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How to Write a Performance Review for Your Manager

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For organizations to succeed, their employees are not the only ones who need a process of feedback and plans for improvement. Managers and executives also need to hear what they're doing well and where they could do better. As an employee it might seem daunting, but writing a performance review for your boss doesn't have to be painful.

Upward Appraisal

The process of subordinates giving feedback is sometimes called upward appraisal or 360 degree feedback, referring to the process of the manager giving feedback to the employee, who then "circles back" and gives feedback to the manager, who then shares that information with staff or direct subordinates.

In formal upward appraisal programs administered by consultants or human resources managers, the employee receives a questionnaire that instructs her to rate the manager on various elements, on a scale of 1 to 5 or 1 to 10, for example. That might include questions about the manager's communication, how he delegates tasks and his skills in guiding employees to meet their goals, for example, as well as a section for comments. If you get such a questionnaire, your biggest challenge will be in giving fair and accurate ratings.

Brainstorm Ideas

In some workplaces, you won't get a standardized form to work from – but you can still look to upward appraisal forms for guidance in what to include in your review. Forms that are specific to your industry – which you can usually find online – can help guide you about what to consider. You can also start by making a list of some more generic management skills.

For example, consider whether your boss has helped you develop goals and then follow through with them or fix problems standing in your way, and whether your boss helped you understand what was expected of you. You might also think about your manager's overall level of competence, her ability to follow company protocols, and her rapport with you and the rest of the staff.

Relevant Details and Examples

Working from your list, create a new document with a series of headings, such as "Employee Feedback" and "Goal Support," for example. Choose three or four of the items that you feel warrant the most feedback; you don't have to go into detail about every item you included in your brainstorming list. Name a specific item, and then provide a relevant example that discusses it, and how it affects you or your fellow employees. For example, under the heading "Ability to Follow Office Protocols," you might describe a time that your boss didn't follow protocols, and how it resulted in more work for you or lost productivity for the team. Keep the tone professional though, and avoid judgmental statements.

It's a Delicate Matter

How much detail you include under each heading is a delicate matter. If you know your boss to be a reasonable person, it might be OK to give real honest feedback about his inability to follow office protocols or his lack of clear direction for subordinates. If you're concerned that the review you've written about your boss's performance won't be kept confidential or you're concerned about retaliation, it may be better to keep your responses bland.

In other words, writing a review of your boss's performance doesn't give you carte blanche to point out all of her shortcomings. A successful review is a balancing act between your boss's temperament, the level of urgency about the problem and your ability to share information tactfully.


Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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