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Archive for the ‘productivity’ Category

Love yourself: love your self-assessment

Posted by Justin Field on June 27, 2011

Hey, it’s performance review time, and your manager has asked you to complete your self-assessment.  Are you filled with dread?  Don’t know where tostart?  Don’t know what to write?  Well, here are my personal tips to help you out.

As HR practitioners, we often assume that employees simply know how to do a performance review and how to go about completing their self-assessment.  But, my informal research tells me that people don’t really know what to do, unless they’ve seen a good model performance review, or, they’ve had the benefit of coaching in the art of performance reviews.

Step 1:  Start the hunt
Review your performance dimensions so you know what you need to hunt for.  What are your job competencies embedded in your performance review?  What were your performance objectives?  Are there any other elements that you would like to highlight?

Step 2:  Hunt for the good, the bad and the ugly
There are three elements that I find personally useful here.

  1. Scan your sent email from the last year and see if you can remind yourself of the big projects that you worked on over the past 12 months.  The cognitive bias of recency means that you’ll only remember recent achievements (in the past three to six months) so take some time to remind yourself of the good stuff you did right at the beginning of the performance year.  Pay particular attention to congratulatory emails from others — they have high value in the performance review cycle.
  2. Your performance system may have a journal or notes feature, or, you may have been super-organised and collected little nuggets of achievements and accomplishments in a Word document or a paper file.  Open up your performance notes and remind yourself of all the good (and sometimes the stupid or bad) things that you did.
  3. Use your workplace systems to get good numeric or quantitative evidence that will support your achievements.  For example, I often teach webcasts, and I send out an online evaluation survey after each event.  So I can easily review all the events that I produced, and work out the average satisfaction score for each event.  Another example:  one of my roles is to answer questions from the HR group about the performance cycle and our performance management system.  I centralised all these questions into an online forum, so I can count how many questions were posted, and how long it took me to reply to questions.

Step 3:  Write up your results
If you managed to find plenty of evidence during your hunt, then you’ll find it easy to write up your comments for each performance dimension.  For your competencies, you’ll need to use evidence to call out the behaviours that demonstrate proficiency in that competency.  For example, for a competency such as Presentation Skills, you may write something like:

I presented twice at our staff meeting on the use of social networking tools for learning within our division.  I also posted several blog posts on this topic on our internal team blog.  Four comments on the blog showed that my peers in China and Hong Kong valued this information.  For the last presentation I did, I scored 86% satisfaction from participants.

For your performance objectives, you need to include a blend of qualitative and quantitative evidence.  For example, for a performance objective around building relationships with customers, you may write something like:

For the Carlton Company, I arranged a visit to the CVC in California.  I clarified the purpose and target outcomes with the customer’s Vice President, and shaped the agenda in California to address this, collaborating with Product Development and Marketing.  Later, I arranged four visits to existing customers in Australia and New Zealand (Westpac, Qantas, Air New Zealand, NBN Company).  As an outcome, Carlton signed a new deal worth $1.2 million.

In essence, you need to be as specific as you can, and give good evidence to support your achievements.  Sometimes employees tell me that they feel that they are running out of achievements, so they end up repeating themselves.  A little bit of repetition is okay, but don’t use the same example for every single competency and performance objective — you’ll end up sounding one-dimensional, and one achievement does not illustrate a trend, which is what we are trying to illustrate in our performance reviews.

So, best wishes for your self-assessment.  Do leave me a comment if you find these tips useful (or, useless!).

Posted in cognitive bias, communication, development, engagement, performance, productivity | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

It’s performance time again!

Posted by Justin Field on June 20, 2011

Folks, we’re in the midst of performance appraisals again. Yes, I used the dreaded ‘appraisal’ word because it heavily embedded in our culture.  But I wish that it wasn’t about appraisal in the sense of judgement.  It makes employees nervous and fretful, and gives managers headaches about what to say, how to say it, and how to deliver bad feedback.  What I really wish for is a world where:

  • employees look forward to the performance review cycle as a meaningful way of having a chat about how they are doing in their role
  • managers feel comfortable with reviewing an employee’s performance, giving good concrete examples of desirable and undesirable behaviours
  • employees have a crystal clear picture of the year ahead, and the expectations that the manager has

Sometimes we focus too much on having a good computer system to help with the performance review.  But in truth, the computer system is just a way of supporting the process.  For employees and managers to derive value from the process, they have to engage with open minds and with a willingness to learn.

Posted in performance, productivity, technology | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Talking About OraTweet in Social Media at Work

Posted by Mark Bennett on September 25, 2009

front cover - AJ

Jake from our friends at AppsLab, posted earlier this week about the soon-to-be-released book, Social Media at Work: How Networking Tools Propel Organizational Performance. It’s authored by three of our Oracle colleagues who specialize in organizational development: Arthur L. Jue, Jackie Alcade Marr, and Mary Ellen Kassotakis. Connect is cited frequently and there are quotes from both Paul and Jake.

