Receiving Feedback from Subordinates

Feedback shouldn’t only come from above. Your subordinates work with you regularly and know what goes on in your group, and they know how your own habits and attitudes impact their ability to do their jobs. They also have insights into what works best for your group and its work.

Some people feel that it’s not for underlings to express opinions about how your group does its work or about decisions that are made; but a company shouldn’t be run as though it were the military, and rigid hierarchies are the enemy of open communication, creative thinking, and collaborative decision-making. The people you work with probably have some legitimate insights. If you don’t hear what they have to say, you’ll never find out about certain aspects of how the group runs or how your own actions affect your group’s performance. Furthermore, they’ll receive the message that their views are unimportant and that you’re not interested in their concerns and well-being; and they therefore won’t trust you. As a result of that, they won’t communicate with you about other things, and you’ll be left out of the loop amongst your own employees.

How do you open up without feeling you’ve compromised your authority? The obvious way to start is to take the employees’ section of the performance review a lot more seriously that is normally the case. What your employees have to say about the way their year went will often provide a different perspective from your own on your group and its work.

But really you should be listening year round. Asking them for input about decisions wouldn’t hurt, and, assuming you actually listen to what they say, will make them feel that you’re genuinely open to them, which will lead to other communication.

Another approach is simply to ask, at a group meeting after the completion of some project or other work, what they think worked and what didn’t. This allows them to frame their answers more generically about the project, without making them directly about you.

There’s a benefit to be had in being perceived by your employees as someone who is willing to listen to something you haven’t thought of yourself, even if it’s implicitly, albeit politely, critical. Furthermore, your group will function better. And you may be surprised; sometimes those closest to the floor have the clearest view.


Harris Silverman is a Management Coach, Career Coach, and Communications Coach working globally over the internet and locally in Toronto.  He has experience in both the private and public sectors, and in large corporations as well as in small business.  For more information, please visit

Go Deeper | Website

Want More?

New Graphic
Subscriber Counter