Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Management and the Potential for Performance Improvement

TDblog had a posting last week citing figures from a survey conducted by Right Management about the frequency of career discussions between employees and their managers. More than a third – thirty-seven percent - of the 683 respondents reported that they never hold such discussions with their manager. Thirty percent reported doing so once a year, and around twenty-eight percent reported having career discussions two or more times annually. The numbers appear to indicate some pretty stark realities. The article however seems to indicate that only one question was asked: “How often do you engage in career discussions with your manager?” I see a potential problem here, in that the survey is remarkably short. How is the term “career discussion” defined in this survey? It appears fairly self-explanatory, butI would appreciate more detail and clarity.

Taking the results as given, it appears that several companies could be missing out on some significant performance improvement opportunities, especially if almost two thirds of them never talk to their people. A promising number however is the twenty-eight percent that have at least two discussions per year with managers. Granted this is barely more than a quarter of the companies polled according to the results given. However, pulling from a relatively small group of people this seems promising. What we don’t know is the potential size variance in the polled companies. Secondly, at what level within each company were the respondents?

The general takeaway of this story is the importance of feedback. This is Gilbert BEM Cell 1-level stuff. Thirty-seven percent of respondents is (apparently) receiving no feedback at all about their career. This contributes to wider systemic issues in a company, as employees just keep humming along doing what they’re doing and not sharing or building networks and skill sets internally to increase performance. I will have to seek more research on this question to determine the accuracy of these numbers, but in this tense economic climate, it’s as important as ever for management to keep close ties with employees and to develop resources internally, and in many cases externally with former employees.

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