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Posts Tagged ‘performance’

People, Performance and Perception

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on August 25, 2013

A commonly heard complaint: “My manager is a control-freak and practice micro-management. He asks for suggestions but provide them all himself. He doesn’t believe in imperfection and try to fit us into his unrealistic expectations.”

Perceiver believes that it is the reality but he might be just focusing on the aspects which reinforce his existing beliefs.  Your friends, co-workers or the society don’t know “a real you” but “they know you as they perceive you” as they always have perception about you.  But when most of the decision makers in an organization shares the same perception about someone than it doesn’t really matter what “reality is” as “perception becomes the reality”.Perception

It’s hard for an organization to get required contribution from an individual who is not able to accomplish his own goals within organization and in order to achieve your purpose you need to know that how people perceive you. Any undesired perception about you, your products or services will not go away if you deny its existence.

It‘s not possible for you to communicate with each perceiver to explain who you really are, in case you are not happy about it. But before you make any effort to change perception, you need to understand three critical factors which contribute to perception formation process. And they are:

  1. Your performance: How you perform in a given context contributes majorly towards perception about you. Initial performance is a foundation stone in this process and often takes a lot of effort to change, in case you want to change it later, for better.
  2. Your competitor’s performance: Comparison and competition are unavoidable and if you are afraid of them, then you really fear your own incompetence.  You need to know what your competitor’s are doing before they walk over you.
  3. Perceivers’ viewpoint:  You are dealing with humans and they are prone to mistakes and prejudices. It can go in your favor or against you. These people can be your customers, key influencers in your organization or anyone who is a stakeholder in your current or future endeavors.

You may want to manage one or more of these factors depending on your power of influence but at minimal you should always be in a position to improve your own performance.

If you don’t want to be defined by what you are not, if you want to feed your opportunities and starve your problems; you need to take charge to change perception about you and the time is now. But what if you have already tried your best and are fully convinced that perception about you is unchangeable? You are neither the first nor the last person to feel it, recharge your batteries and hit the trail again. New jobs are waiting to be done, new teams are waiting to be led and new ideas are waiting to be born…

Photo Credit: Unknown

Posted in change, leadership, management | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Secrets of a successful talent review – part 2

Posted by Justin Field on January 14, 2010

In my last post, I wrote about performance calibration as being one of the secrets of success for talent reviews.  But performance isn’t the only dimension of top talent.  The other dimension we look at is potential.  Now with performance, it’s well understood by most managers and executives, and we can place some measures around performance, to make it easier to pick the appropriate performance rating for an employee.

With potential, it’s so much harder.  We often get asked, what is this thing called potential?  And what does it mean?  Potential for what?  So we’ve tried to invest more time in educating managers and executives about our definition of potential and what it means.

In the talent review, we quickly found that some managers really get the idea of potential and how it can be applied to their business.  They understand that they have to build and grow the next generation of leaders.  They understand that most of the time it’s better to build and grow internally; and that only some of the time it’s better to buy talent externally — and really great leaders have the ability to distinguish between these two situations.

On the other hand, some managers were less solid in their understanding of potential and how to apply it to their organisations.  A high performer is not necessarily top talent, unless they also have high potential.  We saw a few cases where the employee’s performance was being rewarded, rather than focusing on the high performance and high potential employees, who have the potential to go one level up or even two levels up.

Now we’re thinking about what to do.  We don’t think quotas of top talent are the right way to go:  the “right” number of top talent depends solely on the requirements of the business.  In growth economies you need a solid bench of front-line and middle managers, with a good portion that have potential to grow to higher levels and lead the business into the future.  In mature economies, you need less of the accelerated pool, but you still need enough top talent to sustain the business.

We are tossing around ideas about getting much more specific and detailed in our measurement of talent.  At present we use questionnaire that is applied equally to individual contributors, front-line managers, directors, vice presidents and above.  It gives us a really good first cut of the population, but we need to take it to the next level.  We call this next level “second filter.”

