Specificity of performance appraisal feedback, trust in manager, and job attitudes: A serial mediation model
Kwangsu Moon (Chung-Ang University), 2020, 47(6), e7567.

Performance appraisals can be a tricky task to negotiate—especially when a manager identifies areas for improvement in an employee’s performance. The person receiving the appraisal may feel they are being judged unfairly and react defensively rather than taking on board any suggestions for improvement, while the person giving the appraisal may struggle to strike the right balance between supporting or rewarding positives and trying to address negatives. On the first page of this paper the author, Kwangsu Moon, mentions a study in which “79% of employees reported a negative reaction to their organization’s performance appraisal process.” I was interested to read that almost 4 out of 5 people had reacted in this way and may consequently have rejected even well-meant advice from their managers! Clearly there are some flaws in the methods used to provide employees with performance-related feedback if that is a common outcome of the process. Moon also noted that appraisal systems that lack structure or consistency can result in additional negative outcomes among employees, such as decreased job satisfaction and performance. 

To help with determining how to design effective feedback interventions, in this paper Moon examined feedback acceptance as a mediator of the relationships between the degree of detail provided in performance feedback, how much the recipient trusts the manager delivering the feedback, and the recipient’s job satisfaction and job involvement. Feedback specificity and trust in manager were found to have significant direct and indirect relationships with feedback acceptance and job satisfaction, and job satisfaction also had a direct effect on job involvement. On the basis of these findings, Moon proposed several suggestions for ways managers can ensure they are perceived as credible sources of specific performance-related feedback, which will help increase employees’ job satisfaction and involvement, and decrease absenteeism and turnover.

As a limitation to this study, Moon notes that it was conducted in South Korea, which is a country characterized by strong collectivism and high power distance between managers and employees. I wonder if this affected how much trust the employees in this sample had in their managers, and whether the results would be similar or perhaps even more pronounced in countries with more individualistic tendencies and lower power distance relationships.

Sarah Krivan | Copyeditor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal