Germans separate the personal from the professional. Feedback addresses strictly performance. It is given in a neutral and unemotional way. Feedback, whether positive or negative, is not meant personally.
Americans link the personal with the professional. Feedback addresses primarily performance, but takes in to consideration how it will be received, thus affect future performance. Feedback on one‘s work is feedback on that individual. Feedback is by definition personal.
The American approach is too subjective, personal, almost cozy. A psychotherapist versus a demanding teacher.
The German separation of personal and professional is too impersonal, removed, cold. A stern teacher versus an inspiring coach.
Advice to Germans
As in all communication with Americans, soften your tone, see your interaction not only as between two functions within an organization, but also as between two people. Your American team member or colleague will not lose sight of the fact of the former.
Advice to Americans
The German business culture favors more of a teacher-student relationship than coach-player. If you lead Germans, cultivate more of a teacher-student relationship with your German team-members.
Add a little distance between yourself and your German reports. You will not come across as disinterested or uncaring, but as clear-headed, focused on progress.