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Faculty & Research


When Diversity Meets Feedback

Journal Article
In recent years leading executives - from firms like Google, Bridgewater, and Netflix - have touted the advantages of a work environment marked by candid feedback. Employees seem to have bought into the benefits too. In a 2019 survey, 94% said that corrective feedback improved their performance when it was presented well. Unfortunately, the increased diversity of our workplaces has made it much more likely that feedback won’t go over well and will be misinterpreted as an act of hostility. That’s because people from different cultures, genders, and generations have varying expectations for how feedback is delivered and by whom. What’s standard in America, for instance, can come off as harsh or baffling in other countries. Boomers and Millennials hold radically different ideas about what’s appropriate too. And gender differences add to the complexity. Women who are frank are often seen as aggressive, and men have a bad tendency to offer unwelcome advice. This article explains how to navigate the divides: Understand the norms of feedback recipients and adjust for them. Follow the three A’s - make sure any advice is intended to assist, actionable, and asked for. Last, get everyone on your team on the same page by establishing a common approach and building regular feedback loops into your collaborations.

Professor of Management Practice