‘Getting feedback right: Motivating employees through evaluation, appreciation, and coaching’ – David Patient

“Feedback is a critical element of best-practice performance management” — this was the key message that the audience took away as they walked out of the auditorium after an inspiring, and insightful talk by Dr. David Patient, Academic Director and Professor of Organizational Behavior at Catolica Lisbon School of Business and Economics, Portugal, a partner institution of MYRA School of Business.

A key role of managers is to encourage employees to invest themselves in their work by going beyond their fiduciary duties. “The purpose of feedback is to diagnose and improvise behavior as well as reward past behavior”, he explained.  Motivate employees the right way to continue developing their skills; create an organizational culture in which employees feel free to give honest feedback; generate the right attitude to negative feedback in organizations by outweighing it with positive feedback— these are the central tasks of managers and leaders in an organization, he impressed upon the audience.

But managers also need to understand why feedback is often blocked, ignored, or resented and develop specific strategies for overcoming such threats. Dr. Patient then explored the challenges in both giving and receiving feedback, especially when it is negative or threatening. Feedback is generally considered a threatening exercise done mundanely on a semi / annual basis by just filling out forms.  Dr. Patient shared some valuable statistical data from his research to show that employees feel that evaluations are generally unfair or that managers lack the courage to give honest feedback.  This is because everybody wants to maintain good relationships with one another. His studies evidenced that people persist in difficult tasks when their good work is rightly acknowledged, and employees who seek feedback perform better and advance faster in organizations.

Dr. Patient in his address very passionately and eloquently said “Take every feedback —positive and negative— into account.  Any feedback is better than no feedback.  Never send out a message that an employee’s feedback is not important. While it is true that not all feedback is clearly stated, accurate, and properly explored, nonetheless improving performance requires that organizations invest in ongoing feedback. How you say things can be as important to achieving the multiple purposes of feedback purpose as what you say”.

He then went on to explain the three types of feedback that must be used in an organization – evaluation, coaching, and appreciation. Each serves an important purpose, each satisfies different needs, and each comes with its own set of challenges. While appreciation motivates employees – it gives employees a bounce in their step and the energy to redouble their efforts; coaching is aimed at trying to help an employee learn, grow, or change; and evaluation tells where the employee stands in comparison to others— it is an assessment, ranking, or rating.

Keeping consistent with the topic, he concluded his talk by asking for ‘feedback’ from the audience. The talk was well attended by invitees, students, and faculty of the Biz School. Dr. David Patient is a visiting faculty at MYRA for the last 3 years where he teaches Organizational Behavior to the business management students.

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