Topic: Upward Communication and Feedback-Seeking Behavior

Author(s), Title and Publication

Krasman, J. (2010). The Feedback-Seeking Personality: Big Five and Feedback-Seeking Behavior. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 17(1), 18-32.

Summary

This study examined the influence of employees’ personalities (i.e., the Big Five) on their feedback-seeking behavior. The Big Five categories of human personality are: neuroticism (emotional instability), extraversion (interaction with others), openness to experience (enjoying novel experiences), agreeableness (showing interest in others’ concerns), and conscientiousness (intention to performing tasks properly). Feedback-seeking behavior in this study refers to an employee’s search for informal or day-to-day feedback from supervisors or coworkers. The study investigated such behaviors based on three components: source (supervisors, coworkers), strategies (direct inquiry, indirect inquiry, and reflective appraisal), and feedback type (job performance).

A survey of 130 employees indicated that a person’s feedback-seeking behavior is partially attributable to personality. Employees tended to seek performance feedback from their supervisors when they were prone to worry and nervousness (using indirect inquiry), extroversive (using direct and indirect inquiry), concerned with fulfilling a job effectively (using direct inquiry), and open to experience (using reflective appraisal). Those who scored high on neuroticism (using direct and indirect inquiry) and openness to experience (using reflective appraisal) were more likely to seek feedback from coworkers. Agreeableness did not influence any of the feedback-seeking combinations.

Implications for Practice

Supervisors may use the Big Five scales to assess the performance feedback-seeking behavior of their employees. For example, subordinates who rank high on neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness might request feedback frequently. For those employees, supervisors might want to clarify performance standards, allocate regular time to them, and encourage them to confer with coworkers. For employees who tend to infer supervisors’ feedback based on how supervisors treat them (i.e., reflective appraisal), supervisors might need to ensure the messages they send are not misinterpreted.

Location of Article

The article is available at: http://jlo.sagepub.com/content/17/1/18.abstract (free abstract, purchase full article)

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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