Feedback is a two-way street.
After all, your boss likely puts in hard w
Feedback is a two-way street.
There’s great power in positive feedback, especially when it comes from direct reports.
Let’s talk about why you should give positive comments to your boss. We’ll also talk about how it can help create a feedback culture in your company.
The importance of positive feedback for managers
At BetterUp, we know the good work of managers is integral to the success of an organization. It feels good to know that team members recognize when managers are doing something great.
But we know that managers, like every other employee, need support. And sometimes, that comes in the form of positive feedback.
One study by Gallup found that just one in ten people have the inherent talent to lead. If just 10% of employees possess the know-how to be leaders, that means there’s a huge potential for coaching.
It’s likely that many people have the potential to develop their leadership skills. But developing skills hinges on the ability to provide feedback (both positive and negative).
It’s only natural that your knee-jerk reaction to the word “feedback” may be that it means negative feedback. And as humans, of course, we all can invest in bettering ourselves. Negative feedback isn’t a bad thing.
But here’s the thing: positive feedback is often overlooked.
4 benefits of giving your manager positive comments
Positive feedback is a good way to encourage actions you’d like to see your manager take more often. Many employees worry that giving their manager positive feedback may simply come across as an attempt to get ahead in their careers. However, if given properly you’ll be able to candidly share your opinions about their management style and how it impacts the workplace.
Here are some additional benefits to sharing positive feedback with your manager.
1. It builds rapport
Every manager and employee relationship is different. But the success of every relationship — manager or colleague — hinges on whether or not you have a rapport with the person.
By giving positive comments to your boss, you’re investing in building rapport. And once rapport is established, your relationship opens up with other opportunities.
Let’s say you’ve recently started on a new team with a new boss or leader. You’re in the beginning stages of the relationship, and you don’t know your boss very well yet.
Sometimes, your boss Slacks you while other times, they ask you to jump on a quick call. You notice that your boss doesn’t seem to prefer email as an internal communication tool, which works well for you. You don’t care much for email, especially because you want to create a more informal relationship.
2. It helps reinforce behaviors
So, you decide to start to build rapport with your boss in your next 1:1. “I really appreciate how you feel comfortable Slacking me with questions. Thanks for coming to me over Slack and for making it easy to approach you with any of my own questions, too.”
By saying this one positive comment, you’ve now reaffirmed your preferred communication style with your boss. But you’ve also made a step to build rapport with them, too. It’s helped to reach the desired behavior for your working relationship.
3. It can strengthen trust
Every relationship starts out with an opportunity to build trust. The same goes for the manager and employee relationship.
And while there’s somewhat of a power dichotomy between the manager and the employee, both parties need to invest in building trust.
So when an employee responds with positive comments to this type of management style, it reinforces trust. Let’s say that your manager gives you the freedom to solve a problem in a way that works for you. They’ve given you a project that needs solving. But they’ve told you to go about it in a way that works well (using your good judgment).
You can say to your boss: “Thanks for trusting me to lead this project. It means a lot to know that you see my value and trust me to do a good job.”
By simply providing this positive comment, you’re helping to strengthen the trust between you and your manager.
4. It can open the door for other types of feedback
If your manager is invested in the employee and manager relationship, it’s likely they’ll ask for feedback. But sometimes, asking for feedback can be intimidating.
Let’s say you’ve been put on a cross-functional project that requires you to put 60% of your work on hold. Your manager asks you to step up as project lead, which feels great.
But while you’ve been in a leadership role on this project, you know that your cross-functional team is understaffed. You don’t have enough resources to get the project done.
When you first asked your manager for another resource, they asked you to figure out how to do it without another person on the team. You didn’t feel like your boss listened to your recommendation. Now, two weeks into the project, you have a check-in with your manager on the project’s goals.
Try starting off with this. “Thanks so much for putting me as the team lead on this project. It means a lot to see that you see my capabilities playing a role in this project. I know you didn’t initially see a need for an extra person on this project. But we’re not able to reach X, Y, and Z deliverables without more resources dedicated to this work.
I’d love it if you took some time to revisit my proposal and see how I’ve allocated the team across workstreams. I’ve put together this deck for your review. Could you take a moment to review it? I’d also love your feedback on how you would approach this project differently.”
Of course, avoid the feedback sandwich where possible. But positive feedback can open up the door to other types of feedback down the road, especially with built trust and rapport.
7 tips on how to give positive feedback to your boss
By now, you know why it’s important to give your manager positive comments. Now, let’s walk through how to use it in practice.
1. Know when to give positive feedback
Knowing when to give positive feedback is half the battle. Keep in mind that reasons for giving feedback should be measured based on the individual, not on the size of the achievement.
For instance, let’s say your manager stepped up to help iron out a roadblock you were coming across in a project. Or your manager was able to secure an additional resource for a large-scale project that will help set you up for success.
Identify some moments where it feels right to give your manager positive comments. It can be as simple as a statement of gratitude for giving you a platform to present in a recent team meeting. Don’t overlook the small moments, too.
2. Blend real-time feedback with scheduled feedback
While it is important to keep the feedback fresh and relevant, there may not be an opportunity to give your boss real-time feedback in private. In these cases, take note to mention it in your next one-on-one meeting. Or you can schedule a separate time to discuss the positive comment with your manager. In these cases, you’ll want to give your manager a heads up and schedule some time on their calendar to meet.
3. Take time to prepare
Giving positive comments to your boss is much like giving them other types of feedback. To ensure you get your message across clearly, carve out s few minutes to prepare for your meeting. Know what you want to say, and try jotting down some example phrases or relevant adjectives to keep you on track.
