How to accept upward feedback well

You might understand the benefits of implementing a feedback culture and why managers need to lead by example. Even so, receiving constructive feedback from your reports can be challenging. Initially, you might even have a tendency to reject feedback or become emotional. To take advantage of feedback you need to have an open mind: The mind is like a parachute, it only works when it’s open.

Feedback helps with your personal and professional growth. Others can help you by sharing best practices or asking questions about your behavior in the workplace. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck calls this a “growth mindset”. Rather than seeing feedback as a personal attack, look at it as a valuable opportunity to reassess and hone your skills.

Here's four things to help with accepting upward feedback:

1. Thank them

First of all, thank them. It’s important to remember that many people are just as uncomfortable giving feedback as they are receiving it. Be appreciative and assume good intentions. Others are eager to help you with your personal and professional growth so don’t forget to thank them.

It’s particularly important to do this when you’re first introducing a feedback culture and employees are still getting used to giving you feedback.

2. Consider the feedback objectively

Receiving tough or unexpected feedback is hard to digest. Try to see the feedback from the other’s perspective and consider it objectively. When you start placing blame on others for the feedback they give you, this is mostly likely your fixed mindset speaking.

Once you recognize this voice you can begin counteracting it and responding with a growth mindset.

3. Ask to elaborate

One of the most important things you can learn from feedback is the inadvertent signals you may be sending in the workplace. However, feedback in an office environment is based on observations and perceptions, so misperceptions in the workplace will exist. Make sure you understand the point of what the other is saying. If feedback is not clear, start a conversation and ask for clarification and/ or examples.

4. Action their feedback

Keep them in the loop about small changes in your behavior based on their feedback. Not only will they appreciate that you acted on their feedback, but it will also reassure people that their input will be well received, encouraging them to continue to be open and provide useful contributions in the future.

Tangible change will give them a reason to keep sharing feedback and will add credibility to the feedback cycle.

To learn more about how to get into the right feedback mindset, download The Manager's Guide to Effective Feedback.

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