Feedback scores are most effective when they are accurate and realistic. When in doubt, Germans are deflationary. The school grading system is: 1 is sehr gut (very good); 2 is gut (good); 3 is befriedigend (satisfactory); 4 is ausreichend (sufficient); 5 is mangelhaft (insufficient); F is ungenügend (failed).
Feedback scores are most effective when they are accurate and realistic enough, but also motivating. When in doubt, Americans are inflationary. The school grading system is: A is excellent; B is very good; C is good; D is unsatisfactory; F is failure.
American team leads give inflationary scores. Germans expect – and even welcome – negative feedback as orientation and to sharpen their sense of self-critique. Weak performance is described by Americans in sugar-coated terms, which over time lose credibility.
German grades come across as deflationary, thus demotivating, confusing, potentially unjust. The American receiver of German feedback is confused about “where I really stand.”
Advice to Germans
You‘re getting better scores than in Germany. Be careful. Don‘t let it go to your head. Knock it down by ½ a grade. Look for an opportunity to speak with your American lead alone. Insist diplomatically that he/she spell out more directly where your weaknesses are. If you lead Americans, erring on the side of praise and motivation has to take the concrete form of higher scores. Inflate them by ½ a grade.
Advice to Americans
If your team lead is German, understated praise will come in the form of understated scores. Take it based on the German, not the American, scale. If you feel the assessment is inaccurate or unjust raise the subject carefully, for you could be seen as a coddled American who can‘t take criticism.
If you lead Germans, deflate the scores you give by ½ of a grade. Reduce the sugar coating. Germans can take criticism. If their weaknesses are not addressed, if improvement measures are not recommended, they‘ll draw the conclusion that you‘re either incapable or unwilling to analyze and recommend how they can become better players. And that‘s weak leadership.