Welcome to Birkman International's official blog. There is so much to learn and discuss when it comes to Birkman scores and applications. The creation of this blog provides an avenue for all of the multiple Birkman resources to come together in one place and make Birkman information more accessible to our clients.

The Birkman blog provides a consolidated repository of Birkman information, including articles, score explanations, prescriptives and report analysis. The Birkman blog brings together our international community of Birkman consultants and provide a mutual sharing opportunity for both the consultants and the staff at Birkman International.

Monday, December 27, 2010

This is not just a test

This is not just a test

A solid waste department saves millions in costs by unleashing employees' inherent strengths.
By Deandrea Way
Technicians save $5,000 each time they rebuild a mechanical pick-up arm in-house. Photo: Houston Solid Waste Management Department
Like many large cities, Houston's Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD) doesn't charge its 372,000 residential customers for collection services. Combined with continuing declines in the property and sales taxes that are its primary funding mechanism, this practice was squeezing the operation's $77 million annual budget.

But over the last two years, employee-suggested enhancements — including better route management, a new approach to job functions, and improvements in work teams and contracts — have saved $10 million without eliminating one full-time equivalent position.

As budget constraints grew, Director of Solid Waste Management Harry Hayes sought the help of a local community college program that assesses the personality traits and underlying motivations of nonsupervisory employees. Having heard that the Houston Chamber of Commerce and the Houston Port Authority had worked with Houston Community College business consultants to deploy the Birkman Method, he wanted to see if the test could facilitate supervisor/ employee communication.

The consultants assessed 84 employees in various locations — maintenance shops and warehouses as well as administrative offices — over six months from 2009 to 2010. The two-phase delivery process consists of a personality test that measures productive behaviors, inherent needs, and stress behaviors, and an assessment that measures the perceptions of colleagues.

The consultants developed flow charts based on the behavioral and motivational patterns of individual responses, which they analyzed by shift, across departments, and by level of responsibility.

A productivity program was created to recognize employees who submitted suggestions for making processes more efficient while promoting quality, economy, and safety. The primary focus of suggestions emphasized team-building and developing greater trust among supervisors and subordinates.

Personality plusThe Birkman Method (www.birkman.com) is a personality, social perception, and occupational interest assessment that identifies behavioral style, motivation, and potential stress behavior stemming from an employee's unmet motivational needs.
Developed in the late 1940s by Roger Birkman, the tool provides an integrated, multidimensional, and comprehensive analysis that often eliminates the need for multiple assessments.

Depending on the levels of reporting and support, prices through Birkman International Inc. range from $20 to $475/employee; fees for consultant-provided services vary depending upon the amount of support provided.

Two projects in particular demonstrate how this focus capitalized on employee involvement:

  • Selected based on area of expertise and job responsibilities, 12 of the maintenance department's 160 employees figured out how to turn three backup collection vehicles into new recycling vehicles. Each in-house conversion costs $12,000 compared to $200,000 for a new vehicle. The effort took four months to complete, and in some cases other vehicles can be similarly refurbished.


  • A team of two mechanics rebuilt the mechanical pick-up arms of automated collection trucks. This was previously a contracted item in which the arms, which were not covered by any warranty, were sent back to the manufacturer for rebuilding at a cost of $5,000 each.

  • “We've received great feedback from peers and management about how the process generates leadership,” Hayes says. “Our employees better understand what our mission is and how our cost structure affects it. They're able to adjust their behavior to give us the results we're looking for in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.”

    — Woody (deandrea.woody@hccs.edu) is a program manager at Houston Community College's Corporate College and a certified Birkman consultant.

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    How could it be true?

    The other thing that happened—the thing I really wanted to talk about—was that I started taking advantage of the career transition services that I received as part of my layoff package. Right now I'm in the "assessment" stage, figuring out my strengths and interests. One of the things I needed to do before my next appointment was to complete a couple of "self-assessment" exercises. I've done things like this before at various times and expected these to be similar, but the first one I took was new to me. It's called the Birkman First Look and it's supposed to help you "understand your strengths, motivational needs, and stress behaviors."

    When I've taken other tests like this, I've always scored high in the analytical/technical areas and that's what I expected to see with the Birkman test. What's different about Birkman, though, is that they also score your areas of interest, not just what you may be good at. For the first time my scores in creative areas were very strong — artistic, literary and musical were all solid bars, scoring far higher, for example, than in scientific and numerical (where I usually score the highest).

