Hello and welcome back to our series; constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics.
Today we continue our discussion about team and employee feedback by looking closer at turning the traditional approach of the annual performance appraisal on its head and offering achievement reviews instead.
It’s a logical step if you have already adopted the learnings from the previous five leadership basics. And by now, your team would be motivated and heavily engaged while working on their assigned and chosen tasks. They will be able to see and share their progress & at the same time receive ongoing & immediate feedback.
Hence, the need to conduct that one-off annual performance review is greatly diminished. Instead, we turn this event into an opportunity to celebrate the success each employee is experiencing. Given that we’re at the halfway juncture of this series, however, and before plunging headlong into this topic, let’s quickly recap what we have covered in the first five episodes.
Topic 1: Understanding your place in the team – looking at nine key stakeholders and managing and setting expectations.
Topic 2: Motivating your future team – turning our focus to one of the key stakeholders and learning about seven primary considerations to achieving positive and sustainable motivation.
Topic 3: Creative delegation techniques – introducing task prioritization & the correct assignment of those tasks, but incorporating Activities of choice, showcasing progress & team collaboration.
Topic 4: SMART rules and reward goals – modernizing the traditional SMART goal setting tool by adopting an online gamers mindset to enable immediate gratitude and feedback (at least weekly)
And last topic 5: Feedback strategies – where we looked at the importance of everyone soliciting feedback, whether informal and formal and for the leaders, we offered several tools to improve their ability to prepare and deliver.
And one last item before we start our discussion on replacing the traditional performance review with our Topic 6 alternative, called Achievement reviews.
First, the technology uses web and mobile-based applications that offer instant real-time feedback to employees and leaders alike. In addition, many of these applications provide a modern version of the 360-degree employee assessment.
More and more organizations are adopting this approach from start-ups thru to Fortune 500 companies. Awareness of this practice was recently showcased by Tony Robbins and his interview with Ray Dalio (one of the greatest Hedge Fund managers of our time). Dalio explains the process adopted within his company Bridgewater and the tremendous value the use of this feedback application has bought to the employees and company alike. Essentially during any given period (meeting or at any time when the system is open), an employee or leader can provide feedback to other team members. The receiving team member can receive this feedback immediately and react or adjust accordingly.
So, we’re now ready to tackle our feature topic by throwing out tradition and the annual performance review process and replacing it with our approach, which focuses on the successes rather than the improvement gaps or failures.
To kick start this, we begin with a long-standing motivational theory. How many of you recall in topic two that we spoke about several motivational theories? One of these was the Needs theory or Acquired Needs theory from David McClelland.
From his research, he concluded that people have motivating drivers that are directly linked to needs, regardless of age, gender, culture, or race. He identified 4 of these needs as achievement, affiliation, power & avoidance.
McClelland also developed his version of the iceberg model, using the same Needs Theory. The Iceberg model looks at a person’s visible behavior, knowledge, and skills plus the underlying, unexpressed and unconscious HIDDEN deeper layers.
It provides an insight into the (learned) needs of someone based on his Acquired Needs Theory and links this to what the person does (i.e., what’s visible above water level) and what they think and want (which are hidden and below the water level).
In short, we want to utilize the learnings from this theory and model to understand how we can maintain our employee’s motivation during this dreaded once or twice a year event. Ensuring that we focus on achievement, affiliation, and power while being careful not to trigger any hidden (below the water) reaction in the minds of our team.
Rather than go cold turkey and turn off the performance evaluation mentality all at once, we’re going to provide here a soft transition. By offering an interim step, we hope to make everyone feel more comfortable doing this gradually. Therefore we discuss first a practice that has become quite popular in recent years, and that is the use of 360-degree feedback.
The traditional method of 360-degree assessment has always been quite costly to perform, particularly with a large volume of participants. Therefore these assessments are conducted less frequently and for special occasions, such as Leadership or talent development, and perhaps with some coaching scenarios.
Fortunately, the evolution in technology has also impacted many of these HR assessment platforms, and with it, we can find relatively lower-cost 360-degree assessment options for businesses.
The concept, however, remains similar. The person seeking feedback will request input via a questionnaire related to their performance. Typically, in addition to rating themselves, they seek this input from peers, direct reports, and their immediate boss. Still, from time to time, the clustering may be broader and involve customers or suppliers, depending on the circumstance.
There’s considerable advantage in this approach over and above the one-on-one performance review. The cross-section of respondents provides a balanced means of comparative feedback, which is easier for the employee to accept and often offers insights which the leader may not have known existed.
However, the real challenge is to ensure that the results are interrupted correctly and the feedback coupled with concrete actions as an outcome.
