Stupid Leadership Traps #3:
The Annual Review
Leadership is Redefining “Profit” see my post HERE
Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future. – William Wordsworth
Profit is not about the money. This is leadership redefined.
Read the transcripts at hughballoupodcast.com
Of all the dysfunctional systems in organizations, the top one on my list is…
…the annual review!
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein
Here is the fundamental question, “Are you going to wait for a whole year to tell an employee how he or she is doing?” We persist in maintaining this practice, even though it is stressful and confrontational.
- The experience is for compliance, and not for engagement.
- There is no meaningful conversation.
- There is stress on both sides.
- There is typically little, if any, positive change, especially in the process itself.
- We satisfy a human resources checklist, often to simply justify a person’s position.
- There are other options that will satisfy compliance and produce meaningful results.
Here are some things that I know work in various situations and in various forms, as applied to each individual culture.
- Don’t wait: begin with a conversation about desired outcomes.
- Let the employee set goals for the next 12 months.
- Break those goals into 30-day milestones.
- Break those milestones into action items.
- Create a check-in process to monitor progress.
- Let the employee do a self-evaluation. Give feedback and support. Coach for improvement.
- This builds relationship in a non-confrontational manner (coaching is nurture).
- Share the individual goals with the team, the staff, or the department.
- Transparency brings accountability and support.
This provides data to then support the annual report for the HR process.
We don’t often consider evaluating processes, as well as results. How we do things is the top place for your leadership skills to benefit the organization.
A leader is this:
- A person who gets things done
- A person who knows how things get done
- A person who influences others
We tend to make things too difficult. Simplify the process. Simplify your work. Simplify your life.
This applies to teams, as well as individuals. The team can evaluate their results, their process, and their skills gaps.
When these results are defined, your duty as leader is to allow others to function up, by not implementing the change alone. You are the leader and not the doer (translated as the “over-functioner”).
Here’s the routine:
- Create a plan
- Evaluate the plan on a regular schedule
- Revise the plan, based on the evaluation
- Recommit to the new plan
If you have a long-term strategic plan, then you will always have a long-term plan, if you follow this routine.
Now, you can devote the annual interview to different tasks such as these:
- Review and compile trends from the ongoing goals conversations – develop standards
- Focus on specific personal skills development
- Team interaction
- Relationship building (internal and external)
- Career advancement – goals, skills, desires
- Professional development – schedule and activate continuing education strategy
- Overall effectiveness
- Other items to do with the big picture and compliance
Change your paradigm and change your results.
Welcome to Session #19. This one is near and dear to my heart, just about as near and dear as the dysfunctional, boring, unproductive meeting. This is the dysfunctional annual review. We get stuck in these traps because we have inherited systems. There is an assumption that we are going to do things the way they have always been done before. We have developed this artificial set of compliance requirements that are not realistic. Let’s look at this from a different perspective.
I can’t sit in the seat of a natured unprofessional and illuminate what is required. There are compliance issues that are annual issues and ongoing issues. But there are also culture issues. I think we can address both of those in a very different pattern.
Converting passion to profit is about redefining profit. I have quoted Wordsworth before: “Life is divided into three terms, that which was, which is, and which will be. Learn from the past to profit by the present, from the present to live better in the future.” Profit is positive results. Whether we are running a business or a charity, we generate revenue by generating value for people. Profit is really not about the money. We have redefined profit. Leadership is creating value. It is being the person of influence.
Read the transcripts for all of these podcasts. Find the links on hughballoupodcast.com. You can find the links to all these pages for all these podcasts, and you can find the links in the podcast that I refer to: free stuff, other books, other lessons that I have. There is lots of good stuff embedded.
Onto the dysfunctional annual review of all the dysfunctional systems in our organization. This one tops the list. Let’s quote Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Here is the fundamental question for me. Are you going to wait a whole year to tell an employee how he or she is doing? We persist in maintaining this practice though it is stressful and confrontational. Whoa. The annual review. This experience is for compliance and not for engagement. There is no meaningful conversation. There is stress on both sides. There is typically, if any, little positive change, especially in the process itself. We satisfy the HR checklist, often to simply justify a position on both sides. There are really other options that will satisfy compliance and produce more meaningful results.
Here are some of the things I know work in various situations or various forms, as applied to each individual culture.
Don’t wait. Begin with a conversation about desired incomes, outcomes. Desired outcomes are what it’s all about. Performance improvement, start now. Let’s talk about the desired outcomes. Let the employee set goals for the next 12 months. Ask the person being interviewed what they expect to accomplish. They have the position. They supposedly have the knowledge and the skill for the position. Let’s ask them.
Break those 12 months into 30-day milestones. Break those milestones into action items. These could be deliverables. What are the results we can measure? Satisfaction. Create a check-in process to monitor the progress. Let the employee do a self-evaluation. Give feedback and support. Then coach for improvement. This builds relationship in a non-confrontational manner. Coaching and mentoring are both seen as nurture.
Share the individual goals with the team, individual, or department. We don’t work in a vacuum. Our work affects everybody else. We are independent, but we are interdependent. We are defining right here how to start building a culture of collaboration. Transparency begins with accountability and support. This provides data that we can then support the annual report for the HR process. We have an ongoing measurement of progress, of compliance, and of performance. And there is a chance to help the employee upgrade their performance along the way.
We often don’t consider evaluating processes as well as results. How we do things is the top place for your leadership skills. We want to benefit the organization, so how we do things is what matters. Remember, a leader is three things: a person who gets things done, a person who knows or discovers how things get done, and a person who influences others. We tend to make things too difficult. They are already difficult; why make them harder? Let’s simplify the process, the work, life. Increase satisfaction, results, collaboration.
This process applies to teams as well as to individuals. The team can evaluate the results, the process, and the gaps in their skills. Then create a plan of action to move forward. When the results were defined, your duty as a leader is to allow others to function by not implementing the change alone. You are the leader, not the doer. Let’s translate the doer as the over-functioner. The reciprocity to over-functioning is under-functioning. Let’s let people do what we have asked them to do, what they are willing to do, and what they are skilled at doing.
Here is the routine. Create a plan, evaluate the plan on a regular schedule, revise the plan based on the evaluation, and recommit to the new plan. Plan, evaluate, revise, and recommit. If you have a long-term strategic plan, you will always have a long-term plan. Follow this routine with everything. Plan, evaluate, revise, recommit.
You can divide the annual review into different tasks, such as these. Review and compile trends from the ongoing goals conversation. That is, develop standards.
Focus on specific personal skills development: team interaction, relationship building, both internal to teams and external.
Career advancement: goals, skills, desires.
Professional development: schedule and activate, continuing education strategy.
Overall effectiveness: Let’s look at our overall effectiveness. Take it out of the micro, and look at the macro for a minute.
Focus on other items for the big picture compliance. Let’s look at a holistic process. Evaluate our process of evaluation, of reviewing, of empowering, of engaging, of capacity-building. Change your paradigm; change your results.
This is Hugh Ballou. Please rate this on the iTunes store. Let me know what you think about it. Go to hughballoupodcast.com to find the transcript for all of these.
Here is the tip. If something isn’t working, back up, gather information, ask questions, get the best thinking from all of those involved, and then make meaningful decisions based on information.
This is Hugh Ballou. Hope this is helpful.
The Transformational Leadership Strategist
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