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Submitted by Tjmccormick on


I agree with the "MT Way" to never GIVE <feedback to a boss> nor ASK subordinates for feedback.  

How do I get feedback when my immediate boss is not seeing my behavior?  Effective feedback requires someone to directly observe my behavior.  Neither my peers, nor my boss routinely observe my interaction with directs. 

I supposed my boss could give me feedback after I provide transparent reports of my problems and failures, but that would not account for my blindspots. Or s/he could assume my behavior based on my team's results.

What do you say?


P.S.  If my tone could come through in writing, you would have heard my voice dripping with irony when I wrote, "transparent reports of my problems and failures."  That was a bit of make a point. 

DaniMartin's picture
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Hi Tim -- We definitely do not say to never give feedback to or ask for feedback from your subordinates, i.e. your directs. We say do not give feedback to your boss. Our Feedback Model is specifically designed for managers to use with their directs, not vice versa. We have a podcast that explains how to request feedback from your directs: How to Ask for Basic Feedback (

You can certainly ask your boss for feedback. Questions like "How do you think I'm doing?" or "Do you have any suggestions on how I can improve?" or "I'd love to hear your thoughts on how I did with that project!" wouldn't be out of line. If your boss chooses to not answer or give you any helpful input, there's nothing you can do at that point to make them. It doesn't hurt to ask, though.

I question your premise that effective feedback requires your boss to directly observe your behaviors. Results are simply aggregated behaviors so it would be perfectly correct and legitimate for your boss to give you feedback based on your results without directly observing your behaviors. Nor do you need to directly observe your directs behavior to give them feedback.

For example - Mark rarely sees me delivering our conferences any more. He does see my evaluations (results) and therefore can and does give me feedback on my presenting performance.

Hope this helps,

Kevin1's picture

Hi Tim,

I have been remote from my bosses for the last 12 years.  However, they have been able to evaluate me and give me feedback on how I perform in conference calls and meetings that they attend, email that they see me write and various things that happen on the occasions when we are in the same place.  They also collect a lot of data back from other people who interract with me and are able to give me 3rd party feedback a lot.  And as Dani says, they are able to see my results as my results are measured constantly.

I have also begun seeking guidance on my behaviours (just as Dani mentions) from them when ever I receive praise or criticism so that I can better understand what to keep doing or change.

Hope that helps.

Kind regards




Tjmccormick's picture
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Thank you Dani!

First of all, I apologize for the error in my first statement.  I did NOT intend to write that a manager ought not GIVE feedback to a direct. So, I am using my PC rather than my mobile to type this now. 

I was trying to reconcile my desire to receive input on my performance from directs with the seemingly contradictory advice in the pod cast, "Do NOT give feedback to your boss" (  

I put my staff in a precarious spot by asking them for input on my performance. It requires a lot of trust. And even if it works for me and my directs, I cannot assume it will work everywhere throughout the organization. Mike and Mark drive that point home.

MT's simple approach in How To Ask For Basic Feedback seems to reconcile the tension:

  1. Systematically ask for feedback over a period of 3 months and then,
  2. Conduct a Quick and Dirty "Start, Stop and Continue" Exercise

  Thank you,


DaniMartin's picture
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Tim -- Thanks for clarifying. I had a feeling that was what you meant, but I have an obligation to answer the question as asked rather than make assumptions. :-)

We get this question a lot: Isn't it contradictory to ask my directs for feedback but to never give my boss feedback? We recommend you not give your boss feedback because we don't know your boss. While it may be true that 99% of the bosses where you work are totally ethical and moral and would never punish a direct for doing what was asked (give feedback), you could work for the 1 boss who isn't and who would. Simply put, we don't know. And we have thousands of stories of directs doing what they were asked, giving the feedback and getting punished for it. It's just wrong to punish someone for doing what they were asked to do. We don't apologize for protecting directs.

However, a Manager Tools Manager would NEVER do that. Manager Tools Managers are, by definition, ethical, honest and compassionate. If you're not those things, then please don't ask your directs for feedback. You only put your directs in a precarious spot if you're the type of manager who would punish them for doing what you ask and giving you feedback. If you're a Manager Tools Manager, there's no danger to them.

And yes, it requires a lot of trust. Honor their trust and receive it graciously, kindly and with gratitude. It's a gift they're giving you.