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Abstract

Performance feedback has significant potential to benefit employees in terms of individual and team performance. Moreover, effective performance feedback has the potential to enhance employee engagement, motivation, and job satisfaction. However, managers often are not comfortable giving performance feedback and such feedback, if improperly relayed, causes more harm than good. In this installment of HUMAN PERFORMANCE, we describe a shift from traditional weaknesses-based feedback (which relies on negative commentary focused on employees’ shortcomings) to the more constructive approach of strengths-based feedback (which relies on employee affirmation and encouragement). We explain why a strengths-based approach to performance feedback is superior to the weaknesses-centered approach, and offer nine research-based recommendations on how to deliver effective performance feedback employing a strengths-based method.
HUMAN
PERFORMANCE
Delivering
effective
performance
feedback:
The
strengths-based
approach
Herman
Aguinis *,
Ryan
K.
Gottfredson,
Harry
Joo
Kelley
School
of
Business,
Indiana
University,
1309
E.
Tenth
Street,
Bloomington,
IN
47405-1701,
U.S.A.
Success
is
achieved
by
developing
our
strengths,
not
by
eliminating
our
weaknesses.
Marilyn
vos
Savant
1.
Building
up
vs.
breaking
down
A
key
responsibility
of
successful
managers
is
to
help
their
employees
improve
job
performance
on
an
ongoing
basis
(Aguinis,
Joo,
&
Gottfredson,
2011).
Managers
carry
out
this
responsibility
by
implement-
ing
performance
management
systems
that
are
de-
signed
to
align
performance
at
the
individual,
unit,
and
organizational
levels.
Notably,
performance
feedback
is
a
critical
component
of
all
performance
management
systems
(Aguinis,
2009;
DeNisi
&
Kluger,
2000).
Performance
feedback
can
be
defined
as
information
about
an
employee’s
past
behaviors
with
respect
to
established
standards
of
employee
behaviors
and
results.
The
goals
of
performance
feedback
are
to
improve
individual
and
team
per-
formance,
as
well
as
employee
engagement,
moti-
vation,
and
job
satisfaction
(Aguinis,
2009).
Unfortunately,
managers
are
often
uncomfort-
able
giving
performance
feedback
(Aguinis,
2009),
and
such
feedback
often
does
more
harm
than
good
in
terms
of
helping
employees
improve
their
perfor-
mance
(DeNisi
&
Kluger,
2000).
For
example,
Kluger
and
DeNisi
(1996)
conducted
an
extensive
literature
review
and
concluded
that
in
more
than
one-third
of
the
cases,
performance
feedback
actually
resulted
in
decreased
performance
across
the
131
studies
Business
Horizons
(2012)
55,
105—111
Available
online
at
www.sciencedirect.com
www.elsevier.com/locate/bushor
KEYWORDS
Human
resource
management;
Performance
management;
Performance
appraisal;
Employee
development;
Job
performance;
Feedback
Abstract
Performance
feedback
has
significant
potential
to
benefit
employees
in
terms
of
individual
and
team
performance.
Moreover,
effective
performance
feed-
back
has
the
potential
to
enhance
employee
engagement,
motivation,
and
job
satisfaction.
However,
managers
often
are
not
comfortable
giving
performance
feedback
and
such
feedback,
if
improperly
relayed,
causes
more
harm
than
good.
In
this
installment
of
HUMAN
PERFORMANCE,
we
describe
a
shift
from
traditional
weaknesses-based
feedback
(which
relies
on
negative
commentary
focused
on
employees’
shortcomings)
to
the
more
constructive
approach
of
strengths-based
feedback
(which
relies
on
employee
affirmation
and
encouragement).
We
explain
why
a
strengths-based
approach
to
performance
feedback
is
superior
to
the
weaknesses-
centered
approach,
and
offer
nine
research-based
recommendations
on
how
to
deliver
effective
performance
feedback
employing
a
strengths-based
method.
#
2011
Kelley
School
of
Business,
Indiana
University.
All
rights
reserved.
*
Corresponding
author.
E-mail
address:
haguinis@indiana.edu
(H.
Aguinis).
0007-6813/$
see
front
matter
#
2011
Kelley
School
of
Business,
Indiana
University.
All
rights
reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2011.10.004
they
analyzed.
Furthermore,
employees
involved
in
a
qualitative
study
said
the
following
about
the
feedback
that
they
had
received:
‘The
feedback
meeting
is
a
conflict
meeting,’
‘It
was
devastat-
ing,’
‘The
process
was
a
waste
of
time,’
and
‘Feedback
equals
criticism
and
it
is
not
nice’
(Bouskila-Yam
&
Kluger,
2011).
The
discrepancy
between
performance
feedback’s
intended
and
ac-
tual
consequences
constitutes
a
major
concern
to
employees,
managers,
and
organizations.
Although
managers
share
an
intuitive
under-
standing
that
feedback
plays
a
crucial
role
in
im-
proving
individual
and
team
performance,
many
managers
do
not
know
how
to
deliver
feedback
effectively.
More
specifically,
managers
quite
fre-
quently
provide
feedback
in
a
manner
that
is
exces-
sively
focused
on
employees’
weaknesses.
Yet,
the
same
managers
are
typically
unaware
that
such
weaknesses-based
feedback
often
fails
to
improve
employee
performance.
To
fully
reap
the
benefits
of
using
feedback,
managers
should
instead
primarily
rely
on
a
strengths-based
approach
to
feedback
that
consists
of
identifying
employees’
areas
of
positive
behavior
and
results
that
stem
from
their
knowledge,
skills,
or
talents.
Next,
we
describe
the
traditional
weaknesses-centered
approach
to
feed-
back,
the
novel
strengths-based
approach,
and
why
the
strengths-based
approach
is
superior.
We
close
with
a
set
of
nine
research-based
recommendations
on
how
to
give
effective
performance
feedback
using
a
strengths-based
approach.
2.
The
traditional
weaknesses-based
approach
to
feedback
Under
the
weaknesses-based
approach
to
feedback,
managers
identify
their
employees’
weaknesses
(e.g.,
deficiencies
in
terms
of
their
job
performance,
knowledge,
and
skills);
provide
negative
feedback
on
what
the
employees
are
doing
wrong
or
what
the
employees
did
not
accomplish;
and,
finally,
ask
them
to
improve
their
behaviors
or
results
by
overcoming
their
weaknesses.
