The Best Ways To Offer Feedback To A Higher-Up

Linda ReyesBlogging, Forbes Coaches Counsel

Tackling disputes in a work environment can be a tricky thing. Many of us are familiar with how we’d want to receive feedback but are less aware of how we should be giving feedback. This is especially important when an employee needs to talk to management about a problem.

We asked members of Forbes Coaches Council how to better open up conversations about tricky situations at work. The answers given center on having positive, neutral, and non-confrontational exchanges with a manager, yet the approaches vary across the board.

1. Remember To Respect

Employees who hold animosity toward a manager can damage an entire team. It’s always better to address the issue directly in a closed environment. Ask the manager if he/she would be agreeable to a 30-minute meeting to work through the issue. Remember to keep emotions separate. – Christopher MorgaInvisiScope Solutions 

2. Use Human Resources

Does your company or organization have a non-judgemental way to communicate employee issues or problems with human resources? If so, this can be a powerful sounding board toward solutions, not just complaints that require action. Healthy organizations can share concerns with mature HR personnel. This can create dialogue and improve the culture through the lens of HR. – John M. O’ConnorCareer Pro Inc.

3. Give And Take Feedback

Offering feedback to a manager you’re at odds with can be tricky, but it certainly can be done. A good way to start is to tell the manager you have some observations about how you might work together more effectively, and ask if she/he is interested in hearing them. If they’re not, honor it at least for the time being. If yes, be sure that your feedback is very specific and focused on behavior. Keep checking for receptivity and be sure not to unload too much all at once. And definitely look for opportunities for positive reinforcement if you see changes in the right direction. – Kathy BernhardKFB Leadership Solutions 

4. Create A Structure For Accountability

When a manager and employee are at odds, it can be uncomfortable for an employee to offer feedback. A great way around this is to ask your manager for a weekly/bi-weekly check-in meeting that allows you both to sit down, check in with one another and offer feedback. Both parties can present an agenda. – Loren TrlinLife You Love 

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

5. Offer Different Forums For Feedback

There must be both anonymous and open ways to share feedback on the team and within the company. This encourages employees to speak their mind on abuses, misalignment and other issues that can be more easily fixed if addressed early. This way, an employee will feel empowered to share the feedback either anonymously, openly or otherwise through a company forum or neutral party. – Yuri 

6. Think Ahead Using DESC

It starts with knowing how to present the concern so it doesn’t result in defensiveness. Practicing “I” language through DESC is the way to go. “D” is to describe the concern and give an example if you can. “E” is the effect or impact it had on you (here’s where the “I” come’s in). “S” is to specify what you would like changed. “C” is to identify a positive consequence when the change is made. – Karin NaslundNaslund Consulting Group Inc.

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