Guide: Give feedback to managers


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.

You can choose to consider manager feedback in performance or compensation reviews, or you can make it purely developmental. The important piece is making sure your managers can use the feedback experience to develop their skills and grow.

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 ten behaviors of successful managers at Google.

  1. I would recommend my manager to others.
  2. My manager assigns stretch opportunities to help me develop in my career.
  3. My manager communicates clear goals for our team.
  4. My manager gives me actionable feedback on a regular basis.
  5. My manager provides the autonomy I need to do my job (i.e., does not "micro-manage" by getting involved in details that should be handled at other levels).
  6. My manager consistently shows consideration for me as a person.
  7. My manager keeps the team focused on priorities, even when it’s difficult (e.g., declining or deprioritizing other projects).
  8. My manager regularly shares relevant information from their manager and senior leadership.
  9. My manager has had a meaningful discussion with me about my career development in the past six months.
  10. My manager has the technical expertise (e.g., technical judgment in Tech, selling in Sales, accounting in Finance) required to effectively manage me.
  11. The actions of my manager show they value the perspective I bring to the team, even if it is different from their own.
  12. My manager makes tough decisions effectively (e.g., decisions involving multiple teams, competing priorities).
  13. My manager effectively collaborates across boundaries (e.g., team, organizational).

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.