The downside to the 360-degree assessment process is that it is seldom specific to the individual’s role or tasks and, more so, around personalities.
Therefore, the final method addresses that issue and is our preferred concept for all semi-annual or annual reviews – we call it the Achievement Review (remember the McClelland Needs Theory).
As the name implies, leaders will meet with the employee to acknowledge their successes during the past 6 or 12 months. If this leader has adopted our methods from topics 1- 5, this will be a consolidation activity. All the tasks or projects having already been discussed weekly throughout the year.
The initial acknowledgment meeting will still be in private one on one.
And then, continuing from our earlier online gaming phenomenon, each employee’s project results will already be known. The consolidated results can be made visible to the other team members, thus creating a form of competition,
But they are also offering the opportunity for continued, immediate gratitude and feedback from all. (again, remember McClelland’s theory and the need for Affiliation and Power).
Through this method, you skillfully satisfy all three motivational needs based on visible behaviors (i.e., above water actions) while also shaping the deeper & hidden thoughts and wants.
The outcome is a reinforcement of great performance, which becomes somewhat self-perpetuating for the employee and a sustainable, results-driven team.
Hopefully, you’re able to see how each of these six topics feeds into and supports each other. It’s not a linear approach but a truly powerful combination of parallel skills and activities. In short, an excellent way to the end of topic six and our focus on feedback. Well, almost – in topic 7, we acknowledge that even the best leaders and their teams have their moments, where not everything goes as scripted. There are those times when individuals express or demonstrate their disapproval about a situation. It’s human nature and a part of our DNA.
Suppose you remember the learnings from the SCARF model. In that case, you’ll recall that we each have our own unique personal behavior preferences, which ensures we can perceive situations as a threat just as easily as we can a reward.
It’s therefore not likely that every member of the team will always agree with everything the leader wants or needs to do.
So, in the next episode, we look at this reality and explore ways to deal with it – from handling conflict to turning the situation into a problem-solving exercise where everyone can learn and grow.
We hope you are enjoying this series so far and have already subscribed to our video channel Mentors Rant and our podcast channel couchTALK. If not, we’d love to have you join us and receive your feedback and thoughts about these episodes, so please take a moment and leave a comment below. Here’s hoping that your day as an elevator-escalator tribe executive is productive, fruitful, and safe. Bye for now.
Topic 10 from the “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics” series – Running with your game plan
transcript written by Wayne Brown
We’ve reached the end…
Welcome to this very special, final edition of our “Leadership Basics series”. It’s been a labor of love during these past months where we achieved (more or less) our goal of releasing a new episode every 2 weeks.
As an outcome, this program has now been running for the past 5-6 months with this the eleventh video, podcast and blog.
A mere drop
in the ocean when compared with my own career spans more than 40 years, with
more than half of it in a managerial or leadership capacity with
multi-national, fortune 500 companies.
In parallel, I’ve started a number of businesses, the first, an electrical contracting business, registered way back in 1983 and then in 1999 I founded my first limited liability company.
throughout this entire period I’m pleased to say that I’ve never stopped learning,
developing my skills and honing my knowledge into tactics.
And a new beginning… (my own Game Plan)
Those that are following this channel or our podcast and blog, will possibly now that in the last 12 month I’ve intensified my studies, with the aim of modernizing my knowledge and skills sets in preparation for our latest venture, the registering of a new company and venture in July this year called “Skills 4 Executives”.
Our purpose is to directly address the needs for elite talent development with-in the elevator-escalator tribe but by ensuring we target specific requirements of the industry not purely generic leadership.
We plan to do this through the aid of our vast global network and an array of acclaimed experts.
Let’s have a quick look at our Skills 4 Executives (S4E) company structure;
Communications via “A Mentors Couch”…
Staring with the communications arm called “amentorscouch.com” which we launched approx. 9 months ago around the end of Dec 2018.
With-in this arm, we will continue to host our Coaches Blog, the podcast show called couchTALK and this video channel called Mentors Rant. And additionally, in the coming months we’ll be commencing a bi-monthly webinar show together with quarterly newsletters.
And the big news, we’re targeting by middle of 2020 to release our first eBook. More on that in the period ahead.
Aside from this communications arm, Skills 4 Executives has three core areas of focus.
Coaching via “Coaching 4 Companies” …
At the heart of everything is Coaching. In the future you will find that we launch various services through “coaching4companies.com”, where we work with corporate executives and executive teams primarily from with-in our elevator-escalator global tribe.
This is available via face to face or with virtually interactions and offer those being coached exposure to industry and non-industry legends as well as being supported by a huge range of quality techniques, tools and templates.
One executive group to receive special attention are those nominated by their company as “Elite Talents”. These talents are our tribe’s future leaders and require grooming to thrive in this dynamic, converging world.
