Staff survey leads to overhaul at Goldman Sachs
New practices will place more emphasis on qualitative feedback rather than numerical scores
Goldman Sachs has discovered something important about its employees: They want more feedback on how they're doing.
The firm is overhauling the way it gives feedback following an internal survey that highlighted that desire.
"Last year's People Survey results show that you want more real-time feedback to support your ongoing development and that such feedback is critical to your experience and tenure at the firm," chief operating officer Gary Cohn said in a video about the changes.
Cohn and CEO Lloyd Blankfein announced the changes in a memo to staff this week.
The memo read:
Over the course of the next year, we will adopt new feedback practices to focus further on growth and development. Providing high-quality and ongoing feedback is at the heart of our culture, and is an important investment we make in our people and the future of our firm.
A separate memo from Goldman's head of human-capital management, Edith Cooper, described the changes in more detail. They will begin to roll out in June, with the launch of a streamlined annual "360-degree" feedback approach — a new take on the traditional annual review.
Here's what that will look like, according to Cooper's memo:
- —"An emphasis on qualitative feedback — what people do well and how they can improve — rather than numerical scores"
- —"Feedback will be collected and delivered earlier in the year"
- —"In addition to a written summary, managers will provide an overall rating on a scale of outstanding, good and needs improvement to vice presidents, associates, analysts and administrative assistants"
- —"Direct reports will provide upward feedback to managers on 10 manager effectiveness behaviors"
- —"The number of 360 feedback providers has been reduced from 10 to six colleagues"
Later in the year, the firm will try out a new system to give more real-time feedback.
That Goldman Sachs is taking steps to improve the employee experience should not come as a surprise. Cohn referenced employees' "tenure at the firm" in the video.
We've written before about the battle for top talent on Wall Street. Recruiters and human-resource staff across the Street know that millennials — a growing part of the banks' workforces — are looking for lots attention from leaders and managers who will spend time with them and help them develop.
They also want to feel like their work has an impact.
Deutsche Bank has already taken steps on this. That firm in March launched a new program for vice presidents who will be tasked with overseeing a group of analysts and associates in the hopes of giving the younger bankers the one-on-one attention they crave.
And this is not the first initiative Goldman has undertaken to improve the junior-banker experience. Last fall, it announced an initiative to fast-track junior bankers as well as provide them with more mobility and lessen their workloads with the increased use of technology.
Other banks have followed suit, including JPMorgan, Credit Suisse, Citi, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
As Goldman shifts to a greater percentage of junior employees — currently the number of analysts, associates, and vice presidents is up 17 per cent over the past four years versus 2 per cent for senior staff — this will continue to be top of mind.
Here is the video on the new feedback practices, which features Cohn and Cooper, as well as Mark Schwartz, Goldman Sachs' Asia-Pacific chairman, and Goldman Sachs International co-CEO Richard Gnodde.
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