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Reason _3:

Too Little Coaching and

Feedback

The manager needs to look

at the employee not as a

problem to be solved, but

as a person to be

understood.

Just in case you need more evidence that lack of performance coaching and

feedback is a major cause of employee disengagement and turnover, here

are some survey results to consider:

The number one cause of performance problems in 60 percent of

companies is poor or insufficient feedback from supervisors.1

A survey of 1,149 people at seventy-nine different companies found

that manager feedback and coaching skills were consistently rated as

mediocre.2

Forty-one percent of employees believe their managers have no effect

whatsoever on their performance, and 14 percent said their manager

actually made the job harder.3

Only 39 percent of managers said that their company is very effective

at providing candid feedback.4

Only 35 percent of workers identified by their companies as highly

talented feel the company tells them openly and candidly where they

stand.5

It has been estimated that approximately 50 percent of the nonperformance

problems in business occur because of the lack of feedback, and

about 50 percent of what appear to be motivational problems in business

are actually feedback problems.6

Saratoga’s post-exit survey comments of voluntarily departed employees

testify to the role that lack of feedback and coaching played in their

decisions to leave:

‘‘Not enough feedback from supervisors.’’

‘‘There is not much feedback on job performance.’’

‘‘Managers need to coach employees.’’

‘‘There is no feedback from any of the supervisors on how jobs are

being done.’’

‘‘In my three years of working at XYZ Company, I never had a job

description or an evaluation.’’

‘‘ABC Company needs to pay a lot more attention to letting employees

know how they perform.’’

‘‘As an employer, XYZ Company doesn’t keep its employees updated

enough on their errors, so that we know where we stand in

our positions.We don’t know what we’ve done wrong until an error

is made because we aren’t notified of process changes ahead of time.’’

‘‘Management needs to take a little more time to explain what they

expect so I would be more inclined to work and perform.’’

‘‘The formal performance evaluations are geared more towards the

number of mistakes rather than the number of positive contributions.’’

‘‘Managers are never around, never seem to keep up on reviews, and

pay increases always seem to be delayed.’’

‘‘Managers don’t handle issues with troubled employees well. They

seem to not like confrontation with employees who don’t produce

or don’t give good customer service.’’

‘‘This company tends to have managers who are more involved in

the small time politics of the workplace rather than rewarding and

disciplining based on performance. There have been times when supervisors

have acted in a vindictive, self-serving manner.’’

‘‘Managers should start following up with disciplinary measures for

those who blatantly disregard the rules.’’

‘‘The company will bend over backwards to keep employees that are

performing below average.’’

‘‘ABC Company does not expeditiously hire, discipline, or terminate

employees.

‘‘XYZ Company must pay more attention to letting employees

know how they perform.’’

‘‘They tell you everything you do wrong and nothing you do right.’’

‘‘I’m not sure that this statement applies to all of ABC Company, but

as far as the office I work in, they dwell too much on what an employee

does wrong, far more than what an employee does right.’’

‘‘XYZ Company needs to address negative issues of employees because

these negative issues affect the department as a whole.’’

‘‘ABC Company does not communicate expectations, provide

timely feedback, or conduct timely performance evaluations. There

is also a lack of trust between employees and management.’’

‘‘Performance reviews are given out on a whim, it seems.’’

‘‘I feel like nobody cares about the work I am doing.’’

These comments provide ample evidence that opportunities to build

competence, trust, hope, and worth through coaching and feedback have

been lost. They also reveal several underlying problems:

Many managers are not paying attention to the people they supervise.

Performance feedback is occurring irregularly or not happening at

all.

Basic expectations and changes in work procedures are not being

communicated.

Nonperformance is not being addressed.

Too much emphasis is being placed on criticism and not enough on

praise.

Managers are allowing themselves to be influenced by politics, favoritism,

and other factors besides objective performance.

Employees themselves may be reluctant to seek feedback.

Why Coaching and Feedback Are Important to

Engagement and Retention

Performance coaching and feedback is essential for employees because it

helps them to answer four basic questions:

1. Where are we going as a company?

2. How are we getting there?

3. How do you expect me to contribute?

4. How am I doing?

The answers to these questions constitute much of what gives meaning

to an employee’s efforts. We all have a basic need to exercise competence

and to know that our talents have been used to make a valuable contribution.

At times, our own ability to see the impact of our contributions is

clouded by the fact that we may be removed from the end result, or limited

by our own narrow perspectives.

Companies need to give feedback and coaching to make sure that employees’

efforts stay aligned with organizational and unit goals and the expectations

of direct supervisors. This alignment is a necessary precondition

for employee engagement.

One survey found that 80 percent of employees who had been coached

by their managers felt a strong sense of commitment to their organization,

versus 46 percent of employees who received no coaching.7

The goal of retaining employees through coaching and feedback is

really a secondary one. The engagement of employees to enhance performance

is the main goal. Much of the coaching and feedback managers do

will always be directed at unsuccessful attempts to get nonperformers to

meet expectations. Knowing when to continue coaching and when to discontinue

and make the tough decision to terminate is a decision all managers

will inevitably have to make. Just as you don’t have a goal of making

everyone you meet a lifelong friend, you will likewise not try to retain

every employee you manage and attempt to coach.