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Posts Tagged ‘performance’

My first performance review

Posted by Vivian Wong on August 27, 2008

The very first performance review I received was when I worked as a consultant for a small software house in Sydney.Before the performance review, I actually really enjoyed my job. My boss appreciated all the extra efforts we put into our work to get our customers live. He cared and we responded by working extra hard.

Life is full of surprises though.

One day the owner of the company flew in from Perth (Western Australia) completely unannounced and fired our boss that same day. A couple of days later, the CEO sat me down and presented me with the performance review document that HR has put together. He told me that I met their expectations and the company appreciates my work. All was good – right?

Well – not exactly.

I walked away from the performance review feeling confused and disappointed- and it wasn’t just from learning that my boss got fired from a couple of days ago. What bothered me was the CEO’s body language during the performance review. He seemed uninterested and disengaged. He casually flipped the review document back and forth (so I wondered if he had read it before he came into the meeting.) He also seemed to have ants in his pants and checked his watch frequently. So while he read my performance document to me, I stared at the conference table for the most part – trying to hide my disappointment. Although the feedback was “nice”, he came across as “bored” and “insincere”. There were no specific examples of why he thought I did well nor was there any suggestions on how I could be more than just “meet expectations”. (If I was getting ready for retirement, I probably wouldn’t have cared. But I was young, energetic and really wanted to know what I can do to be a better consultant.) With my 20/20 hind sight, I should have asked. To this date, I still remember how shiny the conference table was and the question I kept on asking myself “is this the company I still want to work for?”

The good thing is that I learned how NOT to deliver a performance review. 🙂

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

Coping with change through sophomoric behavior

Posted by Ken Klaus on August 15, 2008

Over the past several weeks my organization has undergone some changes as development plans were refined and priorities reassessed. As a result the project I’ve been managing was delayed in order to redeploy resources to assist other teams with their assignments. Even though we have come to accept and even expect changes like these, when I broke the news to my team they were understandably disappointed.


Coincidentally, my organization is also in the midst of our annual performance review cycle and one of the core competencies on which we are evaluated is our adaptability to change. Honestly, just saying this phrase makes me want to stick my finger into the nearest pencil sharpener and give the crank a good turn or two; fortunately my desire to remain employed proved greater than the urge to mangle a digit. So I dutifully completed my evaluation and even managed to avoid giving into cynicism. Let’s just call it an act of sincere, if cowardly, professionalism. Thus, in an effort to redeem this act of cowardice, I offer these more candid, if less refined, thoughts on managing change.


Coping with change is best handled like a Chinese fire drill. Stick with me. If you haven’t had the pleasure of participating in this modest prank, there are essentially three steps: 1) stop the car, 2) run around the car (The number of times the occupants must circumnavigate the vehicle is a matter of some debate. Personally, I think each occupant must complete at least three revolutions around the vehicle, lest those who witness the maneuver fail to recognize the beauty and complexity of the drill.), 3) reseat yourself. Implementing these steps in this exact order is critical. Trying to complete the second or even the third step, before the car has come to a complete stop is not recommended.

Coping with change requires us to follow much the same process. First, we have to stop what we’re doing. Often this first step can be sudden and unexpected, much like the aforementioned drill; but it is a necessary prerequisite to the rest of the process. Next we must get out of our seats and move in a new direction, which may include running around in circles a few times until we know for sure where we need to be. The key to this step is to ensure everyone is moving in the same direction, so if in doubt, follow the driver. The final step is finding a new seat. Often this can be the hardest step, as it may require giving up the driver’s seat and occupying the passenger seat or perhaps even the backseat for a while. If this happens, don’t get discouraged. Instead accept your new position as an opportunity to gain a fresh perspective and broaden your experience. On the other hand, if you suddently find yourself in the driver’s seat remember to buckle-up and enjoy the ride. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your fellow passengers for help, because trying to manage everything by yourself is the shortest route to burnout, and perhaps even career limiting accident.


As a rule change is good, though it is rarely ever easy. Learning to accept change as an opportunity and not just a cause for disappointment can help to ease the distress and frustration you feel when projects, organizations, and even cars come to a sudden or unexpected stop. What’s more, the experience may also prove useful during your next performance evaluation or job interview when asked to assess your adaptability to change – unless of course there’s a pencil sharpener handy.


I’m kidding! Kids, please do not attempt this, or any other car related prank, at home!

Posted in competency, performance | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Performance Evaluations and Goal Setting for Chicago Cops

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on August 13, 2008

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Chicago police officers will soon be subjected to performance evaluations. While reading this article, I had to double-check that I wasn’t reading The Onion.

The reason for implementing the evaluations? It seems there is a concern that due to the rise in violent crime, police officers are less able to focus on less serious crimes.

“Because cops are focusing on violent crime, arrests have slipped for less serious crime like disorderly conduct, trespassing and public drinking, Cuello said. Arrests for violent crimes do not seem to have fallen as much, she said.”

Well, this seems understandable, doesn’t it? Officers are arresting the violent criminals. These are the ones we want to be arrested. It seems OK to me to let the public drinkers get a pass? I mean, sure, I’d rather not have to deal with the drunk guy yelling obscenities at me, but I prefer that to, you know, being murdered.

I’m trying to imagine their goal setting process. We’ve all speculated about the traffic ticket quotas which may or may not exist. Imagine adding quotas for other types of arrests. “Arrest 20 trespassers and 10 crazy naked guys running on the street per quarter”

Anyway I see this problem in another light. It’s really a problem of succession planning. Violent crime is up. Petty criminals are being “promoted” to the serious crimes. Yet they haven’t groomed a successor. Perhaps this is due to declining gang activity, which may also be a problem that needs to be addressed. Until the criminal community properly ensures a continuous flow of crime, of ALL types, not just the violent ones, the Chicago police officers’ evaluation system is doomed to failure.

