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For this week’s Discussion Question, reflect on a formal review that you have received, and consider the impact the review had on your motivation. Consider the information you received during the review, whether it was useful or a surprise to you, and any positive or negative aspects of the experience.With these thoughts in mind and using the attached references.prepare a response that addresses the following:Compare and contrast the value of feedback from the formal performance review with more immediate and often less formal types of feedback communication— such as mentoring or coaching—that managers provide.Explain the effect of the feedback on your motivation as an employee. Explain whether you understood the feedback you had received and the steps you took to develop your skills as a result of the performance review.After considering the effect of feedback on your own motivation, discuss how you would handle situations where you, as a manager would need to provide negative feedback and the steps you would take to ensure you could maintain a positive work environment and help your employee continue to develop professionally.
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APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY: AN INTERNATIONAL REVIEW, 2009, 58 (2), 274–303
doi: 10.1111/j.1464-0597.2008.00336.x
Consequences of Positive and Negative Feedback:
The Impact on Emotions and Extra-Role Behaviors
BELSCHAK
Original
POSITIVE
Articles
AND
AND
NEGATIVE
DEN
FEEDBACK
Blackwell
Oxford,
Applied
APPS
©
1464-0597
0269-994X
XXX
International
UK
Psychology
Publishing
Association
LtdHARTOG
for
Applied Psychology, 2008
Frank D. Belschak* and Deanne N. Den Hartog
University of Amsterdam Business School, The Netherlands
These studies examine employees’ emotional reactions to performance feedback
from their supervisors as well as subsequent effects on attitudes and (intentions
to show) affect-driven work behaviors (counterproductive behavior, turnover,
citizenship, and affective commitment). A pre-study (N = 72) illustrates that
employees regularly receive performance feedback from supervisors and that
this feedback elicits different positive and negative emotions. Next, a scenario
experiment (Study 1) comparing the effects of positive/negative feedback given in
public/private was conducted, with a student sample (N = 240) and a sample of
working adults (N = 107). In both samples, feedback has an impact on emotions
and subsequently on work attitudes and behavioral intentions. The results from
the scenario experiment were validated in a survey study (Study 2) among
employees of a for-profit research firm (N = 86) who reported on recalled
emotions and work behaviors after receiving performance feedback during
appraisals. Again, different types of feedback relate to different emotions. In turn,
these emotions were related to subsequent work behaviors and attitudes. Together,
these studies show that feedback affects recipients’ emotions and that such
emotional reactions mediate the relationship between feedback and counterproductive behavior, turnover intentions, citizenship, and affective commitment.
Ces travaux abordent les réactions émotives des salariés suite au feedback sur
leurs performances en provenance de leur supérieur, ainsi que l’impact sur les
attitudes et, au niveau des intentions, sur les conduites professionnelles soumises
aux affects (comportements contre-productifs, démissions, citoyenneté et
implication affective). Une préenquête (N = 72) a montré que les salariés
reçoivent régulièrement des informations sur leurs résultats de la part de leur
supérieur et que cette situation provoque des émotions à la fois positives et
négatives. Ensuite, une expérience (Etude n° 1) comparant les conséquences
d’un feedback positif ou négatif exprimé en public ou en privé a été menée à bien
sur un échantillon d’étudiants (N = 240) et sur un échantillon de travailleurs
* Address for correspondence: Frank D. Belschak, University of Amsterdam Business
School, Department of HRM-OB, Roetersstraat 11, 1018 WB Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Email: [email protected]
A previous version of this paper was presented at the 2005 Academy of Management Meeting
in Hawaii. The authors are grateful to the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their
helpful comments and suggestions. The authors would also like to thank our colleagues at the
Erasmus University and Delft University of Technology for their kind help in data collection.
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 International Association of Applied
Psychology. Published by Blackwell Publishing, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ,
UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE FEEDBACK
275
(N = 107). Dans les deux cas, la rétroaction avait des retombées sur les émotions
et par suite sur les attitudes professionnelles et les intentions comportementales.
Les conclusions de cette expérience ont été confirmées lors d’une enquête
(Etude n˚ 2) réalisées auprès de salariés d’une société commerciale qui décrirent
leurs émotions et leurs comportements professionnels à l’issue d’une rétroaction
sur leur performance lors d’une évaluation. Comme prévu, les différentes sortes
de feedback sont en relation avec des émotions différentes; puis ces émotions
provoquent des attitudes et des conduites professionnelles spécifiques. Au
total, ces travaux montrent que le feedback affecte les émotions des individus
concernés et que ces réactions émotives s’insèrent dans la relation entre la
rétroaction et les comportements contre-productifs, les projets de démission,
la citoyenneté et l’implication affective.
