How negative feedback supports personal success

Seminar Paper, 2011

39 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents

Executive Summary

List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Abbreviations

1. Introduction
1.1 Problem Description
1.2 Objectives
1.3 Scope of Work

2. Description and Analysis of the Group Process
2.1 Idea of the Feedback Process
2.2 Composition of the Feedback Form
2.3 Evaluation Process

3. Experience of the Feedback Process
3.1 Analysis of the Results
3.2 Feelings and Cognitions of the Feedback Recipients
3.3 Particular Problems Arising

4. Approaches to improve Personal Skills and Competencies
4.1 Coaching
4.2 Mentoring
4.3 Development of key competencies
4.4 A new strategic assessment of group performance

5. Conclusion and Outlook



List of Internet Sources

Executive Summary

This assignment deals with the question of how negative feedback can support personal success. Answering this question is of great importance for the personal development, as it can be stated that employees often receive poorly delivered and mainly negative feedback. Yet, also negative feedback offers the opportunity to learn from it and to use it for personal improvement. Key to success is to extract the useful information and to sort out the comments that do more harm than good.

To analyse how this can be done best and how the results can be used for personal improvement, a feedback process was initiated by the authors of this assignment. In this process, a feedback form was developed that is strongly based on the aspects of emotional intelligence that Daniel Goleman defined as being essential. This form had to be answered by the team members for others and for themselves. Afterwards, everyone received the evaluations and had to compare them to the self-perception. Then, feelings and cognitions of the feedback recipients had to be written down and passed to the others.

The analysis of the results of the feedback process shows that three of the four team members have evaluated themselves better than others evaluated them. Only one team member assessed himself worse to the perception of the others. A detailed analysis of the results reveals that the need for improvement is very different. Yet, also one similarity could be discovered: every one of the feedback recipients had problems with handling the negative feedback irrespective of how experienced he was in receiving replies. Especially, the discrepancy between self- reflection and the reflection by others caused great irritation. At the end of the feedback process, all team members came to the conclusion that receiving negative feedback is always difficult to process. But, all team members decided to work on themselves in order to improve and to minimize the discrepancy between self-reflection and the reflection by others.

As starting points for personal improvement and advancing the soft skills, several tools like coaching, mentoring and the improvement of key competencies can be identified. Important aspects of these tools can be used by team members that have particularly well developed domains of emotional intelligence to teach and improve the other team members with regard to their skills.

List of Figures

Figure 1: Global Analysis - Evaluation Method

Figure 2: Global Analysis - Results of Team Member 1

Figure 3: Global Analysis - Results of Team Member 2

Figure 4: Global Analysis - Results of Team Member 3

Figure 5: Global Analysis - Results of Team Member 4

Figure 6: The Circle for Personal Improvement

Figure 7: Phases of Mentoring

List of Tables

Table 1: Feedback Form

Table 2: Local Analysis - Results of Team Member 1 to 4

Table 3: Strengths and Weaknesses of Team Member 1 to 4

Table 4: Summarising Strengths and Weaknesses of Team Member 1 to 4

Table 5: Training Plan based on Coaching and Mentoring

List of Abbreviations

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1. Introduction

1.1 Problem Description

The quality and cooperation in companies and other institutions is strongly influenced by the quality of the communication between the leaders and their employees. Due to this, it is very important to ensure that this process is characterised by openness and trust. The concept of feedback is a suitable tool to support this process.1 In general, feedback can be regarded as concerted reply which is based on an actual and target comparison that informs about whether a desired target has been reached or not.2 It can also be regarded as a message of a person who wants to inform another person how displayed behaviour is recognised and judged by others.3 However, it aims at clarifying how others perceive the behaviour and actions of the feedback recipient and offers the possibility to check whether desired effects could be realised. Moreover, feedback intends to reduce information asymmetries through explaining exhibited behaviour by communicating the desired intentions. It is also useful for improving the evaluation of self- perception and the perception of the feedback providers. Furthermore, it is a suitable management instrument to regulate and cause changes in the social behaviour.4

Despite the positive aspects of feedback, only few people feel that they receive enough and especially helpful feedback. Often, managers are not able to provide adequate feedback as they have problems with praising or criticising others. Yet, in times of performance measurement systems and advanced evaluation approaches like the 360°-feedback, employees receive a lot of negative feedback which can do more harm than good. That is why it is important to use the negative feedback and extract the helpful messages by distinguishing which messages should be ignored and filtering the helpful messages in order to improve.5 Due to this, dealing with negative feedback is an interesting and current issue which is not only limited to the day-to-day work. Furthermore, negative feedback can also help to improve the personality in private life.

1.2 Objectives

The main target of this work is to analyse how (negative) feedback impacts the feedback recipients and how it can be used to support personal success. Therefore, several sub-categories will be analysed. At first, the process of giving feedback will be described and the experiences of receiving negative feedback have to be examined. Afterwards, adequate approaches of receiving negative feedback, abstracting the useful messages and benefiting from them by improving the personal skills and competencies will be considered. At the end, a training plan consisting of coaching and mentoring elements, which helps the group members to improve their personal skills, will be developed as a result to answer the question of how recipients of negative feedback can profit from it.

1.3 Scope of Work

After an introduction in this chapter in which the problem description, the objectives and the scope of work are outlined, chapter 2 describes the idea of the developed feedback process and presents the created feedback form. In addition, the results from the feedback process will be displayed and evaluated. Thereafter, the results are used for an analysis including the feelings and the cognitions of the team members and the particular problems arising. Subsequently, adequate approaches to improve the soft skills and competencies are presented. Afterwards, a training plan aiming at improving the personal skills of the team members is introduced, showing how self-awareness can easily be improved through goal-oriented supervision. At the end, this assignment summarizes the findings of this work in chapter 5.