What might this second filter be?  What would be involved?  Well it comes down to two parts:  defining what is necessary for success at the next levels (I like to call this “plus one” and “plus two”); and then putting in place measurement instruments that uncover a high potential employee’s individual fit with the success definition.

Our ideas fall into a number of different initiatives.  Some areas of the business use assessment centres successfully.  Here a group of high potential employees is brought together for a day or two.  They are intensively tested and assessed.  The results are analysed and fed back to the employees, to help them craft their personal development plan.

We’ve also looked at detailed behavioural interviews (similar to that proposed by Bradford Smart in Topgrading.)  Here, we’d have two consultants interview high potential employees, to gather information about their personal capability and motivation, compared to the success model.  The interview process also involves detailed one-hour reference check interviews, with two or more referees, to get independent validation of the high potential employee’s skills, capability and potential to grow.  The output of the interview processed is viewed from an organisation level, but also fed back to the employee, with development recommendations, so they can craft their personal development plan.

Another option is to use psychometric instruments like Hogan HPI.  This tends to give some view of the employee’s true potential, but we need to match this information with the employee’s motivation to achieve and their motivation to gain power and influence, to get the full picture.

So really, an ideal approach would be a blend of these initiatives.  It would give us concrete reliable information that is predictive of success:  we would know that certain characteristics lead to promotions and sustained high performance over time.

If you have other ideas about potential and how to measure true potential, leave a comment for me.

Posted in leadership, performance, succession planning, talent review, top talent | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Confessions of a performance review convert: no pain, no gain?…no longer!

Posted by Louise Barnfield on August 27, 2009

opportunity

I’ve noticed that performance review meetings with my manager have evolved over the past couple of years, and my performance document looks very different too. It has become a living, breathing document over the course of the entire year, and, as a result it is more complete and more relevant, both as a history and as a roadmap.

In the past, I admit I was prone to similar mistakes that Meg called out in an earlier post on performance reviews. Thanks Meg, I learned a lot from that post!

Happily, over time, she and others have encouraged me to improve my own self-evaluation process, and this in turn has provided better input for my manager, enabling him to make more comprehensive and constructive comments himself. I spend more time on the process than I used to, because it matters to me more – and it matters to me more, because it’s very evident that it matters to our management team.

Meg has strongly encouraged us to have more frequent reviews with our manager, to summarize progress on our goals, and adjust as necessary. On second thoughts, for ‘strongly encouraged’ read ‘mercilessly nagged’!! 🙂

When I perceive the importance that’s placed on this process, then I’m willing to invest more in it myself.

This has meant, for this past year in particular, that I’ve updated my performance document at quarterly intervals, which made the final summary far more manageable and more meaningful, as I could see my own progress over the entire year. Since I didn’t have to conjure up 52 weeks’ worth of information when faced with the end-of-year deadline, it also meant I spent that time more productively reflecting on the year’s events and on where I want to go in the future.

In support of this frequent update process, a recent BusinessWeek article, The Trouble with Performance Reviews, states: “…reviews occur too infrequently to provide meaningful feedback.” Luckily for me, many of the negatives raised in the article no longer apply to my performance reviews: we do “make criteria more explicit and objective and have more people involved in the ratings process, so that one person’s perceptions and biases don’t matter so much”; we do “focus more on facts and evidence and less on benchmarking and unexamined conventional wisdom.”

The annual task that I used to dread is no longer drudgery, it’s my opportunity.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not a breeze. I spent a long time thinking and working on this year’s self-evaluation, but it was a more satisfying process because I was able to focus my attention differently, and now that I see the positive outcome I certainly don’t feel the pain as I used to. So: less pain, more gain – gotta love that!

For those of you who lack the benefit of your own Meg kicking you up the proverbial backside, I encourage you to do yourselves a favor: proactively keep frequent notes and write your own quarterly review – schedule it in your calendar and don’t (as I’ve been known to do) let it slide into obscurity in deference to seemingly(!) higher priorities.

