Upward Review: ways to give and receive upward feedback

Post by
Karthick Sundar
Upward Review: ways to give and receive upward feedback

Although we are aware of all the benefits that come with reviews, the fact is, we still find them challenging. Well, here's the thing - To take advantage of feedback, you need to have an open mind. Your mind works when it's open like a parachute.

It is a common belief that seniors give feedbacks to juniors. But ideally, it should always go both ways - from the most junior levels to the most senior. Upward reviews are famous for exactly this reason. It is a process of providing feedback to your senior regarding strengths and areas for development.

Upwards reviews can be challenging, but when tackled with the right intentions and structure, they can highly benefit the people involved.

Since employees have to give feedback to the people they usually work under, organizations need to be thoughtful in structuring relationships and environments in the workplace to foster upward feedback.

Why is upward feedback important?

While it can be difficult for employees to provide feedback to their managers, giving upward feedback makes the manager's job easier. It helps them identify what is most important to their employees. It gives them a better view of the problems they may not see, allowing them to identify rising leaders in the organization.

How to give upward feedback?

Giving upward feedback is an excellent indicator of a potential leader since he can effectively suggest improvements and is brave enough to express his honest opinion. It shows that the employee cares for the organization he works for.

Providing upward feedback is a learnable skill. Here's how you can ensure that your feedback is well-received.

1. Wait for the right time and environment

It's best to wait until your senior asks for feedback or until you set up a specific meeting. Remember, timing is key.

Sometimes, there can be a situation when you're trying to provide upward feedback that you know will vastly improve the work environment. At times like these, it's best to ask something like, "Can we set up specific feedback sessions at each project checkpoint?" at the beginning of a new task.

The right environment also has a tremendous impact on the one receiving the feedback. You never want to be providing upward feedback in front of other team members or, worst, a client.

One-to-one meetings in a closed setting are usually the best environment you can aim for.

2. Be specific

Many people take upward feedback as a way of rating or grading their boss. But it is much more than that. It is making sure that your perspective is heard. And it would help if you are always prepared to be challenged in your perspective.

Also, you don't want to sound vague or give very detailed feedback. Understand your boss's capabilities. The Pyramid Principle can also be helpful to structure upward feedback logically.

3. Be professional

Keep your feedback restricted to work-related instances and remove emotions as much as possible. Upward feedback isn't to make your senior feel bad. On the contrary, you want to provide examples of how your senior's behavior positively or negatively affects the performance of employees so that positive changes can be made and their efforts to being a good leader are acknowledged.

4. Frame the feedback effectively

Giving feedback is the first step towards improving how your manager interacts with you. Providing suggestions for the expected changes takes it to the next level! Remember, framing any feedback in a way that focuses on solutions is the way to go as it goes a step further by giving supervisors a little help with the 'how'.

5. Don't forget the good!

It might tempt you to focus on just the negative actions and behaviors, but don't forget to share your thoughts on what your senior does that HELPS you perform better. They might not know, and you want to reinforce their good qualities, too. Appreciation is always good, isn't it?

How to receive upward feedback?

Receiving constructive feedback from your employees can be tough. But receiving feedback can help you with your personal and professional growth. It also helps set the example and encourages the development of a culture of feedback, boosting a team's level of trust. Look at the feedback as a valuable opportunity to reassess and hone your skills rather than seeing it as a personal attack.

Here are few things to help with accepting upward feedback:

1. Acknowledge the fear

As the boss or a leader, you have to set the stage so that your employees feel comfortable. You need to break through their fear. Tell them you understand everyone makes mistakes, and they should call out those without feeling threatened or embarrassed. Explain that you really need their feedback to learn and grow as an individual.

At the same time, know that it's going to be hard to hear this feedback. It's natural to feel bad when people criticize, and no matter what your role in the company is, you're still human. But you can't let that anxiety hold you back.

2. Respect differences

Since managers are trained to see the big picture and employees usually come from the perspective of their role, there can be differences in opinions. At the same time, having a fresh perspective can be very helpful in many situations. Even if you, as a manager, disagree with an employee's point of view, respect that the employee took the initiative.

3. Ask for examples

When you receive feedback from your employees, ask them to give examples of situations or behaviors they have observed. This allows you to understand the feedback better and ensures that what you're hearing is true. Examples will also help provide more context and, therefore, make the feedback more actionable for you.

4. Take action

Anyone hates feeling that speaking up was a complete waste of time. If someone is brave enough to give you input, recognize it. Keep your employees in the loop about small changes in your behavior based on their feedback.

They will not only appreciate that you took action on their suggestions, but it will also reassure people that their input is valuable and will be well received. This will encourage them to continue to be open and provide valuable contributions in the future.

5. Be appreciative

It is important to remember that people are just as uncomfortable giving feedback as they are receiving it. Be appreciative and assume good intentions. Since your employees are eager to help you with your personal and professional growth, do not forget to thank them.

Final Thoughts

Upward feedback is a tricky matter - both for senior and junior members of an organization. The more upward feedback managers receive, the better they will be able to support their teams and work on their own professional development.

So try to develop a healthy feedback culture in your workplace, and gradually you'll see your organization grow!