Boost Your Managers! Teach Them To Chase The Habit of Continuous Feedback

Article contributed by Allison Ebner

OK, I finally gave in. I am officially on TikTok. I resisted for a while but my 24-year old daughter got me hooked. I absolutely love the animal videos, especially the ones featuring crazy Golden Retrievers doing silly things. I guess that’s because my Golden does nutty things too and it really makes me laugh watching other people’s animals do silly things too.

As I was scrolling through the videos this weekend, I saw a fitness influencer talk about why we should not be making new year’s resolutions with end goals in mind but rather forming better habits: He called it ‘chase the habit’, not the goal. That really resonated with me. Instead of saying ‘I want to read 20 books in 2022’, try saying ‘I will make time to read for 30 minutes a day’. Or ‘I will get up every morning and put in 30 minutes of exercise’ instead of ‘I want to lose 20 pounds by Memorial Day’. So how does this relate to boosting your managers?

Recruiting new talent and retaining top talent will likely be one of your biggest challenges in 2022. Forbes estimates that the cost of turnover and replacing someone that leaves can be close to 33% of that person’ salary. YIKES! But you have an ace up your sleeve that can slow the turnover train in your organization and bridge the gap to higher retention and engagement: teach your managers to deliver feedback regularly. Teach them how to ‘chase the habit’ of consistent, regular feedback with their employees instead of just during the annual performance review or when issuing disciplinary measures and you will see the following results:

  • Increased employee engagement | More motivated employees
  • Better performance | A clear understanding of expectations
  • Improved two-way communication between managers and employees
  • The transition up or out for marginal performers
  • Improved company culture based on transparent expectations

Let’s face it – Our managers are sometimes uncomfortable delivering feedback in general, good or bad! But this one critical skill that you teach them is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s a muscle that needs to be trained and used and a habit that needs to be formed! But the payoff is well worth the effort that you put into it. Regular, consistent feedback delivered with a coaching mindset is a game changer for your retention efforts. Period. So how do we teach and coach our managers to develop and flex this new muscle? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Share the WIFM – “What’s in it for me?” They don’t want to see good people leave on their team either. It creates more work for them and the rest of the team to absorb work and train someone new.
  • Make regular feedback part of their job description and their personal goals. Outline the expectations up front for monthly or quarterly check in’s with their employees. Try the simple STOP, START, CONTINUE method of feedback. What should the employee stop doing, start doing or continue doing? By the way, the employee gets to use that same model to describe what they need from their manager during these conversations!
  • Here’s the rule: You have to start with TRUST. Everyone gets the benefit of the doubt until they break your trust. We balance trust, empathy and accountability at the same time and coach up from there.
  • Consider sending your Managers to training on this specific topic. The investment you make helping your leaders build this skill set is far less costly than experiencing high turnover. The caveat here is that you may find that some of your managers cannot rise to the occasion and meet these expectations. When this happens, you’ll need to decide if they should be repositioned to an individual contributor role (or even exited from the organization).

Our team here at EANE has developed some new leadership programs for 2022 that specifically address this critical issue for our members. One such program, The Art of Feedback, is a half-day program that can be done virtually or in-person for just your team or as a public program running virtually throughout the year. The facilitator for this program, Emmy Monticilli, shares some insights into why this program was important for her to create.