Guide: Give feedback to managers

Introduction

Once the People Operations team had identified what makes a great manager at Google, the team set about helping managers understand how they were doing and how they could develop. Since the research had proven that managers mattered, the team needed to support managers with actionable feedback. A concerted effort was made to give developmental feedback to managers and track progress and development across the company. Looking at Googlers' satisfaction with their managers in the annual employee survey, there was a steady improvement in how Googlers viewed their managers.

build Tool: Try Google’s Manager Feedback Survey

Google gathers feedback from employees on their managers through a semi-annual Manager Feedback Survey. Googlers answer confidentially and managers receive a report of anonymized, aggregated feedback if they get at least three survey responses, to preserve anonymity. Reports used to require more responses to ensure anonymity and avoid manager retaliation but the People Operations team didn't see much of this behavior. By reducing the threshold for reporting to three, far more managers of smaller teams could benefit from the feedback.

The feedback a manager gets through this survey is purely developmental. It isn't directly considered in performance or compensation reviews, in the hope that Googlers will be honest and constructive with their feedback.

The survey itself is short. It's roughly a dozen statements with a Likert scale measuring if Googlers agree or disagree with the statements. Each statement is based on one of the eight behaviors of successful managers at Google.

  1. My manager gives me actionable feedback that helps me improve my performance.
  2. My manager does not "micromanage" (i.e., get involved in details that should be handled at other levels).
  3. My manager shows consideration for me as a person.
  4. The actions of my manager show that he/she values the perspective I bring to the team, even if it is different from his/her own.
  5. My manager keeps the team focused on our priority results/deliverables.
  6. My manager regularly shares relevant information from his/her manager and senior leaders.
  7. My manager has had a meaningful discussion with me about career development in the past six months.
  8. My manager communicates clear goals for our team.
  9. My manager has the technical expertise (e.g., coding in Tech, selling in Global Business, accounting in Finance) required to effectively manage me.
  10. I would recommend my manager to other Googlers.
  11. I am satisfied with my manager’s overall performance as a manager.

The Manager Feedback Survey also asks for confidential comments from Googlers:

  1. What would you recommend your manager keep doing?
  2. What would you have your manager change?

Make it your own: customize the tool below.

Google's Manager Feedback Survey

Use, and customize, this survey to gather developmental feedback for your managers.

Guide: Give feedback to managers

Have managers share feedback with the team

Googlers are more likely to provide feedback if they believe it will be used. So it makes sense that Google's internal research shows that managers who openly discuss their feedback survey report with the team tend to score higher on future surveys. It’s a signal that the manager values the team’s feedback and is willing to adjust his/her behaviors. The content of the discussion can vary, from walking through a summary of the results to planning changes based on the team’s feedback.

Here are some tips to help managers have productive conversations about their team’s feedback:

  • Approach the results with a growth mindset because research shows it can impact how we learn.
  • Take time to review and digest the results.
  • Choose the most important theme and focus on just a few, actionable ways to improve.
  • Discuss the results and your plans with the team.
  • Follow up with clear commitments to action.