Why won't managers talk to their staff about performance?

Why don't managers give employees regular feedback on their performance? Why do they often wait for the appraisal to do so?

Over the past 18 years I have talked to thousands of employees and this is a common complain across all industry groups.

For example, I recall speaking to an 18-year-old female fresh out of school and nine months into her first job in an SME. She was quite distressed. Melinda had not received any feedback from her boss in nine months on the job. I asked Melinda whether she would like me to approach her manager on her behalf and ask him if he could let her know how she was settling into her first job. Melinda was quite enthusiastic about this prospect and I subsequently approached her boss, Ted. I proceeded to explain to Ted that Melinda was concerned that she had not received any feedback from him since she had started and suggested that he sit her down and explain how she was doing in her work. Before I could finish my sentence, Ted interrupted me and said, ‘No, I can’t do that.’ There was an uncomfortable pause in our conversation. I said, ‘May I ask why you can’t do this?’ I was thinking there must be some rational explanation. Ted retorted, ‘If I do that for Melinda, I will have to do that for all my staff.’ I was rendered speechless.

I think one of the main reasons is that managers are predominantly rewarded on the basis of achieving certain outcomes and therefore maintainance and developmental conversations are not on the priority list.

Do you agree, or do you have another possible reason?

This is an extract from my latest book - The End of the Performance Review: A New Approach to Appraising Employee Performance (Palgrave Macmillan) out in early October.

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