What Problems Can Negative Feedback Cause on the Job?

Negative feedback can derail motivation.
i Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images

A healthy environment at work is one that motivates and engages you. It’s hard to be motivated if you become the subject of criticism. If a manager or colleague pulls you aside to give you a bit of advice, and that advice turns out to be negative feedback, it can be hard to bounce back. You might become less productive. You might even start to spread negative feelings to other colleagues, creating a ripple effect of disengaged, unmotivated personnel.

The Cost to Productivity

    It’s amazing what can be accomplished by employees who feel valued and appreciated. This dynamic can change quickly when negative feedback is introduced. If you find yourself on the receiving end of workplace criticism, it can quickly flip an emotional switch and short circuit your level of commitment. The situation gets even worse if the feedback is delivered publicly in front of colleagues. Negative feedback can be embarrassing and disheartening, and can result in a loss of productivity.

The Cost to Quality

    Maintaining a high level of quality performance is critical for sustainable business success. Every employee has a responsibility to produce quality results every day. When faced with negative feedback, that attention to quality can diminish. The ability to actively listen and observe are vital skills that can become compromised. Negative feedback can introduce problems that did not previously exist. The consequences can be severe if a disparaging remark takes your mind off of the task at hand and that task could impact your own or a co-worker's safety.

Absenteeism and Turnover

    Negative feedback can increase stress in the workplace, affecting the health and well-being of employees. Absenteeism and employee turnover can result and can become widespread if company leadership takes no action, making it apparent that negative feedback is recognized as acceptable. Losing employees means losing talent, potentially affecting the overall quality of work the company is able to produce. Losing employees also costs the company financially, both in lost productivity and in the expenditures required to hire and train replacements.

False Perceptions

    Negative feedback can be based upon false perceptions and could introduce errors in the workplace as a result. Someone providing negative feedback might not have all the facts and could be making inaccurate assumptions. This could lead to poor business decisions. If you are the recipient of the feedback and it causes you to adjust your work, it is possible your attempt to fix a presumed problem could actually create a problem instead.

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