How to Ask Employees for Feedback (And Actually Get It)

How-to-Ask-for-Employee-FeedbackFeedback is essential to growth and development. Many organizations use structured employee feedback processes like 360 feedback, which is an important exercise. But managers should feel empowered to collect ongoing feedback from any employee at any time.

Why? When managers are constantly listening to employees, it's easier for them to identify strengths and areas of growth — and to make real-time adjustments that have a big impact on their teams.


Free Download: A Practical Guide to Giving and Receiving Employee Feedback


But getting meaningful and honest feedback isn’t always easy. Employees may feel uncomfortable revealing their true thoughts. They may not want to hurt anyone’s feelings or face future repercussions for harsh critiques. These fears cause them to submit fluffy feedback or avoid the request completely.


Use these tips to help employees feel comfortable and increase the likelihood that they respond with helpful, actionable feedback.


1. Be intentional with your phrasing.


Broad, overarching questions typically don't draw great responses. Move your questions from...


Broad to Specific

  • Ask this: "How can I improve our team's goal-setting process?"
  • Not that: "How am I doing as your manager?"


Traits to Behaviors

  • Ask this: "What can I change about how I recognize your accomplishments?"
  • Not that: "Why do team members say I'm not good at recognizing them?"


Past to Future

  • Ask this: "How would you like me to share company announcements?"
  • Not that: "Have I been communicating effectively?"


2. Take feedback seriously.


Make it clear that employee feedback isn't just a box you're checking to satisfy HR. You truly want to understand employee opinions and do what you can to make their work experience better. Be sure to:



Don't be defensive or immediately respond when employees speak. Take in what they have to say and carefully consider it.


Say thank you.

If employees believe you actually appreciate the feedback and will use it moving forward, they're more likely to be open and honest.


Ask for clarifying examples or information.

Pinpoint specific instances so you can truly understand how to change.


Check in on progress.

There's nothing more disengaging than feedback that falls on deaf ears. But when you make changes based off employee suggestions, they feel heard and are most likely to submit honest, constructive feedback moving forward.


3. Be patient and give it time.


Although it’s tempting to want instant results from your employees, patience is key. You have to build trust over time and understand that good feedback requires time and thought. Share some examples of good feedback you’ve received in the past and what made it useful. Ask continuously to make feedback a regular part of employees’ lives, and don’t put pressure on employees by putting them on the spot.



These tips will help put employees at ease and encourage honest feedback. To learn how to digest and act on employee feedback, get your copy of our ebook, A Practical Guide to Giving and Receiving Feedback.

Free ebook! A Practical Guide to Giving and Receiving Employee Feedback With a Growth Mindset!