How To Make The Most From A Performance Review

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All too often Performance Reviews are experienced as an unavoidable and rather meaningless exercise. The manager is unskilled at speaking the truth, whether praise or criticism. The recipient is unskilled at asking for more. Both people may be very well intentioned but the time spent seems perfunctory rather than empowering.

So, here’s a list of questions you can pick and choose from to advance the usefulness of your own Performance Reviews when you are the recipient. And you can think through your answers ahead of time when you are the manager and have to provide reviews for your team members.

They are in no particular order and some of them will not apply to your particular circumstance.

* What is your criteria for the evaluation you’ve made of my performance?

* What preparations have you gone through to rate me and give me feedback?

* Please describe in detail what I can do in the short term to improve.

* What will it take for me to be considered for a promotion, or a raise, or a bonus?

* Can I get a coach, or a mentor? And if so, what is the process?

* Are you open to feedback on what more I’d like from you going forward?

* I’d like to mentor someone, would that be appropriate?

* What are the top 3 priorities for the most important long term improvements I can make to enhance my career?

* In what ways am I a good fit for this company’s culture? Where do I not fit in quite so well?

* Please describe how you see my performance: with my team, in meetings, handling my successes and my limitations.

* Please describe how you see my talents and abilities.

* How can I best advance my career in the company, and beyond the company?

* What does this company most need from me at this time?

* How is my performance score calibrated?

* What impact have I had on my team, the organization, and the company?

* Where do you see me on the promotion ladder?

* What are my weaknesses and what can I do to grow stronger in those areas?

* How do I best represent the organization to the rest of the company?

* What do I need to do to expand my scope of responsibility?

* How do you feel about my taking the initiative to open up this discussion with you?

As you can see, some of these questions won’t apply in every instance. And in many cases you’ll want to change the language to fit the terms used in your company.

But, the key here is to take charge of your career and by getting the most from your performance reviews you let your manager know how serious you are about it. –Judith Sherven, PhD

 

Five Bosses You Don’t Want (Or Want to Be)

Boss

 

 

What is lousy leadership? Here are a few of the most common ways leaders can get it wrong and too often do.

The first and perhaps most frustrating way that some people blow leadership is by being know-it-alls. They can tell you how the world works, what corporate is thinking, how it will backfire if you try this or that, and why you can’t change the product one iota. They even know what kind of car you should be driving. Sometimes these blowhards get their swagger from a few positive experiences. But usually they’re just victims of their own bad personalities. And you and your company are victims, too. Because know-it-alls aren’t just insufferable, they’re dangerous. They don’t listen, and that “deafness” makes it very hard for new ideas to get heard, debated, expanded, or improved. No single person, no matter how smart, can take a business to its apex. For that, you need every voice heard. And know-it-all leadership creates a deadly silence.

If know-it-alls are too in-your-face, a second kind of lousy leader is too remote. These emotionally distant bosses are more comfortable behind closed doors than mucking it out with the team. Sure, they attend meetings and other requisite functions, but they’d rather be staring at their computers. If possible, all the messy, sweaty people stuff would be delegated to HR managers on another floor. Like know-it-alls, this breed of leader is dangerous, but for a different reason. They don’t engage, which means they can’t inspire. That’s a big problem. Leaders, after all, need followers to get anything done. And followers need passion for their fuel.

A third category of lousy leadership is comprised of bosses who are just plain jerks—nasty, bullying, insensitive, or all three. As one reader wrote us recently: “My boss is abusive, by which I mean disrespectful, finger-pointing, and sometimes even paranoid.” Such leaders are usually protected from above because they deliver the numbers. But with their destructive personalities, they rarely win their people’s trust. That’s no way to run a business, which is why these types of leaders typically self-destruct. It’s never as quickly as you’d hope, but unless they own the place, it does happen eventually.

The fourth type of lousy leadership is at the other end of the spectrum: It’s too nice. These bosses have no edge, no capacity to make hard decisions. They say yes to the last person in their office, then spend hours trying to clean up the confusion they’ve created. Such bosses usually defend themselves by saying they’re trying to build consensus. What they really are is scared. Their real agenda is self-preservation—good old CYA.

