Deploying Feedback for Personal Learning in the Workplace: Leveraging Culture, Ritualization, and Technology
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CitationShukla, Stuti. 2019. Deploying Feedback for Personal Learning in the Workplace: Leveraging Culture, Ritualization, and Technology. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractFeedback interactions at the workplace are a staple of organizational life and have long been considered vital for advancing task performance, behavior adaptation, and fostering learning-oriented behaviors. Yet, giving and receiving feedback – especially when it is critical – within the dynamics of organizational life, and in a manner that advances learning tends to be intractably challenging. In particular, the complexity of the underlying mechanisms and processes by which organizational members navigate feedback interactions and learn from them remain a black box. Moreover, organizational literature highlights the role of feedback for catalyzing transformative learning where individuals can use the feedback to examine and potentially alter the assumptions and beliefs that lie at the root of their behaviors. However, the use of feedback for the improvement of the person in the workplace is unconventional, and it stands in contrast to the more common applications of feedback for enhancing performance, process, and product.
In this dissertation, I utilize organizational ethnography to examine the feedback culture at Next Jump, an organization with a novel approach to feedback. In this company, feedback is designed and implemented via various programs with the explicit goal of supporting the personal learning of the employees. Over a nine-month period, I conducted participant observations, interviews, and archival analysis to investigate how employees gave and received feedback; the beliefs and narratives from senior leadership members which shaped the design of the feedback architecture; and how employees interpreted and navigated their roles as givers and receivers of personal feedback.
The study revealed a feedback-rich culture in which feedback interactions were formalized and ritualized through various programs that took place at regular, frequent intervals. I first present the senior leaders’ beliefs and attitudes about the goal and nature of feedback. Next, I report on the nature of the feedback comments and highlight five interaction “moves” used by feedback givers when offering feedback. I found that distinct patterns of moves were used by members depending on whether they delivered the feedback in-person or anonymously, and also depending on the specific context in which feedback was offered. Finally, as I explore the personal experiences of employees in their roles as givers and receivers of feedback, I discover the threads of challenge, change, and confirmation in these myriad experiences.
This study contributes to a growing base of qualitative examinations of feedback interactions in the workplace which go beyond “snapshots” of single feedback interactions. It offers an opportunity to capture a contextualized understanding of a feedback-rich culture, its on-the-ground workings, and the process, opportunities, and challenges of catalyzing feedback into learning.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42081632