How To Give 360 Feedback To Your Boss? (+ What To Avoid)

360 feedback to your boss

In today’s corporate market, employees go into jobs expecting that their bosses will be giving them constructive feedback at some point.

In fact, most employees expect to receive feedback on a regular basis.

But it’s not very often that anyone prepares themselves for giving manager feedback — that is, honest feedback to your manager.

We sure don’t!

Hindsight, however, employee feedback is an incredibly beneficial tool for change. It helps businesses to create positive feedback loops and keep an upward momentum in terms of growth, benefiting the entire team and aiding team performance.

It can also improve overall employee experience.

Unfortunately, giving your boss direct reports can be just about as daunting as it is important. Luckily, there are ways that you can give good, constructive feedback to your superiors without finding yourself unemployed — and today, we’re discussing exactly that (and more!).

Table of contents
How to give honest feedback
Giving positive feedback
Giving negative feedback
What to avoid when giving feedback
Giving feedback when upset
Giving negative feedback publicly
Giving general feedback
Giving too much feedback

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How to give honest feedback

Giving positive feedback

Positive feedback is arguably easier to give then negative feedback. It is less likely to offend and is more palatable.

Everyone wants to hear what they are doing right during their performance review and, if we’re being honest, very few actually want to be told that they aren’t doing something well enough.

But even though good providing feedback that is positive is easier, it’s still important to deliver it the right way.

Know when to deliver positive feedback

Knowing when to give positive feedback is the first part of the challenge.

When giving good feedback, be sure to focus the feedback around the individual not on the achievement. You want to deliver positive feedback when you have something great to say about your boss as a manager or a person.

If your manager stepped up and secured additional resources for a large project, you might give feedback by telling them how grateful you are that they successfully secured the resources.

Keep your feedback specific

When you’re formulating honest employee feedback, do your best to make sure that it is specific. General feedback is good, but specific feedback is better. Specific feedback can be used to guide future actions and company changes.

For example, instead of telling your boss that he/she is great as resolving conflicts, tell them that you were particularly impressed by the way they handled the conflict between your two coworkers — and maybe even mention that the situation happened last week to add more specifics then give examples of the things you were impressed by and why.

Giving negative feedback

Giving constructive criticism (aka negative feedback or critical feedback) is the very thing that makes even the most confident employees want to call in sick.

It’s hard to give this kind of feedback without feeling like you’re stepping on someone’s toes or overstepping the boundaries for managers and employees.

After all, managers are supposed to tell you what you’re doing wrong, not the other way around, right? That’s what feedback culture teaches us, yes — but it’s not true. Managers are employees, too, so they deserve the same feedback as everyone else.

Mind your tone

It’s easy to lose track of the way your tone sounds when you’re nervous.

But when you’re delivering feedback to your manager via direct reports, you need to keep your tone in check.

Try to remain calm, cool, and collected so that your message can be delivered effectively and used to boost morale within your company. Using a positive attitude and tone of voice can also be helpful — but don’t get too carried away.

In addition to your tone, it’s important to pay attention to non-verbal signals like your facial expressions and body language, as these physical things can give away much more than your tone or words can.

They can even serve to deliver contrary messages and make your manager feedback clear and confusing.

Deliver helpful feedback as soon as possible

It’s a good idea to deliver employee feedback as soon as possible. Doing so in a timely manner means that positive changes can come from your feedback that much sooner!

The longer you wait to give your feedback, the longer it is that your manager goes unaware of an issue or an area that could be improved on.

Frequent feedback isn’t a bad thing, so don’t be afraid to start feedback conversations when the needs arise.

Know when to deliver the feedback

Does this sound familiar? It should!

Delivering negative feedback at the right time is just as important , if not more important, than delivering positive feedback at the right time.

If your feedback to your boss is a result of the way they handle certain situations, don’t make it about them personally by assuming that they are a certain type of person.

Instead, keep your feedback centered on the impact that their actions are having on others or the work place and leave their personality out of it. Additionally, don’t deliver negative feedback about something that your manager is already working on improving.

Chances are that if they are trying to improve, they’re going to ask those around them how they are doing, which is a great time to offer further feedback if your answer isn’t favorable.

Receiving feedback – especially unsolicited feedback- that is negative can easily make your manager feel attacked instead of encouraged.

Again, no manager really wants to hear negative feedback.

manager feedback, constructive feedback examples, upward feedback

What to avoid when giving feedback

Giving feedback when upset

When a situation with your manager causes you to feel upset, it can be easy to give in to the temptation to storm into their office and discuss the matter.

However, it’s best to avoid trying to deliver any type of effective feedback when your emotions are heightened.

When you do, the chances are much higher that you will say something that you will regret later on or that will get you into hot water with your manager instead of making the situation, workplace, or atmosphere better.

Giving negative feedback publicly

Negative feedback should never be given in public places or in situations that make it possible for others to overhear.

Giving feedback whenever and wherever you see fit is a great way to ruin relationships you have with your manager but isn’t going to do much good for the business.

If you’re thinking of giving constructive feedback to your manager, do it one-on-one. This could mean setting up a meeting specifically to discuss the topic or it could mean stopping at your manager’s office during your lunch break.

Unless they are part of the problem or solution, other team members do not need to be part of the conversation. If additional input is needed, allow your manager or the human resources department to bring the entire team into the discussion.

Givin general feedback

To provide honest feedback that is actually effective, you need to make sure that it isn’t too general. As we discussed above, specific feedback is best.

Unspecific, general feedback is often discredited and not considered because it involves reading between the lines and deciphering — both of which are things that busy managers don’t have the time to do (and don’t want to do!).

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that giving general feedback, when your feedback is negative, is a good way to water down and soften the information, because it’s not a wise solution. It isn’t helpful or useful and wastes everyone’s time.

If you’re wanting to soften the blow of particularly harsh or critical managers feedback, consider entering the conversation with possible solutions and a compliment that could add a positive note to the conversation.

Givin too much feedback

Both positive and negative feedback can be a lot to take in. This is why, for the benefit of your manager’s sanity, it’s a feedback best practice to not overload the person in question with meaningful feedback– regardless of whether it’s good or not.

Stick to one or two talking points to provide feedback on at any given time. Ask your manager for an additional meeting if you have a lot of feedback on different things.

Doing so will not only make it easier for your manager to ruminate and consider what you’re saying, but it will also give you plenty of time to go over the important aspects of your feedback and make sure that they are understood.


The subject of performance reviews is a delicate one that makes both managers and employees nervous. However, it doesn’t have to affect you or your manager negatively.

So be sure to keep the above tips in mind next time you get the opportunity to give feedback to your boss.

We hope you enjoyed the article!

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