Which leads us to a final version of lousy leadership which is not unrelated: bosses who do not have the guts to differentiate. The facts are, not all investment opportunities are created equal. But some leaders can’t face that reality, and so they sprinkle their resources like cheese on a pizza, a little bit everywhere. As a result, promising growth opportunities too often don’t get the outsized infusions of cash and people they need. If they did, someone might get offended during the resource allocation process. Someone, as in the manager of a weak business or the sponsor of a dubious investment proposal.

But leaders who don’t differentiate usually do the most damage when it comes to people. Unwilling to deliver candid, rigorous performance reviews, they give every employee the same kind of bland, mushy, “nice job” sign-off. And when rewards are doled out, they give star performers not much more than the laggards. Now, you can call this “egalitarian” approach kind or fair—and these lousy leaders usually do—but it’s really just weakness. And when it comes to building a thriving enterprise where people have an opportunity to grow and succeed, weakness just doesn’t cut it.

Surely we could go on, but we’ll end here with a caveat. We hardly expect lousy leaders to read this column and see themselves. Part of being a lousy leader, no matter what the category, is lack of self-awareness. But if you see your boss here, take heart. When it’s finally your turn to lead, you’ll know what not to do. – Jack and Suzy Welch

Essential Qualities of Highly Promotable Employees

promotions, careers

One of the most common questions asked by an employee of his or her company is, “What can I do to get promoted?”

The thinking behind the question is obvious: The employee assumes there be some key initiative, some specific action, some high visibility project, or some critical role the employee should take on, and if they do, promotion is almost guaranteed.

And maybe, just maybe, that is occasionally true.

But there’s a much better approach. The key to advancing – whether professionally or personally – is not based solely on what you should do (although what you do is certainly important.) The key to advancing is based on what you should be.

Attitude informs action. Attitude informs behavior.

Attitude is the driving force behind every achievement, every accomplishment, every success, attitude, where performance and therefore advancement is concerned, is everything.

Here are some of the attitudes and perspectives that inform the actions of incredibly successful people – in all walks of life:

Are humble, not arrogant.

Arrogant people think they know everything; humble people are always learning. Humble people ask questions. Humble people ask for help.

Humble people automatically share credit because they instinctively realize that every effort, no matter how seemingly individual, is actually a team effort.

Humble people are willing to take on any job, no matter how menial, because they realize no job is beneath them, and in the process they prove that no job is above them.

Ultimately, success is not limited by how high you can stretch… but by how low you are willing to bend.

Are servants, not self-serving.

No one accomplishes anything worthwhile on his own. No one.

Great teammates make everyone around them better. Take an unselfish basketball player: He makes his teammates better by delivering pinpoint passes in space, by boxing out, by setting solid screens, by rotating on defense… all the things that don’t show up in the statistics but definitely improve the stats of his teammates.

Great leaders focus on providing the tools and training and culture to help their employees do their jobs better – and achieve their own goals.

Even great businesses serve their customers first; they know that by serving their customers they ultimately serve the interests of their business.

The employee only in it for himself will someday be by himself. The employee in it for others may not get all the limelight, but trust me, the right people definitely notice.

Are optimistic, not pessimistic.

Optimists add energy to a situation, or meeting, or business; pessimists suck energy away. Optimists try more things and take more (intelligent) risks simply because they focus on what can go right. Pessimists never get started because they’re too busy thinking of what might go wrong.

Optimists don’t feel they need to wait – to be promoted, or accepted, or selected, or “discovered” – they feel they can, if they work hard, accomplish almost anything.

Optimism is infectious.

Think execution, not just planning.

Planning is definitely important, but countless shelves are filled with strategies that were never implemented.

The best employees develop an idea, create a strategy, set up a basic operational plan… and then execute, adapt, execute, revise, execute, refine, and make incredible things happen based on what works in practice, not in theory.

Success starts with strategy — but ultimately ends with execution.

