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Supervisory Support and Feedback Environment as Contextual Determinants of the Frequency of Feedback-Seeking Open Access

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Organizations spend millions of dollars on organizational strategies that are designed to boost proactive performance improvement and enhance effectiveness. A widely advocated strategy is feedback-seeking which refers to individuals’ conscious attempts to gather information from external sources about their own performance. Because of the limited attention devoted to contextual determinants in feedback-seeking literature, this exploratory study examined two possible contextual factors; supervisory support and feedback environment and their impact on the frequency of the two feedback-seeking strategies; monitoring and direct inquiry. Additionally, the mediating effects of both supervisory support and monitoring were examined in the overall model. Frequency of feedback- seeking was measured by the Feedback-Seeking Scale (Ashford, 1986). The feedback environment was measured by the Feedback Environment Scale (Steelman et al., 2004), while supervisory support was measured by the Survey of Perceived Supervisory Support Scale (Kottke & Sharafinski, 1988). A random sample of 126 employees from three service-based organizations that offer skilled nursing and rehabilitation services completed the questionnaire. Structural equation modeling with path analysis and effects was used to answer the study’s research questions and test its hypotheses. Data preparation took place prior to any analysis and interpretation. Less than 5% of data was found to be missing completely at random; which was deemed ignorable for likelihood-based imputation methods. In the current study, missing data was imputed via expectation maximization algorithm implanted in Mplus. In addition in order to increase the validity of data analysis, the following statistical assumptions were examined using SPSS 24: absence of univariate and multivariate outliers, assessing for linearity and confirming homoscedasticity of variables, evaluating for non-normality, and assessing for multicollinearity. All assumptions were met.For actual data analysis, the default method in Mplus; maximum likelihood estimation (ML), was used to estimate model parameters and test the fit of the measurement model first (the latent variable of feedback environment). Since this was an exploratory study in nature, modification indices were used to improve data-model fit. Two indices were found to be statistically significant; favorable feedback with source credibility and source availability with promotion of feedback-seeking. This produced a modified measurement model with a better data-model fit. Later, the structural part was re-inserted into the model and the fit indices provided acceptable fit. Model parameters, including standardized and unstandardized factor loadings, explained variance, and both direct and indirect effects were examined. The study findings suggest that favorable feedback environment leads to increase in the frequency of feedback seeking; and that employees’ perceptions of supervisory support is highly contingent on whether the feedback environment is favorable or not; the specific supervisory characteristics (i.e. credibility and ability to provide quality feedback) are more significant predictors of frequency of feedback-seeking and that the general perception of support is not in and by itself a significant predictor. Employees in a supportive environment will continue to use monitoring to evaluate their performance and will not depend solely on direct inquiry; and finally while both feedback-seeking strategies (i.e. monitoring and direct inquiry) could operate simultaneously, they are not interchangeable and that monitoring, in many situations precedes and predicts direct inquiry. Theoretical and practical implications as well as suggestions for future research were discussed.

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