    The results were a bit of a shock at first. How could it be true? I've always been the science/math/tech geek! After thinking about it for awhile though, I realized that these results reflect how my interests and my focus have changed. Yes, I'm still interested in high tech, but my real interest—my burning passion, if you will—is in being creative...in writing.

    Yes, I know what you're thinking: "Duh, big red truck!" Honestly though, even though I've been talking about writing as a, well, career, it wasn't until now that I understood just how strongly I felt about it. I hadn't really been looking forward to doing this career transition thing, but now I can't wait to see what else I learn about myself!

    How about you? Did you experience any revelations this week? Was your week productive or did you run into roadblocks? Share your news, good, bad or otherwise, and let us cheer you on!

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    What is the Structure Construct really measuring?

    Structure (Insistence)

    The Structure scales describe an orderliness-based construct that includes the degree to which an individual wants to give or receive clear direct, follow instructions carefully, finish tasks, deal with detailed tasks, work for accuracy, and use systematic approaches.

    • Low scores reflect flexible, adaptable, "start-up" behavior, a preference for new, less planned and open tasks, and a tendency to become disorganized, disjointed in giving instructions, and "last minute" in behavior, especially when stressed by perceptions of too much control by others or overly detailed and controlling procedures.
    •  High scores reflect orderly, instruction-conscious, detail-oriented behavior, a preference for planned and controlled tasks, a desire for schedules and controls, and a tendency to become overly constrained by existing plans, procedures, or ways of doing things, especially when stress by rapid change of approach, lack of predictability, or feelings that tasks are out of control.
    Click here to learn more about the Structure Component in the Birkman Beginning Newsletter series.

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    What is the Esteem component really measuring?

    The Esteem scale describes a sensitivity-based construct that includes shyness, saying no, praising and being praised, sensitivity about correcting others or being corrected by others, getting feelings hurt, and concerns about embarrassing or being embarrassed.  This self-consciousness-related construct addresses how a person may deal with (or prefers others deal with) approval related topics and how they relate to individuals.
    • Low scores reflect candid, direct behavior, a preference for candid and direct relationships, and blunt behavior when under stress or in reaction to perceived overly-sensitive behavior by others.
    • High scores reflect diplomatic, sensitive behavior, a preference for personal, supportive relationships, and a tendency to become overly-sensitive when others are perceived to be too direct.                  

    For more information on the Esteem Component, check out the Esteem Birkman Beginnings newsletter.

    What is the Acceptance construct really measuring?

    Acceptance (Sociableness/Gregariousness) Preference

    The Acceptance scales describe a sociability-based construct that addresses the manner of relating to people in groups.  In includes the degree to which an individual wants to be talkative, enjoy people in groups, enjoy social (sometimes at one's own expense), comfort in talking to strangers, enjoying parties and group activities, and approachability.

    • Low scores reflect quiet, independent and one-on-one behavior, a preference for individual assignments, freedom from social demands, and a tendency to withdraw when stressed by perceived demand for sociability.
    •  High scores reflect outgoing, gregarious behavior, a preference for group activies, and a tendency to be too easily swayed by groups when under stress of loneliness or feeling left out.
    Click here to learn more about the Acceptance Component in the Birkman Beginning Newsletter series. 

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Say what? Here is what the Birkman Components are actually measuring

    It is useful in both the understanding and the interpretation of Birkman information to keep in mind what the Components are actually measuring:
    • Need for Esteem: Self-Consciousness
    • Need for Acceptance - Sociableness
    • Need for Structure - Insistence
    • Need for Authority - Verbal Dominance
    • Need for Advantage - Materialism
    • Need for Challenge - Perspective
    • Need for Activity - Energy
    • Need for Empathy - Emotional Expressiveness
    • Need for Change - Restlessness
    • Need for Freedom - Individuality
    • Need for Thought - Indecision
    What to know more about the historical naming of the Birkman components?  Click here! 

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    What is Work Motivation?

    Work Motivation measures how a person is motivated to work, not whether  a person is motivated to work.

    High scores:
    • "Give me a task"
    • Work is good for the soul
    • Will work even when the job is not a good fit
    Low scores:
    • "Give me a reason", need to buy-in to what they are doing to work hard
    • Need to see the value in the work they do
    • Are very aware when the job is not a good fit 
    Interested in learning more about the Preferred Work Styles scales?  Click here to check out the Preferred Work Styles Birkman Beginning Newsletter.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    INTERESTing Information

    What does Birkman mean by Interests?

