Upwards Manager Feedback

Why upward feedback?

Performance management is typically a top down feedback exercise, managers delivering reviews to their reports. A large portion of a manager's job, however, is working closely with their reports - So shouldn’t those reports have an avenue to deliver feedback to their managers as well?


Employees can always give feedback to their manager using the message module, but if it’s not a formal process, reports are not likely to offer unsolicited feedback. A dedicated upwards cycle can be seen as a much safer place to deliver feedback because there are a set of structured questions guiding them. Knowing that they have colleagues also sharing feedback, makes it much more likely they’ll participate.

What to consider

If you’re interested in capturing this feedback for managers, consider the following:

Who should see this feedback? 

  • If this is pure feedback, for feedback sake, only allowing the reviewee (the manager getting reviewed) to see this feedback might be your best option. Allowing their manager to see it might make this more of a complaining session for people, airing their frustrations versus providing real constructive feedback.

Is it transparent or anonymous? 

  • It depends on what is customary in your organization, but you will likely find that people are much more candid with their feedback if they are able to provide it anonymously.

How large is the team?

  • If it is a small team that is being reviewed, transparency might work better as the manager would know who’s leaving the feedback anyway.

Is this for all managers or just those at the top who don’t normally receive formal feedback?

  • Executives rarely receive feedback from their manager or peers, so this is a great way for them to get in on the feedback action.

What kind of feedback are you after?

  • Should this focus on what the manager is doing (start, stop, continue) or on team chemistry, management style, and communication.

How to implement it in Small Improvements

Outlined below are steps walking you through how to use the 360 module in Small Improvements to conduct an upward review.

1. Set up a new cycle and when you ‘select specific employees’ you can grab anyone who has a direct report. There is a short cut! Click the "managers" option at the bottom of the user picker window:

2. In the ‘Reviewer Selection Process’ section, you can disable the need for reviewees (the managers) to nominate as the tool can auto assign their direct reports to review them. And depending on whether or not you want their managers to influence the reviewers, you can remove the checkmark on ‘Managers may modify and approve reviewers’ as well.

*Note: An approval process is still necessary. Meaning, HR Admins will still have to approve the reviewers, even if they are the only ones adding them. 

3. Once you’ve created the cycle, you’ll be directed to the cycle overview page. Using the ‘Admin’ button to the top right, you can ‘Assign all reports to review their manager.’ You’ll need to allow the tool 30 seconds or so to carry out this function before you can refresh your screen, revealing all reports in the reviewee column next to their manager.

4. When you are ready to notify all of the reviewers (the direct reports), from the ‘Admin’ button select the ‘Approve all 360 reviews’ which will trigger an email to all reviewers that will have a link to where they can go to leave their feedback. 

Think outside the box!

Interested in taking this feedback one step further? Consider getting feedback, on the company as a whole. You’ll simply need to create a user profile for the company itself and then select everyone to provide feedback.

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