Organizational Consultation XXII: Empowerment (Part Two)

Organizational Consultation XXII: Empowerment (Part Two)

Unfortunately, this hypocrisy will soon get most group leaders in trouble. Participants soon learn that their suggestions are being ignored, hence build up even more resentment than if they were never asked for their feedback in the first place. Unless the meeting is being convened on a one-time basis, with people who will never work together again, it is better to be honest about a lack of interest in feedback than to fake it. In planning for a meeting, therefore, it is essential that one think at least briefly about the kind of feedback, if any, that is desired and about the best time for this feedback to be solicited. There are at least five different kinds of feedback that can be given:

  1. Corrective Feedback: Information suggesting that a specific course of action is not desirable because of a specific undesirable outcome that can be anticipated, for example: “I don’t think you should hire John. This would alienate the entire department.”
  2. Diagnostic Feedback: Information suggesting why a specific course of action has been or will be successful or unsuccessful, for example: “I think Susan is frustrated with your work because you keep promising things that you can’t deliver!”
  3. Corroborative Feedback: Information that confirms and at times expands upon a specific suggestion that has been offered, for example: “I think this idea is good for the following three reasons. . . “
  4. Descriptive Feedback: Information that conveys to another person the nature of their specific behavior in some setting as observed by another person, for example: “You have been less active in this group’s discussion during the past half hour than you were during the first hour.”
  5. Judgmental Feedback: Information concerning a group member’s own opinion of a suggestion that has been made, including, at times, a rationale for this opinion, for example: “I don’t think this is a good idea for it will prevent us from reaching our affirmative action goal.”

Corrective and judgmental forms of feedback are often confused in meetings. They differ from one another in that corrective feedback provides information about how a specific course of action would adversely affect the achievement or the course of action as well as typically, the other members of the group. Conversely, judgmental feedback usually is based on a difference in goal priorities. The person providing the feedback is letting the person who made the suggestion know that the suggestion will not be supported because it works against or is at least not responsive to one or more goals that the feedback-giver values. The first of these two forms of feedback operates in the domain of information, whereas the second form operates in the domain of intentions.


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William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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