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I have to write a review of my manager for the past half. My manager is perfectly fine. They're pretty hands-off, which is what I want: they stay out of the way and just allow me to ship things. I don't really want them to change in the next half, and I don't need them to try to improve, everything is fine as-is. But, I need to write several hundred words here. How can I approach this?

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    Maybe you could take some inspiration from Bruno Mars' "Just the Way You Are" – AffableAmbler Jul 5 at 19:42
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    The person who asked you to prepare the review ought to be able to give you some guidance. Have you asked? They may be looking for specific things. – John Wu Jul 5 at 23:44
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Get this straight - A review is not a criticism. It also captures the success stories - more importantly, which actions lead to success for certain person / scenarios.

Remember, all feedback are constructive:

  • Negative feedback provides us with the action points to work upon to improve
  • Positive feedback recognizes the efforts that went in and sets examples of expected actions to be followed / adopted.

Since all you have is good experience, in your review, mention:

  • How your manager's behavior helped you to stay motivated and deliver the expected outcome.
  • List any cases where your manager offered help without you asking.
  • List any cases where their managerial skills came to rescue.
  • List any cases where their leadership skills made the difference.

And seriously, if you have a good manager, a few hundred words to appreciate them is just too few, IMHO. :)

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    Very good answer. It's too bad that some people have no problem writing a review that's critical, but will struggle to write something positive! – Mike Harris Jul 5 at 14:14
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Great reviews are balanced (address both strengths and potential growth areas), specific (address specific behaviors, not general attitudes), and include evidence (anecdotes of the behaviors discussed).

Part of your job as a reviewer is to identify opportunities for your manager to improve, even if minor behaviors. Everyone could always do something different - what about your colleague have you found annoying or inefficient in the past months?

In your review letter/essay, I suggest you do the following:

  1. Identify 3-5 specific behaviors that you want to discuss, balanced between strengths and potential weaknesses (e.g., 2 strenghts + 2 weaknesses). These behaviors might sound like:
    • "My manager allows me to experiment with alternative solutions when I'm working on a task - he/she doesn't assert that I complete my work a specific way."
    • "My manager frequently changes priorities for the team throughout the week - he/she is understanding that this switching occasionally causes confusion, but I would prefer if our priorities were durable for a reasonable period of time."
  2. Address each behavior in turn, including specific evidence. E.g., if you boss is "hands off," remark on how your manager was encouraging of some entrepreneurial ideas you implemented in a recent project.
  3. Close with a general affirmation that you value your manager as a colleague and are excited to continue working with him/her.
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    Yes, it feels like a focus on how the OP feels that the manager has confidence in their abilities and therefore does not feel the need to micromanage would be a good area to focus on. Reinforce that this is a good thing, it shows trust, which makes OP feel empowered and makes them want to perform well to repay that trust. – delinear Jul 5 at 14:51
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Congrats on getting a good one!
Most managers need improvement.

Just do a recap of what s/he has done in the first half, making sure it is in an obviously positive light.

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Good managers would welcome, rather than retaliate against, constructive criticism, and you would fear no reprise if you found some quirks they have they can work on. If they've caused no problems to you, and in fact have helped you out in certain situations, by all means, say this on the review form!

For example, "My manager, Curly Howard, has a tendency to be flustered when a vendor doesn't understand what he needs. In our one-on-ones, I offered to help him on some of the difficult vendors, and three weeks later, we successfully negotiated a multi-year contract." Or, "My manager, Larry Fine, will sometimes have inconsistent time management, but will also offer to pitch in when we're an an impasse. I think he can use a time management course to help him out, which will free him up further for other projects."

The key here is to highlight their strengths, but also show where they can improve, i.e. "My manager can improve in X." Again, a manager is always looking to improve, so giving them a fair assessment helps out a lot.

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