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How employees react to unsolicited and solicited advice in the workplace: implications for using advice, learning, and performance

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Landis, B 
Fisher, CM 
Menges, JI 


Employees are often reluctant to ask for advice, despite its potential benefits. Giving employees unsolicited advice may be a way to realize the benefits of advice without relying on them to ask for it. However, for these benefits to surface, it is critical to understand how employees react to unsolicited and solicited advice. Here, we suggest that recipients are likely to attribute self-serving motives to those providing unsolicited advice and prosocial motives to those providing solicited advice. These motives shape the extent to which recipients use advice, learn from it, and perform better as a result of receiving it. In an organizational network study of unsolicited and solicited advice ties (Study 1), an experience-sampling study of daily episodes of receiving unsolicited and solicited advice across two workweeks (Study 2), and an experiment where we manipulated advice solicitation and whether the advisor was a friend or a coworker (Study 3), we found general support for our model. Moderation analyses revealed that recipient reactions were not affected by friendship with the advisor, the number of overlapping advice ties between the advisor and recipient, or the position of the advisor in the social network. By showing how perceptions of the advisor’s motive can explain variability in the impact of unsolicited and solicited advice on recipients, this research clarifies the recipient reactions that advisors must navigate if their advice is to have impact at work.



Emotions, Humans, Motivation, Workplace

Journal Title

Journal of Applied Psychology

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American Psychological Association


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