Workplace Aggression as a Consequence of Negative Performance Feedback
Management Communication Quarterly (1997), 10 (4), p. 433
22 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2016 Last revised: 16 Dec 2016
Date Written: May 1, 1997
Providing negative feedback to subordinates is one of the most difficult and stressful interactions in the workplace. Although such encounters may produce necessary changes and improved subordinate performance, they may also prompt retaliation and hostility. In this study, we examined managers' concerns and experiences with respect to this process. In particular, we focused on managers' experiences with aggressive employee reactions to negative feedback. Results suggest that most employee aggression following feedback is verbal, passive, and/or indirect in nature. Physical violence was the least likely form of aggressive reaction encountered by participating managers. Managers also reported one critical incident of aggression following feedback, and described problematic emotional, relational, and task-related consequences. Findings suggest the importance of preparing managers for potentially aggressive responses by employees, encouraging them to deliver negative feedback in a manner that minimizes the likelihood of aggression and considering alternative models with regard to appraisal practices.
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