There’s a quote in the book from me related to how we use OraTweet, written by Noel Portugal, internally to help developers improve their productivity. I had first written about OraTweet a year ago in a post describing how companies were finding business value in using Twitter, both externally as well as internally.

Arthur, Jackie and Mary Ellen have put together a practical, use case-based guide that provides strategies for how to effectively deploy these tools in order to achieve your productivity, innovation, development and engagement objectives.

If you are attending the upcoming Oracle OpenWorld, you can find the authors at two 30 minute book signing slots:  Tuesday 1:00 – 1:30, and Thursday 1:30 – 2:00. The book is available for preorder now and should hit store shelves mid-October.

Posted in engagement, Innovation, productivity, Uncategorized, web2.0 | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Is Bacon at the Center of the Universe?

Posted by Mark Bennett on June 7, 2009

25638155_8b49c310dd_o

Not here either.

No, this isn’t a cosmological question regarding pork products, but really about Kevin Bacon and his position in the Movie Universe. Although not at the center, he is closer than a lot of other actors. Understanding the principles behind this can help us find ways to develop talent more quickly and effectively, which benefits both the employee as well as the employer.

We already discussed the principles that show how social networks can help form “weak ties” that foster innovation and breakthrough thinking. It turns out that the book, Driving Results Through Social Networks points out another principle* from the game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” It can help shed light on how networks and how they are developed can contribute to the success of high performers. This is achieved by building the right kind of network, which not only benefits the individual (and thereby serves to motivate them to put effort into this activity), but there’s a big payoff for the organization as well with these better-built networks.

Authors Cross and Thomas point out that being more central in a network (where the network is the total of all the people and their connections to each other) typically means having more numerous and diverse contacts and therefore closer access to a greater number and wider variety of information, ideas, resources, and opportunities. Note that it’s the combination of number and diversity that generally lead to this. For example, having a huge number of connections to a very narrow segment of a network probably means the connections are highly overlapping, which limits access to the rest of the network.

By having that closer access, an individual can more effectively tap into the network in order to achieve more than they otherwise would, be it goals, career development, etc. In turn, the company gets more productivity, increased innovation, and enhanced engagement from having employees more effectively connected.

There is a danger in looking at this single-minded. For example, grading everyone on a one size fits all “centrality score” is apt to backfire. How central in a network one is helps some individuals more than others based on their role, for instance. The definition of the network as all the people and their connections leaves open some questions. In some cases, you may not want to include every department in the company, but rather the pertinent departments from across all the business units. For some individuals, it makes sense to include more external networks, like industry groups, along with the key groups within the organization. Other individuals might be very central in a particularly intense area of expertise within the company. Remember that all the members of the network contribute to it in a wide variety of ways and it doesn’t serve any purpose to try to force everyone to be the same – that defeats the very usefulness of the network itself.

———————————————————————————————————-

*Briefly, the principle works like this: while there are a large number of actors, there are hardly any that are more than 3 “steps” away from Kevin Bacon (he is only two steps or less away from almost 25% and three steps or less away from almost 90%). By having so few steps to so many other actors, Kevin is better positioned than the average actor to find out about and exploit an opportunity. Of course, we all know his talent, experience, “look”, etc. all affect whether an opportunity will be opened to him, but a moment’s reflection tells us that these “connections” (to use the cliché) have a big impact as well.

How does this work and how did his network develop this way? Those two are related. By virtue of a combination of the total number of stars with whom he worked as well as who those stars were and with whom they’ve worked, Kevin has a network that reaches relatively quickly to a greater share of actors. This came about by his choices on what movies to star in and/or with whom to work. It’s likely that there is more diversity in the genres, cast, etc. in each of those choices. In contrast, other actors, whether due to type casting or personal preference, had made more narrow selections and their networks are “skewed” towards one area of the network. For example, someone might select for or get typecast as the slapstick comedian or the horror movie queen, and that would restrict the other actors they work with, reducing the share of the total network they have access to, and in turn impact the kinds of opportunities they get.

Photo: Sean Munson

At the time, I thought this was an interesting way to label their crosswalks. It turns out there’s more too it: “On September 25, 2004 Wallace’s Mayor Ron Garitone proclaimed Wallace to be the center of the Universe. Specifically, a sewer access cover was declared to be the precise location of the center of the Universe. A specially made manhole cover was made to mark the spot. It bears the words ‘Center of the Universe. Wallace, Idaho.'”

(Fly to in Google Earth | See in Yuan.CC Maps)

Posted in analytics, Career Development, collaboration, engagement, Innovation, productivity, social network, Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

When More Isn’t Always Better

Posted by Mark Bennett on May 26, 2009

431286183_372863bb1d_oThere have been a series of excellent posts, particularly Yuri’s, the last month dealing with the issue of getting value from Enterprise 2.0. Some companies are finding value while some are not having as much success doing so. Part of the problem is that there is an error in assuming that more collaboration is always better, when what’s really needed is more effective collaboration. As Hutch Carpenter points out, collaboration itself is not a benefit, but rather a means to an end. The objectives a company might be after vary greatly and could include higher productivity, enhanced innovation, increased employee engagement, etc. which in turn deliver business results in the form of increased revenue or lower costs (i.e. more profit). Collaboration is effective when it supports those objectives and results.

