on the campaign to know if I am performing up to expectations. The client has provided several appraisals in the past, but the internal feedback mechanism moves slower. I would suggest that we evaluate the campaign goals and develop tangible indicators to measure success. Also, if you have feedback on the campaign, it would be useful."

Discussing a past slight

"I feel that your response to my mistake on the client brief was exaggerated and failed to reflect the situation. While I know that your high-pressure role may have something to do with it, I think a measured response in the future would achieve better results."

Related: Improving Collaboration at the Workplace

Why should you give your manager 360-degree feedback?

Here are benefits for giving your manager 360-degree feedback:

Increases job satisfaction

Your happiness and satisfaction at a job may depend on the relationship you have with your manager. A 360-degree feedback mechanism lets you communicate your grievances about the job or your supervisor's leadership style. It can help you manage conflict and set boundaries for a healthy workplace relationship.

Improves relationship

If you have a good working relationship with your manager, giving them positive feedback can help reinforce such cordial relations. A good manager who understands the value of constructive criticism can respect your confidence and value your contribution. Honest feedback can help them improve their leadership qualities and further enhance their ability to improve productivity.

Provides evidence in the event of a dispute

An effective 360 feedback can serve as a dispute resolution mechanism. Calling your manager's attention to gaps in their behaviour or managerial style provides evidence to support your case if a dispute arises. By proving that you've attempted to communicate your misgivings to your manager, you can win over other superiors to your side of the argument.

Improves performance

If your supervisor's management style limits your ability to function, your feedback can help to get them to adjust their managerial approach. If that happens, then your productivity may increase and lead to better performance at your job. Without providing feedback, your manager may not even know it may benefit them to change their leadership style.

Related: How To Improve Communication Skills (With Definition and Examples)

Tips for giving feedback to your manager

Here are some tips for giving your manager feedback:

  • Be straightforward: try to make your feedback concise and mention only the relevant details. Keeping your statements directly to the point shows you thought about your feedback before giving it.

  • Make it impersonal: if you want to give your manager feedback, focus on the issue such that your criticism is impersonal. This reduces the odds of your manager feeling defensive and preempts future conflict.

  • Be specific: your manager has a better chance of thinking about your constructive criticism if they understand exactly what needs to change. Point out those areas that require more work as well as those that are positive.

  • Be careful about wordings: while you want to be honest in your feedback, choosing your words carefully is advisable. Keep your statements free from generalisations or subjective judgment.

  • Use a professional tone: watch your tone and make efforts to keep your emotions in check when giving your manager direct feedback. Even though giving feedback could provoke a mix of emotions, using a measured tone in your feedback can help you remain professional during the review process.

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