How to Give a Manager Performance Feedback

Managers generally have two primary responsibilities: oversee their departmental functions and lead their employees. However, there are many aspects of management performance under those two broad categories of expectations. Giving a manager performance feedback requires a comprehensive look at all of the manager's duties because her performance must be looked at in its totality, rather than segmented according to departmental or workforce management.

Giving performance feedback to a manager requires a higher level assessment of skills, capabilities and professional evaluation since managers have a different set of components on which their performance is evaluated. Those components include functional expertise regardless of whether they perform the duties, overall leadership effectiveness, the ability to manage employees and how well they plan for future roles by setting goals for themselves and their employees.

Feedback on Functional Expertise

Unless the manager is what's called a working manager – a manager who actually performs the jobs of the employees who report to her – she's not required to demonstrate her level of functional expertise. That being said, she is required to know what's expected of someone equipped with the functional expertise necessary for the department to function. For example, a manager who supervises employees who press clothing doesn't need to know how to operate the clothes press or mangle, an industrial machine for ironing clothes. However, she must be able to determine whether her employees are operating the machinery properly by the quality of garments they output.

The way to provide a manager with feedback in her area of functional expertise is generally by evaluating the quality of the departmental products or services. Although employees are responsible for doing the actual work, the department manager is ultimately accountable for the outcome of the work produced by her employees.

Feedback on Leadership Skills

Providing a manager with feedback on her leadership skills may be difficult, based on the subjectivity of leadership skills and how they vary from one manager to another. One way to assess a manager's leadership skills is to measure the various functions that comprise leadership. For example, an effective leader communicates frequently with staff and leaves little room for ambiguity among the employees who report to him.

Effective leaders also delegate responsibilities to their subordinates according to their employees' skill levels, aptitude and interests. Giving a manager performance feedback on leadership, therefore, requires an introspective look at how the manager's employees interact with him, whether employees believe he's an effective leader and if his employees are capable of producing the quantity and quality of work required by business needs.

Manager Workforce Management

Adequate staffing, low turnover and high retention often are signs that a manager is successful managing her workforce. A team comprised of employees who are fully engaged in their work, satisfied with their jobs and high performers is indicative of good workforce management skills.

However, the occasional resignation or the actions of a disgruntled employee shouldn't be held against the department manager in providing her with performance feedback. Employees aren't going to be happy 100 percent of the time, and employees who exhibit signs of dissatisfaction can't always blame their discontent on their managers or the employer.

Goal Setting and Achievement

Giving managers performance feedback includes input on goal setting. Goal setting consists of realistic goals for departmental success, the manager's own professional development and her employees' professional growth. It is not just the goals themselves the manager deserves feedback on, but the way the manager sets goals is also important.

If the manager is setting unrealistic, unattainable goals and has equally high expectations of his staff, it can create serious problems. Therefore, give feedback in a manner that helps managers understand how to establish goals, determine whether their goals are reasonable and how to guide their department employees on the path to reaching their own goals.