Top-Shelf Tip No. 215:

"Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots."

Frank A. Clark

Fed Up With Feedback? Read This.

Fifty-five percent of employees surveyed in a recent Gallup survey said their most recent performance review was unfair or inaccurate. Why? It included feedback that left them flustered, confused or enraged. Negative feedback can make someone feel their job isn't secure, their status as a professional has been threatened or that they aren't meeting expectations.

Most people want to grow in their jobs, and they appreciate bosses who can mentor them to help improve their performance. This is part of what performance reviews are supposed to address. If you are stuck in a job with a boss who is friendly but never gives you direction on how to improve, you may feel you're not getting the resources you need to grow.

On the other hand, if you have a boss who sends you an email after every meeting with pros and cons on how to improve your behavior or presentation, then you could be dealing with what business author Dr. Nicole Lipkin refers to as feedback fatigue. We'll share Dr. Lipkin's advice on managing feedback in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Everyone's Threshold for Negative Feedback is Different. First, Dr. Lipkin points out that when you are in a position to give feedback, you need to know your audience. Does your employee crave challenges and bounce back quickly or does the person have a hard time building back confidence after getting negative or constructive feedback?

She says that each of us has a different threshold tolerance and ability to bounce back after receiving negative feedback. Feedback fatigue is thus going to kick in at different points, depending on the individual. Understanding the swing of the people you work with is important. There are those who are very emotional and sensitive to any kind of feedback. They feel very happy in response to positive feedback and very sad in response to negative feedback. Others might have a wider swing for positive feedback and get overly excited, but negative feedback doesn't really bother them.

Signs of Feedback Fatigue. The first sign of feedback fatigue is for the giver: Do you feel like you are continually giving feedback? If so, it's a safe bet that the receiver is feeling it too. Even the most positive and self-assured individual can burn out with too much feedback. A few responses to watch for are these:

Paralysis. Someone experiencing feedback fatigue will feel paralyzed; they will second-guess everything they're doing.

Emotional depletion. A feeling of learned helplessness will settle in after a series of negative feedback sessions; the receiver will not have the required resilience to care enough to change.

Immunity to positive feedback. Dr. Lipkin points out that we need five positive interactions to offset one negative interaction in an interpersonal relationship, so even a dose or two of positive feedback will be ineffectual at offsetting feedback fatigue.

Disengagement. If we're made to feel incompetent, then the receiver will either start to look elsewhere for employment or live in apathy.

Reverse the Course. If you are a manager who gives too much negative feedback, realize that your employee is going to be incredibly disengaged if they feel you are consistently viewing them in a negative light. It is vital that you occasionally acknowledge the employee's positive actions and successful projects, and show appreciation for the effort your employee is putting in.

These employees need to know they are not being oversensitive. Let them know that too much feedback in too short a time was thrown at them. While the feedback might be valid, it doesn't mean they are incompetent or incapable of getting to where they need to be.

Pinpoint the most important aspects the person needs to work on and have that be the focus for future goals.

Remember to keep your expectations reasonable and give your employee the highest priority feedback first to avoid feedback fatigue.

Source: Dr. Nicole Lipkin is an organizational psychologist, speaker, business coach and author focused on bringing human nature back into business. She is also a contributor to Thrive Global, a web community.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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