Friday, March 14, 2014

Why High Performers Are Your Worst Source of Employee Feedback

In a recent conversation among HR practitioners, the talk turned to employee feedback. One HR Manager stated that he was going to stop conducting exit interviews and instead switch to Stay Interviews of High Performers.

What he doesn't know is that high performers are your worst form of employee feedback.

Here's why: 

a) High Performers are optimists.  High performing employees always see the cup as 3/4 full, even when it's half full. That's one of the reasons they perform so well.  They naturally focus in on all that is right while problems roll right off their back without them ever noticing.

b) High Performers don't complain. One of the things we love so much about high-po employees is that they are not complainers.  They don't gossip. They aren't dragged into the muck like ordinary employees. If you ask a high-po about some of the challenges they face, they are likely to smile and say that everything is just fine, thank you.

c) High Performers have a higher breaking point than others.  Things have to be really bad before a high performer will begin to consider other external opportunity.  Because of this high tolerance level, high po employees are not impacted by 80% of the irritations that are driving others out the door.

d) High Performers usually leave due to Pull not Push factors.  Because high performers are generally satisfied and find happiness in whatever they do, they themselves are unable to articulate what would cause them to leave. They can not tell you what is wrong because nothing is wrong, until an amazing opportunity elsewhere presents itself.

There is simply no way that high performing employees can help identify future reasons for turnover among themselves and other employees.

Does this mean that Stay Interviews with top performers are a waste of time? Absolutely not.  Stay interviews are something that every good manager should conduct with their staff. Especially their high performers. It's Management 101 to get to know what motivates your staff.

HR Managers, on the other hand,  should not rely on stay interviews to uncover systemic weaknesses across the organization that drive employee turnover.  The time for HR and Senior Leaders to be listening to high performers (and others) is by examining their exit interviews.  Only when high performers are leaving, are they able to see, understand and express the challenges that cause other high performers to consider opportunities that come there way.


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