Feedback: It’s all it cracked up to be!

Brett D. Christensen, Workplace Performance, Sept 08, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is a nice discussion of feedback based on the example of traffic signs. Brett Christensen talks about the signs in his town that display your speed as you drive by; they're used to encourage better behaviour in things like school zones. And they work, but only under certain conditions. The sign should provide feedback on your actual performance. It should be located where there's a real need, and if it's a permanant installation, people will get used to it, and it will be ignored. That explains why the speed sign in my village of Casselman is moved around town. And it explains why it strobes when I'm going too fast (but not why it strobes when I am travelling at precisely the speed limit). "The key," says Christensen, "is (1) appropriate feedback can increase performance, (2) too much won’t have that same positive effect and (3) when you are the person providing the feedback, asking your employee... could help you find that sweet spot!"

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