If you read this headline and work as a recruiter/sourcer, probably the first thing you’re going to think is “They give unclear job descriptions and expect us to work magic!” or “They want detailed reports on every candidate but then read nothing!” or the dreaded “They claim to want data in their hiring processes but ultimately only trust their gut!”

All of these are true to a large extent. But there’s a bigger problem: digital and mobile are massively at scale. Word-of-mouth is very real. And when your managers internally are bad, that leaks out. People — or at least people who research organizations before taking jobs with them, which are the people you should be aiming for — know how to find out what your management core (middle to high) is really like. It’s beyond just Glassdoor, although that $1.2B price tag was nice for them. There are lots of ways that a crappy front-line management team can be “outed” on the talent marketplace.

So what should companies do? How can they make their managers better and, in the process, strengthen employer brand? We all know that we spend $44B a year globally on “leadership,” and yet, it doesn’t ever really seem to get that much better — begging the question “Why don’t bad leadership styles evolve out?” Get us Darwin on Line 1.

In all seriousness, though, as a big craft IPA dude, I was interested when I saw this jam about how Dogfish Head is using Saba Software/Halogen Software for talent management and culture. The end goal was making it “more about conversations and less about numbers,” which should almost undeniably be the focus of end-to-end talent management.

So then we got to talk with Anita Bowness of Saba about their general approach to improving managers. I love hearing new people’s takes on managerial improvement. Saba’s “Big Five” — Un-Fab Five? — were:

  • Vague feedback that doesn’t focus enough on team or organization dynamics

  • Holding back too much with constructive feedback without directly addressing how an employee can improve

  • Waiting too long to provide feedback (good or bad)

    GEM Recruiting AI
  • Not offering ideas on how to improve performance

  • Inconsistent recognition for desired behaviors or selective and unpredictable constructive feedback to poor performance

Would agree with all this. No. 3 is especially a big deal — we live in an on-demand economy now. What do you think Amazon is mastering faster than most companies and killing everyone else in the process? Organizations can be oil tankers, sure (hard to turn around) but they need to make an effort to make their people processes “on-demand.” That means communicating with candidates — and heck, if you need to embrace tech and use a chatbot, go for it — and it means communicating with candidates when they become employees in the form of legit, real-time feedback. Avoid 360 though. Noted:

My colleague David had spent time in a re-education camp in North Vietnam during the Vietnam war. He reacted when I told him we were going to use 360-degree feedback in our HR programs. “I cannot participate in that,” he said, very softly and respectfully.

“That’s how they got us to turn in our colleagues and keep everyone off balance, back in the re-education camp,” he said. Three-sixty-degree feedback was used in the re-education camp — essentially a concentration camp in the jungle — to intimidate people and keep them from trusting other people. It was a form of psychological torture.

Wow. That’s depressing.

Bottom-line: performance feedback is not nearly as hard as we think. Do it more consistently. Get happier employees. Have a better name in the talent market. See your revenues rise with better people. Go drink some Dogfish. Rinse and repeat.

Ted Bauer

Originally from New York City, Ted Bauer currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas. He's a writer and editor for RecruitingDaily who focuses on leadership, management, HR, recruiting, marketing, and the future of work. His popular blog, The Context of Things, has a simple premise -- how to improve work. Ted has a Bachelors in Psychology from Georgetown and a Masters in Organizational Development from the University of Minnesota. In addition to various blogging and ghost-writing gigs, he's also worked for brands such as McKesson, PBS, ESPN, and more. You can follow Ted on Twitter @tedbauer2003, connect with him on LinkedIn, or reach him on email at [email protected]