INTRODUCTION
Effective leaders provide regular performance feedback to subordinates
(e.g. Larson, 1989). Formal performance appraisals can be viewed as one
specific form of performance feedback (Pearce & Porter, 1986). Several
theories emphasise the importance and positive effects of feedback for
employees’ task performance (e.g. Locke & Latham, 2002). Although feedback
is usually linked to task performance, overall job performance—which tends
to be the focus of performance appraisals—comprises more. Rotundo and
Sackett (2002) suggest that job performance has three components, namely
task, citizenship and counterproductive performance. Similarly, Miles, Borman,
Spector, and Fox (2002) note that performance covers voluntary behaviors
going beyond core task requirements. So far, researchers have mostly focused
on the effects of feedback on task performance, and far less on the impact
on other elements of overall performance. Here, we argue that employees’
affective reactions to feedback also influence such broader conceptions of job
performance that include citizenship and counterproductive behaviors.
Feedback research so far emphasises cognitive and task-focused reactions
to feedback rather than the impact of feedback on emotions or more affectdriven elements of performance, such as citizenship or counterproductive
behaviors (cf. Kluger & DeNisi, 1996). Our research aims to address affectrelated consequences of receiving feedback. We test whether and how receiving
positive or negative outcome feedback from supervisors in public and private
contexts affects experienced emotions. A recent study suggests that affect
may act as a mediator in the relationship between feedback and employees’
goal regulation (Ilies & Judge, 2005). Research on the impact of feedbackrelated affect on broader behaviors, not directly related to the feedback, has
not yet been done. Thus, we address the impact of feedback and its affective
consequences on citizenship, counterproductive behavior, commitment, and
turnover intentions and test whether affect mediates the impact of feedback
on these variables. Our research adds to the literature by exploring the
impact of performance feedback on emotions as well as the (mediating)
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 International Association of Applied
Psychology.
276
BELSCHAK AND DEN HARTOG
effect of feedback and subsequent emotional reactions on extra-role behaviors
and work attitudes. Neither of these areas has received much attention to date.
EFFECTS OF FEEDBACK
An extensive body of previous research has investigated the effects of
managerial feedback interventions on subordinates’ task performance.
Feedback, in this regard, is defined as actions taken by an employee’s
supervisor to provide information regarding task performance (Kluger &
DeNisi, 1996, p. 255). Hypotheses on the effects of feedback on performance
are mainly derived from reinforcement theory or control theory (e.g. Podsakoff
& Farh, 1989) and focus on cognitive variables such as motivation and
learning (Kluger & DeNisi, 1996). Feedback helps to increase employees’
learning and knowledge of results. Employees need such knowledge,
especially if their performance is not up to standard, to be able to take
corrective action and improve task performance (Ilgen & Davis, 2000).
Yet, performance feedback does not only elicit cognitive reactions. It also
elicits emotional reactions. The broader literature on emotions suggests that
providing positive feedback will generally lead to positive emotions, such as
pride and happiness, whereas negative feedback will generally result in
negative emotions, such as disappointment or guilt (e.g. Lazarus, 1991). This
is also likely to hold in a work setting. Although available research on this
in organisational settings is limited, a few studies confirm the link between
sign of feedback (i.e. positive vs. negative) and valence of affect (e.g. Podsakoff
& Farh, 1989; Kluger, Lewinsohn, & Aiello, 1994). Moreover, the relationships
between feedback at work, emotional reactions to the feedback, and
(subsequent) affect-laden outcomes, such as (intentions to show) counterproductive behaviors (CWB), organisational citizenship behaviors (OCB),
turnover intentions, and affective commitment have not been investigated
so far. Most of the extant research on feedback has focused on consequences
of feedback on tasks that the feedback referred to (e.g. Ilies & Judge, 2005)
or tasks similar to the feedback-related task (e.g. Saavedra & Earley, 1991).
Thus, we add to the literature by investigating the impact of task feedback
on emotions as well as broader, not directly feedback-related behaviors
(specifically, citizenship and counterproductive behavior).