Employees who advance are certainly good at planning, but they’re awesome at execution.

Think forever, not today.

Real leadership isn’t situation or short-lived. Real leaders are able to consistently inspire, motivate, and make people feel better about themselves than they may even think they have a right to feel. Real leaders are the kind of people you follow not because you have to… but because you want to.

You’ll follow a real leader anywhere. And you’ll follow a real leader forever, because she has a knack for making you feel you aren’t actually following – wherever you’re going you feel like you’re going there together.

Creating that level of respect, that level of trust, and that type of bond takes time. Great employees consider not just the short-term but also the long-term – and then act accordingly.

And, in time, are placed in positions where they can truly influence the long-term success of their team, their unit, and their company.

Are volunteers, not draftees.

Sure, you have a manager, or a board, or some higher authority. They may often ask you to do things.

Still: The best employees are natural volunteers. They volunteer for extra tasks. They volunteer for responsibility before responsibility is delegated. They volunteer to train or mentor new employees. They offer to help people who need help – and even those who don’t.

Why is that important? Volunteering demonstrates leadership aptitude. Leaders are proactive, and proactive people don’t wait to be told what to do. They’re already doing it.

Successful employees earn their promotions by first working harder, just like successful businesses earn higher revenue by first delivering greater value, and like successful entrepreneurs earn bigger payoffs by first working hard, well before any potential return is in sight.

Draftees expect to be asked. Draftees expect to be compensated more before they will even consider doing more.

Volunteers just do it – and, in time, their careers flourish.

Are self-aware, not selfish.

Self-aware people understand themselves, and that awareness helps them understand the people around them. Self-aware people are more empathetic. They are more accepting of the weaknesses and failures of others because they know how it feels to fail.

They can lead with empathy, compassion, and kindness because they know how it feels to be treated with disregard, disdain, and scorn. They do everything they can to help others reach their goals, because they know how it feels to fall short.

Self-aware people solve for the team, the organization, and the customer – not just for themselves.

Every organization needs self-aware people in key roles. (What is a key role? Every role.)

Are adaptable, not rigid.

Things constantly change in high-growth companies. Inflexible people tend to grow uncomfortable with too much change and consciously – even unconsciously – try to slow things down.

Best practices are important. Methodology is important. Guidelines, procedures, policies… all can help a business run smoothly.

But anyone can follow guidelines and procedures. Great employees are willing, even eager, to change. Great employees respond to new circumstances and new challenges with excitement, not hesitation. Employees willing to adapt and adjust tend to advance more quickly because that is what every company – especially a high-growth company – desperately needs.

Otherwise growth will be a thing of the past, not the future.

Are teachers, not truant officers.

The best people like to teach. They don’t hoard knowledge; they spread it. They share what they know.

A truant officer’s job is to make sure people show up. A teacher’s job is to make sure people learn.

Besides, truant officers tend to give “advice”: Do this. Don’t do that. Go here. Don’t go there.

A teacher gives knowledge. A teacher helps other people gain experience, gain wisdom, gain insight, a teacher willingly and happily gives other people tools they can use.

In the process a teacher build teams. And a teacher advances, because a true team builder is a rare, precious gem.

-Darmesh Shah, Founder and CEO of HubSpot

What do you think? Any essential qualities that I missed that should be on the list?

How to design a road map toward an engaged workforce

Can you prove the ROI of employee engagement? According to a Gallup survey, companies with world-class engagement have 3.9 times the earnings per share growth rate compared to their competitors with lower engagement. The challenge is planning a route to get employees engaged.Here are four basic tips companies can follow to motivate disengaged employees:

  • Pay according to market value. Many executives don’t like to hear it and would rather offer training or take similar steps. But paying accordingly is critical in moving disengaged employees up.
  • Limit organizational reductions in force. While hard to do, it’s impossible for employees to become engaged if they fear losing their jobs.
  • Manage organizational changes. Whether a market change or a leadership change, proactively communicate it to motivate disengaged workers.
  • Increase trust. Make sure all employees see the value in their company and believe in the brand. Executives must be visible and accountable.

While paying accordingly is important, it isn’t necessarily a motivating factor; it’s a baseline. Employee motivation is like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. People need to be taken care of, have the supplies needed to do the job, know what their job is, and be paid accordingly. Once those baseline needs have been met, you can move employees to becoming engaged.

To accomplish a company’s engagement goals, the process starts with an employee survey to determine what areas need work. The survey should be used as a starting point. To achieve the best results, develop the survey with experts from a third party who understand what motivates employees.
Based on responses, develop a plan for areas that require immediate attention. If there’s something that can be done, work on a plan to make a change. If a change cannot be made, explain why. It’s important for employees to know that action is being taken regarding a survey.
After changes are implemented, measure to see if there’s been an increase in revenue or productivity. Generally, a baseline is measured before the survey and six months to a year later to see if those factors increased.
Engagement takes a long time. But if you are genuinely trying to increase employee engagement, you will get a return on your investment.

6 signs your co-workers are out to get you

Knowing what to look for if you think someone might be sabotaging you at work requires going back to grade school in your mind. Essentially, our co-workers are the same people we went to school with and the same individuals that taunted their fellow campers at camp. I hate to say it, but each of us brings both good and bad behavior to work. Many experts will say that it’s the bullies who are insecure, and therefore, in order for them to feel better about themselves, they have to push around the people who are perceived as weaker. More often than not, a bully in grade school is the same bully at work.

It’s human nature to be competitive, of course. And born out of our drive to win, some of us “play dirty” from time to time. Ever cheated on the golf course? Maybe just improved your lie? Almost all of us do little things to try to get an advantage. When the stakes are high, whether it’s about winning a game or a pay raise, bonus, or promotion, we sometimes take the attitude that we must win at all costs. Here are the signs that maybe you’re not paranoid and your co-workers really are out to get you.

Not getting credit where credit is due

We’ve all been in the meeting where your co-worker, or even your boss, doesn’t acknowledge your contribution to the project. I’ve been in team situations in which the leader has taken the credit for winning an account and never credits the “cold caller” for opening the door or the closer for closing the deal. Truth be told, it was the door-opener, the closer, the creative team, and the leadership.

Avoidance

I have a client I’ll call Allen who was asked by the CEO of his company to welcome and support the new president. It was a difficult request, since it was the ousted president who had brought Allen into the company. But after all, he was still an employee. So, out of a sense of fair play and team loyalty, Allen wholeheartedly welcomed Sheila. After a couple of weeks he realized that his fellow co-workers were avoiding him. They no longer would come to his office for the occasional chat, there was no water cooler conversation, and basically they started treating him as an outsider. What Allen soon realized was that his co-workers were sabotaging the new president and that Allen was going to be collateral damage.

Loss of control

Losing control in the workplace is often a devastating feeling, and it erodes self-confidence. I remember one candidate I’ll call Sandy who was working as the SVP of client services at a major healthcare agency. She hired a smart, strategic thinker to work on a major account. At first, the colleague was in Sandy’s office on a regular basis, soaking up, as Sandy puts it, knowledge about the client, the office politics, etc. After six months, Sandy noticed that her colleague was going directly to Sandy’s boss (with Sandy’s ideas, usually). This person was also trying to undermine Sandy’s authority with other people in the client services department. The good news with this situation was that Sandy had a very long and solid relationship with her boss. They both recognized the struggle for control of the office and approached the newbie to fix it.

Being left out of the loop

Ever walked by a conference room to see your entire team gathered for a meeting you weren’t invited to attend? Sometimes, being excluded means something. It almost always does when nobody in that conference room goes out of their way to assuage your concerns afterward.

The sharp elbow game

As the workplace has become more treacherous, a new expression has emerged: being “thrown under the bus.” Just a few years ago, nobody knew what this saying meant. Now, however, when people start throwing colleagues under the proverbial bus instead of defending them like professionals, le jeux sont fait! (This is a French expression meaning, essentially, “the game is on.”)

