Manager feedback questions to ask your employees and improve your leadership

Most managers understand the importance of providing timely feedback to their direct reports, but it’s important to remember that feedback isn’t just for employees. Effective leaders also welcome and request constructive feedback. Receiving actionable feedback from your peers and direct reports is a great way to aid your own professional development as a manager.

By asking the right questions, good managers can get the feedback that they need to become great managers and find opportunities to improve the work environment and employee experience for their teams. Find out how to get honest feedback and explore sample manager survey questions to use.

How to encourage honest answers to manager feedback questions

One hurdle to getting genuine manager feedback is that employees and even peers may feel uneasy about critiquing you directly. Here are some ways to get around that to encourage honest responses.

Explore anonymous response options for direct reports

Your direct reports are going to be the most anxious about giving you feedback. After all, there is a lot of room for retaliation if an employee gives their manager feedback and that manager does not take it well. To help ease their anxiety and encourage honest feedback, it’s a good idea to mix in some anonymous feedback options like surveys or suggestion boxes.

Sending out a quarterly questionnaire can be a quick and easy way to check the pulse on your team and solicit feedback while allowing respondents to speak openly without fear of retaliation. However, anonymous feedback options are less effective for really small departments as there is inherently less anonymity there.

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If you have regular team meetings an anonymous suggestion box or anonymous online form can be a great way to encourage people to ask questions or bring up concerns without the stress of speaking up in a group or telling you directly. It gives everyone a good starting point to facilitate an open discussion as employees may feel more comfortable chiming in and giving feedback after seeing someone else voice a concern.

Respond to criticism well

People will be more open with you once they see that you will accept the feedback calmly and gracefully. If you ask for feedback or encourage employees to voice their concerns, be sure to thank them when they actually do. Tell them that you appreciate their honesty and then discuss how you can address the issue. Asking follow-up questions and discussing solutions together is a great way to show that you are hearing them and will be taking action based on the feedback.

Know when to use open-ended questions

If you want detailed responses, open-ended questions are great. You should absolutely use them when you need employees to open up or provide more robust insights. For example, broader questions such as “Is there anything that I can do to better support you?” is going to solicit a wide range of different responses based on each employee’s individual needs and preferences, so you don’t want that to be a yes/no or multiple choice question.

On the other hand, sometimes team members aren’t super forthcoming or responsive to open-ended questions. Employee feedback surveys with agree/disagree scales or multiple choice selections can be great for collecting data on specific issues or soliciting feedback from reluctant employees. Even in person, asking questions with set options such as “Do you prefer when I send you tasks over Slack or when I come over to your desk to discuss tasks?” can help you get a clear response from employees who are less comfortable providing feedback.

Manager feedback questions to ask employees

Effective managers gather feedback from employees and use that to continuously improve and refine their leadership approach. You likely give employees regular feedback through performance reviews and ongoing performance management practices, but now is the time to let employees provide feedback on your performance as a manager. Here are some questions that can be used to collect employee feedback through check-in discussions or employee engagement surveys.

Do you feel that your work and effort is recognized?

It’s a manager’s job to make sure that employees feel appreciated and supported. Small business managers often have a lot on their plate and may overlook this important task, but that will end up hurting employee engagement and job satisfaction in the long run. If employees largely respond no to this question, it’s time to start amping up your employee recognition efforts.

How would you rate your manager’s communication approach?

One of the biggest employee complaints is often that managers don’t communicate effectively. Great managers work to proactively communicate with their teams while not overcommunicating to the point that employees feel micromanaged or like they’re spending hours in unnecessary meetings. Find out whether employees feel like they’re receiving regular, relevant communication and if there is anything that may be improved (such as trying different communication channels, providing more regular updates, or being more concise in communications).

Do you feel that the workload and deadlines requested of you are reasonable?

Maintaining a proper workload distribution and setting fair timeline expectations is one area that a lot of managers struggle with. Every person on your team will have their own strengths and weaknesses and may need different amounts of time on each project. That’s why it’s important to have clear, one-on-one conversations with each direct report about their workloads and whether they feel that you are setting reasonable productivity and performance expectations.

This is one question on the list that is better leveraged in a direct check-in rather than through an anonymous survey question because it will be easier to correct if you know exactly who needs their workload or due dates adjusted.

Is there anything your manager could do to better support your career development?

manager-feedback-450x350pxManagers shouldn’t just be focused on employees getting the basic tasks done, they also should be offering mentorship and helping employees reach the next step in their career. This is one area that some new managers struggle with as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all all approach to developing employees. Each team member will have their own professional interests and goals as well as specific areas that they personally may need to improve in.

As a manager, it’s important to carve out time for individualized career development discussions and planning for each direct report. Many managers only really take the time to do this during annual performance reviews, but your employees may not feel that once a year is enough.

Do you feel that your manager cares about your personal well-being and work-life balance?

This is a common employee survey question used to solicit feedback on manager effectiveness. It’s a great option to include on pulse surveys to understand whether you’re properly communicating your respect and concern for your team member’s well-being and need for work-life balance. It’s also often a fairly easy issue to address by increasing one-on-one check-ins and communicating that people shouldn’t hesitate to use their PTO for self-care days, but one that can greatly impact employee satisfaction.

Do you feel that your ideas and suggestions are heard and valued?

Asking for feedback is really only beneficial if you’re going to listen to and act on the feedback. The same is true for asking team members to share their ideas. If employees don’t feel heard they will stop contributing new ideas, which will hurt the time overall in the long run.

Is there anything that I could do to improve your day-to-day work experience?

This is another question that will produce specific and highly personalized answers from each team member and thus is better asked directly rather than through an anonymous survey. Part of being an effective manager is learning each of your employee’s work styles and understanding their support needs. Asking for feedback on how to improve each employee’s day-to-day experience is a great opportunity to practice tailoring your management skills to different team members.

Are you properly informed on policy or process changes?

Clearly communicating changes is a key element of management communication. It’s helpful to check-in to ensure that employees understand what’s going on and how any recent changes effect them, and solicit feedback on how to improve communication during future changes.

Manager feedback questions to ask peers and higher-ups

Other managers are also an excellent source for feedback regarding your management style. Each manager works to develop their own leadership style that works best for them. While you don’t want to copy someone else’s exact management style, you can still learn a lot from other managers, even those that may be peers on your same level within the organization.

Are there any management techniques that you think I should try implementing with my team?

Part of learning to improve as a manager is learning different management techniques. Other department managers often try out new things with their teams and may be able to share some ideas of what’s been working well for them lately. Sharing ideas with peers is a great way to broaden your horizons and find ways to lead meetings better or improve management communication.

What area of leadership do you think I could most improve on?

This is a question that should be directed towards your manager, mentor, or someone that would have a really clear understanding of your management strengths and weaknesses. When soliciting feedback to improve your leadership skills, it can be helpful to identify one really pertinent area to focus on at a time.

How do you keep your team engaged and motivated?

This is a good question to ask peers or really any manager that you meet through work or networking. Managers play an important role in maintaining a positive company culture and keeping employee retention and engagement high, so a great way to improve your skills is to learn new strategies for keeping your team motivated.