Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

Differences in the Observed Frequency Distributions of Male and Female Feedback Behaviors

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

Differences in the Observed Frequency Distributions of Male and Female Feedback Behaviors

Article excerpt

In the workplace, the process of evaluating and discussing the performance of both employees and managers involves the giving and receiving of feedback. According to Alvero et al. (2001) performance feedback has been defined in a number of different ways. Some of these definitions include: (a) information that is given to persons regarding the quantity or quality of their past (Prue & Fairbank, 1981); (b) information transmitted back to the responder following a particular performance (Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991); (c) information that tells performers what and how well they are doing (Rummler & Brache, 1995); and (d) information about performance that allows an individual to adjust his or her performance (Daniels, 2000). The process generally involves a discussion of the individual's strengths or weaknesses with suggestions on how to improve upon weaknesses. The role of feedback is to align workplace behavior with the overall goals of a team or an organization (Harms & Roebuck, 2010).

An organization's feedback environment has been defined as the amount and availability of positive and negative feedback from different sources (Steelman et al., 2004). Clearly, employees receive feedback information from various sources (Greller, 1980; Morrison, 1993), and some authors have suggested that supervisor and coworker feedback sources are the most practical and relevant from the feedback recipient's point of view. Ashford (1989) did find the most commonly used source of feedback was supervisors or managers (Alvero et al., 2001).

The giving and receiving of feedback has long been used as a tool for facilitating improvement and advancement within organizations and businesses (Levy & Williams, 2004). Giving feedback involves exhibiting respectfulness and professionalism when recognizing the strengths and improvement areas in others. Receiving feedback focuses on an individual's ability to accept feedback without becoming defensive or perceiving that he or she is being personally attacked. In addition, receiving feedback also includes being able to reflect on the feedback received and to integrate it to enhance one's development (Swank & McCarthy, 2013).

McCarthy and Garavan (2001) suggested employees must receive constant support and feedback on their performance and have opportunities to gain more expertise in their roles through learning and development programs. Prior research has shown that weekly feedback is the most common frequency for feedback delivery (e.g. Alvero et al., 2001), whereas Balcazar et al. (1985) found that daily feedback has been the most frequently used. Two studies, one involving a manufacturing environment and the other in retail management, found daily feedback to be key to better relationships and to enhance the effectiveness of a performance management intervention (Cooper, 2006; Pampino et al., 2003).

Other researchers believe feedback provides a potentially valuable resource for employees to enhance their development and to improve performance (Ashford, 1986; Ashford & Cummings, 1983; Ashford & Tsui, 1991; Bennett et al., 1990; Fedor, 1991; Ilgen et al., 1979; Ilgen et al., 1981; Northcraft & Ashford, 1990; Stone & Stone, 1985). Additionally, employees want their managers to provide them with feedback and have even identified the ability to give feedback as the number one key characteristic of great leaders. Employees value their manager's ability to give frequent, transparent feedback. In her study, Sullivan (2013) found that individuals unexpectedly rated proactive feedback practices as more important and influential than leadership experience and technical knowledge.

Feedback is an essential element of an organization and influences organizational goals, encourages creativity, increases trust, and motivates all organizational employees (Mulder, 2013). Clearly, feedback is important to managers and leaders because employees' actions and behaviors can be influential in determining whether an organization is successful or not in achieving its goals. …

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