However, for those subjected to the same regular nagging that I am, be grateful that your managers encourage you to review your goals and keep them current. My management team recognizes the benefit of ensuring that team members are continually aligned to valid smart organizational goals, for the good of me as an individual as well as for the good of the team and the business.

I’ve already updated my 2010 performance document twice in the past 2 months! Quite a change for the person who (like our Ken) was previously dragged, kicking and screaming, through the once dreaded annual process.

Which are you, a diehard or a convert?

Photo by Little Jeanne

Posted in goals, management, performance, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

How about giving your Boss a Performance Review?

Posted by Vivian Wong on April 14, 2009

handshakeAs an employee, it’s easy to think of a Performance Review as a one way street where the manager reviews your performance. In some ways, a Performance Review is just like social networking (such as Twitter/Facebook)- some make the most of it, while others think it’s a complete waste of time.

If you make the most of your Performance Reviews, then congratulations! I hope you walk away from them knowing:

  • How you are doing at your job – what’s working and what’s not
  • Suggestions/Action items for growth
  • Hope for continued career growth – honest discussion so your manager can help align your strengths and career aspiration with the business needs

You can take it one step further. 

From time to time, you should give your manager the ultimate gift as well. As Meg noted in her Managing Your Boss blog, part of your job is to help your boss succeed. Just like your manager lets you know how you are performing, you should reciprocate and give your manager some feedback on how they are doing as your boss – all relationships (work or personal) thrive on a two-way communication.

So ask yourself: 

  • What is it that your manager does that either helps or hinders you from performing your best
  • Do you want your manager to continue or stop a particular behavior? 
  • What do you want your manager to start doing to bring out your potential?

I am betting that I am not the only manager who appreciates honest feedback from my team. 

For example, I would definitely want you to tell me if I have broccoli stuck in my teeth  or that I was abrasive in my communication or worse, I am de-motivating you unknowingly. I would also like to know if I am doing enough for you and whether  I am providing the right level of support to help you grow

It’s one thing to do the best I can, it’s another to know that my efforts have the desired effect;  and if not, I’d be happy to make improvements and be a better leader and manager!

So go ahead – give your manager some feedback – it might even help your manager to help you in finding happiness at work.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

The leadership cop-out, the employee hot potato

Posted by Meg Bear on December 3, 2008

mrpotato

Dan was talking this week about how real leaders do the right thing, even (or especially) when it means that you have to let a poor performer go.   You all know that I’m a big believer in job fit.  Finding a role that leverages your strengths is critical for success.  For some, finding the right role can be a process of trial and error, using our failures to course correct is a part of personal growth.  Sometimes coaching and role adjustment can turn a lack-luster performer into a star.   But we all know that there are times when the problem is not just job fit, it is job attitude.

When an individual has a negative attitude you are dealing with a cancer that impacts the whole team.  It is the job of the manager to resolve the situation quickly and fairly.  Too often, weak managers resolve their situation by creating an employee hot potato.  These disgruntled employees find themselves sharing (and often compounding) their negative attitudes across multiple groups as they bounce from manager to manager, each too weak to take action.

Moving performance problems around the organization is one of the worse kinds of management cop-outs. It is not honest for the individual and it is not good for the company.  It is not leadership, it’s cowardly.

I am well aware that the process of resolving performance problems takes considered thought and diligence.  Even when attempting to do the right thing, it is often not black and white.   We all want to make sure we have given enough chances to the employee and have done our best to coach them to improvement.  I would not want anyone to take this process lightly.  I would just like to encourage you all to make sure you are honest with yourselves that you are not perpetuating performance problems in other groups, because you are too lazy to deal with them yourself.

If you are not sure, get help from your HR team.  HR professionals can support you through the tough job of coaching the team member to acceptable performance or terminating.  It is the role of HR to make sure that the process is fair for the employee, the impacted team and the company.

Repeat after me, no more employee hot potatoes!

