Feedback: The Powerful ParadoxLast year Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman conducted a survey among readers of their Harvard Business Review blog readers. 2,700 responded to the online survey with questions about positive and negative feedback and attitudes about feedback experiences. This was an international survey with over half of the respondents coming from outside the United States.

Here are some of the findings:

Feedback: More or Less?

  1. The great majority of leaders tend to avoid giving feedback, especially corrective or negative feedback. 43 percent of leaders said they found that giving corrective feedback is a “stressful and difficult experience.”
  2. Virtually every employee in the organization wants more feedback. Almost two-thirds agreed that “my performance and possibilities for success in my career would have increased substantially if I had been given more feedback.”
  3. 64 percent of respondents said “they are not praised or recognized too much.”

What type of feedback is most effective?

  1. About half of leaders tend to avoid giving positive feedback, while the other half describe themselves as comfortable giving positive feedback.
  2. Recipients of feedback say they much prefer receiv­ing corrective feedback, but they are evenly split on whether positive or negative feedback has been more helpful in their career.
  3. Virtually all (94 per­cent) of recipients of feedback state that corrective feedback improves their per­formance when it is presented well.
  4. 63 percent of recipi­ents felt that they get substantially more positive feedback than negative feedback.
  5. While 62 percent of leaders rated themselves as highly effective at providing others with honest, straightfor­ward feedback, other research reports that 60 percent of employees say they have not received any useful feedback in the past six months.

The research paper also covers:

  • Group preferences according to age and gender
  • Complexity, intentions, and impact of feedback
  • Barriers to providing feedback
  • Assumptions and preferences for positive versus corrective feedback
  • Importance of asking for feedback
  • Importance of giving feedback
  • How to give positive feedback
  • How to give corrective feedback

Click on Feedback: The Powerful Paradox to download a complimentary copy of the research paper.