4. Be specific
When formulating your feedback, it’s best to use examples and describe exactly what you found to be positive about their performance.
For example, instead of simply telling them they’re good at resolving conflicts, explain how impressed you were with the way they mediated a conflict between two colleagues.
Give specific examples about why you appreciated their conflict resolution skills. You can also mention how you appreciated your manager stepping in as a team player.
5. Highlight the behavior rather than their innate characteristics
Also, recognize behavior over traits. You shouldn’t attribute your manager’s success with customers to their natural people skills.
Instead, note that they put time into listening and responding to each individual complaint until the customer is satisfied. Highlighting behaviors signals the need to continue working on these skills rather than taking them for granted.
6. Give your positive feedback in private
When your message is constructive, it’s always better to give it in private. Alternatively, giving positive feedback to your colleague in public can be an even better way to show your appreciation or boost the receiver’s confidence. But things are different when you’re giving positive feedback to your boss.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s good to give positive feedback to your boss in private. Giving them honest positive feedback in a private one-on-one or performance review will minimize your hesitancy at seeming too eager to please the boss.
Lean on your communication skills and practice with your coach. You want your honest feedback to land as genuine.
7. Keep timing in mind
Feedback should be given as soon as possible after an achievement, making it easier for you and the recipient to recall details so changes can be made. If the moment is left too long, the effectiveness of your feedback can reduce significantly.
Give your boss feedback as close to the incident you’d like to praise. This is often how you should approach all types of feedback, especially constructive feedback. If the time passed is too long, it won’t be as impactful.
3 feedback examples of positive comments for your boss
Let’s talk through some feedback examples to use with your manager. You can even use some of these phrases as a template for your future conversations.
Example 1: “I really appreciated how you listened to my concerns and validated me. I feel like I can approach you with any sort of problem and know that you’re invested in helping me find a solution.”
Todd recently went to his manager with some feedback about how work-life balance. He always thought he had pretty solid time management skills. Yet ever since he started to work remotely, he noticed a decline in his ability to “shut off” from work. It started to impact his well-being and his employee performance.
He went to his manager Julie about his concerns. Julie listened intently while Todd voiced his concerns. She asked probing questions about what she could do to better support him. She also helped with problem-solving.
She realized that because the company works in different time zones, Todd felt he had an expectation to respond to Julie’s late emails. Julie was able to share her point of view. She didn’t expect Todd to answer any emails after hours and reiterated that she wanted him to spend time with family.
Ever since their conversation, Todd has unplugged after the work day. It’s made a tremendous impact on his well-being and work-life balance.
Example 2: “I appreciate your clear, actionable goals for the team. I feel well-supported in my role to meet my goals.”
As a project management professional, Max thrives on structure. He likes when goals are clear, achievable, and communicated often.
Ever since his boss started bringing up the team goals in entire team meetings, Max has seen improvements in workflow. He’s also noticed team performance seems to be increasing, too. The entire team is on track to meet their quarterly goals because of the clear, direct communication from their manager.
Example 3: “Thank you for investing in my professional development. I’ve noticed a huge improvement in how I’m building my skills.”
Patricia went to her boss with some manager feedback a few weeks ago. She wanted to learn more about project management. Patricia’s company didn’t offer any internal professional development opportunities in project management. After talking with her coach, Patricia identified three online courses that would help her grow her skills.
Her manager, Gary, supported Patricia’s willingness to upskill. With Gary’s support, Patricia enrolled in an online course that will help her get one step closer to achieving her project management certificate.
She’s grateful that Gary listened to her feedback about the lack of professional development opportunities internally. Gary also went the extra mile to recognize Patricia in a team meeting upon completion of her course.
More positive feedback examples for your manager
With all of the responsibilities on middle managers’ plates, there are ample areas to share positive comments with your boss. Here are additional examples to guide your own feedback.
- “I appreciate your creative problem-solving abilities when it comes to opening the lines of communication across our team. Your new processes have already allowed us to collaborate more effectively”
- “I appreciate that you actively listen in our meetings to ensure we are communicating well.”
- “Working remotely can be alienating, but you’ve done a great job of keeping the team connected and increasing psychological safety. I feel like I can bring my whole self to work”
- “You leave space for team members to contribute, which I find very empowering.”
- “Thank you for being mindful of bandwidth and open to renegotiating commitments.”
- “I appreciate that you ask for my collaborative input when establishing team goals.”
- “Thank you for clearly setting expectations and offering context about my new project.”
- “I appreciate your patience as I ramp up in this new role.”
- “Thank you for creating a comfortable environment for me to ask questions about my new role.”
- “Thank you for trusting me to complete (X project) with more autonomy. It was a great learning experience, and I feel more confident in my skills.”
- “Thank you for your transparency during the recent organizational changes. It was reassuring to have your zoomed-out perspective on the situation.”
- “I appreciate your willingness to help out when things get busy.”
Start giving positive comments to your boss
Your work environment is a place where you spend a lot of your time. And because you’re invested in creating a thriving work environment, you know the importance of feedback.
Employee feedback can be the make-it-or-break-it for company culture. And contrary to popular belief, feedback doesn’t always come from the top down. Feedback also doesn’t always have to be negative.
By giving your boss positive feedback, you’re showing an investment in your relationship. You show that you recognize and care about the good work they’re doing to help create a better work environment for your team.
If you’re unsure of how to create a feedback culture in your workplace, consider BetterUp. With virtual coaching, you can empower a culture of feedback with individualized support.