    • Kinds of activities you like (not skill but interest)
    • High scores show a strong interest > 75
    • Low scores show where you are not interested or areas you may want to avoid <25
    • What drives and energizes you
    • Mid-scores - moderate interests; not moving toward; not trying to avoid
    • 85 and above - activity is more than an interest, it's something you need to have (a life mandate) to feel fulfilled
    Find out more about the Areas of Interest in the Edition 2: INTERESTING INformation Birkman Beginnings Newsletter.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Youngest age a person can take The Birkman Questionnaire?

    There is no one age that answers this question. The Birkman Questionnaire is written for third grade equivalency. However, we would not necessarily recommend that third graders take the assessment. Generally speaking, the Birkman scores stabilize when people are in their early 20s. The Birkman Method can be useful to people who are younger than twenty when used appropriately. For younger people, The Birkman can be a great tool to assist in making college or career choices. It is also very useful for learning general behavioral styles and motivations. There are a few scores that typically will change between the earlier ages and the early 20s. These include Social Adaptability, Social Responsibility, Work Motivation, Self-Development, and Corporate Adaptability. These scores may not stabilize until the early 20s. The Birkman is frequently used at the high school level and commonly used at the junior high level. There are instances in which the Birkman has been used with fifth grade students.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Going to extremes

    Q. What does it say about a person when there are multiple (more than 5) extreme scores on Needs? Extreme is defined as greater than 85 or  less 15.

    When a person has multiple extreme scores, it generally means that the person has many areas in which s/he has very strong or intense Needs. This can become difficult for the person if the expectation is that all Needs will be met in one environment. No one environment will likely satisfy all the Needs of a person. When there are multiple extreme scores it will be important for the person to have a self-awareness about what his or her Needs are, as well as which Needs will be met in which environment. Most likely, some Needs will not be met and the self-awareness becomes even more important. The person will be able to be proactive in finding ways to meet the intense (extreme) Needs.

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    What is a reversal?

    Ask Amy:  As simply as possible, explain the significance of a reversal.

    Okay, here it goes.

    Reversal – a situation where an individual’s usual style and stress behavior are opposite from their underlying need.  Because their displayed usual and stress behavior is exactly opposite, it continues to solicit and reinforce the wrong behavior from the person’s environment.  The person’s needs continue to not be met and thus the destructive cycle

    From a consultant’s perspective, this is the situation when a person has a reversal.  This is not, necessarily how I would recommend you explain a reversal during an interpretation of a Birkman report.  An expert in the Birkman office says they explain a reversal as “a surprise.”  In other words, the person’s stress reaction is not what is expected by the outside world and might come as a shock.  This disparity can lead to issues for both the individual and the individual’s environment.  The fix?  Emphasize to the person the importance of being aware of their unique underlying needs and communicating their need to the rest of the world.

    Saturday, March 27, 2010

    What is Acceptance?

    What does Birkman mean by Acceptance?

    The Need for Acceptance in Relating to People in Groups
    Talkativeness, enjoyment of people in groups, enjoyment of 
    social laughter, approachability, and their opposites.
    Alone vs. Group

    ACCEPTANCE measures how you relate to groups and your need for acceptance by the group. The Acceptance Component includes talkativeness, enjoyment of people in groups, enjoyment of social laughter (even at your own expense), talking to strangers and approachability. 

    • High scores reflect outgoing, gregarious behavior, a preference for group activities and a tendency to be too easily swayed by groups when under stress of loneliness or feeling left out. 
    • Low scores reflect quiet, independent and one-on-one behavior, preference for individual assignments, as well as freedom from social demands and a tendency to withdraw when stressed by social demands. 

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    The Birkman of Alcatraz

    A little self-knowledge can be a dangerous thing, especially if the self who is getting the knowledge is y-o-u.

    Let's face facts. With your fragile grip on employment, relationships and reality in general, it might be better to stay in the dark. Unless, of course, you really do want to know who you were meant to be and what you were meant to do. If that is the case, then you probably need a Birkman.

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    New! The Birkman Method in Fortune Magazine

    The Birkman Method claims to be able to people where their true strengths lie.  
    It does, I think.

    By Jennifer Reingold

    (Click on image to Enlarge)

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    How many component combinations are possible?

