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Giving negative feedback… negatively

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Many managers, faced with a need to give negative feedback, start to panic. Worried they’ll be hated, and scared of a potential confrontation, they often avoid the conversation, hoping the problem will go away. If only they knew what they should really be worried about isn’t the employee’s emotion or reaction but the meeting’s ineffectiveness. Negative feedback delivered negatively, as it were.

Staff can respond to negative feedback with a feeling of injustice if the broader workplace situation isn't recognised.

“Giving performance feedback to employees is a high-stakes supervisory responsibility,” write Assistant Professor Soosan Latham and Mahbubul Alam in a soon-to-be-published analysis in the Organisational Dynamics journal. “Negative feedback may be viewed as unfair and as such generate negative emotions including disappointment, frustration and anger.”

The reason for that perceived unfairness, according to the scholars’ research, is that there are factors beyond an employee’s control that affect performance. These include the work environment, operational matters and interpersonal........

© The Age