I will shortly be moving to another role within my company. I haven't told my current manager yet and he is the primary reason for moving.

I'm expecting him to ask me why I'm leaving his team. I'm willing to explain to him how I'm not comfortable with his demeanour or approach to management and suggest improvements, if he asks.

I would only want to do this after the transition period when I no longer report to him. Can I suggest waiting until after the transition to give him honest feedback if he asks for it?

Edit: Not sure why this was closed as a duplicate. I'm asking if I should give direct, private feedback to my manager if asked. This is not a HR exit interview and I genuinely believe he would be receptive to my feedback.

  • 3
    "I'm willing to explain to him how I'm not comfortable with his demeanour or approach to management and suggest improvements, if he asks." What good do you think will come out of telling him this?
    – sf02
    Dec 4, 2020 at 19:40
  • @sf02 I get the impression he is ambitious and he does often ask for feedback. He is a nice guy, just a bad manager (IMO). If providing him with constructive feedback would be helpful for his career then I'm happy to say what I think. He might discard it but at least ive tried.
    – Michael
    Dec 4, 2020 at 19:45
  • 1
    Have you given this feedback to your manager previously? If yes, you could reference the difference in work style. If no, why would you start now?
    – Llewellyn
    Dec 4, 2020 at 19:49
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    @Llewellyn because n some cases giving feedback to a person who is your manager is less safe than giving feedback to a person who was your manager.
    – Ben Barden
    Dec 4, 2020 at 19:53
  • 1
    voted to reopen
    – bharal
    Dec 4, 2020 at 20:21

4 Answers 4


I'm willing to explain to him how I'm not comfortable with his demeanour or approach to management and suggest improvements, if he asks.

Please don't do this. Even if he asks. This is very much like leaving for a new job. You have to be careful not to burn bridges. You never know when you're going to bump into him again, and you don't know who he's connected to.

Suggesting improvements or saying it's due to his demeanour. You may think you're being honest and doing him a favour but this will only be seen as an insult.

I suggest taking some time to think about why you really want to give the feedback.

It is very unlikely someone would listen to this kind of opinionated feedback and try to change themselves, most people know you can't please everyone, so 1 employee not liking your management isn't a reason to change, only a reason not to work with that employee again.

Essentially it is not in your best interest to be brutally honest. If you want to give honest feedback that's your choice, but be very tactful about it and keep it limited and weighted with positives.

I'd question why you didn't you say anything before? If you had issues you should have raised them, but instead you stayed quiet and let the team suffer until you left. Any negative feedback now may be seen as some kind of resentment or weakness.

The career safe option is to make up some other excuse for moving. Like you don't feel you're progressing in your current team, or you're not passionate about your current teams work and want a change etc...

  • 2
    I think this is the safest option. I'm just thinking about how I would feel it I was a manager and wanted to improve myself and people wouldn't give me any feedback even when I asked... why ask if you don't genuinely want it?
    – Michael
    Dec 4, 2020 at 20:02
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    I understand the point. While your manager may benefit from it, if he doesn't agree with your assessment it may just be taken as an insult, and why risk that? --- Essentially it's not in YOUR best interest to give this kind of feedback. --- Imagine you ask a colleague what they thought of you, and they told you they didn't think you were very good in an area of your job that you were proud of. Would you see that as an opportunity to improve (and I asked for it), or would you think "what a dick, what does he know anyway"
    – flexi
    Dec 4, 2020 at 20:15
  • This is a reasonable answer to this question. It is not the only reasonable answer. Unfortunately, it is the only reasonable answer that can currently be posted.
    – Ben Barden
    Dec 4, 2020 at 21:34
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    @BenBarden the question was reopened, if you have any advice id be interested. Thanks
    – Michael
    Dec 5, 2020 at 1:51

Let's turn this around a bit.

Imagine your manager, after they transfer to another department, telling you this in a heartfelt and genuine voice:

"Michael, I was your manager for 4 years. And now that I've moved to another department, I want to let you know that you were a bad employee. You've been judgmental, conceited, and you don't work well with others - and, honestly, getting away from you was the reason I moved laterally within the company."

