Why High Performers Are Your Worst Source of Employee Feedback

March 23, 2020 | From the Desk of Nobscot CEO, Beth N. Carvin...

In a recent conversation among HR practitioners, the talk turned to employee feedback. One HR Manager stated that he was going to stop conducting exit interviews and instead switch to Stay Interviews of High Performers.

Transfer employeesWhat he doesn't know is that asking high performers what might cause them or their colleagues to leave is often a fool's errand.

Here's why:

  1. High Performers are optimists. High performing employees always see the cup as 3/4 full, even when it's half full. That's one of the reasons they perform so well. They naturally focus in on all that is right while problems roll right off their back without them ever noticing.

  2. High Performers don't complain. One of the things we love so much about high-po employees is that they are not complainers. They don't gossip. They aren't dragged into the muck like ordinary employees. If you ask a high-po about some of the challenges they face, they are likely to smile and say that everything is just fine, thank you.

  3. High Performers have a higher breaking point than others. Things have to be really bad before a high performer will begin to consider other external opportunity. Because of this high tolerance level, high po employees are not impacted by 80% of the irritations that are driving others out the door.

  4. High Performers usually leave due to Pull not Push factors. Because high performers are generally satisfied and find happiness in whatever they do, they themselves are unable to articulate what would cause them to leave. They can not tell you what is wrong because nothing is wrong, until an amazing opportunity elsewhere presents itself.
Generally speaking, by their very nature high performing employees are the least likely to help identify future reasons for turnover among themselves and other employees.

Does this mean that Stay Interviews with top performers are a waste of time? Absolutely not. Stay interviews are something that every good manager should conduct with their staff. Especially their high performers. Stay interviews help discover what motivates employees and can provide new ideas to improve productivity. Remember, things that help retain employees are not the reverse of things that cause turnover. When looking to identify root causes of turnover, HR Managers should not rely just on stay interviews of existing employees. Instead they need to examine high performers (and others') exit interviews. Only when high performers are actually leaving, are they able to see, understand and express the challenges that cause other high performers to consider opportunities that come there way