The
rationale
behind
weaknesses-
based
feedback
is
that
weaknesses
are
areas
where
employees
have
potential
to
improve,
and
it
is
as-
sumed
that
informing
them
of
these
problems
will
motivate
them
to
improve
their
performance.
In
other
words,
the
assumption
is
that,
absent
such
communication,
employees
will
not
improve
their
performance
(Steelman
&
Rutkowski,
2004).
Because
employees’
weaknesses
can
be
detri-
mental
to
not
only
individual
but
also
team
and
organizational
performance,
managers
often
point
out
what
the
employee
did
wrong
and
why
the
employee
needs
to
improve.
Such
negative
feedback
can
be
illustrated
with
the
following
con-
versation
between
Ton y,
a
branch
manager
at
a
bank,
and
Lisa,
a
teller
at
the
bank:
Tony:
Lisa,
you
haven’t
been
greeting
customers
by
saying,
‘Hi,
welcome
to
XYZ
Bank.’
We’ve
talked
about
this
a
number
of
times
now.
Lisa:
I
haven’t
done
it
a
couple
of
times,
but
I’m
getting
better.
Tony:
Okay;
well,
then,
I
need
you
to
do
even
better.
We
need
to
make
sure
that
we
receive
high
customer
service
rankings
so
that
we
can
get
a
big
bonus
at
the
end
of
the
year.
Lisa:
(Thinking
to
herself:
He
hasn’t
paid
any
at-
tention
to
what
I
have
been
doing.
I’ve
been
greeting
almost
all
of
my
customers
the
way
that
he
has
asked.
He
never
acknowledges
me
when
I
do
things
right
and
takes
it
for
granted,
but
he
sure
is
quick
to
point
out
any
relative
shortcomings.
What
a
jerk!)
Although
weaknesses-based
feedback
informs
employees
that
certain
behaviors
and
results
are
inappropriate
or
inadequate,
several
studies
have
concluded
that
such
feedback
entails
unintended
negative
consequences.
For
example,
negative
feedback
and
criticism
often
lead
to
employee
dis-
satisfaction,
defensive
reactions,
a
decreased
de-
sire
to
improve
individual
performance,
and
less
actual
improvement
in
the
same
(Burke,
Weitzel,
&
Weir,
1978;
Jawahar,
2010;
Kay,
Meyer,
&
French,
1965).
Negative
feedback
is
also
frequently
per-
ceived
as
being
inaccurate,
and
is
unlikely
to
be
accepted
by
the
person
receiving
it
(Fedor,
Eder,
&
Buckley,
1989;
Ilgen,
Fisher,
&
Taylor,
1979;
Steel-
man
&
Rutkowski,
2004).
When
feedback
is
focused
on
employee
weaknesses,
those
giving
the
feedback
generally
adopt
negative
views
of
and
attitudes
toward
the
employees
being
evaluated
(Gardner
&
Schermerhorn,
2004).
These
negative
conse-
quences
help
explain
the
general
lack
of
empirical
support
for
the
benefits
of
feedback
and
why
many
managers
have
not
experienced
significant
success
in
using
feedback
to
boost
employee
performance
(Kluger
&
DeNisi,
1996).
Next,
we
describe
an
alter-
native
and
superior
approach
to
feedback.
3.
The
superior
strengths-based
approach
to
feedback
Under
the
strengths-based
approach
to
feedback,
managers
identify
their
employees’
strengths
in
106
HUMAN
PERFORMANCE
terms
of
their
exceptional
job
performance,
knowl-
edge,
skills,
and
talents;
provide
positive
feedback
on
what
the
employees
are
doing
to
succeed
based
on
such
strengths;
and,
finally,
ask
them
to
maintain
or
improve
their
behaviors
or
results
by
making
continued
or
more
intensive
use
of
their
strengths.
The
reasons
behind
strengths-based
feedback
are
that
employee
strengths
are
of
great
potential
for
growth
and
development,
and
that
highlighting
how
these
strengths
can
generate
success
on
the
job
motivates
employees
to
intensify
the
use
of
their
strengths
to
produce
even
more
positive
behaviors
and
results
(Buckingham
&
Clifton,
2001).
In
contrast
to
weaknesses-based
feedback,
strengths-based
feedback
enjoys
a
significant
num-
ber
of
advantages
with
few,
if
any,
negative
con-
sequences.
For
example,
strengths-based
feedback
enhances
individual
well-being
and
engagement
(Clifton
&
Harter,
2003;
Seligman,
Steen,
Park,
&
Peterson,
2005).
This
effect
is
particularly
notewor-
thy
because
employee
engagement
is
negatively
related
to
turnover
(r
=
-.30)
and
positively
related
to
business-unit
performance
(r
=
.38)
(Clifton
&
Harter,
2003).
Strengths-based
feedback
also
tends
to
increase
employees’
desire
to
improve
their
productivity
(Jawahar,
2010)
and
heightens
actual
productivity
(Clifton
&
Harter,
2003).
Moreover,
employees
experience
increased
job
satisfaction,
perceptions
of
fairness,
and
motivation
to
improve
job
performance
when
their
managers
adopt
helpful
and
constructive
attitudes
that
are
typical
under
the
strengths-based
approach
(Burke
et
al.,
1978;
Seligman
&
Csikszentmihalyi,
2000).
Put
simply:
Given
its
documented
advantages,
the
strengths-based
approach
to
providing
feedback
is
a
superior
alternative
to
the
weaknesses-based
approach.
As
is
the
case
with
many
other
manage-
ment
practices,
however,
execution
is
key
(Bossidy
&
Charan,
2002).
For
instance,
managers
can
make
the
mistake
of
being
too
vague,
thereby
limiting
the
potential
performance
and
job
satisfaction-related
benefits
that
such
feedback
can
have
on
employees.
So,
what
can
managers
do
to
improve
the
effec-
tiveness
of
performance
feedback?
To
answer
this
question,
we
provide
nine
research-based
recom-
mendations
on
how
to
deliver
feedback
focused
on
a
strengths-based
approach.