Affective events theory investigates how affective reactions are elicited by
work events (such as performance feedback), and how, in turn, these
affective experiences directly or indirectly influence work behaviors (Weiss
& Cropanzano, 1996). The theory refers to affective experiences of different
origin, covering discrete emotions as reactions to some specific cause or
event (e.g. feelings of pride as a reaction to successful personal achievements),
more generalised affective states (positive vs. negative affect), and moods
(relatively mild, enduring emotional states that are not linked to a specific
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 International Association of Applied
Psychology.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE FEEDBACK
277
cause). These affective experiences influence certain work behaviors. One
can distinguish judgment-driven and affect-driven work behaviors: “Certain
work behaviors are direct responses to affective experiences. So, for example,
mood influences helping behaviors” (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996, p. 52). In line
with this, affective states resulting from feedback should influence extrarole behaviors. Feelings are responsible for causing shifts in motivational
focus and influence work behaviors. When experiencing emotional reactions,
behaviors to cope with the emotion(s) get priority and take precedence
over other behaviors (e.g. Lazarus, 1991; Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996). Here,
we argue that feedback elicits emotional responses. These emotions, in turn,
will influence (extra-role) work behaviors and attitudes. While Lam, Yik,
and Schaubroeck (2002) have proposed a moderating effect of (negative)
trait affect on the relationship between feedback and work attitudes, such
as commitment and turnover intentions, we argue in what follows that
positive and negative emotions (state affect) mediate this relationship.
PRE-STUDY: FEEDBACK AND EMOTIONAL REACTIONS
Studying the effects of performance feedback on emotional reactions and
affect-driven work behaviors is only relevant to the extent that employees
indeed receive such positive and negative feedback from supervisors and this
feedback elicits emotional reactions. As stated, the link between feedback
and affect was shown in emotion experiments among students, but research
in organisational settings is scarce. To illustrate the practical relevance of
the feedback–emotion link in a business setting, we distributed questionnaires
among 72 Dutch employees from different industries (e.g. banking, insurance,
telecommunications, retailing) attending business administration classes in
a post-experience graduate program. Respondents were asked to indicate
on 7-point scales ranging from 1 (never) to 7 (very often) how often they
receive positive and negative feedback on their overall job performance
from their supervisor. Next, respondents were asked to specify how
frequently and how intensely they experienced 12 different emotions as a
reaction to each of these forms of feedback. The emotional reactions
covered basic emotions (e.g. happiness, fear, anger) and self-conscious
emotions (e.g. pride, guilt, embarrassment). Participation was voluntary.
Respondents were 73 per cent male, their average age was 33 years, and
their average tenure was 3.5 years. All respondents had either a college
(80%) or university degree (20%).
Respondents indicated that they received both positive and negative
feedback, although they more frequently received positive (M = 4.33) than
negative feedback (M = 2.72). As a reaction to positive feedback, employees
experienced all positive emotions (e.g. pride, happiness) with similar
frequency and intensity, with the exception of relief, which was experienced
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 International Association of Applied
Psychology.
278
BELSCHAK AND DEN HARTOG
slightly less often and intensely. The mean frequency of positive emotions
after positive feedback was M = 4.57, and the mean intensity was M = 4.37.
As a reaction to negative feedback from supervisors, employees experienced
disappointment and frustration particularly frequently and intensely. Less
often, respondents felt the self-conscious emotions shame, guilt, and embarrassment. Fear and anger came up least. The mean frequency of felt negative emotions
was M = 1.81, the mean intensity was M = 1.70. The results illustrate that the
research question investigated here is also of practical interest and describes
which discrete emotions seem to occur most frequently and intensely.
FEEDBACK, EMOTIONS, AND EXTRA-ROLE BEHAVIORS
Recently, research attention for emotional reactions elicited by job and
organisational conditions has increased (e.g. Spector & Fox, 2002). Feedback
from supervisors can be seen as such a condition. Previous research shows
that supervisors’ behavior can elicit emotional reactions in subordinates
(Liden & Mitchell, 1985). Thus, we expect that receiving positive feedback from a supervisor will lead to experiencing more positive emotions
than receiving negative feedback, and receiving negative feedback will lead
to more negative emotions than receiving positive feedback. Research shows
that the effects of feedback sign (i.e. actual feedback) on affect are stronger
than the effects of discrepancies between feedback and a person’s goals or
standards (Hollenbeck, 1989; Kluger et al., 1994). Thus, we focus on the
consequences of actual positive or negative feedback here and hypothesise:
Hypothesis 1. Positive emotions are significantly higher when receiving positive
feedback than when receiving negative feedback, and vice versa, negative
emotions are significantly higher when receiving negative feedback than
when receiving positive feedback.
