Entry level jobs receive a lot of performance feedback: What about managers?

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The Manager by Designsm blog seeks to start a new field, “Management Design,” that takes seriously how to create great managers.  In order to be great at anything, you have to receive a lot of useful performance feedback.  It has to be timely and specific.  It has to be actionable.  It has to be ongoing.  In my previous article, I looked at high-profile careers – athletes and movie directors – and identified the way they receive performance feedback.

Now let’s look at some low-profile careers and how they receive performance feedback:

Customer Service Representative:

In quality customer service organizations (they do exist—think of the ones you have had a good experience with, not the ones you dread talking to), the Customer Service Representative receives a lot of performance feedback.  Here are some sample places:

–From the customer they just talked to (“Thank you for your help!” or “That won’t work for me” or “I want to talk to your manager and complain.”)

–From self (“I won’t say that again!”)

–From peers in the adjacent cubicle who overhear good or bad service (they don’t want to talk to the person calling back)

–From their manager who listens to calls and provides feedback afterward

–From a quality team that listens to calls and provides feedback afterward

–From daily and monthly statistics surrounding call time, quality scores, and other metrics

–From aggregate customer service organization statistics (customer satisfaction, average call time) and the individual comparison to the aggregate scores

–From awards, both individual and team

Note: The lower quality customer service organizations do not necessarily have these robust structures, which may explain the lower quality and frustration many people often have with customer service.

For other low profile careers – at least compared to star athletes and movie directors— factory worker, coffee shop baristas, similar sources of performance feedback are frequently found:

Self (in examining the output), Customers, Peers, Managers, Quality Assurance Teams, Individual Metrics, Team and Organization Metrics, Awards

The more that these feedback sources are employed, and the more they are utilized appropriately, generally the high quality the organization and the higher quality and efficiency the output.

So employees at the entry level tend to receive a lot of performance feedback, and frequently it’s of high quality, and when this kind of feedback is employed, their output tends to get pretty good, pretty fast.  If the performance feedback continues to be available, then the performance level will likely remain high.

So now let’s compare this to the manager position. How much performance feedback does a manager receive?  How high of quality is the feedback?  If all of this performance feedback is applied to the entry-level position, surely it is applied to the manager position, right?  Not so much.

I’ve examined how managers receive feedback as managers, and it doesn’t stack up well compared to other roles, when comparing on one end to entry-level workers and on the other end to star athletes and movie directors.

Why is this?  Management Design as a field has the opportunity to address this.  Management Design is an emerging field that can take this opportunity to improve feedback structures and other structures to improve how managers perform as managers.

In my next post, I’ll examine how we can learn from the modes of performance feedback in careers that demand high performance, whether entry level or high-profile.

Related articles:

How to improve management design: Look at examples of high-profile careers that receive a lot of performance feedback

One more option for providing feedback to manager: 3rd Party Assessment and Coaching

Employees leaving bad managers – what kind of actionable feedback does this provide the manager?

Can organizations use attrition rates to improve manager performance? It’s tough to do

Using surveys to provide feedback to a manager: How effective is this?

Managers giving managers feedback on managing: How well is this done?

How do employees give feedback to their manager?

How to give feedback to your manager: Some possible openings

How about managers ask for feedback from their employees?

How to ask for feedback from your employees on your management skills (part 1)

How to ask for feedback from your employees on your management skills (part 2)

How to ask for feedback from your employees on your management skills (part 3)

Specific phrases and examples for how to ask for feedback from your employees


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About Walter Oelwein
Walter Oelwein, CMC, CPT, helps managers become better at managing. To do this, he founded Business Performance Consulting, LLC .


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