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We have two teams under the same department and two managers Alpha & Bravo (manager Alpha is my manager for team Alpha).

Manager Bravo has asked me to give some feedback for someone's (Charlie) upcoming appraisal in team Bravo. We work closely together and obviously want to say something constructive (I have nothing negative to say).

It should be noted manager Alpha isn’t a huge fan of Charlie. I would like to be in Bravo’s ‘good books’ as it were, so I suspect I need to provide some kind of feedback.

How should I handle this, should I ask my manager (Alpha) regarding this query, is it appropriate?

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    Yes you should reply to Bravo. He is just looking for feedback on interaction outside the team. Just give some honest feedback. – paparazzo Jul 22 '16 at 18:10
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This is very normal. At my last company, for every program that you worked you had to provide a name of someone you worked with who could give feedback for your annual review. This kind of feedback is critical for any manager who doesn't work with their employees on a day-to-day basis.

In my opinion, this has nothing to do with Alpha. Charlie is not Alpha's subordinate, he is Bravo's. You should not need Alpha's permission to give feedback on Charlie when you have been asked, unless it is expected to take up a large amount of your time. Bravo should not be sharing any of your feedback with Alpha, as that would be a breech of Charlie's privacy. Charlie should also never know what feedback you provided, as that would be a breech of your privacy, and your ability to give honest feedback.

If you want the respect of Bravo, give your honest feedback about Charlie, whether that be good or bad. It sounds like you've had only good experience with Charlie, so all the better. If Alpha doesn't like Charlie, then that should make no difference to you, and whether you have good things to say about Charlie should make no difference to Alpha.

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You need to be very careful about the relationship matrix here. It is like the riddle of "how you carry a wolf, a sheep and a bunch of lettuce, cross the stream, without letting an animal eat what comes naturally to them"

  • First and foremost you should not upset Alpha as he is and most likely will be your supervisor in the long run.

  • You need to consider managers Alpha and Bravo, are likely to talk to one another and compare notes about evaluations at some point. So, your good review of Charlie will be heard by Alpha at some point.

  • How much do you like Charlie to put a good word for him and risk your relationship to your manager ?

  • You can confide to your manager, Alpha, and without mentioning any names, can say Bravo is asking about peer reviews for his employees. If it is appropriate to put a good word about them. If he gives his blessing, you can hold him up to his word, although they tend to develop momentary dementia in such cases. Beware.

I am not sure how much of what I said holds true in your case but it si a delicate balancing game and nobody other than yourself can make this decision.

  • It makes no sense that Alpha should be offended if the OP gives good feedback on Charlie just because Alpha doesn't like Charlie. – David K Jul 22 '16 at 17:47
  • In an ideal world, what you said is unequivocally true. But the tone of the question makes me believe this review is for either a very structured organization or even worse, in a government office. In either case, management levels are created to promote, usually good for nothing else employees with seniority. And those can hold grudges to no end. Not exactly same but a similar thing happened in one of my earlier workplaces with no so pleasant outcome. And my better half works for state government. So I hear a lot of similar stories. But at the end, it is my view from 10,000 feet. – MelBurslan Jul 22 '16 at 21:07
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You definitely have a narrow path, here.

For feedback, stick with facts, and not impressions. Say that you were impressed that Charlie accomplished certain tasks with skill, precision, and/or speed. Say that you respect his abilities and knowledge in specific areas and technologies. Say that you've appreciated his thorough documentation and communication. (Assuming these things are all applicable)

If you compliment him on things that cannot be disputed, there's little risk of "blowback" to you from manager Alpha.

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