How To Get The Feedback You Desperately Need From Your Boss

So, you and your boss are constantly tiptoeing around each other, and it’s driving you nuts.

Sometimes you get the occasional pat on the back, and other times you get a little finger waddle that you’re going in the wrong direction. But for the most part, you have no idea what your boss thinks about your work or accomplishments. You’re not even sure if she knows what you bring to the table.


You desperately need clear and thorough feedback so that you can do your job even better. But you’re also not sure how to ask for feedback, without seeming bothersome or needy.

And quite frankly, just the thought of asking for feedback is intimidating and anxiety-inducing. But, here are 3 ways to initiate the conversation and get the most out of it.

Send an email to schedule a time to chat

The easiest way to avoid feeling bothersome is to send an email beforehand. Rather than just walking in and catching your manager off guard, schedule an appointment to give your manager time to reflect and prepare for the conversation. It will also increase your chances of receiving thoughtful and clear feedback since they would’ve had some time to think about your contributions and work ethic prior to the meeting.

A quick email like this works well:

“Would it be possible for us to chat sometime this week? I’d love to get your feedback on my recent projects [or something else specific]. I’m sure you’re quite busy, so just let me know what day works best for a 10-minute conversation.”

Your boss might even respond that they’re free to speak right now, which would be great. But this approach saves you from barging in at an inconvenient time.


Ask specific questions

Avoid the typical, “So, how am I doing?” This question serves no purpose and prompts fluffy, zero-substance responses. Your goal is to receive clear and actionable feedback, so it’s your duty to ask clear and specific questions.

And, keep the “What did I do wrong?” question to yourself. Ask questions that focus on the future. Focusing on the future makes it easier for your boss to be more candid and open with you, opposed to having to tell you all the things you could’ve done to make something better in the past – which could be uncomfortable for both you and your boss.

Here are a few questions you should consider:

  • From your perspective, what steps can I take to exceed expectations on [something you’re working on]?
  • What can I do going forward to improve?
  • Moving forward, how can I do better in/on/with [mention a particular situation]?
  • Specifically, what initiatives do you recommend I take to be ready for [upcoming project, position, promotion, assignment or whatever you’re most interested in doing next]?
  • I’m excited about the progress I’ve been able to make on [specific project], and I’m always looking to get better. Could you share one thing I could do differently on the next project to produce even better results?
  • Can I get your advice on [a project, skill or something else specific]?


Offer value

As a leader, it is your manager’s responsibility to give you his time and to help you grow and develop. Although some managers do a better job at this than others, it’s important to know that asking for advice or feedback (at the right time) isn’t needy, it’s a necessity. It’s also the quickest way to accelerate your career.

But, to combat your fear of seeming needy, offer value. You can do this by mentioning the progress you’re making on a key assignment or project. You can let your boss know that you’re right on track to meet your deadline, or that you’re free on Thursday to lend a helping hand on his time-consuming project. Find a way to be resourceful so that you can walk away feeling like you brought something to the table too.

Asking for feedback can be cringe-worthy, especially if you’re not used to having those types of conversations with your manager. But by making an effort to request valuable feedback in a thoughtful way, you’ll be well on your way towards getting the feedback you need to grow and develop in your career.


Originally published at Forbes