Thought Of The Week: The Perils Of Feedback

April 1st, 2014

Thought Of The Week: The Perils Of Feedback

When it comes to performance reviews and appraisals, it is probably fair to state that most organisations would answer that they 'could do better' when asked how they perform. In a recent article by The Guardian, they point out that 55% of people think that their feedback is unfair or inaccurate, which is unfortunate because it means that every year (or whatever the review cycle is) more than half of staff are demotivated by a process which is supposed to improve performance rather than leave staff feeling worse.

The answer according to Stone and Heen, the authors of Thanks for the Feedback, is to shift the focus onto those receiving feedback rather than those giving it. They suggest rather than defending yourself (my words) we should focus on why there is a difference of perception.

I would be interested to know if there is any research or ideas on what is needed from people on the receiving end of feedback (as always your thoughts and comments are always welcome!), but my experience tells me that we have a strong cognitive bias towards our own world view and that includes the views we have about ourselves. This means that any feedback that we receive, which contradicts our perception is easily dismissed, whereas we are able to easily recall feedback which supports our views (including that about ourselves).

For instance, when we have a relationship problem, we tend to seek out those who support us rather than those who side with the 'enemy'. Ultimately, this means that trying to get to the bottom of the differences in perception is challenging to say the least - in the end we have a strong desire to protect our 'self'.

I find this to be a hugely interesting topic and something that everybody involved in performance reviews and appraisals can benefit from understanding more. It will be a topic that we will be researching and writing about in more detail in the near future.

In the meantime, you may find The Guardians article 'This column will change your life: the perils of feedback' an interesting read.

Simon Wiltshire

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