Supervisors need to be encouraged to move away from a ‘one-size fits all’ feedback environment, in order to support employee empowerment. A feedback environment is created by informal, daily feedback exchanges between supervisors and team members. Research1 shows that receiving feedback is not always enough to increase an employee’s perception of empowerment. The researchers found that:
- Supervisors who created a positive feedback environment were more likely to help employees both feel comfortable to receive feedback, and also find work meaningful. Meaningful work linked organisational expectations of jobs with individual beliefs, values and employee empowerment
- Individuals with a preference for receiving feedback found work meaningful, had a positive supervisor relationship and felt empowered.
- Individuals who were not comfortable receiving feedback tended to be less likely to find meaning at work, had a less positive relationship with their supervisor and felt less empowered than those who were comfortable receiving feedback.
Therefore, supervisors should be supported to gauge the predominant feedback preference among team members. Where a majority of employees prefer receiving feedback, a high feedback environment created by the supervisor would be valuable. However, where employees have a low preference for feedback, a minimal feedback environment may be advantageous.
1 Gabriel, Frantz, Levy and Hilliard, (2014) The Supervisor feedback environment is empowering, but not all the time: Feedback orientation as a critical moderator, Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology, 87, 487-506
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