Giving Feedback – Empathy or Attributions

This week, we have examined Chapter 4. Be sure to read the chapter before participating in the discussion board.
Our discussion board is going to focus on the Case Study entitled “Case Study: Giving Feedback – Empathy or Attributions?” on pages 556-557 of the eText. Please read through the case very carefully and then think about the issues covered in the case in light of the information that you learned in Chapter 4. Next, read through the questions at the end of the case. Lastly, answer the following question in your initial post:

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What are the behaviors that seem to bother Eileen?
What assumptions – explicit and implicit – do you think Eileen is operating under in this situation?
Of the assumptions that you have identified, which ones could Eileen check by simple research and inquiry? How could she do this?
What judgments and attributions is Eileen making?
What are some possible explanations for how Geoffrey sees this situation?
What feedback would you recommend Eileen give Geoffrey?
Give an alternative interpretation of this scenario that offers a version of what’s happening that is consistent with the events described, but that you think Eileen would disagree with?
Be sure to support your position with course materials from this week’s learnings.

Giving Feedback—Empathy or Attributions?—Case for Chapter 4 Sheila K. McGinnis Feedback is a critical management skill that pervades everything we do in organizations. Feedback is information about the effect we have on others. It is used to tell employees how well their actions have their intended effect and how well job performance meets expectations. Feedback helps employees see how others see them and their performance, find out about their blind spots, and learn how to improve performance.
Giving feedback means a manager has the difficult task of making judgments and delivering corrections or negative feedback.

Clearly, giving feedback requires sensitivity and empathy. One complicating factor in giving feedback is our tendency to make attributions about an employee’s motivations; we often make the mistake of trying to read others’ intentions and Eileen, an instructor in an interpersonal skills workshop, is troubled by the behavior of one of the workshop participants named Geoffrey. She feels that Geoffrey—a manager who is technically competent but seems unable to keep his staff team together for more than three months at a time—needs to see himself as his team members see him.

Over the three meetings the course has had so far, Eileen notices that Geoffrey lounges in his chair with a bored expression on his face without contributing to any of the discussions. At times he has taken out a newspaper and read the sports pages while Eileen is speaking.

To Eileen, this indicates an arrogance and hostility that will be severely dysfunctional for Geoffrey as he moves about the organization. 2 Scenario used with permission of Dr. Stephen D. Brookfield (2015).

Eileen decides to write essay papers and  memo to Geoffrey pointing out the effect his nonparticipation is having on the group. In the memo she picks out the specific behaviors of Geoffrey’s that bother her and points out their negative effect. She asks him to work on reducing these behaviors over the next two meetings and points out that, if he can eliminate these tendencies, his power and prestige in the organization will grow.
Discussion Questions
1. What are the behaviors that seem to bother Eileen?
2. What assumptions—explicit and implicit—do you think Eileen is operating under in this situation? Include as many as you can think of.
3. Of the assumptions you’ve identified, which ones could Eileen check by simple research and inquiry? How could she do this?
4. What judgments and attributions is Eileen making?
5. What are some possible explanations for how Geoffrey sees this situation?
6. What feedback would you recommend Eileen give Geoffrey? 7
. Give an alternative interpretation of this scenario that offers a version of what’s happening that is consistent with the events described, but that you think Eileen would disagree with.

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