People talking trash about others

If you hear your colleagues talking trash about others, most likely they are talking behind your back as well. This is the type of behavior that undermines a company’s culture, damages company morale, and ultimately, interferes with the company’s ability to deliver in the marketplace. Do all you can to refrain from talking negatively about colleagues at any time. There’s a reason why the expression “don’t shoot the messenger” is so prevalent. As often as not, the messenger gets shot.

Think about the playground in sixth grade. Remember the bully? The brainy kid? The jock? The popular kid? These and other roles persist in many workplaces. How did you manage when you were a kid? Sometimes practicing the Golden Rule is a great place to start. Stay vigilant though, because in most workplaces, that’s not enough.

By  Erika Weinstein  who is president and founder of eTeam Search.

5 Reasons Your Employees Probably Hate You

employees, boss, leadership, relationship, retention

 

Many years ago I worked for a company whose CEO was a stickler for how many hours employees worked. He made a point to note who came early and who stayed late. He considered anyone who didn’t a slacker.

As far as I know, nobody ever told him how shortsighted his approach was. Instead of rewarding results, he rewarded butt-in-chair time. Instead of focusing on output, he focused on input. Most hated the practice, but nobody told him.

How many of your behaviors drive your employees silently crazy that you don’t know about? Here are five leadership missteps to look out for:

1. You reward the wrong things. 
What gets rewarded gets done. It is such a familiar axiom of management that it is nearly cliché. It is, however, completely true. Where you focus your attention focuses your employees’ attention. What you notice, note and reward will get done more frequently.

Identify and focus on the results that matter. And don’t be like the executive above who confused activity with accomplishment.

2. You don’t listen. 
Even if your employees told you about a qualm of theirs, you might not really hear them. It is too easy to be distracted and pre-occupied.

Becoming a better listener is actually quite easy. When an employee is in your workspace to talk, turn off your email alerts, close your door and let your monitor go into sleep mode. Give your undivided attention to the person in front of you. They will feel you value them, and you’ll likely increase the quality and speed of the interaction.

3. You don’t notice what your employees are doing.
Brittney was a financial manager at a client firm. She was bubbly and outgoing. She also had the ability to draw attention to her “contributions,” though many weren’t that significant. Employees hated her self-aggrandizement. But they also disliked that management noted Brittney’s efforts because they were easily observed. Leaders didn’t pay attention to the good and often better work others were doing.

Great work is often done backstage, out of the spotlight. The glitter of self-promotion doesn’t blind great entrepreneurs. They seek out those people doing good work and make it a point to notice. Pay attention to people who do good work and let them know. And don’t get suckered by people who are better at promoting themselves than producing results.

4. Your attitude sucks. 

Bill is an entrepreneur who constantly complains about how terrible his employees are at delivering customer service. He berates and belittles even their best efforts. And yet he’s puzzled why those same employees treat customers poorly. The irony escapes him.

Attitudes are contagious. Mirror neurons pick up on and are affected by the moods of those around us. Leaders are especially powerful in influencing the mood of those on their team.

Don’t expect others to be more upbeat than you or treat customers better than you treat them. There are a few entrepreneurs who might have dodged this bullet, but not enough to be statistically significant. Your attitude is contagious, so pay attention to how you act at work each day.

5. You can’t keep your mouth shut. 
A young entrepreneur we will call Bob loved to share insider information about others. At one after-work beer session, he shared something HR told him confidentially about a coworker who was not at the gathering. It was less than flattering and was instantly off-putting to those in the group. The employee, a valued and productive member of the team, learned of the betrayal of confidence and was outraged. She left the company soon after.

Don’t think that trust can be effectively compartmentalized. If you’re known to be untrustworthy in your personal life, few will trust you in your professional dealings. If people don’t trust you, they will follow, but out of compliance instead of commitment.

No one is a mind-reader. If you want to find out why your team is dissatisfied to be a better leader, work on building trust and being equally open to both good and bad news. Ask them what they really think. And most importantly: listen.                 -Mark Sanborn