HBR article supporting giving employees feedback; especially "negative feedback"; if delivered appropriately.
Not only do folks want feedback, they feel it support their performance.
If you need another article supporting feedback, check this out.

arc1's picture

Hi Larry,

Thanks for posting this - it's always interesting to find stuff on feedback and performance outside of MT.

It's interesting though that their method is to contrast "corrective feedback" on one hand, with "praise" on the other, before going on to say that people prefer the former:

For the purposes of this study, we grouped praise, reinforcement, and congratulatory comments together as positive feedback.  And we’ve chosen to call suggestions for improvement, explorations of new and better ways to do things, or pointing out something that was done in a less that optimal way corrective feedback.  We think this is an important distinction, because as the following data affirm, people want corrective feedback, as we’ve defined it, even more than praise, if it’s provided in a constructive manner.  By roughly a three to one margin, they believe it does even more to improve their performance than positive feedback.

That contrasts with Manager Tools' guidance on the point, which is that praise (and congratulatory comments) aren't actually feedback at all.  So I wonder if what the findings in the article actually represent is that people prefer feedback (regardless whether it's positive or corrective) over praise?

That confusion of concepts seems to be reinforced by the various reader comments on the article, where references to "criticism", "feedback" etc are used pretty interchangeably.  I wonder if both the authors and the readers are talking at cross-purposes.

Anyway - my point wasn't to throw rocks at the article you've linked, but rather to reinforce how much I value the clarity and rigour that Manager Tools brings to this area.  Going into management, I think a lot of people find this stuff just way too hard and uncomfortable, and hence gravitate towards not doing it.  In that respect I've often thought about a point Mark made at an MT conference:

"Feedback feels awkward?  Sure.  But it's better than the guy next to you who's doing nothing." 

Cheers, Arc




DRD282's picture
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I found this point extremely interesting:

" By roughly a three to one margin, they believe it does even more to improve their performance than positive feedback."

Because I found myself immediately thinking "I bet that 3:1 margin lines up pretty well with respondents' DISC profiles." I'm not 100% sure, but my guess is that the High I's are the "1" who preferred positive feedback, and the D,S, and Cs are the "3" that prefer negative/corrective feedback.

Alternately, I would have thought High S's as the "1" and High D, I, and C as the "3". But I think it's more of a High I think to not want negative feedback.








aylim14's picture

I agree with the same points mentioned  by ARC1 - that MT is very specific here. I live in the Philippines where, in my opinion, has a very sad state of management. With 99.6% of businesses classified as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) - which means there are no standard systems unlike the multinationals -  a lot of people are led to believe that the day-to-day activities that their managers do are management, when in fact, we all know that what they are doing is simply being a boss. 

Thanks to MT, my whole perspective about management really changed. The phrase, "avoidance of poor performance is not the same thing as achieving high performance" comes to mind every time I hear anything about performance management. I haven't been to other countries, but from what Mark  and Mike are saying, organizations rely on the once-a-year evaluations as their sole avenue for feedback (using the term loosely here). And yes while that may be "ok" it gives the company a great disservice. 

So, personally, I really feel lucky that i stumbled upon MT 2 years ago when I was at my lowest point of being a manager. So I really hope a lot more people know about Manager Tools and how applying what they teach can improve the state of management all over the world. 

WayneHodder's picture

I believe that feedback, when given correctly,  is neither positive or negative; it is how the recipient receives the feedback that dictates the focus / polarity of it.

I base this on the statement "Communication is what the listener does." so commonly used in the podcasts.