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Posts Tagged ‘praise’

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 »

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 Power and Peril of praising Effort

Posted by Ariel Ceballos on October 17, 2008

Thanks to Meg for forwarding that blog by Seth Godin on Effort and thanks to Vivian for her invitation to attend a Stanford Breakfast Briefing where Carol Dweck talked about her Mindset model.  Both things got me thinking.  I couldn’t spare the time to properly connect these ideas but here they go anyway:  

  • The point in Seth’s blog is that for most of us it is only through effort that we can succeed, despite the media constantly bombarding us with information that contradicts that statement.  It is only a miniscule minority that can bet on luck and win.
  • A while back I read about a study by the University of Exeter(a study that examined outstanding performances in arts and sports) that determined that “opportunities, encouragement, training, motivation, self-confidence and – most of all – practice determine excellence”.  Michael Howe (Exeter) went as far as saying that “Talent is a myth; it is hard work that brings success”.  He pointed out that despite Mozart being considered a genius, he had to work hard for 16 years before he could produce his first masterpiece (I know, this last bit is debatable for someone who wrote his first symphony at 8!)
  • Carol Dweck thinks that if you primarily believe that things are achieved by sheer brilliance and talent then you probably won’t reach your full potential.  Because you will be concerned with looking smart and not making mistakes.  After all, you either have it or not and you surely want to have it.  This is what she calls a fixed mindset.  On the other end, if you believe that talent and intelligence can be developed, then you will push yourself out of your comfort zone, make mistakes, confront them and learn from them.  This is what she calls a growth mindset.  A growth mindset is what allows you to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, recognize that effort is the only path to mastery, learn from criticism and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.  If you think this is an interesting concept I’d encourage you to read her book (Mindset: the New Psychology of Success).  It is short and easy to read.
  • According to another good book: The Five dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, people cannot be effective or reach their full potential if they operate in the absence of trust.  There is a need of an environment of “Psychological Safety” (back to Dweck) that allows people to make mistakes and learn from them.  It is this what in Dweck’s terms makes you smarter.  To promote such an environment where people can expose their vulnerabilities it is necessary that managers don’t penalize them for trying out new things despite the occasional failure.

All the above leads to one concept I really liked from Dweck.  Her emphasis on what to praise.  If you recognize an achievement by saying “Wow, you are really smart!” as opposed to saying “Wow, you must have worked really hard!” you might be pushing people towards a fixed mindset.  You are giving them a label of “smart” that they will make a point not to lose.  Therefore they won’t take risks and will avoid challenging assignments.  Instead, when you praise effort, you are recognizing them for something completely within their immediate control (“Effort is totally available, all the time” – Seth Godin).  Her research produced enormous amounts of evidence that confirms this to the point of making it almost indisputable.  One of those studies indicated that students with a fixed mindset “are more likely to cheat in an exam” simply because learning is not as important as looking smart.  This same group of students went as far as “lying about the results of their tests”.

When praising you need to be specific and realistic.  I actually learnt this from a parenting article that explained how it was better to say “I like the way you used colors in your painting” than saying “You are the best artist” because you took time recognize the specifics the praise will be taken more seriously.  There is hardly anything more discouraging than being praised by someone who makes it clear in their praise that they don’t understand the nature and magnitude of your accomplishment.  Unless the praise comes from Grandma, of course, in which case it is always fine.

Of course concepts that are fully applicable to parenting are not as easily applicable to management.  Primarily because when it refers to your children, their reaching their full potential is possibly the most important goal in your life.  While as a manager, ensuring your employees reach their full potential is one very important goal in your job (along with other, perhaps more tangible and immediate things like productivity, revenue, deadlines, you name it).  It then becomes a harder balancing act to recognize and reward effort without sending the wrong message and holding people to double standards.
But if you look at the long run, a small loss in productivity today may very well be a reasonable price to change a mindset.

Posted in engagement, leadership, management | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Why are we smarter about puppies then humans?

Posted by Meg Bear on May 12, 2008

While before I was talking about feedback in general, today I want to talk specifically about positive feedback.  I really enjoyed this posting that discusses the merits of praise, possibly enhanced by this one for those of you who prefer brevity.

Just coming back from The Conference Boards “Employee Engagement and Retention Conference” last week, I was struck by just how far we have to go in this area.  One point that summed it up for me was this set of questions/responses.

When asked “do you need encouragement to do your best at work?”

20% replied yes. 

When asked “When you get encouragement, does it motivate you to do your best?”

90% replied yes.

We all read this and think “of course”, we know this.  So I ask you, when was the last time you said “thanks”? 

Does your team make it a standard practice to recognize the contributions in an authentic and timely way?  Why do we understand so easily when training puppies that rewarding good behavior causes them to behave, but with people we focus on “constructive feedback” (and maybe once a year?!) and expect that to yield results.

I would encourage you to consider making a serious [focused] effort to say thank you more often.   Not only will it help someone be motivated to continue to do their best, it might also help you to always look on the bright side of life.

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