The setting in which feedback is given is also likely to be relevant for
emotional reactions. Here, we focus on whether feedback is given in public
or in private. We expect that the intensity of all experienced emotions will
be stronger when feedback is received in public. Previous research found
that employees’ positive emotions, such as pride, were especially strong
when others were present or aware of their accomplishments (e.g. Meindl,
Ehrlich, & Dukerich, 1985). Receiving positive feedback in public as compared
to in private may also lead to more intense negative emotions, such as
embarrassment, and hence result in emotional ambivalence (Fong, 2006).
Similarly, negative emotions, such as anger, shame, and embarrassment, are
also likely to be stronger when feedback is received in public where others
witness the feedback event, rather than in private (e.g. Snell, McDonald, &
Koch, 1991). Thus, we hypothesise:
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 International Association of Applied
Psychology.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE FEEDBACK
279
Hypothesis 2. Both positive and negative emotional experiences are significantly
higher when receiving feedback in public than when receiving the same
feedback in private.
Feedback and Counterproductive Work Behaviors
Recently, research has started to investigate employees’ destructive acts,
hurting their colleagues or organisation. Such acts have been labeled
counterproductive work behaviors (CWB) (e.g. Miles et al., 2002; Marcus
& Schuler, 2004). Research suggests that negative perceptions of the work
situation increase CWB (e.g. Lee & Allen, 2002). As Spector and Fox (2002)
argue, work events provide stimuli that are perceived and appraised and, as
a result, may induce positive or negative emotions. Such emotions, in turn,
affect work behaviors such as OCB and CWB. So far, research on CWB
emphasises the role of situational constraints in the work situation that
block individuals from achieving valued work goals. These constraints cause
the frustration that may lead to CWB (Fox & Spector, 1999). However,
interpersonal conflicts, including poor treatment by supervisors, are also
related to both negative emotions and CWB (Chen & Spector, 1992).
Fitness (2000) studied anger-eliciting events in the workplace and found that
the largest category of events, especially for subordinates, was being unjustly
treated, for example, being falsely accused of performing poorly. Employees’
reactions to such events included withdrawing, quitting, or revenge. Where
the events were seen as humiliating, subordinates experienced increased
hatred. Such research suggests that conditions under which (negative)
performance feedback is given to employees might affect their emotions and
CWB. For example, criticising a subordinate in front of colleagues (e.g. by
publicly giving them negative performance feedback) may be perceived as
degrading or humiliating behavior and might lead to both negative
emotions and increased CWB.
CWB can be interpreted as aggressive acts and, based on the classic
Dollard-Miller frustration–aggression theory, were embedded in an affectbased theory of organisational aggression (e.g. Chen & Spector, 1992). In
an analogous way to the emotional mediation of the general frustration–
aggression link, the relationship between work frustrations and CWB is
argued to be mediated by work affect (e.g. Fox & Spector, 1999). Frustrating
or negative work events lead to emotional reactions, especially anger and
frustration. These, in turn, lead to behavioral intentions or reactions such
as aggression in the form of CWB. We do not expect that positive emotions
will negatively affect employees’ CWB, as CWB are not common work
behaviors. That is, without reason—such as a frustrating event resulting
in negative emotions—employees will not intend to show CWB, thus, no
negative behavioral intention exists that could be reduced by positive
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 International Association of Applied
Psychology.
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BELSCHAK AND DEN HARTOG
emotions. In our first study we focus on behavioral intentions and study
whether negative feedback—especially in public—and resulting emotions
increase employees’ intention to show CWB. In sum, we hypothesise:
Hypothesis 3a. Intentions to show counterproductive work behaviors will be
higher when receiving negative feedback, especially in front of colleagues,
than when receiving positive feedback.
Hypothesis 3b. The relationship between feedback and counterproductive work
behavior intentions will be mediated by negative emotions.
Feedback and Turnover Intentions
Previous research often included withdrawal behaviors as part of CWB, that
is, withdrawal of efforts to achieve organisational goals, such as turnover or
absenteeism (e.g. Chen & Spector, 1992; Fox & Spector, 1999). Maertz and
Griffeth (2004) suggest that affect is a motivational force that …
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