Employee Engagement: How to Bridge the 65/58 Feedback Gap

Stuart Sinclair - August 12, 2016
Employee Engagement

Is there a gap between how much feedback your managers think they're giving out, and what your employees actually think they're receiving? A recent feedback survey suggests so.

Please sir, I want some more

According to a survey done by Office Vibe:

  • 65% of employees want more feedback


  • 58% of manager say they give enough feedback

There’s a gap between what manager believe is happening, and what employees perceive as happening. This may be due to the reluctance of managers to give negative or critical feedback, and the feeling amongst employees that what little feedback they do get is somewhat perfunctory.

Read our comprehensive guide and discover the seven essential steps to  improving employee engagement within your organisation.

Content, not quantity

Research from Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman suggests that it’s also the content of the feedback that is at the heart of the issue. To conduct their research, Zenger and Folkman defined two distinct types of feedback:

“We grouped praise, reinforcement, and congratulatory comments together as positive feedback.  And we’ve chosen to call suggestions for improvement, explorations of new and better ways to do things, or pointing out something that was done in a less that optimal way corrective feedback.”

The startling results were that 57% of those surveyed employees preferred corrective feedback more than praise (43%), provided it was given in a constructive way. In addition,

“72% said they thought their performance would improve if their managers would provide corrective feedback.”

Corrective feedback for executives and senior employees

The idea that more established members of the company might be less accepting of corrective feedback was seemingly refuted by a research paper in The Journal of Consumer Research. This revealed that experts in their field are happier to receive negative feedback because it helps them improve their skills further.

Read Employee Engagement App? What to look for...

Different feedback given to women

The lack of feedback may also hold some employees back. A study by Shelley Correll and Caroline Simard suggests that fewer women progress to executive roles than men because of the feedback they receive during their careers.

“Women are systematically less likely to receive specific feedback tied to outcomes, both when they receive praise and when the feedback is developmental. … Men are offered a clearer picture of what they are doing well and more-specific guidance of what is needed to get to the next level.”

And the solution is…

In trying to get to the root causes of this lack of decent feedback, Victor Lipman writing at Forbes.com suggests that many managers lack the skill sets required for delivering effective and constructive feedback. The answer, he feels, is better recognition of the multiple skills sets required to be an effective manager, and better training for those who don’t have them but are in (or about to take up) managerial posts.

Read What is Employee Engagement in Reality?

At Talkfreely, we spend our days improving our employee communications apps. And, of course, we’ll always welcome your feedback, both positive and constructive!

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