Or, I don’t know, maybe the goal should be REDUCE CRIME and not INCREASE ARRESTS? Just an idea.

Posted in goals, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Fostering Accountability: intimidation vs. encouragement

Posted by Louise Barnfield on August 11, 2008


I recently read an excellent article by Paul Glen in Aug 4’s ComputerWorld: Fostering Accountability.

He points out that you can’t impose accountability on your employees. Forget about threats and intimidation; that style won’t work. Instead: “…try to create an environment that encourages them to make that choice” through, among other things, communication, recognition and reward.

I particularly agree with his suggestions of structuring work “to give people control over their own success“, and “… in such a way that people owe things to one another rather [than] to the supervisor.”

Check it out! As is common with the most useful articles or advice, he takes time to spell out the wrong way as well as the right way.

Posted in leadership, management, teams | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

The answer is 42

Posted by Ken Klaus on March 25, 2008


For those familiar with Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, you may recognize the number 42 as “The Answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything” given by Deep Thought after seven and half million years of computational analysis; and, as I’m sure you will recall, not everyone was happy with the answer. Poor Phouchg (probably the VP of HR) grasped the seriousness of the situation right away, “We’re going to get lynched, aren’t we?” While Loonquawl (I’m guessing he was the CIO) was sure the problem lay with Deep Thought (and by association the software vendor who supplied its programming), “Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and half million years’ work?”  But the problem, as Deep Thought explains, was not with the answer: “I checked it very thoroughly and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quiet honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.”

Like those who were present on the great day of The Answer, many of us look to our software applications to answer the really hard questions around performance, potential, risk-of-loss, and succession. The promise of predictive analytics and the possibilities associated with data mining lead many to the false hope that the answers to these difficult questions lie buried deep within their data warehouses. Many C-level executives believe it is possible to quantify a persons potential or risk-of-loss in the same way a mathematician uses a predefined formula to discover an unknown variable. They long to replace the personal (subjective) aspects of the appraisal process with a dispassionate (objective) analytic tool. But the human experience is anything but objective. Our experiences, relationships, thoughts and feelings are as unique to each of us as our fingerprints; and the practice of measuring qualities like job satisfaction, potential, and performance requires a distinctly human touch.

Now before I get escorted from the building, let me clarify what I’m saying. Well defined competency models, clear organizational goals, and well integrated talent management applications are critical tools, which every manager should utilize, especially those who are new to their role. But managers must not abandon their responsibility in bridging the gap between the objective statistics generated from a data warehouse and the subjective nature of the human experience. As a colleague of mine is fond of saying, “managers need to have some skin in the game.” Calculating and calibrating a person’s performance and potential should be the natural outcome of a manager’s relationship with their employee and not a task to be completed once annually. Manager’s need to provide clear, honest, sincere feedback well before the appraisal period begins. This means meeting regularly with the employee, getting to know them, understanding what they like and dislike about their jobs, and helping them play to their strengths. These are tasks that can only be done by a person. Analytic tools may provide a good starting point for the evaluation, but they cannot replace the relationship between the manager and employee; because it is the manager, and not the application, who will understand that getting the right answer means asking the right question.

Posted in analytics, hr transformation, management | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

How to not be a c-player

Posted by Meg Bear on March 3, 2008

office-space-4.jpg  Was reading the HBR article called A new game plan for C players and it got me thinking.  Of course the point of the article was how C-players hurt your business.  They are bad for morale of the rest of the team and as a good friend of mine says “they can do negative work” suggesting that having a c-player around can actually cause you to spend more time fixing their work then just doing it yourself right the first time.

What struck me though, was that while we all tend to agree that yes, c-players are bad for our teams and yes, we should be better about taking action, I don’t feel that we actually spend time doing self reflection to see if maybe we ourselves might be performing at less then our own A-game.

I was reminded while reading this, that the most critical thing to “get right” for ourselves and our teams is a well aligned role to the individual.  Keeping all examples to myself to avoid offending anyone, I can say with confidence, that if my job were to help people who are lost get out of the woods it is clear I would be the worst suited for it.  If nagging people about deadlines and commitments is the job, then I’m a much better fit.  Just ask my husband.

I have had the fortune (twice actually) of finding myself interviewing for a position in which the job description was a complete match for my experience.  In both cases, these jobs were not only rewarding for me personally, I managed to deliver products that had significant monetary benefit for the companies that hired me.  By all measures this was A-player work.  I was happy, I was challenged and the work I delivered benefited. 

 On the flip side, I have also managed to get myself stretched outside of my core competencies in such a way, that the results of my efforts were so inferior I could not even fire myself, but had to give myself the task of cleaning up the mess first.  While, this made for a great poster, and I did learn a lot, in retrospect I know I should have done a better job in recognizing the signs and doing something about them, as a lot of people got hurt as a result of my c-player work.

So what is my real message here?  First I’d encourage us each to realize that we are each capable of both A-player and C-player work.  For the majority of us fortunate enough to be considered “professionals”,  life is not a huxley-esque situation where you are pre-defined as an alpha or an epsilon. 

It is up to us to best determine 

  • How do we quantify our talents
  • How do we align our talents with the jobs we are given
  • How do we push ourselves to give our best performance

Not just for the benefit of the company, but for the benefit of ourselves.  Like anything else, the best way to “not” be a c-player is to take an active role in your own performance. 

What do you have to lose?

Posted in engagement | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »