Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Feedback and Organizations: Feedback Is Good, Feedback-Friendly Culture Is Better

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Feedback and Organizations: Feedback Is Good, Feedback-Friendly Culture Is Better

Article excerpt

Scholars have noted that an incomplete understanding of various important aspects of feedback still remains prominent (Whitaker & Levy, 2012). The value of organisational feedback culture on feedback outcomes is a recognised gap in the literature. The present article begins with a brief conceptualisation and definition of individual feedback and highlights the element of meaning as a principle intricate to all feedback techniques. The article then builds a case for the added benefits of creating a feedback-friendly culture in order to gain more insight and enhance the meaningfulness of feedback. Three recommendations are offered to support such a culture including the promotion of the learning continuum, the fostering of a trusting climate, and the endorsement of authentic dialogue. Finally, the implications and future research directions are discussed.

Keywords: feedback, feedback-friendly culture, psychological safety and trust

In a recent article that has toured the Web globally, Sullivan (2013) describes how Google is using an algorithm-based approach in decision making, incipiently referred to as "people analytics," in order to make room for innovation and growth within the firm. Google's strategic shift toward a people focus has contributed to enhancing the company as a whole. When considering the latest progress of the company based on the evidence shown by the stock market (Giles, 2013), its decision to make this shift paid off. The underlying principle of this novel human resource management strategy is simple: Every important decision that has an impact on future outcomes of the organisation are made by people-it is in the firm's best interest then, to make sure that the management practices of those people are at their finest (Bryant, 2011; Sullivan, 2013). As the research on this company's own internal data has recognised countless times, the number one key characteristic of great leaders as identified by employees is their ability to give frequent, transparent feedback. Proactive feedback practices were unexpectedly rated by associates as more important and influential than leadership experience and technical knowledge (Sullivan, 2013).

Individual feedback has generated a fare amount of research and has been developing over several decades (Ashford, Blatt, & VandeWall, 2003). Only recently have researchers and leaders began to think about feedback from a large-scale perspective (Dahling & O'Malley, 2011). The present article provides a brief section on individual feedback and subsequently introduces recent empirical evidence neighbouring the impact of a feedback-friendly culture on organisations. The article then offers guidelines to work toward building and nurturing a feedback-friendly organisational culture based on sound research and experience stemming from more than 20 years of practice in various organisations worldwide. Finally, the article will close with future directions and reflections for researchers and practitioners.


Individual feedback has long been utilized as a tool for facilitating improvement and advancement within organisations and businesses (Levy & Williams, 2004). Feedback is defined as a dynamic communication process occurring between two individuals that convey information regarding the receiver's performance in the accomplishment of work-related tasks. For most, feedback is used to provide information on proximal goals and immediate and recent behaviours. It is also utilized to inform members of desirable development and outcomes (Baker, 2010; London, 2003). Evidence shows that a company that makes effective use of feedback practices have a greater competitive advantage especially in today's fierce economic climate (Baker, 2010; Chatman & Cha, 2003). Indeed, feedback is an essential element in organisations because it binds organisational goals with continuity and fluidity, boosts creativity, propels trust, and drives motivation in individuals (Mulder, 2013). …

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