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Feedback – what is the right balance?

posted Jun 9, 2016, 7:01 AM by Kenny Niutanen   [ updated Jun 9, 2016, 7:24 AM ]

Feedback seems to be an evergreen on topics to improve at work. Never have I heard anyone say: “I am satisfied with the amount and quality of feedback I get.”

In discussions about good quality feedback we often make reference to research by Barbara Fredriksson, where she summarizes the best balance between motivational “+” (telling people what they did well) and corrective feedback “D” (telling people what they could do better) to be 3:1.

When discussing this topic in different companies, there seems to be a lot of difference what the preferred balance is for different people. Finns claim (I don’t always believe them, though) that their optimal +/D ratio is 90/10. Internationally a  50/50 ration seems to be a quite common optimum.

My own view here is not to get caught on ratios, but rather try to maximize the number of good quality, justified feedback. This for me, is the meaningful balance. What is yours?