4.
Research-based
recommendations
for
implementing
a
strengths-based
approach
to
performance
feedback
Table
1
represents
a
summary
of
our
nine
recom-
mendations.
Based
on
earlier
discussion,
our
first
recommendation
is
to
focus
on
a
strengths-based
approach.
The
strengths-based
approach
involves
identifying
strengths,
providing
positive
feedback
on
how
employees
are
using
their
strengths
to
ex-
hibit
desirable
behaviors
and
achieve
beneficial
results,
and
asking
them
to
maintain
or
improve
their
behaviors
or
results
by
making
continued
or
more
intensive
use
of
their
strengths.
The
second
recommendation
is
to
not
completely
abandon
a
discussion
of
weaknesses,
but
concentrate
on
employees’
knowledge
(i.e.,
facts
and
lessons
learned)
and
skills
(i.e.,
steps
of
an
activity)
rather
than
talents
(i.e.,
naturally
or
mainly
innately
recur-
ring
patterns
of
thought,
feeling,
and
behavior).
The
feedback
should
be
focused
thus
because
knowledge
and
skills
can
be
learned
and
improved,
while
talents
are
typically
inherent
to
the
individual.
Given
this
recommendation,
what
are
managers
to
do
when
an
employee’s
inappropriate
behaviors
or
inadequate
results
stem
from
weaknesses
in
certain
talents
rath-
er
than
weaknesses
in
knowledge
and
skills?
Our
next
recommendation
addresses
this
issue.
The
third
recommendation
is
that
managers
adopt
a
strengths-based
approach
to
managing
their
employees’
talent
weaknesses.
In
doing
so,
manag-
ers
can
follow
Buckingham
and
Clifton’s
(2001)
five
suggestions.
The
first
suggestion
is
to
help
employ-
ees
improve
a
bit
on
the
desired
talents.
But,
keep
in
mind
that
employees
are
unlikely
to
substantially
improve
the
talents
that
they
lack.
The
second
suggestion
is
that
both
managers
and
employees
should
design
a
support
system
that
will
serve
as
a
crutch
for
talent
weaknesses.
For
example,
em-
ployees
who
engage
in
public
speaking
can
remain
calm
by
imagining
that
the
audience
members
are
naked.
According
to
Buckingham
and
Clifton’s
third
suggestion,
managers
should
encourage
their
em-
ployees
to
see
how
their
strongest
talents
can
compensate
for
their
talent
weaknesses.
For
exam-
ple,
if
an
employee
possesses
the
talent
of
respon-
sibility
yet
struggles
in
networking
because
he
possesses
few
social
talents,
then
help
the
employ-
ee
see
that
networking
is
an
important
responsibili-
ty.
To
follow
the
fourth
suggestion,
make
it
easier
for
employees
to
work
with
partners
who
possess
the
talents
that
the
employees
lack.
The
fifth
and
final
suggestion
is
to
prevent
employees
from
engaging
in
tasks
that
strongly
require
talents
they
lack.
Ways
to
implement
this
last
suggestion
include
re-designing
jobs
for
employees
who
are
deficient
in
certain
talents
or
giving
other
employ-
ees
the
responsibilities
that
require
talents
certain
employees
lack.
The
fourth
recommendation
in
Table
1
is
that
the
person
providing
feedback
needs
to
be
familiar
with
the
individual
reviewee’s
knowledge,
skills,
and
HUMAN
PERFORMANCE
107
talents,
as
well
as
his
or
her
job
requirements
(Fulk,
Brief,
&
Barr,
1985;
Kinicki,
Prussia,
Wu,
&
Mckee-Ryan,
2004;
Landy,
Barnes,
&
Murphy,
1978;
Steelman
&
Rutkowski,
2004).
This
is
important
because
the
credibility
of
the
feedback
provider
can
be
quickly
lost
if
feedback
is
given
improperly.
An
example
of
feedback
coming
from
a
source
with
insufficient
familiarity
is
when
a
district
manager,
who
is
not
involved
in
the
day-to-day
operations
of
a
work
group
and
does
not
know
the
job
requirements
and
work
context
very
well,
visits
a
local
office
and
provides
feedback
that
is
based
on
hearsay
or
indi-
rect
third-party
information.
Our
fifth
specific
recommendation
is
to
choose
an
appropriate
setting
when
giving
feedback,
as
the
setting/location
in
which
feedback
is
delivered
truly
matters.
Specifically,
feedback
should
be
relayed
in
a
private
rather
than
public
setting.
Receiving
feed-
back
in
front
of
coworkers
can
be
very
demeaning
and
detrimental
to
the
employee.
Also,
although
most
people
do
not
have
a
problem
receiving
strengths-based
feedback
in
public,
managers
108
HUMAN
PERFORMANCE
Table
1.
Nine
recommendations
for
delivering
effective
performance
feedback
focusing
on
a
strengths-based
approach
Recommendation
Short
description
1.
Adopt
the
strengths-based
approach
as
the
primary
means
of
providing
feedback
Identify
employees’
strengths.
Provide
positive
feedback
on
how
employees
are
using
their
strengths
to
exhibit
desirable
behaviors
and
achieve
beneficial
results.
Ask
employees
to
maintain
or
improve
their
behaviors
or
results
by
making
continued
or
more
intensive
use
of
their
strengths.
2.
Closely
link
any
negative
feedback
to
employees’
knowledge
and
skills
rather
than
talents
Focus
weaknesses-based
feedback
on
knowledge
and
skills
(which
are
more
changeable)
rather
than
talents
(which
are
more
difficult
to
acquire).
3.
Adopt
a
strengths-based
approach
to
managing
employees’
talent
weaknesses
Help
employees
improve
a
bit
on
the
desired
talents
with
an
understanding
that
employees
are
unlikely
to
substantially
improve
the
talents
that
they
lack.
Create
a
support
system
that
will
serve
as
a
crutch
for
a
talent
weakness.
Encourage
employees
to
see
how
their
strongest
talents
can
compensate
for
their
talent
weaknesses.
Make
it
easier
for
employees
to
work
with
partners
who
possess
the
talents
that
they
lack.
Re-design
jobs
for
employees
who
are
deficient
in
certain
talents,
and
give
other
employees
the
responsibilities
that
require
talents
that
certain
employees
lack.
