Upward FeedbackIn management roles, a lack of awareness regarding how actions and leadership styles are perceived can prove detrimental. To cultivate leadership development and bridge these perception gaps, it’s imperative to integrate upward feedback mechanisms into your organisation’s performance management process. These mechanisms serve as invaluable tools for soliciting insights and perspectives from employees, enabling managers to gain a deeper understanding of their impact and areas for improvement. By embracing upward feedback, organisations foster a culture of transparency, continuous learning, and professional growth, ultimately enhancing leadership effectiveness and driving overall success.

Upward feedback serves as a means to both praise and critique, offering valuable insights for continuous improvement. However, the fear employees feel when providing feedback, along with managers’ reluctance to receive it, often hinders the process. This avoidance can lead to missed opportunities for growth and development.

While some employees may already engage in direct feedback discussions with their supervisors, relying solely on chance is not advisable. HR plays a pivotal role in facilitating upward feedback by creating structured processes and providing support. This includes:


  • Establishing clear guidelines and channels for upward feedback to ensure consistency and fairness.
  • Offering training and resources to both employees and managers on giving and receiving feedback effectively.
  • Providing regular opportunities for feedback discussions, formal reviews, and informal check-ins.
  • Promoting a culture that values transparency, open communication, and constructive feedback.
  • Encouraging leaders to lead by example by actively seeking and acting upon feedback.
  • By actively supporting and promoting upward feedback, HR can help create a culture of continuous improvement and development within the organisation.

At emPerform, we recommend commencing with anonymous upward 360° feedback. This approach entails providing feedback without divulging the identities of the contributors. Supervisors gain valuable insights into how their subordinates perceive them, while employees feel more comfortable offering feedback knowing that their names won’t be attached to it.

Understanding Upward Feedback

Upward feedback, often overlooked or undervalued, refers to the process of employees providing feedback to their managers or higher-ups. Unlike traditional top-down feedback, where directives trickle from superiors to their teams, upward feedback flips the script, allowing employees to voice their perspectives, concerns, and suggestions to those in leadership positions. This dynamic exchange fosters open communication, trust, and mutual respect within the organisation.


Employees: How to appropriately give feedback

Take the Initiative

Don’t wait to be invited to provide feedback. Even if your boss or HR hasn’t explicitly asked for input, you can proactively suggest the idea. According to the Harvard Business Review, a simple inquiry such as asking whether your supervisor would like periodic feedback during a new project can open the door to ongoing upward input or at least lay the groundwork for future feedback exchanges.

Speak from Your Perspective

When offering feedback, it’s essential to emphasise that you’re sharing your own opinions and experiences. Avoid assuming that your feedback represents the views of the entire employee group, even if provided anonymously. Keep your suggestions focused on work-related issues, refraining from making personal remarks.

Keep it Objective

While it may be tempting to unload any grievances you have about your supervisor, it’s crucial to keep feedback grounded in observable, work-related instances. Remove emotional bias as much as possible. Remember, the goal of upward feedback is not to criticise but to provide examples of how behaviour impacts performance or results, facilitating positive changes. Consider the relevance of the feedback; for instance, if a supervisor’s choice of perfume bothers you but doesn’t affect your work, it may not warrant inclusion in feedback.

Frame Feedback Constructively

Effectively framing feedback is key to instigating improvements in managerial interactions. Transitioning from giving feedback to enacting change through suggestions represents the next phase. It’s advisable to structure feedback in a manner that emphasises solutions by outlining the action or scenario, its consequences, and proposing a resolution. For example:

Action –> Result –> Solution

“When you ___________, it ___________. Going forward, I would recommend _________.”

This approach not only illustrates the nature of the feedback with examples but also offers supervisors guidance on how to implement suggested changes.

Acknowledge the Positive

While addressing areas for improvement is essential, don’t overlook the positive aspects of your supervisor’s behaviour. Take the opportunity to express appreciation for actions or behaviours that support your performance. Recognising and reinforcing positive qualities can motivate supervisors and foster a supportive work environment.


Employers: How to appropriately receive feedback

Review Feedback Away from the Office

When it comes to analysing employee feedback, the setting matters. To ensure a thorough and focused review process, consider stepping outside the confines of your office. By finding a quiet space away from work-related distractions, you can give feedback the attention it deserves. Whether it’s a serene corner in a nearby park or a cosy café, choosing an environment conducive to reflection can enhance the quality of your feedback review.

Elevate Feedback as a Tool for Growth

Feedback is a powerful tool for personal and professional development. As a leader, it’s essential to approach feedback with objectivity and a growth mindset. Rather than viewing feedback as a personal attack, recognise it as an opportunity to identify areas for improvement and refinement in your leadership style. By embracing feedback with an open mind, you can harness its transformative potential to enhance your performance and effectiveness as a leader. Use the feedback to create SMART goals for yourself to improve your management performance. emPerform makes it easy for managers and employees to set SMART goals and valuable development plans that will drive results.

Avoid Resentment

Resentment has no place in the feedback process. Regardless of your initial reaction to feedback, it’s crucial to resist the temptation to hold it against any employee. Creating a blame-free environment cultivates trust, openness, and psychological safety within your team. By refraining from assigning fault or judgment, you empower employees to share feedback candidly, knowing that their input will be valued and respected. Consider implementing an anonymous survey system, where employees are empowered to share their insights, concerns, and suggestions openly, without fear of reprisal or judgment. This anonymity encourages honesty and candidness, allowing employees to express themselves freely and provide valuable input that can lead to positive changes within the organization. Managers, in turn, gain valuable insights into their leadership style, performance, and areas for improvement, enabling them to better support and empower their teams. By using anonymous surveys for employee to manager feedback, organisations foster a culture of trust, transparency, and continuous improvement, driving collective growth and success.

Respect Discretion

While you may not always agree with every piece of feedback you receive, it’s essential to approach it with respect and discretion. Remember that feedback represents diverse perspectives and experiences within your team. While you’re not obligated to act on feedback that you disagree with, maintaining an open mind allows you to consider its implications for team performance. By valuing and acknowledging diverse viewpoints, you demonstrate inclusivity and promote a culture of mutual respect.

Embrace Growth Opportunities

Feedback is a catalyst for growth. As a leader, it’s vital to view feedback as a valuable resource for self-improvement. Pay attention to recurring themes and patterns in the feedback you receive from your team. Use this insight to adapt and refine your leadership style, leveraging feedback as a catalyst for continuous learning and development. By embracing growth opportunities, you can cultivate a culture of excellence and drive positive change within your organisation.

Encourage Continuous Feedback

Feedback is most impactful when it flows freely and continuously. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to cultivate a culture of ongoing dialogue within your team. Regularly solicit feedback from your employees, creating opportunities for open communication and constructive exchange. By fostering a supportive environment where feedback is valued and utilised effectively, you empower your team to thrive and achieve their full potential. emPerform Tag™ facilitates ongoing feedback and coaching conversations, empowering employees and managers to identify areas for growth and reach their full potential, thus driving continuous improvement and contributing to overall organisational success.


If you’re seeking a method to integrate upward feedback into your talent management procedures, look no further than emPerform. With its seamless features, emPerform allows for the effortless initiation of anonymous surveys and 360° reviews. With just a simple click, organisations can foster year-round feedback and facilitate ongoing performance dialogue between managers and employees.