Organizational Consultation XXIV: Feedback (Part One)
Furthermore, a deficit-based model doesn’t yield much information about the employee’s strengths; yet, we know from many studies that an effective employee development program should build on the strengths of the employee rather than just focusing on employee’s weaknesses. For instance, in what settings are employees most competent and most highly motivated? We can use the answer to this question in designing a training program that at least in part replicates this setting. We also might want to identify an employee’s preferred learning style or the predominant learning style of a program unit with which we are working. The strengths that are embedded in these preferred styles can then be engaged in an educational program that we are offering.
Function Three: Intention-Focused Assessment
Feedback can be linked to the identification and measurement of specific organizational intentions. In this way feedback, as the sixth appreciative strategy, is directly related to the third appreciative strategy, chartering. Organizational alignment occurs when there are not only clear statements regarding the mission, vision, values and purposes of the organization, but also when the feedback being given to individuals and program units focus specifically and consistently on these domains of organizational intention.
An employee or program unit is judged to be successful to the extent that a previously established set of objectives, outcomes, expectations or milestones has been attained within a specific time period. In this way the organization can make use of feedback as a tool for monitoring the organization’s alignment with specific intentions and consequently as a vehicle for both tactical and strategic planning. If the organization has established a charter (see earlier essays) to which the employees of the organization are deeply committed, then this third function will be particularly important and effectively served by an appreciative organization.
A deficit-based system of feedback will partially fulfill this third function, though, as I mentioned above, neither negative (“cold”) nor positive (“warm”) information are as rich as appreciative information (“here’s where you are in relation to the thimble”) in directing an organization toward its mission, vision, values or purposes. An appreciative approach links much better than deficit processes with an employee’s ongoing career planning and movement up a career ladder (see earlier essays). In a similar manner, regularly scheduled, appreciative feedback for leaders of program units aids them in their tactical planning. This ongoing feedback process for program units, which is often labeled formative evaluation, is of much greater value to program leaders than are summative evaluation systems that are only enacted at the end of a particular program review period.