Probably not exactly something you'd appreciate or welcome. But you're basically asking whether you should do the same thing - telling them that they're not a good manager, that you're leaving because of them, and that you don't like who they are/act as a person. Your reaction would probably be along the lines of "Gee, glad I'm not working with them anymore!". So why would your boss feel any different if you did the same?

  • My feedback would be constructive. Nothing in your example is helpful to the person receiving the feedback.
    – Michael
    Dec 7, 2020 at 12:14
  • @Michael - If you want, I could have the person elaborate on why you're judgmental, conceited, and don't work well with others? You know, so you could fix it? To be honest, the fact that you're coming away from this with a "Well, hey, this criticism about my flaws is nothing like my criticism about their flaws" kinda illustrates that this is something that feels wildly different when you're giving the criticism vs receiving it.
    – Kevin
    Dec 7, 2020 at 16:28

First, understand why you want to do this. Social default (and the safe path) would be to say nothing, so the fact that you're even bringing this up suggests that you want this thing at some level.

Do you want it because you have a lot of built-up emotional drek at this guy and want to give him a piece of your mind? Probably. Unfortunately, this urge is almost entirely unproductive for everything other than just making yourself feel better. Any response that comes from this place will be an attack. That's what this particular desire wants, after all. It will be received as an attack and responded to as if it's an attack, and is highly unlikely to actually cause anything good to happen for anyone. It'll make you feel better, and might make them feel worse, and will alienate someone who, at the end fo the day, will still be a higher-ranking individual at your same company, even leavign aside the issues with potential recommendations in the future.

Do you want it because you seriously think his management methodology is flawed, and you think that your feedback could help him improve it? Possibly. If this really is a significant part of your motivation, then you might still have something to work with. First, you're going to need to process through the drek from the first reason, so that it doesn't get in the way. Then, you're going to have to think about what he does wrong, why it's wrong, what he could be doing instead that would be better (in clear, straightforward, easily implemented terms), and why it would be beneficial to him to do it in that better way. Ways in which it would be beneficial to the company would also be useful, but unless you have reason to think that he has deep wells of company loyalty, then it's not likely to get you anywhere. Try to come up with some benefit that's not just "your employees would be happier and less likely to leave". That one's still too much of an attack.

Once you have that, you can present it as such. "So tell me, why are you leaving?" "I think you would get more productivity out of your workers if you were more open to employee suggestions, and more willing to listen overall." It communicates what you think you need to communicate, and it does so in a way that indicates that you could have made an attack, and perhaps wanted to, but chose not to. Of course, you may wish to modify the phrasing and content to fit your own case, but in essence, the further you can get away from your own hurt, and away from any clawing back of status, and towards providing him with directly useful information he did not previously have, the better your chances are of actually having a positive effect.

As a particular note, talking about how it made you uncomfortable probably isn't helpful. Talking about how he did something wrong absolutely isn't helpful. Every step you take away from the informative and towards the judgemental is actively damaging to your attempt to help. Again, if you actually want to do this, you're going to have to work through your own feelings first, so that they aren't getting in the way.

...or you can decide to do the safer, easier default thing, and not offer any meaningful response. That's also an entirely valid choice.


I'm willing to explain to him how I'm not comfortable with his demeanour or approach to management and suggest improvements

Others have covered the point pretty much - there are times when not being 100% honest contributes to professionalism and this is exactly one of them. Do not tell your former manager they're bad, or they'll only take it as you insulting them. You're not in a position to expect changes from your manager, unfortunately.

There, of course, are smarter ways of carrying it out without burning the bridges. What about making the remarks completely personal, but about yourself? Instead of "I'm not comfortable with your demeanour", you could tell them "I found myself less productive/motivated (...)", "I prefer (...)", etc. And the reason for your transfer could be described as "I found it more beneficial to both myself and the company to work with the other team". Keep the highest level of etiquette with you, even with some falseness involved, e.g. "I highly value my working experience under your supervision and I consider this transfer a way to further boost my productivity within our company". Don't worry, this is professionalism, not deceit.

The best outcome, of course, is when you need reference/recommendation/advocation, you could still get back to this manager and they'll happily provide one. Isn't this a happy ending?

Conveying this idea in a simpler way: Instead of saying they're incompatible with you, turn it around and say you're incompatible with them, and add acclamation appropriately.

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