Monday 4 February 2013

Feedback isn't for the faint of heart

So, which do you prefer: giving feedback or receiving it? Actually for most of us, the answer is probably neither. Giving feedback requires us to risk upsetting someone with what we have to say; receiving feedback can make us feel hurt, defensive or angry.

I'm actually pretty good at receiving feedback but quite bad at giving it. Especially if it is offered in the spirit of learning or performance improvement, I like to hear what others think about how I'm doing. I want to improve myself and become a more valuable employee or team member.

In terms of how feedback fits into leadership, I learned today in a Leadership & Teamwork class that I tend toward the Affiliative Style of Leadership. Individuals with this kind of leadership style create climates where harmony reigns and where positive relationships are established. However, the downside of the Affiliative style can be a reluctance to address poor performance. In my case, I sometimes want harmony more than I want to address an issue with a colleague or subordinate. I don't like taking the risk of hurting other people's feelings. I want to be liked by everyone.

As I move through my MBA program, this is an area where I need to push myself out of my comfort zone. Great leaders have to hold those around them accountable and that means that I have to be able to provide intelligent, constructive feedback to those I work with. One of the strategies I can start with is communicating my expectations about the value of excellence. I strive for excellence in my own work and if those who work with me know this up front, it becomes easier (for me) to address performance issues within this context. If that doesn't work, I can always apologize and ask everyone to just get along!

For more information on the Six Leadership Styles, see:


  1. Did you read in the article, "Confronting Failure" that giving feedback can totally undermine a person's self-efficacy? It's fascinating to me that there is yet one more level of feedback-related complexity that says giving feedback with successes and failures in it can totally undermine people's ability to work because it disrupts their perception of their ability. Better at times to let people believe they are doing a good job and see what you get, than to provide feedback which will cause them to completely lose motivation. Interesting blog post Laura. As long as that doesn't demotivate you...then never mind.

    1. Yes, I read that too. If if comes in the right context, I truly don't mind feedback myself. If it's feedback that becomes more like constant criticism, then it would surely undermine one's confidence. It also really depends on the mood of the receiver and I think you need to use some emotional intelligence on that. Sometimes, people are obviously down and there's no need to add it that. Timing can be everything.

      Thanks for the comment.

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