Give Your Collaborators Opportunities for Improvement

Give Your Collaborators Opportunities for Improvement

Some leaders tend to believe that negative feedback should not be provided. However, strength-based development can make people think that they do not need improvement.

Some leaders tend to believe that negative feedback should not be provided. However, strength-based development can make people think that they do not need improvement.

According to Craig Chappelow and Cindy McCauley, there is no need to avoid negative feedback, but it is important to learn how to deliver it appropriately. 

This topic has been controversial for many years since many authors in the field have argued that telling people what we think of their performance doesn't lead to improvement, but hinders learning. Those who have argued that negative feedback is not necessary, claim that humans are unreliable when it comes to assessing other humans, and therefore their feedback can be non-objective and distorted. They also believe that the learning process is not about introducing something that isn’t there, but recognizing and reinforcing something that is, meaning that neurologically we grow more in our áreas of stronger abilities.

Authors that believe that constructive criticism won’t help people perform at their best, argue that when you highlight someone’s weak points, you hinder their learning. They claim that employers should let their employees focus more on their strengths instead of trying to work on their weaknesses. According to the research at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), negative and positive feedback are both necessary to help managers develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses. Addressing both areas is more likely to lead them to improve and to make the company excel. 

The Woman Post, presents some of the conclusions of the CCL, in terms of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to giving feedback.

The Type of Feedback You Should Avoid

-Harsh feedback: For criticism to be constructive, it needs to be delivered with respect. Harsh comments can always lead to defensive reactions.

-Telling people how to fix a problem: It is more effective to lead employees to find their answers by asking them the rights questions.


-Feedback that only focuses on people’s strengths: The research by CCL has found that no matter how many strong points an individual has, just one unaddressed flaw can have negative consequences and lead an organization to failure.

How You Should Be Delivering Feedback

-Positive feedback is essential for learning: It is important to notice what your employees are doing good, to support development.

-Feedback about weaknesses should also be given: According to the research by CCL, feedback recipients that receive unfavorable ratings, tend to improve their performance more than those who don’t.

You may be wondering about the most appropriate way to give negative feedback. The CCL suggests an approach called Situation Behaviour Impact (SBI). The mentioned approach works for addressing both strengths and weaknesses. The first step is to mention the time and place at which the behavior took place. They then describe the impact of the behavior in terms of the feedback provider's actions and feelings. Some of the advantages of SBI are that it is not judgemental and non-generalized because it is specific to a described context. This makes it more likely to be considered and less likely to provoke a defensive response in people.

According to the CCL, which has worked for the development of leadership since 1970, it is important for managers and organizations to always provide balanced feedback to their employees. Such feedback should include the strengths and should also address the weaknesses of their employees!

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