4.
Make
sure
the
person
providing
feedback
is
familiar
with
the
employee
and
the
employee’s
job
requirements
Make
sure
you
are
familiar
with
the
employee’s
knowledge,
skills,
and
talents.
Make
sure
you
are
familiar
with
the
employee’s
job
requirements
and
work
context.
5.
Choose
an
appropriate
setting
when
giving
feedback
Deliver
feedback
in
a
private
setting.
6.
Deliver
the
feedback
in
a
considerate
manner
Provide
at
least
three
pieces
of
positive
feedback
for
every
piece
of
negative
feedback.
Start
the
feedback
session
by
asking
the
employee
what
is
working.
Allow
employees
to
participate
in
the
feedback
process.
7.
Provide
feedback
that
is
specific
and
accurate
Avoid
making
general
statements
such
as
‘Good
job!’
Evaluate
and
give
feedback
closely
based
on
concrete
evidence.
8.
Tie
feedback
to
important
consequences
at
various
levels
throughout
the
organization
Explain
that
the
behaviors
exhibited
and
results
achieved
by
the
employee
have
an
important
impact
not
only
on
the
employee
in
terms
of
rewards
or
disciplinary
measures,
but
also
on
the
team,
unit,
or
even
organization.
9.
Follow
up Provide
specific
directions
by
including
a
development
plan
and
checking
up
on
any
progress
that
is
made
after
a
certain
period
of
time.
should
take
into
account
that
certain
individuals
may
be
uncomfortable
in
the
spotlight
of
public
praise
or
recognition.
Regardless
of
the
approach,
public
feedback
will
not
result
in
positive
conse-
quences
if
given
in
the
wrong
setting.
Our
sixth
recommendation
is
to
deliver
feedback
in
a
considerate
manner
(Steelman
&
Rutkowski,
2004).
One
way
of
doing
so
is
to
maintain
an
opti-
mal
ratio
between
strengths-
and
weaknesses-based
feedback.
That
is,
a
manager
should
provide
at
least
three
pieces
of
positive
feedback
for
every
piece
of
negative
feedback
(Bouskila-Yam
&
Kluger,
2011).
Another
way
of
providing
feedback
in
a
considerate
manner
is
to
start
the
feedback
by
asking
the
em-
ployee
what
is
working
(Foster
&
Lloyd,
2007).
Doing
so
allows
the
employee
to
feel
more
hopeful
regard-
ing
their
future
and
remain
less
defensive
when
negative
feedback
is
given
(Foster
&
Lloyd,
2007).
Finally,
we
also
encourage
managers
to
allow
em-
ployees
to
participate
in
the
feedback
process.
Employees’
satisfaction
with
their
given
feedback
increases
and
their
defensiveness
decreases
when
they
have
an
active
role
in
the
feedback
process
(Cawley,
Keeping,
&
Levy,
1998).
Our
seventh
recommendation
is
that
feedback
should
be
specific
and
accurate.
It
should
center
on
certain
work
behaviors
and
results,
as
well
as
the
situations
in
which
these
were
observed
(Goodman,
Wood,
&
Hendrickx,
2004).
Avoid
making
general
statements
such
as
‘‘Go o d
job,’
‘‘Youre
struggling
today,’
or
‘‘Pi ck
up
the
pace.’
Lack
of
specificity
will
result
in
failure
to
get
the
message
through
(Aguinis,
2009).
In
addition
to
being
specific,
feedback
must
be
accurate
(Elicker,
Levy,
&
Hall,
2006;
Steelman
&
Rutkowski,
2004).
One
way
to
maximize
accuracy
is
to
rely
on
concrete
evidence
(Jawahar,
2010).
Under
our
eighth
recommendation,
we
encour-
age
managers
to
give
feedback
that
ties
employee
behaviors
and
results
to
other
important
conse-
quences
at
various
levels
throughout
the
organization
(Aguinis,
2009).
Specifically,
the
person
providing
feedback
should
explain
that
the
behaviors
exhib-
ited
and
results
achieved
by
the
employee
have
an
important
impact
on
not
only
the
employee
in
terms
of
rewards
or
disciplinary
measures,
but
also
that
person’s
team,
unit,
and
even
organization
(Aguinis,
2009).
If
employees’
behaviors
and
results
are
not
explained
as
being
closely
linked
to
other
important
outcomes,
employees
might
develop
the
impression
that
their
positive
behaviors
and
results
produced
by
their
strengths
are
not
sufficiently
beneficial
or
im-
portant;
they
may
similarly
think
that
their
negative
behaviors
and
results
are
not
particularly
detrimental
or
significant.
Finally,
our
ninth
recommendation
is
to
follow
up
on
feedback
(Aguinis,
2009).
Doing
so
entails
providing
specific
directions
to
the
employee
through
a
development
plan,
as
well
as
checking
up
on
any
progress
that
is
made
after
a
certain
period
of
time.
Via
such
diligence,
employees
will
recognize
that
the
feedback
should
be
taken
seriously.
5.
How
it’s
done:
The
nine
principles
of
effective
performance
feedback
at
play
How
would
our
recommended
principles
of
feedback
play
out
in
an
actual
feedback
session?
Recall
the
conversation
between
Tony
and
Lisa
that
we
used
previously
to
provide
an
example
of
concepts
related
to
feedback.
Now,
consider
the
following
vignette
in
which
Tony
has
been
informally
observ-
ing
Lisa’s
performance
and
decides
to
provide
feed-
back,
both
because
of
things
she
did
well
and
areas
in
which
she
could
improve
when
interacting
with
customers:
Tony:
Lisa,
after
helping
the
remaining
customers
in
line,
will
you
come
talk
to
me
in
my
office?
I
want
to
compliment
you
on
the
great
work
you
have
been
doing.
I
also
want
to
talk
about
areas
in
which
you
can
improve
to
become
even
better.
(10
minutes
later)
Tony:
Come
in,
Lisa;
have
a
seat.
As
I
mentioned
earlier,
I
want
to
talk
to
you
about
some
of
the
great
things
that
you’ve
been
doing
lately,
as
well
as
areas
where
you
can
improve.
