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Frequent constructive feedback Feedback only when they screw up

Not all mismatches occur because of generational differences, but most

of us have certainly observed such situations and can vouch for the fact

that, if not openly discussed, any single mismatch can lead to conflict, lost

productivity, and turnover.

Allstate’s Written ‘‘Psychological Contract’’

Some employers, such as Allstate Insurance Company, have actually

created formal statements outlining what employee and employer can

expect from each other.

Because the company believes employee loyalty improves when

both company and employees clearly know what is expected, Allstate

provides this ‘‘partnership statement’’ to every employee:

You should expect Allstate to:

Offer work that is meaningful and challenging.

Promote an environment that encourages open and constructive

dialogue.

Recognize you for your accomplishments.

Provide competitive pay and rewards based on your performance.

Advise you on your performance through regular feedback.

Create learning opportunities through education and job assignments.

Support you in defining career goals.

Provide you with information and resources to perform successfully.

Promote an environment that is inclusive and free from bias.

Foster dignity and respect in all interactions.

Establish an environment that promotes a balance of work and

professional life.

Allstate expects you to:

Perform at levels that significantly increase the company’s ability

to outperform the competition.

Take on assignments critical to meeting business objectives.

Willingly listen and act upon feedback.

Demonstrate a high level of commitment to achieving company

goals.

Exhibit no bias in interactions with colleagues and customers.

Behave consistently with Allstate’s ethical standards.

Take personal responsibility for each transaction with customers

and for fostering their trust.

Continually improve processes to address customers’ needs.6

When an employee realizes that the employer cannot meet a key expectation

in the contract, there is often a feeling of having been betrayed,

as if a real contract has been broken in bad faith. This can become the

‘‘shock’’ or turning point that begins the downward cycle toward disengagement

and departure.

The more open the discussion that takes place about mutual expectations,

the more probability of a satisfactory match. This doesn’t happen as

frequently as it should, partly because interviewees often feel powerless in

the interview process and are reluctant to ask questions, and partly because

interviewers are too rushed, or are simply afraid that if they tell the whole

truth about the job or workplace, the recruit will not accept the offer.

The more clearly an employee understands his or her own expectations,

the higher the probability of a match. Many new employees fresh

out of college, however, are only dimly aware of their wants and needs.

The problem is compounded when the organization is also not clear about

what it expects, which is often the case.

Companies frequently make the mistake of thinking in terms of offering

‘‘the most’’ or receiving ‘‘the best,’’ when they would be better advised

to think in terms of ‘‘fit.’’ For example, many companies seek to hire only

the ‘‘top graduates’’ with the highest grade point averages, when some of

these individuals, because of their cerebral bent or analytical nature, may

not fit the company’s expectation that they become outgoing, street-smart

sales people.

If an employee and an employer discover after the hire that they have

a serious mismatch of expectations, it may be in their best interests to shake

hands and part ways. Of course, this is not always easy to do.

The psychological contract changes over time as the expectations of

the employee and the organization change. With each change in expectations,

open communication serves to keep both parties in alignment, or

may lead to a mutual agreement to renegotiate or break the contract.