MBOE recap: Lather them up, but shave them

In this week’s pre-graduation meeting for our MBOE industry cohort, Lawrence Inks, a guest lecturer and assistant professor of management and human resources at Fisher, shared some key thoughts on talent management. Organizations need talented people, Inks said, more than talented people need organizations. Talented people thrive anywhere, so it’s important to hunt them down and hire them but more important to retain them.  

Larry Inks
Larry Inks speaks to the soon-to-graduate MBOE industry cohort

Some tips to do just that:

We love giving positive feedback but most of us don’t do a good job communicating in general. Remember how nice it was when you receive a handwritten note from your boss? Most praise these days comes through e-mails – we’re busy and there are other priorities. Help your chances of talent retention by writing a note to your top performers.

Compliments to our best employees many times begin with the positive but insert something negative in the same line. An example: “Tom, you are an excellent facilitator but you are not good at all with data analysis.” Inks calls that the “lather them up but shave them” approach, where people are about to feel proud of their accomplishment, but in a fraction of a second their newfound motivation is killed. Talented people have no dearth of opportunities, and if they don’t feel valued they’ll leave you just as fast.

It’s important to note that feedback for underperformance is necessary, and it’s a fine art. So before giving positive or negative feedback, make sure goals are clear and the employee understands. Are they too low? It’ll be hard to hold back that 3% bonus. What the goals should be is set in a way that over-performers are easily distinguishable from average employees. In short, Inks said, a performance review should not bring surprises to either party. This is only possible if there is ongoing feedback that goes along through the year before the annual performance review is conducted.

What are some methods you use to appreciate your employees? How do you let the under-performers know that they are not at par?

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