Alice NewAlice NewSeptember 11, 2019
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10min1520

Ranked in the global top 10 of the most desirable companies to work for, Netflix is an employer that clearly gives a great deal back to its employees in terms of salary, culture, and development opportunities.

However, it also expects a lot in return and is well-known for its unusual performance assessment method, the so called ‘Keeper Test’.

Instead of having traditional appraisals and annual reviews, Netflix has introduced a permanent evaluation process. Managers and team leaders are encouraged to ask themselves a simple question of colleagues: “If an employee told me he or she had found another job, would I do my best to keep him or her at Netflix?”

If the answer is “no”, the employee in question may be reviewed and eased out of the organisation.

That might be an extreme approach, but they are not alone. An ever-growing number of leading companies, especially those in the technology sectors, are moving away from traditional top down performance reviews and taking a continuous approach instead. Rather than highlighting room for improvement, often when it’s too late, their aim is to emphasise the positive, offering personal development and opportunities for growth.

One simple way companies can enable a continuous feedback approach is to introduce the concept of ‘good talks’. These are regular – but not necessarily informal – conversations, intended to engage, motivate, inspire, and improve employee productivity.

They replace the need for expensive formal assessment interviews conducted twice a year and mean that any issues can be addressed more quickly, before they become serious problems. This is an important factor.

More people leave their employer because of a poor relationship with the line manager and a dearth of development opportunities than for any other reason, including salary. Millennials in particular find that a non-hierarchical working relationship, with opportunities for continuous feedback, is very important, according to research conducted by Careerwise.

Five key ingredients for ‘good talks’

1. Flat hierarchy: Before the good conversations approach can be introduced, there needs to be equality in the relationship between a manager and their team members and an open company culture. There needs to be a feeling that people can speak openly and be listened to, without facing negative consequences.

2. Being well prepared: To be able to give your employees continuous feedback, it’s important to have a clear end goal and ask relevant questions. You also need to understand what motivates the person involved. Is it money, flexibility, autonomy, status or social interaction for instance? And offer them appropriate development opportunities.

Preparation should also include spending time observing their behaviour before any conversations start. This way you can go into depth during your talks and offer opportunities that will motivate them to achieve the best for themselves.

3. Introduce measurable changes: To ensure that routine conversations can become viable replacements for an annual review, implement the following measurable changes…

  • Increase the number of talks held per year. This can vary from once a month to having one every three months. It’s up to the manager and employee to agree the most worthwhile frequency to suit their goals.
  • Hand over ownership of these conversations to employees and make them more involved. Let them take the lead when preparing and handling mutual conversations and give them the opportunity to influence the right outcomes.

4. Ask the right questions: When preparing for good conversations, managers can consider the following questions as a starting point for a useful discussion.

  • What do changes in market/technology/society/politics require of my team, now and in the long term?
  • What influence do internal developments have on the expertise and skills of my team within the next three years?
  • How do I see the future of my team?
  • What are the three most important goals for my team in the coming years?
  • Which competences and skills are already available for this, and which are not?
  • How do I facilitate and stimulate a culture where learning and development are common?
  • To what extent am I an example when it comes to (career) development?
  • Who, or what, do I need to keep my team up to date?

5. Encourage employees to ask questions like these:

  • What developments do I see in my field and in the environment in the coming years?
  • Do I expect my position to change in the future?
  • How do I view this expected change?
  • Are other requirements set for me to continue to function well in the future?
  • What questions do I have about this with my supervisor?
  • What changes in the personal sphere do I experience and what does this mean for my development?
  • What do I need to keep functioning well and to keep work that suits me?

The best companies are moving away from formal review meetings held once or twice a year, and introducing continuous feedback loops instead. Rather than let poor performance and dissatisfaction or insecurity set in, informal discussions highlight any issues quickly, employees gain more insight into how current performance impacts strategic goals and have the chance to adjust as necessary.

Employees who receive regular feedback on their performance in an informal way enjoy their work more. When people feel listened to and have a say in work processes, their motivation gets a boost and this is always good for business.


Alice NewAlice NewMay 2, 2019
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7min1184

We all understand the importance of employees having a growth mindset and engaging in lifelong learning.

These are essential habits to foster at a cultural level to maximise Customer Experience. What’s interesting is that attitudes among employees, particularly for voluntary learning and building on soft skills, has changed. Having the chance to develop personally and “put my talents to good use” is one of the top five things that employees of all age groups value most in life and we also know that learning is a key driver of workplace happiness and employee engagement.

This was cited as very important by 80 percent of working adults in our recent study at GoodHabitz. It shows that people want the opportunity to keep on learning and challenging themselves, especially when it means they can learn new skills that benefit them personally and professionally. Lifelong learning has finally become accepted as an integral part of working life and this is true across all educational backgrounds.

Interestingly though, in the same way that appetites for learning are increasing, so too is the expectation that employers also need to allow for time off work to facilitate learning. Eighty-six percent of employees in our study thought they should be given time off during working hours to dedicate to learning and development, with 23 percent expecting this as standard – a 10 percent increase on previous years.

One-in-five employees believed that professional learning should only take place during working hours. That might be acceptable for compliance based training, but for life skills like time management, dealing with stress, influence and negotiation, that’s just not feasible.

For employers to free up time and deliver in line with these high expectations requires a shift away from traditional classroom study to online methods. It’s not economically viable otherwise. More significantly, it requires a change in thinking away from expecting employees to complete online courses in one sitting, to being able to dip in and out of their learning, to suit competing time constraints.

We know from experience that if you ask employees – especially the ones in customer facing roles – what stops them from undertaking voluntary training courses, the vast majority will state “a lack of time”. Even the most engaged learners can only dedicate five or 10 minutes a day at best. We need to be facilitating what Josh Bersin describes as “learning in the flow of work”, in which employees have the chance to learn constantly, when it suits them, taking advantage of odd moments.

They might be on the train, waiting for a conference call to start (or maybe even during the call if it’s a dull one), whilst eating lunch at their desks, or as a podcast when sitting in traffic. Provided the training content has been designed to allow for micro-learning, there is no reason why this isn’t equally or even more effective than completing an entire course in a single setting.

Researchers have shown that when information is delivered in small chunks, it’s much easier to retain and the learning process is much more efficient – almost 20 percent higher. It more closely matches the brain’s ability to process information and recall is much higher. This is because learners can work at their own pace, they are not overwhelmed with information and most importantly, they are in the right ‘zone’ to learn. Typically, micro-learning content addresses only one or two learning objectives, but psychologists have measured that it generates, on average, four to five learned takeaways.

For micro-learning to be really successful, it needs a mindset shift at the organisational level. Ten minutes spent learning about presenting for success for example, is much better than nothing. It might have been just enough to give the person the tips they needed to improve performance. That’s learning in the flow of work.

To embed that into an organisations’ culture, we need to stop ticking boxes or measuring completion rates and instead look at the wider ‘diversity of learning’ that’s happening. The ‘completer finisher’ learning attitude has come about as a result of classroom-based training. A person had to be present to get their certificate of completion and from traditional e-learning that was compliance focused. Personal development is different and much less rigid.

Why not simply facilitate the process and adopt an ‘all learning is better than no learning’ approach instead? Let people take responsibility for their own self development and just provide the resources and encouragement. If employees complete part of a course on a topic, they will have benefitted and got what they needed at that time, plus they know where to go when they want to continue and may well come back to finish it. It’s better to think of online learning as a vast resource of learning material, like a library. Irrespective of whether they receive a certificate or not, they have learned something new that they can apply in their working or professional life.




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