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Groups and teamwork
Groups and teamwork

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5.2.1 Providing evaluative feedback

One of the roles of a leader is to provide group members with feedback on their performance. This is often an uncomfortable process for both the leader and the recipient. The main reason for this is a failure by both parties adequately to distinguish between the individual and what is being evaluated. When criticism is carelessly given, it is easy for the recipient to take it as an attack on his or her self-esteem. The result is that the recipient resists the feedback and responds in a defensive manner. The leader expects a defensive reaction (after all that's what has happened on all previous occasions) and so expresses his or her criticisms strongly so as to get through the layer of defensiveness. It's an example of the 'self-sealing' process in which one assumes something about others and then collects evidence to confirm it. The way out is for the leader to adopt the attitude that it is his or her responsibility to enable group members to do their job as effectively as possible and to enter the conversation with the attitude of wanting to help rather than wanting to criticise. Similarly, the individual group member can enter the conversation expecting to learn how to do his or her job more effectively, which is potentially a way of enhancing, not diminishing, self-esteem.