Posted in hr, leadership, management, teams | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Merit pay at the Vatican and practicing Correctitude

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on November 14, 2008

Kathi at the Vatican

It’s been about a year since the Vatican announced it’s new merit pay system.  I have to admit, the initial announcement slipped by my radar.  But now that it’s been brought to my attention, I’m fascinated.  I took a look at this article, describing the changes.

“The system will take effect January 1.  But, characteristically for an institution that “thinks in centuries”, it will be introduced only gradually.”

 So, ten months have gone by.  They’ve probably started down the path, I assume.   I’m curious to know how that’s going, how they are handling the change.

Some of the things they are measuring:  Dedication, professionalism, productivity, politeness.  Politeness?   Uh oh, I know some people at my company that are going to be in trouble if that one catches on as a goal.

Other articles have, instead of politeness, listed this goal as “correctitude”.  Maybe “politeness” is just a bad translation from Italian ?  Whew, let’s go with that.  Then what exactly is correctitude, and do we need that in our workplace?  Well I found this:

Correctitude: Appropriate manners and behavior; propriety.

….which is probably sufficiently vague to serve as a good performance goal. (I’m kidding, Justin!).  

I’m still having trouble figuring out the proper behavior to achieve this goal.  But what about this:

Political correctitude: avoidance of expressions or actions that can be perceived to exclude or marginalize or insult people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

And a synonym to this is “political correctness”.  That’s more like it.  I think I have sufficiently translated this to English.

One small problem for me.  Earlier in this post I may have insulted or marginalized people who are socially disadvantaged in terms of not having the ‘politeness’ skill.  Which means I have demonstrated a lack of political correctitude.  I clearly have some work to do in this area.

Posted in goals | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Get rid of performance reviews?!?

Posted by Justin Field on October 22, 2008

Dr Sam Culbert writes in the Wall Street Journal that performance reviews destroy morale, kill teamwork and hurt the bottom line.  I take pity on Dr Culbert’s manager, who must be tearing his or her hair out with Dr Culbert’s obvious distaste for the performance review process.  And I wonder what it is like to work at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.  Are they practising all the bad habits that Dr Culbert’s shares in his article?

If only Dr Culbert’s arguments made sense.  He is clearly trapped in a performance review timewarp.  His version of performance review is medieval, with the manager (who he consistently calls “the boss”) standing in judgement of the hapless employee, who meekly accepts the manager’s opinion.  There are however kernels of truth in Dr Culbert’s analysis, so let’s take a look at the modern (non-medieval) way of performance evaluation:

1.  We believe in the concept and vision of daily performance managementDr Culbert does make reference to this when he says the once-a-year judgement of performance is a poor vehicle for giving and receiving feedback.  And he’s 100% correct.  Our concept of daily performance management is that the manager and the employee have a continuous, ongoing dialogue regarding the employee’s performance and how it can be adjusted to make the employee successful and to make the organisation successful.  To enable daily performance management, we believe our applications shouldn’t limit the user to a once-per-year interaction.  The system should be open and flexible and it should facilitate more frequent interactions.

2.  We believe in a future-facing performance management environment.  Dr Culbert seems to hate having his manager look back at past events and indiscretions and pointing out how bad he was.  Poor sausage.  Instead, think about a system based on performance objectives or goals, where the manager and the employee discuss those goals upfront, and then they collaborate on achieving them.  Dr Culbert would think he’d died and gone to heaven!  In fact, it comes very close to Dr Culbert’s idea of “performance previews,” looking at collaborating to support future performance, rather than looking back at historical events.

3.  We believe in open lines of communication between the manager and the employee.  The thing that struck me reading Dr Culbert’s article was how often the problems he perceived could be dealt with by open communication.  Now, it is true that it takes effort for a manager to build trust that would facilitate this level of communication, and the employee has to play their part too, but that is not to say that it is impossible. 

