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Long-term Staff - 28 April 2015

The great thing about (most) new employees is their willingness to learn. As enthusiastic newcomers keen to master their job – and eager to make a good impression – they’re almost always open to feedback. Long-term employees, not so much. The longer they stay in the same job, the more set they become in their ways.

This has just been verified in an exhaustive new analysis published in the Journal of Management. The researchers scrutinised every credible study conducted on feedback in the past few decades, and they especially analysed the degree to which employees embrace it based upon the length of their tenure.

What the scholars found was the longer an employee stays in the one job or the one organisation, the less likely they are to seek feedback. That’s because some long-timers feel they already know it all while others just want to save face. That latter group is particularly sensitive to being seen as incompetent by their neophyte colleagues, and so they act in the way they want to be perceived; hence why so many become resistant (or worse).

The problem, though, is that you need employees to be active seekers of feedback, never satisfied with the status quo. So how can you make that happen? The research uncovered something known as the cost-value framework, which basically means people will be more open to receiving feedback if they see more value in it than cost.

For example, in the case of long-timers, the costs of getting feedback could include losing the respect of their colleagues, changing long-held habits, or dealing with the ego-bruising reality of realising they don’t know as much as they think they do. These costs can be negated when their leader is able to make them see sufficient value in constructive feedback.

The culmination of studies over the past 30 years gives you some of the following value features to choose from.

- Learning goals: Find out what they most want to learn and then incorporate your feedback into the training solution.

- Performance goals: Find out their ambition – where they aspire to go – and then include your feedback into their career development plan.

- Leader expertise: Work on being a credible source of feedback by acquiring knowledge and information that’s reliable, considerate and practical.

- Leader trustworthiness: Strengthen the quality of your relationships because that alone will lessen the intensity of a long-timer’s negative reaction.

Ego really is a fascinating thing. In some situations, it can be an insurmountable barrier to personal improvement. In other, it can be leveraged in such a way as to generate greater performance. Such as this one.

To download complimentary e-books on employee engagement, retention, and recruitment (valued at over $100), please click here.

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