    In last month's newsletter, we mentioned how each person has his/her own unique “hand-print” of behavioral needs and that you would be hard-pressed to find another person with your identical scores. Turns out we were right and your personality truly is as unique as your hand-print. Always curious, I decided to check with the Research Department and see how many component combinations on the Needs are actually possible.

    The research department took each possible score for all of the components and then multiplied these possibilities against all the possibilities for the other components to see how many combinations are possible. For example, if you took the Needs, and looked at each possible score on the Needs for each component, and then did that for every other component, you multiply across to see how many combinations there would be. An example of one of these combinations would be:

    Score pattern on the Needs:
    Acceptance 1
    Activity 6
    Advantage 25
    Authority 23
    Change 52
    Empathy 75
    Esteem 62
    Freedom 70
    Structure 92
    Thought 99

    If you were to do that across all possible combinations of components, the total number of possible combinations (or scoring patterns) would be 85,957,185,600. That is almost 86 billion possibilities!

    Ask Amy: A Management 101 Refresher Course

    The Birkman Perspective: ASK AMY (March, 2010)

    I've been taking a crash course in Management 101 over the last couple of weeks. I didn't sign up for the course but ended up there almost without intending to. Most of you are probably not aware that I have been living in Panama for the last six months. It all started back in 2007 when on the advice, counsel and support of one of our wonderful Birkman consultants, Terry Slinde, I made the decision to get my MBA.

    They were several challenging aspects about the program for me. The particular program I chose had a dual concentration in Management and Finance (challenging with my 5 Numerical interest) and if I or my family needed a lesson about what a wrong occupational fit looks like or does to a person physically, mentally or spirituality, we definitely got it – but that is another story. My high Challenge really kicked in when it became clear that almost every person in my class spoke at least two languages. I graduated in May 2009 and like any high Challenge person worth their salt, I was anxious to find the next daunting, nearly impossible task to pursue. The obvious choice for me was to learn Spanish. Next stop – Panama!

    Panama City is an absolutely fascinating place. The skyline rivals that of Tokyo and the skyscrapers continue to pop up like weeds. The country is quickly becoming the business hub of Latin America. Unfortunately for many, strong economic performance has not translated into broadly shared prosperity, and Panama ranks as having the second worst income distribution in Latin America. Approximately 30% of the population lives below the poverty line. There is a shortage of skilled labor and a heavy surplus of unskilled labor. It is common for middle class persons like myself to employ a housekeeper several days per week. This is a benefit to both the employer and employee. For me, through the employment of a housekeeper, I found my unexpected teacher.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Self/Most People Differentiator - Clarifying question

    This is a great question I received based on the February Newsletter article, The Self/Most People Differentiator.

    Q:  I have a question though from your final paragraph. You wrote:

    “…we use our own Needs as a gauge or a basis point for how we believe others want to be treated rather than the facts inherent to the situation.”

    Perhaps I’m reading too much into this. However, I was under the impression that in the absence of knowing a person’s needs, we tend to treat them as we see them behave, i.e. their Usual Behavior. The sentence above leads me to believe it is more based on “my” personal needs.

    For example, my Authority score is 96/23/75 (nice, huh?). Are you saying I will tend to give everyone autonomy and use a suggesting style with others (because I am low Need) rather than reacting to their Usual Behavior?

    A:  A very good and perceptive question. I actually had to stop and think about whether I agreed with what I had previously said in the article. After thinking about it, I do believe the two points are true simultaneously. Here is how I reconcile the two different points. I hope my explanation makes sense.

    There is what we believe is normal or appropriate behavior and then there is what we think other people need or want from us in terms of our behavior in response to them.  I have a high need for Esteem and because of this score, I relate well and feel comfortable with people whom I can connect with on a more person level.  These people feel normal and "right" to me.  I am comfortable around them because they are like me.

    Now let's say I have to deal with what appears to be a low Esteem person.   This person is blunt, out-spoken and insensitive (from my high Esteem perspective, of course).  I understand and have access to the concepts of the Birkman and yet, my human tendency is to be direct and matter-of-fact right back to this person.   Even though, intellectually, I know there is a good chance the person has a more sensitive underside, I will still be inclined to dish a plate of candor right back at them.  

    Now, since I don’t see this behavior as normal, it is not likely someone I am going to seek out to have lunch or a cup of coffee, but when I am forced to interact with them, l will be more inclined to use a sharp tongue instead of a bear-hug.

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    The Self / Most People Differentiator

    As a Certified consultant, you already know that the quantifiable measurement of underlying Needs is a key differentiator of The Birkman Method®. The concept of Needs assumes that each person has a basic set of expectations about the person’s interpersonal relationships and situations. When our Needs are fulfilled and expectations met, we are able to operate in our usual, productive style. When our Needs are not met and our coping mechanisms are stripped away, we are left with a less-than-effective behavioral style rooted in stress.

    Each person has his/her own unique “handprint” of behavioral needs. This map of underlying scores is what makes you uniquely YOU. You would be hard-pressed to find another person with your identical scores. These Needs are not good or bad, they simply exist like other biological aspects of life. They are also as real and significant as your physical characteristics. You can no more easily change your high Need for Esteem as you can make yourself a foot taller. Your Needs are part of reality, and arguing with them or wishing you were different is a waste of perfectly good time and energy. Regardless of your profile, an awareness and acceptance of your style enables you to leverage your Needs to your own personal advantage.

    Think back to when you took the Birkman questionnaire. Remember those 125 questions you answered about Most People? You probably weren’t aware of it at the time, but you were revealing a detailed picture of your inner workings by attributing your thoughts, attitudes and feelings onto that of Most People. Tricky, huh? The Birkman’s underlying assumption is that the statements an individual makes about the attitudes and motives of other people are in many ways more significant than the statements the individual makes about himself. All of this is to say that a person is as he sees other people. Of course, the average person is not consciously aware of this phenomenon, which makes The Birkman Method an excellent tool to gain this insight.

    After you completed the Most People section, you were asked the same 125 questions about yourself. The Self report section provides a valuable benchmark of what you regard as your strength behavior; however, there is a catch. As is true with any type of self-reporting, the accuracy of the feedback can be an issue because participants answer the questions in order to appear more socially acceptable. Human beings are plagued by what is known in psychological circles as a social desirability bias – a tendency for respondents to reply in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others. This will generally take the form of over-reporting good behavior or under-reporting bad behavior. By reporting both the views of Self and Most People, The Birkman Method brings into the open the socially desirable bias, and shows individuals that the way they want to be seen through their productive behaviors may be at variance from their expectations about how others are likely to behave in similar situations.

    Finally, the questionnaire combines the answering patterns from the two sections, thereby revealing the outer and inner workings of a person’s perception and behavior. Now, as if this wasn’t complicated enough, keep in mind that we use our own Needs as a gauge or a basis point for how we believe others want to be treated rather than the facts inherent to the situation. This projection can cause many communication issues and relationship barriers.

    I admit all of this can be overwhelming, but I like to think of it as job security.

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    Employees want feedback - even if it's negative

    By Garry Kranz
    Crain News Service
    The best way to drive employee engagement is for managers to accentuate the positive in employee performance. The second-best engagement approach is to focus performance discussions on employee weaknesses. Worst choice: Give no feedback at all.

    That is the synopsis of “The Relationship Between Engagement at Work and Organizational Outcomes,” by Gallup Inc. More than 1,000 U.S. employees were interviewed for the report. Gallup broke management styles into three categories, based on employee perceptions:

    * Managers who focus mostly on employee strengths

    * Managers who focus mostly on employee weaknesses

    * Managers who focus on neither strengths nor weaknesses

    Thirty-seven percent of employees say their bosses concentrate on strengths, while 11 percent say their managers focus solely on negative characteristics. Gallup says 25 percent of employees surveyed fall into an “ignored” category, in which their supervisors address neither strengths nor weaknesses. Twenty-seven percent of people did not express strong opinions about their managers either way.

    The differing approaches reflect back varying levels of engagement. Sixty-one percent of employees in the “strengths” group report being engaged in their jobs. Still, 38 percent of those workers remain disengaged despite the positive feedback, perhaps because they believe the praise is not sincere, according to Gallup. About 1 percent of employees whose managers are focused on strengths are considered to be “actively disengaged,” meaning they may act out on their job frustration.

    By contrast, engagement is considerably lower — just 45 percent — for employees whose managers focus primarily on negative characteristics. One-third of such workers are disengaged. Most alarming: 22 percent are deemed to be actively disengaged.

    The worst engagement scores can be found in the “ignored” category, where only 2 percent of employees are highly engaged. Fifty-seven percent report being not engaged and 40 percent are actively disengaged.

    So while emphasizing strengths gives the strongest boost to engagement, even negative feedback is better than no feedback at all, according to Gallup.

    “We found that it is better for managers to dwell on some aspect of employee performance—even if it is a focus on negatives—than to avoid the matter altogether,” says Jim Harter, a Gallup research scientist and co-author of the report.

    Harter says negative feedback “at least lets people know that they matter,” while neglecting them can be far worse.

    Engagement — or lack of it — carries huge implications for how well companies achieve their business goals, especially amid recession, Harter says.

    “The growth trajectory for companies with highly engaged workers, on average, looks really good when compared against their competitors. These types of companies are holding their own while their competitors are dropping off” on key variables, Harter says.

    Organizations with high engagement scores exceed their peers in nine areas of business performance, including customer loyalty, profits, productivity, quality, turnover and absenteeism. For instance, organizations with the highest engagement scores in Gallup's database have an 83 percent chance of achieving above-average business performance. By contrast, organizations at the lowest levels of engagement have a 17 percent chance.

    The report is based on Gallup's Q12 Index, which measures a dozen factors that are known to affect engagement.

    From Workforce Management

    Employees Are Desperate for Feedback

    By Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ 

    Note to managers: Employees need a lot more feedback about their performance. According to a new study by Leadership IQ, 51% of employees don’t know whether their performance is where it should be. That’s pretty shocking, so I’ll say it again: We asked 3,611 workers across 291 companies to respond to a series of survey questions, including the question “I know whether my job performance is where it should be.” The results? 51% Disagreed while only 21% Agreed (27% were in the middle).
    How is it possible that half of employees don’t know whether their performance is where it should be? Well, the other questions in our study provide some clues.

    We asked employees about the amount of interaction they have with their boss, and a whopping 66% of employees said that they have too little interaction with their boss. Only 18% said they have just the right amount and even fewer (16%) said they have too much interaction with their boss.

    Alright, so you might be tempted to think that you should walk the hallways giving your employees pats on the back to make them feel better. But not so fast. This study revealed that employees don’t just want warm-and-fuzzy interactions. While 67% of employees say they get too little positive feedback, 51% also say they get too little constructive criticism from their boss. That’s right: Employees are desperate for information about their performance—good, bad or otherwise.

    Employees want to know how to improve and grow; they want to perform their best. Ultimately, employees know that the economic stakes are high, competition is intensifying, and that jobs (and even companies) are at risk. Smart employees know that as their performance improves, so too does their future (including bonuses, job security, choice assignments, and more). And thus they want lots of information about how to optimize their performance.

    While we’ve been talking about the Quantity of feedback that employees get, this study also revealed just how poor the Quality of feedback can be. Employees not only said that they’re not getting enough feedback, they also said that the feedback they do get isn’t terribly effective. In our study, 53% of employees said that when their boss does praise excellent performance, the feedback does not provide enough useful information to help them repeat it. And 65% of employees say that when their boss criticizes poor performance, they don’t provide enough useful information to help employees correct the issue.

    As we outline in our upcoming book “Hundred Percenters: Challenge Your Employees to Give It Their All and They’ll Give You Even More,” employees need information about their performance that is Timely, Specific and Candid (i.e. they need a little TSC). This means employees need real-time feedback that catches issues before they balloon and opportunities before they get missed. They need feedback that tells them exactly what to do more and less of, and they need that information truthfully.

    Too many leaders delay feedback because they’re trying to figure out how to spin it, sugarcoat it, or bury it. For example, may managers try to squeeze a negative performance critique or correction between layers of positive reinforcement. In our upcoming book, we call this the Compliment Sandwich, and it doesn’t work. It’s like trying to tell your kid to get off drugs while praising him or her for mowing the lawn last Saturday. It’s a crazy mixed message that gets zero results.

    A professional athlete can get dozens of bits of feedback during a practice or game. A student gets constant feedback throughout the day. But it’s not uncommon for a typical employee to go months without any meaningful feedback about their performance. We say we need our employees to perform at higher levels than ever before to help turn the economy around, but how are they supposed to perform when they’re not getting nearly enough feedback about what they’re doing right (which needs to be repeated) and wrong (which needs to be eliminated)? One final note: Not only do employees need lots of great feedback to improve their performance, they also need it to stay engaged in their jobs. According to our study, employees who said they didn’t get enough feedback were 43% less likely to recommend their company to others as a great organization to work for.