4.  We believe in customised and relevant content in the performance evaluation.  One of Dr Culbert’s gripes is that “bosses apply the same rating scale to people with different functions” and that managers “don’t redo the checklist for every different activity.”  Well, of course, that would be silly and unhelpful.  So our applications provide the ability to define precisely the content and measurements for each job, so that the manager and the employee have specific and relevant attributes that define success for each role.  And over and above that, the manager and the employee can define specific and personal objectives that apply only to that employee.  By supplying a library of skills, competencies and accomplishments, and by defining highly specific job profiles, our applications will help managers and employees to understand what the baseline expectations are.

Dr Culbert’s right about improvement:  “[it] is each individual’s own responsibility.”  So let’s have a performance management system that helps the individual clearly identify the opportunities.  And he’s right about trust too:  there needs to be a high level of trust between manager and employee.  So let’s have a performance management system that supports building of trust, rather than tearing it down.

Posted in Career Development, competency, engagement, goals, leadership, performance, personal, profiles, succession planning, teams, top talent, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Is the Australian cricket team a lesson in poor talent management?

Posted by Justin Field on October 22, 2008

Well, the Australians have just lost the second test against India at Mohali, losing by 320 runs. I’ve been reading the coverage in print and online and it struck me that there were a few home truths in the Australian team’s performance and behaviour.

Monday’s disgraceful spat between Ricky Ponting and Brett Lee is a lesson in how not to manage poor or declining performance in your team. Brett clearly wanted to bowl and thought he could do it, although Ricky thought otherwise, and handed the ball to another bowler. There followed an argument and heated words.
Lesson for managers: Don’t discipline underperforming team members in public. It causes hurt and consternation all round. Remember to clearly explain your expectations for high performance and help (rather than insult) those that once had great performance but are now struggling.

Some commentators have been lamenting the retirements of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.  The reasoning goes that they were senior players who brought great skill and great cohesion to the team, and assisted Ricky in building team spirit and discipline.  But now, they are gone.  And the Australians are looking like a second rate team, with good, but not great, younger players joining the test team.  To me it seems quite short-sighted that the Australian cricket fraternity has not been grooming junior players to have the quality and the attitude that is required at international test level.
Lesson for managers:  Don’t think succession planning is someone’s else’s business.  It is your business and it is your business now.  With financial conditions changing on a daily basis, with the economy in turmoil and with talented employees always looking out for their next career move, you cannot afford to be caught dozing when your key talent retires or moves on to other opportunities.  So do what you need to do to identify your key talent, work out succession plans, and start talking to peers and executives about creating the right conditions to retain and grow your talent.

Posted in management, personal, teams | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

The Paradox of Perfection: Learning to Give Your Best Performance

Posted by Ken Klaus on September 5, 2008

If you’re a foodie, love to travel, or have absolutely no problem grabbing some serious couch time on the weekend, you’ve probably seen Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. In the fifth season, which wrapped this week, we join our host as he eats his way around the world, touring Uruguay, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Spain and my personal favorite Japan – where he goes “in search of the relationship between a perfect piece of sushi and a perfect knife blade, the common ground shared by the martial artistry of kendo and the subtle aesthetics of Japanese flower arranging.” Indeed throughout the episode Chef Bourdain returns again and again to the idea of perfection, asking each of the masters he interviews (sushi, kendo, and ikebana) if they believed in the concept of perfection and whether they felt they had ever achieved it in their field of expertise. Paradoxically, though all of them believed in the idea of perfection, they universally agreed that achieving it was very unlikely and, more importantly not the point. What truly mattered was continually improving your performance – doing a better job each time you took up the task at hand.

 

Recently, I’ve been reading the new book from Mark Sanborn author of The Fred Factor and You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader. In his latest book, The Encore Effect, Mark offers insights reminiscent of the philosophy shared by the sushi, kendo and ikebana masters of Japan – that giving an exceptional performance has less to do with achieving perfection, and more to do with focus, passion, discipline and the desire to do your job better with each new day. The exceptional performer embraces the idea that there is always room to improve and they apply the same level of focus and discipline equally to each task, no matter how small the job or great the reward. As Mark states, “Remarkable performers focus on the outcome they’re striving to achieve and say no to any activity that would divert their efforts. They know exactly where they are going and they focus on how to get there.”