I’d
like
this
time
to
be
about
how
I
can
help
you
be
your
very
best.
Lisa:
I
hope
I
have
been
doing
well.
I’ve
been
trying.
Tony:
I
can
tell.
Specifically,
in
what
ways
do
you
feel
like
you’ve
been
standing
out?
Lisa:
Well,
maybe
it’s
just
me,
but
I
hate
it
when
our
customers
have
to
wait
in
line.
Because
of
this,
I
really
try
my
best
to
work
quickly
so
that
people
don’t
have
to
wait
so
long.
Tony:
That’s
really
good.
In
fact,
our
monthly
fig-
ures
show
that
of
all
the
tellers
during
the
month
of
April,
you
conducted
the
most
transactions.
How
does
that
make
you
feel?
Lisa:
Really?
I
even
took
a
few
vacation
days
last
month.
HUMAN
PERFORMANCE
109
Tony:
And
because
of
your
great
work,
we
have
a
$50
gift
card
for
you.
Lisa:
Wow,
thanks!
Tony:
Obviously,
you’re
great
at
being
quick
and
efficient
when
working
with
customers.
How
do
you
feel
this
affects
the
quality
of
inter-
actions
that
you
have
with
them?
Lisa:
I’m
not
sure.
I
can
see
that
I
could
probably
be
more
engaging,
but
I
figure
our
customers
just
want
to
get
in
and
get
out.
I
mean,
I
always
make
sure
that
I
greet
them
and
ask
how
their
day
is
going.
So,
I
feel
like
I
have
a
good
balance
between
speed
and
quality.
Tony:
I
like
how
you
are
maintaining
such
a
good
balance;
that’s
why
you’re
one
of
our
most
accomplished
employees.
At
the
same
time,
I
want
to
fulfill
my
duty
of
helping
you
become
even
better,
so
I’d
appreciate
your
reflection
on
our
monthly
teller
goal
of
15
referrals
for
new
bank
accounts,
checking
accounts,
and
credit
cards.
Last
month
you
had
four
refer-
rals,
and
so
far
this
month
you’ve
acquired
two.
How
do
you
feel
you’re
doing
in
this
area?
Lisa:
I
guess
I’m
not
doing
as
well
as
I
probably
could.
I
get
so
concerned
with
moving
people
through
the
line
that
I
forget
to
ask
them
if
they
want
to
start
up
new
accounts.
Tony:
I
see.
So
it
seems
that
you
are
more
likely
to
ask
for
referrals
when
there
isn’t
a
line,
but
when
there
is
a
line,
you
have
a
tendency
to
not
ask
for
referrals.
I
want
you
to
remember
that
your
monthly
bonus
and
the
bank’s
over-
all
yearly
bonus
are
tied
directly
to
the
num-
ber
of
referrals
you
get.
I
want
you
to
be
happy
with
your
bonuses,
so
what
do
you
think
you
can
do
better?
Lisa:
Now
that
I
think
about
it,
I
do
typically
ask
for
referrals
when
there
isn’t
a
line.
I
don’t
know.
I
always
see
the
prompting
on
the
computer
screen
before
I
end
a
transaction,
but
I
just
don’t
want
to
inconvenience
the
people
standing
in
line.
Tony:
Preventing
customer
inconvenience
is
an
im-
portant
aspect
of
the
job.
So,
what
if,
rather
than
asking
people
at
the
end
of
transactions
whether
they’re
interested
in
a
new
account,
you
instead
ask
them
while
you
are
running
their
transactions?
Lisa:
Hmm,
that’s
actually
a
good
idea.
I
always
just
think
about
it
after
I
am
done
with
the
transaction.
Let
me
give
it
a
shot
the
next
few
days
and
see
how
it
goes.
Tony:
Great.
I’ll
follow
up
with
you
at
the
end
of
the
week.
Why
don’t
we
plan
on
having
another
conversation
like
this
before
you
go
to
lunch
on
Friday?
Lisa:
That
sounds
good.
I’ll
look
forward
to
it.
Thanks!
In
this
vignette,
Tony
followed
nearly
all
of
the
recommendations
for
effective
strengths-based
feedback.
He
began
the
interview
by
praising
and
discussing
in
detail
Lisa’s
strengths,
but
he
did
not
shy
away
from
discussing
her
weaknesses,
either.
Tony
emphasized
how
Lisa
can
use
her
strengths
to
improve
performance
even
further,
and
demon-
strated
that
he
was
familiar
with
the
work
Lisa
was
doing.
By
establishing
a
proper
setting
in
which
to
provide
his
feedback,
Tony
guaranteed
that
the
conversation
was
confidential,
thereby
limiting
any
defensiveness
on
Lisa’s
part.
To
ensure
Lisa
that
he
was
providing
credible
feedback,
Tony
was
consid-
erate
and
very
specific.
Although
Tony
did
not
dis-
cuss
three
positive
pieces
of
feedback
for
each
piece
of
negative
feedback,
he
did
provide
Lisa
with
a
reward
in
the
form
of
a
gift
card,
which
probably
made
her
more
open
to
the
weaknesses-based
feed-
back
that
he
provided.
In
addition,
Tony’s
feedback
was
based
on
concrete
evidence;
for
example,
he
was
able
to
motivate
Lisa
to
mention
when
she
had
a
tendency
to
ask
for
referrals
and
when
she
did
not.
Ton y
also
discussed
how
Lisa’s
lack
of
referrals
tied
into
specific
rewards,
demonstrating
that
referrals
were
important
to
her
as
well
as
to
the
bank.
Finally,
Ton y
gave
Lisa
some
time
to
improve
her
behavior
and
then
established
when
he
could
follow
up
with
her.
6.
Conclusion
The
purpose
of
performance
feedback
is
to
improve
individual
and
team
performance,
as
well
as
em-
ployee
engagement,
motivation,
and
job
satisfac-
tion.
In
this
article,
we
described
two
alternative
approaches
to
feedback:
the
traditional
weaknesses-
based
approach
and
the
superior
strengths-based
approach.
There
are
significant
negative
conse-
quences
associated
with
the
exclusive
use
of
the
weaknesses-based
approach.
