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The Number One Reason People Leave an Organization

By Rick Van Natta

It's pretty common knowledge that people leave organizations because of the problems that they have with their direct supervisor. What's less common to understand is that the number one reason that people are leaving, is because of lack of feedback, or lack of appropriate feedback, specific to situations.

Holly Parks: 00:01  It's a myth that people don't want to hear how they're doing. They don't want to get information about the way that they're performing and it's really important for people to know what they're doing well and what they're not doing well so that they can be successful and it's a lot of times the self-talk of the supervisor is, "I don't want to do this. It's going to be hard. I don't want to say something that's going to make that person feel bad", but I think with feedback that there are some things to keep in mind. One is, that it needs to be specific. It needs to be about behaviors, and it needs to be about observable behaviors. It also needs to be about performance objectives or performance that is tied directly to their success. I think the intent that people use when they're giving feedback is important.

It's, "I want to help you succeed, I want you to be better," and so I want to give you both the positive, "You did well," and the negative that, "You didn't do so well," and it needs to be honest. People need to know that what you're telling them is the truth and you're not making stuff up to make them feel good or feel bad. I remember way back when I was working for somebody and I never got any feedback from them, and I was always wondering, "What am I doing well? What am I not doing well?" I just kinda did whatever I thought I could do, because I didn't know. One night I was out for dinner with him and my fiancé at the time, and he just turned to my fiancé and he said, "You know, she's damn good," and I thought to myself, "At what, what am I damn good at?"

Ron Schild: 02:10  I think that myth that people don't want it, all the challenges of doing it, the opposite to that is, the manager who believes that they're providing great feedback, "Oh, I tell my people all the time, they're doing a good job." I put that in the category of shallow feedback, telling someone they're doing a good job without explaining what they're doing, and why it's important for their success is very shallow. I had a boss too, that was an excellent, shallow feedback provider, telling me I was doing a good job, and my question in the back of my mind was, "I wonder if he can explain to me what I'm doing that's making my job successful?"

Joane Ramsey: 03:00  To that point, that's why I think it's important to create an environment of trust, because in your case, it would've been a perfect opportunity to be able to, if that environment was there, to be able to say to your boss, "You know, can you be a little bit more specific and help me understand what I'm good at it and what I'm doing great at?" I think the importance of two-way feedback, not only the manager being able to provide feedback; specific, timely, behavior-based, but also the opportunity of the person receiving the feedback, to have that two-way conversation. I think it's critical for a healthy organization and a healthy relationship between the manager and the direct report.

Rick Van Natta: 03:37  Absolutely. I would agree a 100 percent. I think that managers and supervisors who give feedback without specifics aren't actually telling their people anything. For feedback to be effective, it has to be timely, it has to be honest, and it has to be tied to something real that they can grasp, either that they're doing well, or that they need to improve or change direction a little bit. It's all key points, but bottom line is, supervisors have to provide regular feedback to their people.

Published: May 25, 2018


Rick Van Natta

Senior Consultant

Rick brings over 35 years experience in training and people performance. He has a “real-world, down to earth” approach to facilitation and coaching founded on his background in retail sales, specialty chemicals, marine drilling, and nuclear power plant operations having held positions ranging from Sales Representative through Director levels across the sales and operations functions in businesses. Rick also served in the US Navy nuclear power program retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer after 25 years where he was a certified Nuclear Instructor. He holds graduate degrees and certificates in Engineering, Environmental, and Human Resources Management, Business Administration, Lean Six Sigma, and Project Management.

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