 

In addition to focus and discipline, outstanding performers also have passion. In an early post I wrote for the TalentedApps blog, Helping Happy Cows Stay Happy, I talked about my desire to find a deeper passion for my work. What I discovered, am still learning, and Mark far more eloquently describes in The Encore Effect is that passion does not derive from our work, rather passion is something we must bring to our work, even if the job we’re doing today is not necessarily the one we want to do; because the passion, discipline and dedication we bring to our job today may be the key that unlocks the door to the unknown career for which we are still searching. Mark says it even better: “By doing your job with all the passion and enthusiasm and creativity and energy you have, you will make yourself increasingly valuable in the eyes of those around you. And as that happens, your opportunities will expand. When people are excited about you and about what you have to offer, the possibilities that will open up may surprise you.”

 

I firmly believe that our vocations and our performance are entirely ours to manage. I also believe that we can provide an exceptional performance, one worthy of an encore, no matter what the job or how often we have been tasked to complete it. We simply need to raise the bar, set more challenging goals, and strive to do a better job than we did the last time; remembering that improvement and not perfection is the goal. Again citing the master, “The fact is that no matter how good you become, you can always get better. And that’s a good thing. It keeps work and life interesting and challenging, because if you have become as good as you would ever get, the balance of your days would be pretty monotonous. Perfection is not a goal but a process – one that never ends.” Thanks Mark!

 

Posted in performance | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

The ultimate gift to an employee

Posted by Vivian Wong on September 3, 2008

We all have talents and our job as managers is to bring out individual’s strengths and help them develop additional skills to be more successful at their jobs. This has a direct impact on employee engagement, retention, job satisfaction and of course the bottom line of the business. In order to do this, we need to create a safe and collaborative environment for team members to ask for help, give them resources to help themselves, as well as looking out for opportunities to challenge them to perform to the next level.
 
Easy said than done.
 
As managers we need to understand what motivates our team members to begin with (beyond money and stock), define and enforce core values with them as a team, and provide both constructive and positive feedback REGULARLY. It’s easy to give positive feedback (although we probably should do it more often) but giving constructive feedback is often the hard part of management – but it really is also the most critical aspect in helping someone with his or her professional growth.
 
On the giving front, we need to have the “right” intent. We give constructive feedback because we want someone to be more successful, not because we have an ill intent of busting him or her for doing something wrong. We need to be sensitive to the recipients and how they would react to the feedback. On the receiving end, it is important to have an open mindset and understand that constructive feedback really is something coming from someone who wants you to do better– no matter what career level you are at. I think the biggest impediment to improvement in most people is that they tend to tie their egos to problems and therefore are reluctant to identify and talk openly about improvement areas without becoming defensive. Mistakes are good – if we learn from them! It’d be wonderful if we are perfect, but to err is human. Just last week I made the mistake of spelling “Principal Developer” as Principle Developer” in a chat room. Someone kindly pointed out in a fun way and asked if the “Principle Developer” would develop principles? Instead of becoming defensive (which would have been a natural instinct), his correction actually helped me made a mental note to be more careful with my spelling. I am grateful that he didn’t want me to look silly in the future. Having the right (open) mindset in receiving constructive feedback is key to self-improvement. While some of us take time to self-reflect, we all have blind spots and we should always be thankful to those for taking the time to point out things we can improve upon so we can continue to grow! (BTW – Ken has an interesting post called Mistakes are just the icing on the cake, check it out if you haven’t read it yet!)
 
Fortunately my manager, peers and directs are very good at both giving and receiving constructive feedback. We have really helped each other grow over time. I truly believe that the ultimate gift to an individual is giving him/her honest and sincere constructive feedback to help with each other’s continued growth – the sky is the limit!

Posted in engagement, leadership, management, teams | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »