Negative Feedback Reduces Employee Networking

Networks are crucial to most employees' success. A solid network provides an employee with the information and support needed to carry out projects and achieve goals. From personality traits to skills or the work environment, many factors can influence an employee's ability to develop and consolidate a reliable network. Recent research at Grenoble Ecole de Management analyzed the impact of performance evaluations on employee networks.


"Confidence is an essential part of developing your network." explains Andrew Parker, an assistant professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management and the author of this latest study on performance evaluations. "It's harder to go knock on doors when you're feeling down.

And a negative evaluation can definitely lower an employee's confidence. So it's essential to consider the impact of an evaluation on an employee's future performance."

Negative feedback hampers the desire for new relationships

The key finding of this latest study is the fact that an employee who receives a negative evaluation is generally less willing to develop new ties. "It's interesting to note that employees with negative evaluations don't necessarily spend less time networking. But they tend to reallocate their time to focus on people they already know. They choose the safer option." adds Andrew.

The desire to expand one's network requires a certain degree of risk-taking. Unfortunately we only have a limited amount of time and enthusiasm to confront risky situations. "Think of negative feedback as a shock to everyday life. Other shocks, such as working in a stressful and demanding environment can have the same impact. It all comes down to self-confidence. When your confidence takes a hit, it's harder to be outgoing." says Andrew.

Positive feedback boosts employee networking

Unsurprisingly, the researcher also highlights that positive feedback has the opposite effect. "Employees tend to consolidate their existing network regardless of whether they receive positive or negative feedback. However, our research clearly indicates that employees with positive feedback were more willing to try and expand their network. This difference is particularly important for managers giving negative feedback as developing an employee's network is often part of the solution to improve his or her performance."

Creating a positive impact from negative feedback

Networks provide employees with information and support to carry out their tasks. When an employee receives negative feedback, this poor performance can often be improved by having better access to information and support from colleagues. To take advantage of this Andrew explains that: "It's essential for managers to mitigate the impact of negative feedback. You have to frame feedback so that an employee leaves the evaluation with concrete ideas to improve. You can provide practical information on how the organization can support the employee thanks to mentoring or training for example."

"Obviously, networking is not the only factor that affects job performance. But it's important for managers and their employees to be aware of the value of a network. Not all employees are conscious of the important role played by their network. It can be useful to share this awareness during an evaluation. A good place to start is simply sharing advice on how to strategically develop one's network and how this can improve job performance." concludes Andrew.