Accordingly,
managers
should
primarily
adopt
a
strengths-based
approach,
which
focuses
on
what
employees
do
well
and
encourages
the
continued
and
further
use
of
110
HUMAN
PERFORMANCE
these
strengths.
Table
1
provides
a
summary
of
nine
specific
recommendations
on
how
to
deliver
feed-
back
using
a
strengths-based
approach.
Following
these
recommendations
will
not
only
improve
future
performance,
but
also
make
it
easier
for
managers
to
deliver
feedback
that
will
result
in
important
benefits
for
employees,
managers,
and
organizations.
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HUMAN
PERFORMANCE
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... Second, without performance information, managers cannot provide sound and meaningful feedback to employees to improve their performance in the future. Frequent and ongoing feedback not only provides continuity to employees' professional development, but it also helps employees feel a sense of connection and psychological safety (Aguinis et al., 2012a;Wilken, 2020). Especially at the time of extensive remote working, "a lack of immediate access to a manager increases the need for organizations to put [feedback] mechanics in place to force them to happen versus organically" (Vozza, 2020), said Rhiannon Staples, chief marketing officer of Hibob, an HR management platform. ...
... Therefore, giving the employees enough time to process and absorb the feedback solicited from the two open-ended questions and incorporating a debrief of the qualitative feedback during the performance conversation between employees and managers are critically important. The feedback can be used to help employees identify areas of strengths and improvements and to establish new developmental goals to address suggestions in response to the two open-ended questions (Aguinis et al., 2012a). Also, this feedback can be used to identify additional resources (e.g., training, improved IT support) that may be needed to improve performance. ...
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Many organizations are curtailing or even abandoning performance management because of difficulties measuring performance and disruptions in performance-based pay due to the COVID-19 crisis. Contrary to this growing and troubling trend, we argue that it is especially important during the crisis to not only continue but also strengthen performance management to communicate a firm's strategic direction, collect valuable business data, provide critical feedback to individuals and workgroups, protect organizations from legal risks, and retain top talent. To do so, we offer a solution to overcome the challenges associated with measuring performance during a crisis. Specifically, we extend and expand upon the well-established Net Promoter Score measure in marketing and introduce the Performance Promoter Score (PPS) to measure performance. We offer evidence-based recommendations for collecting PPS information for individuals, workgroups, and other collectives, computing a Net Performance Promoter Score (NPPS); using multiple sources of performance data, and using PPS for administrative and developmental purposes as well as to provide more frequent performance check-ins. PPS is a convenient, practical, relevant, and useful performance measure during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is also an innovation that will be useful long after the pandemic is over.
... As noted earlier, strengths-based leaders can proactively take actions to help subordinates to identify, develop and use their strengths. For example, strengths-based leaders motivate subordinates to recognise their strengths by strengths-based performance feedback (Aguinis et al., 2012); leaders can provide subordinates with autonomy support to facilitate them to work on their strengths (Kong & Ho, 2016). These intervention behaviours beneficial to strengths use are able to boost WWB. ...
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Purpose: The current article aims to develop and validate the strengths-based leadership (SBL) scale and to explore the association of SBL with task performance and the roles of work-related well-being (WWB) and work pressure in the relationship.Design/methodology/approach: The exploratory factor and the confirmatory factor analyses were applied to assess the validity and reliability of the SBL scale. A total of 342 employees (female = 54.1%; mean age = 30.37 years, standard deviation [SD] = 5.90 years) from various Chinese enterprises were used to test the association of SBL with task performance.Findings/results: The results revealed that the two-dimensional SBL scale shows appropriate validity and reliability, and SBL is positively correlated with task performance. In addition, we also found that WWB acts as a mediator in the SBL-task performance linkage, and work pressure can enhance the direct association of SBL with WWB and the indirect association of SBL with task performance via WWB.Practical implication: Our findings have some significant managerial implications in promoting employees’ task performance and research on SBL provides a new insight into leadership development.Originality/value: This article provides a useful tool to measure the SBL construct and is the first to empirically examine the effects of SBL.
... For another, given that deficit correction contributes to strengthening the indirect impact of strengths use on innovative behavior via positive effect, organizations should adopt a balanced approach regarding strengths use and deficit correction to motivate employees to execute innovative behavior. Previous research has suggested that strengths-based performance feedback not only focuses on how to stimulate the strengths use of employees but also helps employees fix their weaknesses (Aguinis et al., 2012). Therefore, employer organizations should design and implement a strengths-based performance feedback institution to elicit employee innovative behavior. ...
Article
Purpose This study aims to investigate the mediating role of positive affect and the moderating role of deficit correction in the relationship between employee strengths use and innovative behavior. Design/methodology/approach This study adopted a three-wave research design to gather data. A convenience sample of 189 employees working in diverse organizations in China was applied to examine the hypotheses. Findings The results indicated that employee strengths use was positively related to innovative behavior, and positive affect mediated the relationship between employee strengths use and innovative behavior. In addition, deficit correction enhanced the direct relationship of employee strengths use with positive affect and the indirect relationship of employee strengths use with innovative behavior through positive affect. Originality/value The current study contributes to the existing literature on employee strengths use-innovative behavior relationships by revealing positive affect as a mediator and deficit correction as a moderator between employee strengths use and innovative behavior.
... On the basis of positive psychology, a movement (The Positive Organization; Positive HRM) has been set in motion in performance management that aims to identify and develop people's strengths rather than highlighting their weaknesses (Aguinis, Gottfredson, & Joo, 2012;Buckingham & Goodall, 2015). The reason is that people have already heard enough about their weaknesses and are often reluctant to respond to negative feedback. ...
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Traditionally performance management has been described as a powerful tool in Human Resource Management (HRM) because it has potentially a wide array of application possibilities for various HR topics. However, the reality in practice is different. Various surveys reported that more than 90 percent of the performance management systems are unsuccessful. Further studies have shown that up to 75% of staff feel that their organization’s performance management system does not help them to improve their performance and is largely a waste of time (e.g., Capelli & Tavis, 2016; Pulakos, 2009). Economic analyses of the return on investment (as compared to the costs and time spent) on performance management activities appear to confirm these negative perceptions (e.g., CEB, 2012). What are the reasons for failure in the area of performance management? In this article, we aim to identify the main problems with the current performance management systems. At the same time, we aim to present a wide array of possible solutions to these recurring issues. All of this should further stimulate the debate about how to revamp performance management systems in organizations.
... As a leader, one way that you can practice strength spotting with your team members is through giving Strengths Feedback. Effective performance feedback has been shown to increase engagement and enjoyment with the job (Aguinis, Gottfredson, & Joo, 2012). One strategy for providing this type of feedback is to not only use strengths to highlight what the employee is doing well, but also to encourage improvement in areas where there is opportunity for improvement. ...
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Higher education is greatly in need of leaders that are able to empower campus stakeholders to solve growing and complex challenges. Globalization, diversity, technology, social change, and other modern day challenges require a collaborative approach to leadership and problem-solving (Kezar, Carducci, & Contreras-McGavin, 2006). The science of positive psychology and positive organizational scholarship have made great advances in understanding what type of practices fuel collaboration and well-being among teams. This paper explores the elements that generate energy and connection at the individual and group level. Intended to be developed into a micro-course for campus leaders, this paper introduces actionable strategies that can be applied across administrative teams on campus to fuel institutional transformation from within.
... Ling (2019) stated this process as the level of an individual in understanding the feedback provided by the supervisor and able to interpret and perceive the intentions of the source. The delivery process needs a more constructive approach according to employee strengths rather than their faults or weaknesses (Aguinis, Gottfredson, & Joo, 2012). In this way, employees can feel appreciated and will be paying more attention to their work goals, which in turn can improve their work efficiency. ...
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Prolonged stress can cause teachers to have a bad impact on students and their teaching. This will make teachers lose their ability to teach. These problems will indirectly affect the teacher's career adaptability. This study intended to determine the significant relationship between feedback environment and career adaptability among Primary School teachers in Kuching. There were 76 respondents randomly selected to participate in this study. Data were collected using the questionnaire. Pearson correlation and multiple linear regression analysis techniques were used to analyze the data collected. The results show that feedback credibility, quality feedback, favorable feedback, and feedback seeking behavior have a positive and significant relationship with the dimension of career adaptability which includes career concern, career control, career curiosity and career confidence. The findings have shown feedback delivery and feedback availability do not have a significant relationship with all the dimensions of career adaptability. The study further identified that the significant effect of career adaptability. The results found that there is a significant relationship between the two significant predictor variables (feedback credibility and feedback quality) with career adaptability. The analysis results have shown that the combination model of feedback credibility and feedback quality appears to be significant toward career adaptability among the teachers. Thus, the study concludes that there is a significant relationship between feedback environment and career adaptability and on the other hand feedback credibility and feedback quality has a significant influence on career adaptability. The findings of this study indicate that there is a need for top management to create a feedback environment in career adaptability by emphasizing the credibility and quality of individuals in delivering the feedback in their work organization.
... Second, the finding concerning the mediating role of POS for strengths use in the CSE-job performance relationship means that it is an important pathway of improving job performance to facilitate employees to experience higher levels of organizational support for strengths use. For example, organizations can adopt strengths-based recruitment (Bibb 2016), strengths-based performance appraisal and feedback (Bouskila-Yam and Kluger 2011;Aguinis et al. 2012;van Woerkom and de Bruijn 2016) to elevate POS for strengths use of employees. ...
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between core self-evaluation (CSE) and innovative behavior and the mediating role of perceived organizational support for strengths use (POS for strengths use) in the associations of CSE with job performance, particularly, task performance and employee innovative behavior. A three-wave survey research design was applied to collect data from 157 full-time employees working in various organizations in China. Structural equation modelling was employed to examine our predictions. Results demonstrated that CSE has a positive effect on innovative behavior. More importantly, POS for strengths use significantly and partially mediated the associations of CSE with task performance and innovative behavior. This study contributes to unlocking the “black box” in the relationships between CSE and task performance and innovative behavior by investigating the mediating role of POS for strengths use in these relationships.
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This quantitative study aimed to determine the relationship of the feedback environment practices towards school climate. A total of 129 secondary schools’ teachers randomly from Kanowit district in Malaysia participated in the study. The results of the descriptive analysis showed that the level of the feedback environment practices based on the teachers’ perception is below-average. In terms of school climate, both collaboration and student relation dimensions have gained the above-average level while school resources dimension, decision-making dimension, and instructional innovation dimension have obtained the below-average level. Specifically, the study also found that the dimensions of feedback credibility, feedback quality, feedback delivery, and encourage feedback-seeking behaviour significantly influence on school climate. Therefore, organizational leaders must emphasize the existence of the feedback environment in the workplace as an injection into the school climate to ensure high performance among employees.
Article
Full-text available
This quantitative study aimed to determine the relationship of the feedback environment practices towards school climate. A total of 129 secondary schools’ teachers randomly from Kanowit district in Malaysia participated in the study. The results of the descriptive analysis showed that the level of the feedback environment practices based on the teachers’ perception is below-average. In terms of school climate, both collaboration and student relation dimensions have gained the above-average level while the school resources dimension, decision-making dimension, and instructional innovation dimension have obtained the below-average level. Specifically, the study also found that the dimensions of feedback credibility, feedback quality, feedback delivery, and encourage feedback-seeking behaviour significantly influence on school climate. Therefore, organizational leaders must emphasize the existence of the feedback environment in the workplace as an injection into the school climate to ensure high performance among employees.
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether perceived organizational support for strength use (POSSU) predicts employee thriving at work and the underlying mechanisms that explain this relationship. Design/methodology/approach The analysis is based on data from an online, time-lagged survey of 209 employees. Latent moderated structural equations (LMS) method was used to test the mediating role of job crafting and meaningfulness and the moderating role of core self-evaluation (CSE) in the organizational support-employee thriving relationship. Findings POSSU has a direct, positive relationship with employee thriving at work. Moreover, this relationship is fully mediated by employees' job crafting (as an agentic work behavior) and meaningfulness (as a resource produced at work). In addition, contextual factor of POSSU synergistically interacts with individual characteristic of CSE to foster thriving at work. Research limitations/implications Based on a time-lagged survey, causal relationships cannot be drawn from this study. Results point to future research that can incorporate specific types of work climate and organizational practices in a multilevel design to investigate how context at team, unit and organizational levels impact employee thriving. Practical implications The study results highlight the importance of fostering employee thriving at work by implementing organizational practices that create supportive, innovative and meaningful workplaces. Management needs to pay close attention to develop a supportive organizational climate geared to identifying, developing and utilizing employees' strengths. Originality/value This study provides theoretical explanations and empirical tests on the mechanisms linking organization support and employee thriving based on the socially embedded model of thriving.
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The relationship between participation in the performance appraisal process and various employee reactions was explored through the meta-analysis of 27 studies containing 32 individual samples. The overall relationship (rho) between participation and employee reactions, corrected for unreliability, was .61. Various conceptualizations and operationalizations of participation and employee reactions also were discussed and analyzed. Overall, appraisal participation was most strongly related to satisfaction, and value-expressive participation (i.e., participation for the sake of having one's "voice" heard) had a stronger relationship with most of the reaction criteria than did instrumental participation (i.e., participation for the purpose of influencing the end result). The results are discussed within the framework of organizational justice.
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Executive Overview Performance feedback is an important part of many organizational interventions. Managers typically assume that providing employees with feedback about their performance makes it more likely that performance on the job will be improved. Despite the prevalence of feedback mechanisms in management interventions, however, feedback is not always as effective as is typically assumed. In this article, we present specific conditions under which feedback might be less effective, or even harmful. We then discuss the implications of our results and model for designing of interventions aimed at improving performance, and focus more narrowly on 360-degree appraisal systems. After arguing that these systems typically have design characteristics that reduce effectiveness, we conclude with recommendations for improving their effectiveness. We also emphasize the need for systematic evaluations of feedback interventions.
Article
Full-text available
Many supervisors and subordinates hate performance appraisal exercises. Moreover, the benefits of performance appraisals for organizations are questionable. To address these challenges, we participated in the development of an alternative Strength-Based Performance Appraisal (SBPA) and a goal setting process, considering ideas both from performance appraisals practitioners and from Positive Psychology scholars. SBPA emphasizes learning from success stories using the Feedforward interview [Kluger A.N. and Nir D., 2009. The feedforward interview. Human Resource Management Review 20,235–246.], reflected best self [Roberts L.M., Dutton J.E., Spreitzer C.M., Heaphy E.D., Quinn R.E. 2005. Composing the reflected best-self portrait: Building pathways for becoming extraordinary in work organizations Academy of Management Review 30(4),712–736], finding new ways to use existing strengths (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005) and a win–win approach (Pruitt & Rubin, 1986). However, SBPA does not avoid negative feedback; it constrains it for prevention-focus behaviors, where it appears to be effective in increasing motivation and performance [Van-Dijk D. & Kluger A.N. 2004. Feedback sign effect on motivation: Is it moderated by regulatory focus? Applied Psychology: An International Review, 53(1), 113–135]. Following an elaboration of the theoretical rationale of SBPA, we describe a case study of applying SBPA at SodaStream (formerly Soda-Club), coupled with an initial evaluation of its impact. We conclude with lessons learned from the first implementation, followed by a call for replications.
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Individual performance is a building block of organizational success. Not surprisingly, virtually all organizations have in place some type of performance management system. Yet, managers and employees are equally skeptical that performance management adds value; usually, it is seen as a waste of time and resources. We argue that the potential benefits of performance management are not realized because most systems focus exclusively on narrow and evaluative aspects such as performance appraisal. Herein, we offer a broader view of performance management, including discussion of how it differs from performance appraisal. We highlight specific and important benefits of performance management for employees, managers, and organizations. We also describe research-based conclusions regarding how performance management systems should be designed and implemented to realize these benefits. We hope our article will demonstrate that well-constructed performance management systems should not be hated, but rather embraced.
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Previous research indicates that unfavorable feedback, even unfavorable feedback provided for developmental purposes only, is not perceived as useful, results in negative reactions and is not associated with a recipient's willingness to change his or her behavior. This study examined the extent to which contextual variables mitigate these unwanted effects of developmental unfavorable feedback. Results indicate that employees are more motivated to improve their job performance based on unfavorable feedback when the feedback source is perceived to be credible, the feedback is of high quality and the feedback is delivered in a considerate manner.
Article
Performance feedback is an important part of many organizational interventions. Managers typically assume that providing employees with feedback about their performance makes it more likely that performance on the job will be improved. Despite the prevalence of feedback mechanisms in management interventions, however, feedback is not always as effective as is typically assumed. In this article, we present specific conditions under which feedback might be less effective, or even harmful. We then discuss the implications of our results and model for designing of interventions aimed at improving performance, and focus more narrowly on 360-degree appraisal systems. After arguing that these systems typically have design characteristics that reduce effectiveness, we conclude with recommendations for improving their effectiveness. We also emphasize the need for systematic evaluations of feedback interventions.
Article
Employee perceptions of the fairness and accuracy of a performance evaluation system were examined by means of a questionnaire administered to all exempt managerial and professional employees of a large manufacturing organization. Primary (N = 355) and hold-out (N = 356) samples were identified, and a forward stepwise multiple regression analysis was performed on the primary sample. Cross-validation indicated that a 5-variable linear composite accounted for 29% of the variance in the dependent variable. Frequency of evaluation, identification of goals to eliminate weaknesses, and supervisor knowledge of a subordinate's level of performance and job duties were significantly related to perceptions of fairness and accuracy of performance evaluation. (3 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Although feedback is advocated as a means for influencing performance, empirical investigations indicate that the effect of feedback on performance is not uniformly positive. In the proposed model, reactions to feedback, not feedback per se, influence performance. In response to the lack of research on causal mechanisms linking feedback to performance and calls for such research, reactions are proposed to mediate the influence of feedback-related characteristics on performance. Feedback-related characteristics central to models of performance feedback that also corresponded with the three characteristics of the due process model served as antecedents to reactions. Using longitudinal data and previous performance as a control variable, results of structural equation modeling evidenced strong support for the proposed model as antecedents substantially related to ratees’ reactions, and ratees’ reactions indeed influenced subsequent performance. Organizations should design appraisal systems in accordance with the due process framework and train managers in conducting feedback discussions. Specific implications of results for researchers and practitioners are discussed.