2. Description and Analysis of the Group Process

2.1 Idea of the Feedback Process

The task for this assignment was to form groups and to provide each other with feedback. The grouping was no problem since we know each other for more than nine months and have worked together successfully for several assignments before. In addition, we also spent some leisure time together as we all like cycling. That is why we decided to remain in this constellation for the assignment. Yet, due to these circumstances, it was particularly difficult to provide each other with an open and direct feedback - above all because the feedback should be more negative than positive.

To avoid critical situations and to do each other no harm, we first thought about only providing feedback with regard to presentations which we have held in the first semester. Yet, when we began with giving evaluations on the presentations, we noticed that this kind of feedback did not really provide us with new information or possibilities for personal improvement. That is why we decided to use our detailed knowledge about each other to give us an open feedback about our general appearance, especially in relation to our business-relevant characteristics and leadership qualities. We wanted to use the assignment about feedback to gain more knowledge about the way others perceive our appearance and to make a comparison of the self-perception and the perception by the others. We felt that this kind of feedback would be more useful for our own development and for the results of this assignment.

After the feedback form had been agreed on, everyone had two days to evaluate the other group members. In addition, everyone was asked to conduct a self- reflection and to evaluate himself with the form. Afterwards, all group members received their feedback forms and they presented their self-assessment to the others. Then, everyone had four days to think about the results, to compare them with the self-image and to write down his feelings when receiving the feedback. These feelings and the resulting cognitions were also written down and presented to the others. As the results from this process are presented in this work, we agreed on keeping anonymity by calling us team member 1, 2, 3 and 4.

2.2 Composition of the Feedback Form

When we thought about the process of giving feedback to the other team members, we agreed on using a feedback form. The composition of the feedback form can be seen in table 1. The setup of the form was adapted from the four domains of emotional intelligence (EQ) which Daniel Goleman et al. defined in their book Primal Leadership. These categories are self-management, social awareness, relationship management and self-awareness. Each domain has sub-categories which describe the aspects more detailed by listing relevant competencies.6 To our minds, the listed facets are really important for being successful in business life and can simplify the cooperation at work. In addition, we all have direct customer contacts in our jobs and we know that there is a coherency between the EQ of employees, the cooperation with customers and business success. Being emotionally intelligent can improve business relationships and increase sales.7 Besides, this approach was the only possibility to evaluate us with regard to our business life as we do not work in the same company or at least the same industry. We think that certain characteristic (leadership) traits and our EQ also become obvious in our group works and our collaboration at the university. Due to these reasons, we decided on evaluating each other on the basis of the four domains of EQ. In the form, each sub-category had to be evaluated on a scale from one (minimum) to four (maximum). In addition, a field for additional comments to explain the evaluation more detailed, was added. In order to avoid a one-sided feedback, the domains of self-management and self-awareness were separated from each other.

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Table 1: Feedback Form8

2.3 Evaluation Process

As seen before, the feedback form consists of four main categories which are analysed in the following. Thereby the evaluation process is conducted in two separate steps:

- Global analysis: identification of the total sum of points for each of these categories
- Local analysis: individual check of each point by using a categorisation.

First, the global research was conducted. Here, the maximum points for each domain result from the number of sub-categories multiplied by four (best evaluation):

- Self-Management: 24 points,
- Social Awareness: 12 points,
- Relationship Management: 24 points and
- Self-Awareness: 12 points.

The before mentioned maximum points represent 100% for each category of skills. The sum gives a first insight into the overall situation, because it allows an identification of how far the individual results differ from the total sum and allows a comparison of discrepancies. For a better visualization, figure 1 is used to present the results concerning the feedback of the group within this work.

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Figure 1: Global Analysis - Evaluation Method9

The graph indicates a “perfect state” meaning the feedback recipient gained the best score in each category. By connecting the neighboured domains, a rectangular is generated with a maximum area of A = 2.0.

In the following, each feedback is visualised by a rectangular (with a size A) and a certain position, indicating the potential for further development and improvement. The results for each of the four team members is shown by two of these graphs, one indicates the self-perception (red coloured) and the other one the perception by others (blue coloured). Thereby, the values for the perception of the others represent the average of three opinions. Figure 2 to 5 give an overview of these eight graphs.

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Figure 2: Global Analysis - Results of Team Member 110

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Figure 3: Global Analysis - Results of Team Member 211


1 See Preuß-Scheuerle, B. (2004), pp. 102-103.

2 See Krause, U.-M. (2007), p. 46.

3 See Neges, G.; Neges, R. (2007), p. 74.

4 See Hofbauer, H.; Winkler, B. (2004), p. 123.

5 See Bartolomé, F.; Weeks, J. (2005), p. 1.

6 See Goleman, D. et al. (2002), p. 3.

7 This view is also promoted by a research of McKinsey; see:, retrieved 26.05.2011.

8 Source: adapted from: Goleman, D. et al. (2002), p. 3; compiled by the authors.

9 Source: compiled by the authors.

10 Source: compiled by the authors.

11 Source: compiled by the authors.

Excerpt out of 39 pages


How negative feedback supports personal success
University of Applied Sciences Essen
Soft Skills & Leadership Qualities
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
1520 KB
Coaching, Emotional Intelligence, Essen, Feedback, FOM, Leadership, MBA, Mentoring, Soft Skills, Strategy, Assignment, Group Assignment, Practical Approach
Quote paper
Christian Gondek (Author)Dr. Jan-Hendrik Hommel (Author), 2011, How negative feedback supports personal success, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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