In “Assess Your Effectiveness at Getting and Giving Feedback” I summarized Zenger Folkman’s recent research on the power of feedback. Leaders ranked in the top and bottom 10% on asking for and giving feedback were also rated the highest or lowest in leadership effectiveness and engagement levels. The post had a link to Zenger Folkman’s survey on feedback practices and perceptions.
Nearly 1,000 participants have now completed that survey. In a follow up Harvard Business Review blog, “Your Employees Want the Negative Feedback You Hate to Give“, Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman report on the survey results. Here are a few key findings:
• The same numbers of people prefer to give positive feedback as those who don’t.
• A significant number of people avoid giving negative feedback.
• People prefer receiving positive feedback to the same degree that they dislike giving negative feedback.
• Those people who find it difficult and stressful to deliver negative feedback were also significantly less willing to receive it themselves.
• There was a strong correlation between a person’s confidence level and his or her preference for receiving negative feedback.
• The response to the survey’s final question was more surprising. When asked if they would prefer praise/recognition or corrective feedback a significantly larger number (57%) preferred corrective feedback; only 43% preferred praise/recognition.
92% of respondents reported that how corrective or redirecting feedback is delivered determined whether it was seen as effective at improving performance. That reinforces, once again, that a leader’s ability to have courageous conversations and give difficult feedback is a key coaching skill.
The answer to that last question shows the deep rooted belief that the main pathway to improved performance is focusing on weaknesses, gaps, and deficiencies. If we have a major weakness that overshadows our strengths we clearly need to address that. And a leader who can skillfully help us see and address that glaring gap is invaluable.
But the majority of people completing this survey won’t have any fatal flaws, just weaker performance areas. Over 10 years of Zenger Folkman’s research clearly shows they’d be 2 – 3 times further ahead with feedback and coaching that helps them identify and leverage strengths.
For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles, and blog have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Clemmer Group is the Canadian strategic partner of Zenger Folkman, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations.