How to Ask Your Manager for Feedback (& easily impress them)

Your manager is either your greatest friend, or your biggest obstacle. No matter where your manager stands on this spectrum, receiving feedback from them is a valuable resource for your professional growth. This is something you should be doing consistently at work if you want to get more promotions and raises.

In this article, we’ll walk you through some practical steps that will help you navigate the feedback conversation with your manager with finesse.

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Table of Contents

Get Targeted Feedback from your Manager by Following These Steps

Set Your Expectations – Define What You Want to Achieve with the Feedback


What do you want to achieve?

Picture heading on a road trip without a destination. Chaotic, right? The same applies when seeking feedback. Before approaching your boss, reflect on what you’re hoping to achieve. Are you aiming to polish your presentation skills? Master the latest project management software? Or just trying to silence those self-doubts that keep you up at night?

Being clear on your goals not only streamlines the conversation but also demonstrates your dedication to personal growth. It’s the difference between an unclear, “Could I get some feedback?”, and a targeted, “I’d like your input on how I can improve my presentation skills”.

Remember, your boss isn’t a psychic. Help them so they can help you. Knowing your developmental goals shows initiative and aids in your career progression. So, get clear on your goals, and get ready to extract the most value from the feedback you receive. 

With a clear purpose in mind, let’s move on to crafting some sharp, effective questions for your feedback session.

Asking Good Questions – How to Get Great Feedback Quickly

What makes “good” questions, good?

For starters, ask open-ended questions. These questions are the secret sauce that invites your manager to share detailed insights, rather than simple “yes” or “no” answers. 

Think of questions like “How could I have handled the XYZ project better?” or “In what areas can I improve to contribute more effectively to the team?” These questions ignite meaningful discussions and provide you with actionable feedback to accelerate your growth. 

Another thing to watch out for is focusing on specific areas to get the most bang for your feedback-seeking buck. Instead of asking for general performance feedback, zoom in on specific projects, tasks, or skills. 

By doing so, you show your manager that you’re serious about improvement. Ask for feedback on that report you’ve been working on or your presentation skills during the last team meeting. This targeted approach not only highlights your commitment to growth but also gives you actionable feedback you can put into action immediately. 

And lastly, when asking questions, remember that adopting a respectful and non-defensive tone is key to showing your willingness to learn and grow.

Now that you know how to phrase well thought-out questions, it’s time to learn how to choose your perfect moment.

Choosing Your Moment – How to Find the Right Time for a Feedback Request

How do you even choose the right moment?

First, timing is everything. Avoid distractions and choose a moment when your manager isn’t swamped with deadlines or meetings. Catch them during a coffee break or when they’re in a moment of tranquility. You don’t want to interrupt them during an intense game of office ping pong. 

Second, communication channels matter. Consider your manager’s preference and the office culture. Do they prefer face-to-face interactions? Schedule a personal meeting for a more in-depth discussion. Are they constantly on the go? A quick phone call might be the way to go. And remember, a detailed feedback request is not an appropriate Slack ping. 

Third, it’s better to schedule a meeting. Whether it’s your regular catch-up or your annual performance review, make sure you come prepared with specific questions and a willingness to learn. These dedicated moments can set the stage for growth and improvement.

Fourth, be mindful of your manager’s schedule. They have their own responsibilities and commitments. Instead of catching them off guard and asking them for feedback on the stop, consider requesting a separate meeting solely for feedback purposes. This shows your consideration for their time and dedication to having a meaningful conversation. 

Fifth, digital etiquette matters. Respect the gravity of the request and choose a more appropriate channel. If you decide to reach out via email, refer to the example provided in the “Mastering the Art of Email Requests for Feedback” section to ensure your message is clear, concise, and professional. Treat the digital realm with the same level of respect you would in face-to-face interactions.

And sixth, consider the type of feedback you need. If you’re seeking immediate feedback on a recent event, strike while the iron is hot. But if you’re looking for comprehensive feedback over a period of time, be patient and choose the right moment to request it. Different types of feedback require different timing strategies. So, think about your objectives and align your approach accordingly.

Now, let’s move on to how to set and communicate your expectations clearly.

Straight Talk – How to Be Clear About Your Feedback Expectations

What areas should you get clarity on?

Before speaking with your manager, it’s crucial to define what you hope to learn from the feedback. Take a moment to reflect on your long-term career goals and let them be your guiding star. Are you looking to enhance your leadership skills, improve your project management abilities, or gain insight into your communication style? 

By identifying your specific areas of focus, you can not only tailor your questions and make the most out of your session but also decide what else the future holds for you after getting valuable feedback.

When seeking your manager’s insights, you also want to ensure you’re heading toward your career aspirations. When you’re clear on your expectations, it becomes easier to communicate them to your manager, allowing them to provide guidance that aligns with your goals.

Remember, feedback is not just about getting validation or seeking approval. It’s about growth and progress. By being transparent about your feedback expectations, you demonstrate your commitment to self-improvement and show your manager that you’re serious about developing your skills.

Now that you know how to calibrate your feedback compass, let’s move on to how you can steer the conversation in the right direction.

