Part I - Employer Feedback and Appreciation

When managers provide a balance of positive  and  negative feedback to employees, they are viewed as more effective leaders.

When managers provide a balance of positive and negative feedback to employees, they are viewed as more effective leaders.

In an addie blog post from last week, we cited that a majority of employees feel engaged in their workplace and professional surroundings when they are shown appreciation for the work that they do. This sounds simple and makes perfect sense when you consider human nature and the need to feel accepted and appreciated, but the issue is that many employees are not receiving this much-needed appreciation from their superiors. Take a moment and reflect on the last time that you received appreciation from a superior at work. When was it? And how was it delivered? Finally, did it feel personalized and authentic? Based on statistics, there is a chance that you might not have received any positive feedback recently (or at all).

Recent studies conducted by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) show that nearly half of all managers surveyed feel stressed about giving negative feedback to employees, which doesn’t surprise us; however, a shocking 37% of managers surveyed reported that they don’t give positive feedback or reinforcement to employees. HBR provides a few hypotheses on why they feel that managers don’t provide positive feedback, but it seems there is not one single theory to which we can attribute this phenomenon.

What I found most interesting about the HBR research were the results that came from the 360 degree evaluation of the same managers with their employees. It seems that there is a major discrepancy between how managers view the impact or efficacy of the feedback they provide employees and how that feedback is actually perceived by their employees. When managers actually decide to provide feedback to employees, they tend to put a great deal of importance on the critical feedback, and at the same time, they undervalue the importance of giving positive feedback. When managers only provide negative feedback to employees, this diminishes the efficacy of the leader and workplace morale. HBR’s studies found that managers were viewed as being most effective by employees when they provided a more balanced offering of positive and negative feedback. A little good with the bad - it makes sense, right?

Though we still haven’t solved the mystery of why employers are hesitant to provide positive feedback to employees, there are numerous resources to make doing so easier since it has clearly been established as a ubiquitous problem. Next week, look for Part II of addie’s blog post on what tools can help to facilitate this critical workplace communication need.