Original Research

Does positive feedback support the stronger and weaken the weaker? The effects of supervisors’ positive feedback on newcomers’ task performance in the first 90 days

Atnafu A. Wondim, Wenbing Wu, Wen Wu, Mingyu Zhang, Pan Liu
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 52, No 1 | a2165 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v52i1.2165 | © 2021 Atnafu A. Wondim, Wenbing Wu, Wen Wu, Mingyu Zhang, Pan Liu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 June 2020 | Published: 20 October 2021

About the author(s)

Atnafu A. Wondim, Department of Business Management, School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University Beijing, China
Wenbing Wu, Department of Business Management, School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University Beijing, China
Wen Wu, Department of Business Management, School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University Beijing, China
Mingyu Zhang, Department of Business Management, School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University Beijing, China
Pan Liu, Department of Business Management, School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University Beijing, China


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Abstract

Purpose: This study aims to provide empirical evidence of how supervisors’ positive feedback plays a crucial role in newcomers’ task performance in the first 90 days of their employment.

Design/methodology/approach: Data for this study were collected from newcomers and their immediate supervisors in a large high-tech manufacturing company in northern China. The study used a structured questionnaire to gather data from 229 newcomer-supervisor dyads, which were analysed through the application of structural equation modelling.

Findings/results: The findings revealed that supervisors’ positive feedback positively affects newcomers’ task performance. The supervisors’ positive feedback enhances the task performance of newcomers’ by promoting energy and information seeking at work. In addition, the study also revealed that intrinsic motivation as a moderator strengthens the relationship between supervisors’ positive feedback and newcomers’ energy at work.

Practical implications: Organiszations should place emphasis on supervisors’ positive feedback and newcomers’ level of intrinsic motivation in order to attain better performance in the workplace.

Originality/value: This study highlights the need for organisations to pay attention to the dual roles of supervisors’ positive feedback and the intrinsic motivation of newcomers’ in improving task performance. Supervisors’ positive feedback boosts newcomers’ energy at work and aids their task performance when intrinsic motivation is high rather than low.


Keywords

positive feedback; energy at work; conservation of resources; tool; performance; workplace

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