Earlier this year SACS undertook a major study into the reasons people leave their jobs. Over 2000 people, virtually equal numbers of men and women, and largely in what might be called “white collar” jobs completed a questionnaire to ask them why they left their most recent jobs. The answers were very interesting, and the top two represented both good news and bad news.

  • 35% of people left their jobs to take up more exciting opportunities – good news
  • 33% of people left their jobs because they did not get appropriate performance feedback – bad news

If people leave their jobs for a more exciting opportunity this is the most benign reason for organisations to lose talent. I find the fact that a third of the Australian professional workforce is changing jobs citing a lack of clear performance feedback a big concern. I think that there are two key reasons for this:

  • The fact that jobs are extremely poorly defined. I will write a blog post about this in the near future. The majority of job definitions do not contribute to role clarity, and this makes it extremely difficult to have effective performance conversations.
  • The average performance development process in organisations simply does not work.

There are a number of reasons why performance development processes typically do not work, but here are just a few:

  1. They are too complicated. I get a chance to review many performance development systems in my job and most of them are unnecessarily cumbersome. Research suggests that if your performance development system deals with more than a maximum of seven things it will be too diffuse to create clarity or change behaviours.
  2. They are too standard. Many performance development systems tend to use click box competency ratings which implicitly assume that all employees are similar. This is nonsense. The only performance development processes which work are those which are tailored to the unique situation of a particular leader with a particular staff member.
  3. They focus on the wrong things. I believe the key success factor in performance development is to make it a learning exercise. If you set up your performance conversation as an evaluation exercise this will tend to result in defensiveness on the part of staff and therefore make change almost unachievable.

Click here to find out about my masterclass in performance development, where we will show you how to optimise your performance development system based on the latest research evidence.

Andrew Marty
Managing Director
SACS Consulting

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