The value of upward feedback in the modern work culture

The value of upward feedback in the modern work culture

Every organization should be down with upward feedback. The value the upward feedback brings to the organization is immense. Don’t take it wrong – feedback from the top down is vital too, but the best manner to cultivate stronger leaders and managers is by acquiring authentic and confidential feedback from the employees they are managing all day every day. When you hold the managerial seat in your organization, you have to make sure that the work culture facilitates you getting feedback from your direct reports. If not, you have to change the situation. In fact, soliciting upward feedback helps the organization terrifically. Make sure to read until the end to become aware of the value upward feedback holds in the modern work culture. 

The value of upward feedback in the modern work culture

There’s a reason that it is said that people don’t quit jobs, they quit their boss – well this is actually true! A survey conducted by Gallup revealed that 75% of the employees who recently resigned from their jobs cited their manager as the main cause of their exit. Enter upward feedback – it allows the direct reports to provide feedback to their respective managers. It does require a delicate approach but when done correctly it skyrockets the leadership and employee engagement. It is quite vital for the managers and leaders to receive upward feedback as it contains valuable inputs that can be extracted into modified policies, behavior, and process. 

As obvious as it can get, your employees will always be keen to work for managers and leaders who respect their opinion. When the organization demonstrates trust in the opinion of its employees, it motivates them to contribute even more towards the success of the organization. Such a motivated and valued workforce will get more engaged and stick around longer for the organization as compared to the ones that sense a lack of trust and value. As a leader, you will be able to get a good grasp of what’s working for your teams and what’s not. It is not always possible to have a 360 degrees perspective, therefore insights from employees are extremely beneficial for the managers. But how do you encourage your employees to provide their honest feedback? Let’s find out! 

Set The Foundation For Upward Feedback

To receive regular, quality feedback from your employees, you need to establish the stage so that they are comfortable coming forth. You can set the foundation by:

Welcoming constructive feedback

You need to explicitly share with your employees what your organization value and welcome their feedback. This is a crucial aspect for establishing the culture of upward feedback in the organizations. Inform them about how this feedback will help your leaders to improve and make the employee experience better in the organization. 

Eliciting regular feedback

Don’t make the blunder of just sitting and waiting for your employees to approach you and offer their feedback. Instead, it should be you and your managers that reach out to them directly and ask for their feedback. It is mandatory for you to make it a regular practice by setting up one on one discussions with your employees. Seek their feedback on the current process, idea, project, or organization regularly. 

Creating prospects for anonymous feedback 

The best means of eliciting critical opinions is to offer the option of anonymous feedback. Not every employee of yours will feel comfortable providing their feedback when they’ll have to disclose their identity. Hence, you have to make sure that you offer your employees the option to share anonymous feedback. 

To promote upward feedback in your organization, some questions that you should be asking your employees include:

a. Are your objectives clear enough? What can I do to make them more clear for you?

b. Do you face any obstacles in your way?

c. Do you think I provide feedback regularly? Do you want more feedback from my side?

d. How can I and my organization support you in a better manner?

The upsides of upward feedback

As you must have realized by now, upward feedback brings advantages for the leaders at any level and to teams of any size. Even the most experienced managers will be able to use upward feedback for re-examining past leadership approaches and identify the areas where there’s potential for growth. By asking everyone to participate, this approach teaches everyone – from the most juniors to the executive management team, that growth is always feasible and that all perspectives are valuable for the functioning of the organization. 

1. Better leaders

A study claims that managers who receive regular feedback are leading teams that are 8.9% more profitable than those who are not.  To enhance their leadership skills, managers need to be open to receiving feedback from direct reports. Especially in the current times when employees are involved in different teams and there is more than one line of reporting managers, upward feedback becomes incredibly important for leaders and managers for knowing how they can support their staff in a better manner. 

2. Improves employee engagement

Employees with poor managers are more susceptible to being disengaged at their organization and research has shown that disengaged employees can cost the US $450 billion to $550 billion annually. Moreover, your employees want to feel that their opinions are heard. Upward feedback is a strategic method to provide your employees with a medium for addressing how the managers can better guide and support them. 

3. Strengthens relationships 

Relationships play a huge role in employee engagement. Employees are known to pick their immediate boss as the most stressful aspect of their jobs and the ones that share a bad relationship with their management have substantially lower job satisfaction. When the employees don’t trust their leaders, they are more likely to search for a new opportunity rather than stay loyal to their current company. Employees care about their relationship with their managers as much as they care about their career development. 

Although it may appear to be intimidating, upward feedback serves as a critical part of the performance management framework. There are multiple ways to implement upward feedback. Regardless of the method, you have to make sure that it fits with your performance management process and organizational culture. Have you implemented upward feedback in your organization? Contact us to seek proficient assistance regarding your performance management concerns. 

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Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

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