It’s possible to have collaboration that’s not effective. This can range from small-scale collaboration problems such as an overloaded key technical resource that becomes a bottleneck to the progress of several dependent teams to full-blown turf wars between two departments that results in a huge project being cancelled because the window of opportunity passes.

Collaboration tools by themselves don’t cause these ineffective, or even destructive, collaboration problems and by themselves won’t solve them either. However, these tools can be used by an organization that wants to address these types of problems, as part of the process. For example, they can help identify where overloaded key resources are and how to offload work to somewhere else. They can help find where the breakdown and conflict between two departments is centered so that it can be addressed (e.g. not starting the joint project at all under the current conditions, better prepare the organizations prior to project start, adjust the respective objectives of each department, etc.)

The point is that the tools and platforms in Enterprise 2.0 are only as effective as the organization is motivated and prepared to put them to good use. That use could be either or both addressing current obstacles to effective collaboration as well as enhancing current collaborations. What’s great about these tools and platforms, but sometimes overlooked, is that not only can they enhance collaboration, but they also can measure it. Organizations can use this measurement to find and test ways to make collaboration more effective. And that requires motivation and action by the organization and its leadership.

Two excellent books that are out now that cover these issues are:

Driving Results Through Social Networks: How Top Organizations Leverage Networks for Performance and Growth by Rob Cross and Robert J. Thomas – This covers the whole range of scale from individual performance and productivity impact of collaboration to the impact of collaboration on organization innovation, projects, and processes as well as the impact of organization culture and strategy on collaboration. There are many solid use cases provided.

Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results by Morten T. Hansen – This is primarily focused on large-scale collaboration and paints it in the starker colors of “good vs. bad” collaboration. Hansen lays out the hidden traps companies fall into with collaboration, identifies the barriers to collaboration, and three levers to avoid the traps and overcome the barriers. It has many use cases as well. Oliver Marks has a great post about this research and our colleague Christine found this great Economist article about the book.

Photo: barnism

Posted in collaboration, Innovation, leadership, performance, productivity, Uncategorized, web2.0 | 4 Comments »

Do you have an awesome pit crew?

Posted by Louise Barnfield on May 19, 2009

f1-grand-prix-crewf1-grand-prix-crewI have been watching in delight as Jenson Button has taken four chequered flags in the last five Formula 1 Grand Prix races.

The meteoric rise of the Brawn team has set this F1 season alight, and Jenson naturally does not hide his excitement or pride in the current situation.

The F1 drivers are the attention-grabbers, the celebrities who dominate the air-time and headlines. It’s the excitement and speed of the race itself that commands the full focus of the cameras and the spectators, with only occasional glimpses of the pit crew. You could almost forgive the drivers for having huge egos.

Yet, what’s the first thing that Jenson did as he crossed the finish line in every one of his four wins this season? He elatedly screamed his gratitude to his team, broadcasting his thanks for the world to hear on the Team Radio.

His team: the guys huddled in the pits, wearing anonymous overalls and balaclavas. The guys who spend sleepless nights just before the event dealing with last minute glitches to get their machines out to the starting line in race-winning condition. “Thank you, thank you! …You guys rock! …The ride was awesome! …You guys did an amazing job!

Recently, I was that driver. I drove a demo to a wide audience of colleagues across a number of teams. Apparently it was a great success – let me rephrase that – it was a great success! The demo ran smoothly and I received a great deal of kind and enthusiastic comments from my peers who were evidently enlightened and entertained by the event. But I wasn’t the success; I didn’t make the demo rock; I was simply the representative who presented the terrific work and dedication of many others around me.

So, I want to share the positive comments and encouragement that I’ve received! I’m taking this opportunity to turn this post into my own Team Radio and give a heartfelt shout-out to our amazing pit crew who themselves spent sleepless nights just before our event, dealing with last minute glitches to get to the starting line in winning condition. “Thank you, thank you! …You guys rock! …The ride was awesome! …You guys did an amazing job!

Posted in productivity, teams, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

The HR Carnival on Productivity is up

Posted by Mark Bennett on March 19, 2009

399853586_4b215a68c1_mCheck out the new  HR Carnival at Erik Samdahl’s excellent Institute for Corporate Productivity (I4CP)’s Productivity blog. The theme is naturally enough around productivity, and there are an amazing number of terrific posts in this carnival. This provides you an excellent chance to sample from a wide diversity of thinking regarding a particularly important topic for the economy. You may discover a blog that you’ll want to subscribe to that you were not aware of before!

 

One of our social networking articles has been featured, relating to the productivity boost derived from richly networked employees. Check out the carnival!

Posted in carnival, productivity | 2 Comments »

 
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