Why Feedbacks from Boss or Co-worker are NOT “Always” Effective

March 8, 201911:49 am
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Without feedback, you are walking blind. At best, you will accidentally reach your goal. At worst, you will wander aimlessly through the dark, never reaching your destination”

Office of Personnel Management, US

As mentioned in a survey conducted by Snap Surveys, feedback is defined as “helpful information or criticism about prior action or behaviour from an individual, communicated to another individual (or a group) who can use that information to adjust and improve current and future actions and behaviours.” The survey found that positive and negative feedbacks are both useful and helpful for employees. It can be a piece of information used to make important decision. As important as employee’s presence, feedback can also encourage an effective listening, motivate employees, improve performance, and be a tool for continued learning, as well as strengthen engagement in workplace.

Office of Personnel Management (OPM) suggested that feedback given effectively and timely is critical for successful performance of a management program. This means that a specific feedback works best when relates to specific goals, such that it would help improve employees performance.

Then the question remains, why does feedback not as effective as it seems?  

Interestingly, while many leaders understand that feedback is vital for many reasons, NPR survey showed that many employees hate performance feedback. About 60 percent to 90 percent of employees, including manager, dislike performance evaluation. It is said in the survey that nearly 90 percent of companies do formal evaluations at least once a year, but majority gives low marks for effectiveness. Samuel Culbert, UCLA’s professor of management and organisations, said to NPR that it might not easy to cut evaluation altogether, but, you might find that everything about performance review is deceitful, dishonest, and bogus.

See also: The Bad Impacts of Giving “Too Much” Recognition

In Culbert’s book entitled Get Rid of the Performance Review!:How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing – and Focus on What Really Matters, he discussed why performance evaluation is not effective. Among the reasons is the opposite goals that manager and employee have. “Employees wants to hear good things they’ve done, the contributions they’ve made. They also want to be seen as a valuable individual for company and might want a reward. On contrary, the manager might walk in and tell them the opposite truth which will lower their self-esteem and performance,” he said. Managers tell the opposite truth and employee’s fault instead of the good they do because they are essentially forced to find fault in employees. It happens as if manager does not critique them, HR will think manager is not doing his job.

Another question pops-up, what can organisation do about it?

From the perspective above, we can conclude that feedback is not always effective, especially negative ones. Therefore, to cut off the ineffectiveness, Shana Lebowitz, senior reporter at Business Insider, proposed two ways:

  1. while delivering negative feedback to your employee, you should still emphasise the value of the organisation, and
  2. you should know “the only” good time to give feedback is not during a performance review, but when new employee starts. It is right before they have solid grasp of their job.

Likewise, Tim Hast, principle of Encore Life Skills LLC in Edmond, suggested that your employee’s evaluation should be timely, honest, and respectful. Additionally, to avoid getting negative response from employees, “you should not ambush subordinates in hallway or grab them as they are leaving. Be respectful. Schedule a time to meet in private, end on a positive note and express confidence employees will comply.” In the end, employees feedback performance should have follow up to make employees up-to-date with manager’s expectation and what is really happening in workplace.

Read also: One-on-Ones Practice to Develop Managers to be Better Leaders