NeuroLeadership Summit: Better Feedback Can Drive 34% Lower Attrition

While several members of our team are hustling out in Las Vegas for this year’s HR Technology Conference, our CEO Rajeev Behera got to spend some time in New York City for the annual NeuroLeadership Summit.

This year’s panel titled “Next in Performance Management: Feedback Management” featured distinguished panelists from trailblazing companies and institutions such as Microsoft, HP, NYU, and of course, Reflektive.

Feedback is cumbersome and stressful when we fail to focus on the frequency and quality Click To Tweet

The session, moderated by Beth Jones from the NeuroLeadership Institute, touched on the current trends in feedback performance management and focused on the role that feedback plays in successful performance management solutions.

Truth is, we got feedback wrong –

It’s no secret that the performance management revolution has taken off in the past two years, but with all of this change comes a challenge in defining and refining what it really means to give and receive feedback.

Initially, we got feedback all wrong. Companies were right in realizing that traditional performance management needed to be disrupted and replaced with more resilient processes, but they put all of their focus into feedback without defining what good feedback really is.

Feedback is great when we do it well, but it is cumbersome and stressful when we fail to focus on the frequency and quality of the conversations.

All panelists were in agreement that in order to increase employee engagement and retention, feedback conversations need to be more future-focused, rather than appraisals of past performance. Personal and career development is consistently a top-rated quality in the world’s best places to work, so why are we so focused on what employees did nine, ten, eleven months ago?

90 percent of companies that implemented continuous performance management saw an increase in employee engagement.

Additionally, the realization that employees increasingly crave professional development is changing the purpose of performance management from evaluation to development.

Unsurprisingly, when companies focus solely on evaluating past performance, employee engagement plummets, and with it, so do business objectives.

The good news is that of companies that implemented some sort of continuous performance management system, a whopping 90 percent saw an increase in employee engagement, according to a study by Deloitte. Data also shows that organizations that use real-time feedback have 34 percent lower attrition rates than those who do not.

When implementing performance management systems, many companies struggle to find a cadence that works for them. Perhaps they want quarterly check-ins and real-time feedback, or they might want want real-time feedback with a more frequent monthly check-in.

Once companies are able to find a balance in the frequency of their more formal check-in conversations, they are able to populate those conversations with information from real-time feedback — making the process more time and cost effective.

How we can get feedback right –

First, as mentioned above, it is important for organizations to have both structured and organic feedback in order to have more effective conversations.

By looking at feedback from the perspective of the giver and receiver, we become more sympathetic to the challenges that come with feedback conversations.

Traditionally, we don’t have a say in how we receive feedback, making it very stressful for the receiver. Feedback can often feel like social rejection and it often puts a strain on social relationships if it is not done right, which is bad for engagement and can have an effect on overall company culture.

With that in mind, here’s a new approach to feedback: stop giving it.

Instead, start asking for feedback.

By asking for feedback, both givers and receivers feel less threatened, receivers can get feedback quicker and more frequently, and they can ask several people, which in turn can help reduce the bias involved in the process.

The best way to get honest and meaningful feedback is to simply ask for it.

Panelist Tessa V. West from NYU presented research data that suggested that employees who give unsolicited feedback tend to be nicer and more positive in their feedback, which is often times less honest and certainly less constructive.

This is why the best way to get honest and meaningful feedback is to simply ask for it.

The best way to implement a requesting feedback culture is to encourage managers to normalize the asking behavior. If managers ask for feedback, employees are more inclined to do so as well, which creates a whole culture of feedback within your organization.

As Rajeev said in his final thoughts, “Everyone is growing and everyone has flaws.” So, remember to be patient with the process and with time it will become frictionless.