Feedback and Job Fit

The workplace recipe of success.

Cropped image of sports girl who is switching on her fitbit before training while standing in fitness hall
George Rudy/Shutterstock

Fitbit is a wearable technology with the goal to make you a healthier person. Fitbit’s success comes from the constant feedback that allows the individual to monitor performance and make adjustments and continually move towards the performance goal.

The principles of constant feedback that Fitbit wearers use is remarkably similar to Joseph Folkman’s research collected from over 400,000 employees. His thesis states that individual development is a significant driver of employee engagement. He has proposed there are four key areas to help employee engagement and to no one’s surprise the focus is on feedback and job fit.

The four areas are:

  1. Bosses have to be skilled at giving feedback
  2. Employees need to be involved in development decisions
  3. Employee recognition is key
  4. The better the job fit the better the performance

None of these above insights should be new to the HR professional but what is interesting is that according to Folkman’s research, leaders who excel in these four areas have employees that are in the 80th percentile of employee satisfaction and engagement. Now that is something to strive for!

Click here to read greater details regarding Joseph Folkman’s research.

When looking at improving employee engagement remember feedback and job fit are key elements to have as part of your HR performance management system.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Research an additional article on employee engagement. Compare and contrast Joseph Foklman’s conclusion to your research article points.
  1. As feedback is key to employee engagement, what type of performance management system would you recommend to a manufacturing organization with 500 employees?

Does Someone Always Have To Be The Loser?


Road sign with arrows - Winners, Losers
Source: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock

During the course of your studies, you may have experienced a class where your grades were bell-curved or ranked in comparison with everyone else in the class.  The rationale for imposing this kind of grade rating system usually comes with an explanation related to institutional policy or some complicated methodology based on academic requirements.  As a result, bell curving or forced ranking systems are not used as a common approach for evaluating student performance.  Nevertheless, they do exist and continue to be used with varying degrees of success.

Does this type of forced ranking system translate into effective performance management for employees from a training and development perspective?  Based on a recent article from The Globe & Mail’s Leadership Lab series, the answer would seem to be a resounding “No.”

Click Here to Read the Article.

As noted in this article, forced employee ranking ensures that someone must be left standing on the bottom rung of the performance ladder in comparison to everyone else.  This happens even though the individual employee’s performance may be the same as his or her colleagues’.  How can this possibly act as a positive motivator for performance improvement and increased employee engagement?

One of the common remarks about forced ranking systems is that they provide an un-naturally skewed picture of the data or the group that is being evaluated.  If the data is skewed, then it would seem that a response to that data would also be skewed.

Again, from an employee learning perspective, it is imperative that any training and development programs are built from a basis of actual employee needs, and not from a system that forces individual performance evaluation into a larger group ranking.

Discussion questions:

  1. As a Human Resources professional, identify three benefits of forced employee ranking systems. When would this type of system be useful?
  2. How would you respond to your performance being managed by a bell-curve/forced employee ranking approach in your current (or previous) workplace?
  3. Do you believe that a forced employee ranking approach improves employee performance and provides positive motivation? Why or why not?

A Leprechaun’s Pot o’ Gold is waiting for you!

Feedback is gold!

March 17, is St. Patrick’s Day, the day the world goes green and dreams of leprechauns and their elusive Pot o’ Gold. Gold, for centuries, has always been considered a powerful storehouse of value. For the lucky Human Resources professional, effective feedback is a valuable pot of gold to be used in trying to improve employee performance.

Current research is becoming clearer and is starting to show that annual performance ranking systems do not improve employee performance.

Here are some research highlights from Deloitte University Press:

  • Today’s widespread ranking and ratings-based performance management process is damaging to employee engagement, alienating high performers, and costing managers valuable time.
  • Only 8 percent of companies report that their performance management process drives high levels of value, while 58 percent said it is not an effective use of valuable time.

Click Here to Read the Research Paper

What might be an effective alternative if these ineffective methods were no longer used?

We know organizational systems hate a vacuum; if we remove the annual performance rating system what do we replace it with? Feedback and coaching is the answer.

If we are going to implement a new performance management system we should learn how to provide feedback well. Georgia Murch, author of the new book, Fixing Feedback, outlines three mistakes that professionals make when giving employee feedback:

  1. People do not use enough facts
  2. The message is delivered poorly
  3. There is little opportunity for a two way dialogue

Click Here to Read the Article.

HR Professionals need to take a lead role and challenge existing performance management systems and replace them with systems that work.  Remember that any new HR initiative will only be as good as the individuals who are tasked with that initiative.  In the case of providing effective feedback, HR must ensure that we are modelling effective feedback methodology first and then second, we must ensure that supervisors are capable, trained and coached on how to give meaningful feedback to employees, second.

When we share the gold, we share the power and we share the learning, all with the goal to improve and provide effective HR practices.

 Discussion Questions:

  1. What research or evidence would you need to produce to convince your VP of HR to scrap the annual performance management system?
  2.  What type of supervisory training would you suggest for supervisors who have to now coach employees?