Chapter 2. The Lost Art of Feedback

Hank Karp

The ability and the willingness to communicate effectively are the keys to supervisory success. Although communication effectiveness is based on the ability to make and maintain effective contact, regardless of the situation, specific areas of communication require some additional thought and planning.

One of the most important tools for maintaining control and developing people is the proper use of feedback. Although feedback has been categorized as positive and negative, another way of viewing it is to classify it into supportive feedback (which reinforces an ongoing behavior) and corrective feedback (which indicates that a change in behavior is appropriate). In this sense, all feedback is positive. The purpose of all feedback should be to assist a person in maintaining or enhancing his or her present level of effectiveness.

Some feedback, by definition, is better than no feedback. There are, however, ways to give feedback well and ways to give it superbly; there are also ways to receive it effectively. This article presents some guidelines that can help to sharpen the processes of giving and receiving feedback. The most important function of feedback is to help the person who is receiving that feedback to keep in touch with what is going on in the environment.

Supportive Feedback

Supportive feedback is used to reinforce behavior that is effective and desirable. An axiom of effective supervision is "Catch them doing something right and ...

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