Employee feedback apps have generated a lot of industry
hype and headlines in recent years. These tools have the
potential to redefine how we manage our organizations.
However despite the fact that feedback apps have real-time
benefits, they lack the value of personal interaction,
which unfortunately can liberate managers to express
feedback in an insensitive and sometimes bullying format.
It’s a problem that many children face in a digital
world. Kids say things online without the benefit of
seeing the reaction of the person receiving the message.
As such, children don’t learn to empathize with others
and often have a blunted sense of how to interact with
people – technology can liberate kids to be mean. The
same thing can happen with manager feedback apps.
In the business world, developmental feedback is an
important ingredient for personal and professional growth
and for strengthening relationships. It has two formats:
#1 Positive/reinforcing feedback and
#2 Change/modification feedback – also known as
“corrective feedback” or “constructive criticism.”
Most research shows that managers routinely fail to
provide positive/reinforcing feedback. As such when it is
time for a manager to provide change/modification
feedback, employees tend to think, “Why do I only hear
what’s wrong with my work?”
There is no question that change/modification feedback is
the most challenging because it requires skill and
emotional awareness that many managers lack or lose sight
of when “in the moment.”
But what does self-awareness have to do with giving
Without self-awareness, well-intentioned feedback can
become a devastating blow to employee self-confidence,
engagement, and communication.
We are all self-aware to one extent or another. But there
are times when we become more self-aware as in a sales
presentation or a job interview. In these situations, we
become more aware of what we say and how we act – this is
what needs to be done when giving feedback.
First, we need to think through in a non-emotional way the
reasons the feedback is needed:
**Why is the feedback needed?
**What did I see happen?
**What was the impact of what happened?
Second, we need to ask ourselves:
**“What will I say to convey my thoughts and feelings
candidly, and with empathy?”
**“How will the person interpret and react to what I’m
Third, we need to be open to receive feedback from the
employee who in telling his/her side of the story may
provide us with feedback about the inadequacy of our own
management style or info about unwritten workplace norms
that impact performance.