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Steering the Wheel – How to Guide the Conversation for Effective Feedback

Where do you want the conversation to go?

Picture this: you’re sailing on a ship, and the conversation is the wind filling your sails. Without proper navigation, it’s easy to drift off course and miss the opportunity to get the feedback you need. That’s why it’s crucial to be clear with your intent from the beginning.

When approaching your manager for feedback, set the tone by letting them know your goals. Are you seeking insights to improve your presentation skills, or do you want to receive constructive criticism on your problem-solving abilities? By expressing your specific intentions, you guide the conversation in a focused direction.

Remember, your manager is there to support your growth, so don’t be afraid to be assertive in steering the conversation toward the areas you want to explore. By being clear with your intent, you increase the chances of receiving the targeted feedback you need to progress. 

Now that you know how to steer the conversation in the right direction, it’s time to explore how to be gracious when accepting feedback.

In the Spotlight – How to Gracefully Accept and Appreciate Feedback

How do you show your appreciation?

No matter what your manager tells you, resist the urge to get defensive. Remember, feedback is a gift, even if it’s wrapped in unexpected packaging.

When faced with feedback, approach it with an open mind and a willingness to learn. If something is unclear, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Seek to understand the nuances and specifics that can help you improve. This not only demonstrates your commitment to growth but also ensures that you’re on the same page as your manager.

And here’s a golden rule: always thank your manager for their feedback. Gratitude is a powerful tool that leaves a lasting impression. By showing appreciation, you reinforce the trust and respect in your professional relationship. Plus, a little gratitude can go a long way in creating a positive and supportive work environment.

Now that you got everything you need from your manager, it’s time to put theory into practice. Let’s explore that in detail in the next section.

Action Plan – How to Implement Feedback for Optimal Results

How do you put all these insights into action? Simple. 

To maximize the impact of the feedback you’ve received, take action. Remember, it’s not just about receiving feedback; it’s about what you do with it that counts.

Think of it this way: asking for feedback is like receiving a treasure map, and implementing it is the journey to uncovering the treasure a.k.a. your potential. Ignoring or disregarding feedback is like tossing that map aside and wandering aimlessly.

So, apply the insights, make the necessary changes, and demonstrate your commitment to improvement. This shows your manager that you’re serious about your growth and development.

But don’t stop there! Follow up with your boss to discuss the progress you’ve made. This simple act conveys your dedication to improvement and highlights your professionalism. It’s like saying, “Hey, I listened, I acted, and I appreciate your guidance”. 

Such follow-up conversations not only solidify your commitment to growth but also provide an opportunity for further feedback and refinement.

Now that you’ve gotten deep into how to ask for feedback from managers, it’s time to send that feedback request. In the next section, we’ll walk you through how you can fine-tune your email requests to maximize your chances of getting that “yes”.

Gathering feedback and acting on it is a great first step toward success. Here are some more ways you get ensure personal and professional success: 

Mastering the Art of Email Requests for Feedback

Crafting the perfect email request for feedback is a skill that can yield valuable insights and strengthen professional relationships. To ensure your request is effective, feel free to refer to this email template and customize the details to your specific situation:

Subject: Request for Feedback: Improving Team Collaboration

Dear [Manager’s Name],

I wanted to ask for your feedback on improving our team’s collaboration. As our team’s strongest advocate for collaboration and effective communication, your insights would be immensely valuable.

In our recent projects, I have been focusing on enhancing team dynamics and creating a cohesive work environment. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on areas where I can contribute better to foster collaboration within the team, specifically: 

  • What suggestions do you have to help me develop communication channels better? 
  • What strategies do you have in mind for optimizing how our teams collaborate? And what is the best way for me to contribute here? 

I understand you have a busy schedule, so whenever you find the time to sit down or have a call and discuss [today/this week], please let me know. Getting to hear your perspective will greatly assist me in strengthening our team’s collaboration and achieving our shared goals.

Thank you in advance for your support and guidance. I truly appreciate your willingness to help me grow and contribute more effectively.

Warm regards,

[Your Name]

The Power of Feedback – Why It’s More Than Just Words

Learning how to ask for feedback from bosses is not just about the words exchanged — it plays a crucial role in professional growth and aligning individual work with larger organizational goals. 

Like a marketing team aiming to launch the perfect campaign, feedback allows team members to share insights, identify areas for improvement, and refine their strategies. This iterative process not only helps them develop their skills but also ensures their efforts are aligned with the company’s objectives. Without feedback, they would be left to navigate in the dark, missing opportunities for growth and progress.

Beyond growth and goals, feedback cultivates healthy dialogue and sparks innovation. When individuals feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and receiving input, it creates an environment that fosters collaboration and creativity. Ideas flourish, diverse perspectives are heard, and the team becomes a wellspring of innovation. 

This healthy dialogue, fueled by constructive feedback, becomes the catalyst for breakthroughs and transformative solutions. Without it, organizations risk falling into stagnant routines and stifling potential innovations.

Remember, valuable feedback goes beyond words. It fuels growth, aligns individual work with organizational goals, fosters dialogue, and sparks innovation. Embrace feedback as a powerful tool for personal and professional development, and watch how it propels you and your team to new heights of success and impact.

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