Management Challenges and Symptoms
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Janice Langan-Fox, Cary L. Cooper and Richard J. Klimoski
Chapter 11: Feedback Phobia? Why Employees Do Not Want to Give or Receive Performance Feedback
Jeanette N. Cleveland, Audrey S. Lim and Kevin R. Murphy Performance appraisal (PA) information is used as a basis for a variety of critical organizational and individual decisions (Murphy and Cleveland, 1995). Organizations use PA information to decide who receives salary increases, promotions or key assignments or will be reprimanded or terminated from employment. Employees use PA feedback to gauge their performance compared to co-workers, assess interpersonal relationships with their supervisors, and make career development choices (Murphy and Cleveland, 1995). Representative quotes from leading researchers in this area reinforce the belief that feedback is both utilized and beneﬁcial to employees. For example, London (2003: 1) notes that ‘Meaningful feedback is central to performance management. Feedback guides, motivates, and reinforces eﬀective behaviors and reduces or stops ineﬀective behaviors.’ He further indicates that ‘Even when someone who shies away from seeking feedback directly may still crave it’ (ibid.: 12). Ashford and Cummings (1985: 67) claim that ‘It is generally acknowledged that feedback and knowledge of results provide mechanisms for increasing employee performance’. Performance appraisal and feedback systems in most organizations often rest upon three assumptions: (1) employees want feedback about their performance; (2) supervisors can and will give useful feedback; and (3) timely and accurate feedback will lead to positive changes in employees’ behavior. Unfortunately, none of these assumptions is likely to be warranted. Supervisors and subordinates often approach performance evaluations and feedback with equal amounts of dread and cynicism; dissatisfaction with performance appraisal and feedback is endemic in...
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