Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Mistaking Feedback
Research by professionals took a close look into how people respond to negative feedback they received in a performance review.  They believed that people who are motivated by a real desire to learn would respond well to getting critical feedback, using it to improve how they work without much in the way of complaint.  But their finding were wrong.
Those who like to learn, presumably some of the best employees, were most bothered by the negative feedback they received.  The studies is a reminder not only of how much people dislike criticism, but of how dangerous tools like rankings and ratings can be to their performance.
The professionals based their studies on prior information showing that people are motivated to reach their goals in different ways.  They either try to prove their expertise and get positive feedback, or withdraw from tasks where they might fail and avoid negative feedback, or to focus on learning and developing their abilities.  Some people want to learn as much as possible.  They want to succeed for their own piece of mind.
In the study, they asked participants a series of questions to determine what type of goal orientation they live by, whether they like learning new things or whether they try to avoid situations where they might fail.  Naturally, those who were most concerned about what other people thought of them hated the negative feedback they received in the studies.
However, so did the people who seemed most intent on learning.  Those with the strongest learning goal orientation were still unhappy with the constructive criticism they had received. We thought if anything they'd be able to take it and apply it to their own positions.
Although these findings might seem clear, no one likes to be reminded of their weaknesses.  What's meant to be a constructive and helpful quickly gets lost once someone, even those who are interested in developing their abilities hears critical feedback.
This is the key takeaway of these findings.  If negative feedback has the potential to discourage even the best performing employees, then we need to be especially careful that what's intended as praise doesn't get misinterpreted as criticism. This particularly applies to routine ratings and rankings, which Workforce Professionals often use to classify employees' performance.
Robert J Dahl
“A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her.”
David Brinkley