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Find the gold in toxic feedback

Author: Bartolomé, Fernando ; Weeks, JohnINSEAD Area: Organisational BehaviourIn: Harvard Business Review, vol. 85, no. 4, April 2007 Language: EnglishDescription: p. 24-26.Type of document: INSEAD ArticleNote: Please ask us for this itemAbstract: The article discusses how managers can deal with feedback from peers or subordinates that is personally offensive, inaccurate, irrelevant, or unbalanced. Many managers, it is said, either become defensive or ignore difficult feedback. The authors suggest that some managers are "alchemists" who can give value to corrosive or seemingly worthless feedback. An example is provided of an anonymous customer service director of a large U.S.-based electronic firm who was criticized by a subordinate. The customer service director says it taught him to consider more carefully the negative effects of his actions. Although he was upset by the accusations, the manager didn't react defensively. The feedback contained important information about his co-workers' perceptions of his actions.
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The article discusses how managers can deal with feedback from peers or subordinates that is personally offensive, inaccurate, irrelevant, or unbalanced. Many managers, it is said, either become defensive or ignore difficult feedback. The authors suggest that some managers are "alchemists" who can give value to corrosive or seemingly worthless feedback. An example is provided of an anonymous customer service director of a large U.S.-based electronic firm who was criticized by a subordinate. The customer service director says it taught him to consider more carefully the negative effects of his actions. Although he was upset by the accusations, the manager didn't react defensively. The feedback contained important information about his co-workers' perceptions of his actions.

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