Fear of Feedback

by Jay M. Jackman and Myra H. Strober

NOBODY LIKES PERFORMANCE REVIEWS. Subordinates are terrified they’ll hear nothing but criticism. Bosses, for their part, think their direct reports will respond to even the mildest criticism with stonewalling, anger, or tears. The result? Everyone keeps quiet and says as little as possible. That’s unfortunate, because most people need help figuring out how they can improve their performance and advance their careers.

This fear of feedback doesn’t come into play just during annual reviews. At least half the executives with whom we’ve worked never ask for feedback. Many expect the worst: heated arguments, impossible demands, or even threats of dismissal. So rather than seek feedback, people ...

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