Prompt, Precise Performance Reviews

 


 

Just Ask LeadershipJust Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Always Ask the Right Questions

Excerpted, by Art Kleiner in Strategy+Business, from chapter 2

Here’s how the process works. The day before meeting, your coworker brings you a list of five or six key objectives, detailing her progress on each. During the review on the following day, you simply assess the data and discuss how performance compares with objectives. Depending on the employee, this can be a short thirty-minute process, or take as long as two hours. [If you do this weekly or every day, as you might on a tight deadline or vital project, the meeting might last ten minutes. –Tony]

When an employee comes into your office, she should always bring a pen and paper and be required to take detailed minutes of the meeting. Once the meeting is over, the employee should make a photocopy of the minutes for your file. [This is a bit dated! Have the employee email a summary. For high value employees, use a (more…)

Leadership in a True Emergency

Lippold of the USS Cole

At Accelerent, I was lucky to meet the commander of the USS Cole and hear his story of the day his destroyer was nearly sunk by al-Qaeda. Kirk Lippold made clear that his ship was saved mostly because of how he led and trained his crew in the years prior to the attack, rather than by any dramatic decisions or heroics on October 12, 2000.

His “Five Pillars of Leadership” are:

Integrity

• Vision

• Personal Responsibility and Accountability

• Trust and Invest

• Professional Competence

He gave a thrilling and informative presentation. I particularly thanked him for illustrating the masterful use of chain of command, maximizing his impact as a leader by improving his officers rather than continually reaching down to personally resolve specific issues.

Click for larger image

The Navy, unfortunately, tends to be rather unforgiving of officers whose ships are damaged so Kirk Lippold never made Captain. The military’s loss is our gain as he tours the country sharing his leadership lessons.

Similarities of Soldiering and Selling


On Killing Dave Grossman
On Killing by Grossman

On Killing:
The Psychological Cost of
Learning to Kill in War and Society

by Dave Grossman

Capsule Review

I read this book and I review it here not because of any particular interest in sanctioned killing, rather because of my interest in institutional means of getting people to do difficult yet important tasks. I train salespeople and other business leaders.

I first heard the author, Dave Grossman, on a radio interview promoting this book. I heard him say that that in the history of combat from Alexander the Great through World War II only about 15% of soldiers in battle were trying to kill the enemy. He’s not talking about the long administrative and logistical tail of the army. Only 15-20% of the people with guns or swords in their hands, who were facing a threatening enemy, were willing to kill that enemy. I know this is hard to believe. I first heard this statistic from a pacifist and I called him a liar. Then I heard it from this author, a former US Army Colonel and military historian, who references the research of the US Army’s official W.W.II historian as well as many other scholars.

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Conversations that Make a Difference

Click to Download a .PDF version
Click to Download a .PDF version

Here is my 12 Step Program for conducting a difficult, stressful, or frightening conversation in a way that will create new possibilities for relationship and action.

  1. Get yourself centered.
  2. Make sure the other person is willing to talk. Use my Conversation Contract™.
  3. Help the other person feel safe. “We’re friends and colleagues now and we’ll still be friends and colleagues after this conversation.” Easy on the relationship, rigorous on the topic.
  4. Get a firm agreement on facts before delving into opinions. Be conscientious about distinguishing facts from opinions. “The client reported several misspellings in the report,” is a fact. “Your work is sloppy,” is an opinion.
  5. Remember, seek first to understand, then to be understood, is Covey’s fifth habit.
    Listen before you speak. Encouraging the other person to talk first is also a way to get his or her concerns out of his or her head to make room in there for what you have to say.
    Ask questions to clarify how it looks to him or her. Stop behaving as though you know what they think; be genuinely curious.
    Repeat key points back to him or her to show that you are listening and to verify that you have heard correctly. You do not need to agree with the person’s point of view, but it is helpful to let him or her know you understand and you accept that he or she sees that way right now.
  6. Take responsibility for your own reactions.
    It is not responsible to assert, “You are forcing me to double-check all of your reports.” It is more useful to explain, “When I hear a client complain I feel obligated to double-check all of your reports.” See the difference? The first is the voice of a victim making an accusation, one who has reached a firm conclusion about the location of the problem: it’s the other guy. The second is a person making a choice on limited information, one who is eager to consider alternatives.

    The simple shortcut from victim to choice is to start sentences with “I” rather than “you.”

  7. Establish the level of trust: sincerity, capacity, competence, consistency, and care. “I know that you can see when a project is suffering from scope creep and that you will let me know about it.”
  8. Explicitly agree on the shared commitment or values e.g., “We both want to preserve the company’s reputation with clients and develop the next generation of project managers”
  9. Point-out what you see as missing or not working. Reach an agreement on the facts of the situation and its threat to our shared commitment.
  10. Explore and create together possible actions to move closer to circumstances consistent with your shared values. Don’t get stuck on your favorite course of action. It is not a solution until both sides take action to make it work.
  11. Make requests and promises.
  12. Establish a structure of accountability for monitoring the agreed actions.

These steps are in sequence, like bricks in a wall. If you are having trouble completing a step, return to the previous step. That is, if you cannot agree on the relevant shared values, talk about trust. If you cannot talk about trust, talk about safety. If you cannot talk about safety, get in touch with your center. Get centered even if you need to take a break and leave the room.


See also, on this blog, step-by-step conversation instructions with video here:
The Conversation Contract.


Good advice from David Brooks via
The New York Times, Kindness is a Skill


See also on this blog, The 3 Rs of Dispute Resolution.


Accountability Coaching

Six Disciplines Execution

The bottom line is that being accountable to ourselves is not enough. We clearly need others, preferably outside of our organization, to hold us accountable and to help us accelerate our learning. We need others to help us fight the continual battles against our own human nature and our tendency to do what we want to do, rather than what we need to do. We need others to (more…)