Feedback is thought to be essential in attaining a state of flow, or a complete immersion in one’s work (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). In order for flow to occur, people need to know how well they are performing at any given time. For example, some video games provide clear signals to show how well the gamer is performing by either advancing the gamer to a higher level in the game or rewarding the gamer with points that can be seen on the screen at all times. As with the importance of having clear goals, an absence of feedback allows people to become confused or aimless. DeNisi & Kluger (2000) built on this by reporting that ambiguous feedback is just as confusing as no feedback and is sometimes even detrimental to one’s performance. Unambiguous feedback is essential and significantly helps one to become more deeply focused on the goal of the task at hand.
There has been particularly extensive study on the effectiveness of different types of feedback. Some feedback consists of signals provided from the task itself, such as a light on a copy machine to show that the print job is in progress. Feedback can also come from one’s own standards of performance (Csikszentmihalyi, 2003). If the performance of some task is equal to one’s standards, a sense of a job well done is automatically experienced as a type of feedback. In many cases however, verbal feedback has notable bearing when it comes to affecting performance.
It is because of this connection of feedback to employee engagement at work that employers should consider the use of customer feedback to engage employees more fully. For example, if an employee is able to better understand the impact of his or her work on the life of a customer, it may be easier for the employee to feel connected to the purpose of the job. Our recent panel data shows that 58% of employees surveyed felt they received adequate feedback from customers on their performance which leaves some room for improvement. Connecting employees more fully with customer experience can manage how an employee connects with his or her work.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow. New York: Harper Perennial.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2003). Good business. London, England: Penguin Books.
DeNisi, A. S., & Kluger, A. N. (2000). Feedback effectiveness: Can 360-degree appraisals be improved? Academy of Management Executive, 14, 129-139.