The del­i­cate art of giv­ing feed­back

Finweek English Edition - - MANAGEMENT -

To be an ef­fec­tive man­ager, you need to be skilled at giv­ing out both praise and crit­i­cism. While it is easy to praise, it is far more chal­leng­ing and un­pleas­ant to crit­i­cise your em­ploy­ees. Yet the prac­tice of man­age­ment re­quires you to oc­ca­sion­ally show em­ploy­ees where they need to im­prove. Thus, it is vi­tal for man­agers to learn how and when to give neg­a­tive feed­back.

The first thing to re­alise is that peo­ple gen­er­ally re­spond more strongly to neg­a­tive events than they do to pos­i­tive ones. In other words, we are usu­ally more up­set about los­ing R1 000 than we are happy about win­ning R1 000. In fact, in his inf lu­en­tial book Why Mar­riages Suc­ceed or Fail, Dr John Gottman sug­gested that pos­i­tive in­ter­ac­tions must out­num­ber neg­a­tive in­ter­ac­tions by at least 5 to 1 in or­der for a mar­riage to suc­ceed.

This ob­ser­va­tion is also true in the work­place, as Pro­fes­sor An­drew Miner and his col­leagues dis­cov­ered in a study pub- lished in 2005 in the Jour­nal of Oc­cu­pa­tional and Or­ga­ni­za­tional Psychology. They recorded em­ploy­ees’ moods sev­eral times a day, ask­ing each time if any events (such as a pos­i­tive in­ter­ac­tion with a co-worker) had oc­curred within the past few hours.

Their re­sults showed that em­ploy­ees re­acted to a neg­a­tive in­ter­ac­tion with their boss six times more strongly than they re­acted to a pos­i­tive in­ter­ac­tion with their boss. This sug­gests that neg­a­tive feed­back can have sig­nif­i­cant ad­verse ef­fects on an

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