As such, we are building a unique, industry specific, two Level “Elite Talents Program”. At the programs core is a fully automated, multi layered, computer-based Leadership simulation.
test participants ability to steer their way through real life day on day
scenarios with the challenge of not only running the business but being
successful in growing it in a sustainable and profitable manner.
Facilitation via “Facilitation 4 Companies” …
Supporting this will be a 2-year part time, 12 module blended program which shall be offered through 3 day bi-monthly face to face workshops via “facilitation4companies.com”.
Whilst these workshops offer participants the most comprehensive and fully experiential journey through hands on practice, discussions and networking opportunities, we realize that not everyone has the luxury of attending such a demanding program.
Online Self-study via “Education 4 Companies” …
Therefore, we are also preparing a modified version of the program via our online self-education platform called “education4companies.com”.
As mentioned already, scaling globally face to face will be possible through a large and diversified network of experts – all with corporate leadership backgrounds and many coming with a strong emphasis in education and development.
sure you can sense that I’m hugely excited about the venture as it’s one which
brings with it the potential to re-shape our industry’s approach to Leadership
And now it’s your turn …
So, there you have my GAME PLAN in a nutshell – Skills 4 Executives Limited. It continues to be a work-in-progress and pleasingly is evolving at pace.
My first goal is simple – “to move one step closer every single day to realizing the release of this industry specific Elite Talents development program”. And the great thing is that once this is goal is achieved, we will be able to fully focus on preparations for our first industry Mastermind in late 2020.
It’s now time to bring together all of the elements to help finalize your arsenal of basic skills, which we’ve covered in the past 10 episodes. And in the process, to create clarity for you so that it’s simple to understand and to apply.
If you can recall all the way back in the very first of those episodes, we outlined our reasoning for putting this series together.
to ensure that our tribal executives had the basics locked in place as a
standard part of their daily practice so that they are able to free their minds
and focus on the bigger picture; those changes coming around the corner in the
not too distant future.
Our belief is that with-in the next 3-5 years, as a result of the unprecedented technology convergence, our industry along with most other industries will be turned on it’s head.
This will then require flexibility, agility and new skills. But that doesn’t mean total disbandment of our core principles and work ethics, nor do we stop engaging with and satisfying stakeholders, or building strong teams that can address even more complex challenges.
means that these must be locked in as a solid part of your leadership package.
And therefore, that you are ready and able to accommodate whatever the new
world throws at you.
For the remainder of this episode we will give you a blueprint, to simplify those key learnings which need to be adopted and implemented. So here we go….
Our stakeholders …
If you visit our site www.amentorscouch.com and the blog called “Running with your game plan” you will find near the top the Game Plan Blueprint, we’ve compiled for you.
Our suggestion is that you
download and print it so that you can follow through and take notes as we help build
your game plan together.
Do you recall our 9 stakeholder groups? And how we dissected these between internal and external, as well as those we placed in our inner and outer circleof influence and finally deciding whether they were deemed a supporter or detractor?
Step 1: You will find this as the first activity in the downloaded document. Having this stakeholder information sorted enables you to look at how you want to engage in the future with each major stakeholder – be they an “Influencer” or otherwise.
Please note here that even
if you did this exercise some 5-6 months back, we would suggest now is a great
time to review and update the results where necessary. It s a dynamic group and
requires regular review and reflection.
Broadly speaking we would
start with the Inner/Outer Circle as step 1. List all the stakeholders you can
identify and then plot them into their respective quadrant – noting your
relationship with them and their interest in your operations.
From here you can ask yourself the question – “Are all Influencers sitting in your inner circle and do you have any real detractors?”
One critical stakeholder – “OUR TEAM” …
Step 2. Based on your assessment, utilise our template and
plan out your engagement strategy for all those you consider critical to your
One of the
largest stakeholder groups will be your team and we discussed in video 2 how
essential this group are for you and your company’s success.
we start now to look at what concrete actions are possible to build and develop
To help you communicate effectively, to show empathy and humilitywhilst establishing a connection of trust, which becomes empowering.
You’ll see the in the Topic 2 checklist that we outline the broad headings which represent those 7 sub-topics which we detailed during that episode, starting with;
the 5 leadership traits which you require and must consistently demonstrate.
the workplace environment, talking here about the physical surroundings, rather than anything relational
the healthy mind platters 7 areas of focus – working with and enabling your team to embody these in their life & work style.
Acknowledging that our workforce, which today spans 4 different generations – from baby boomers, through to Gen Z require interaction and communication with correctly
Then understanding the large range of motivational theories which might helpful for you in identifying and to maintain team engagement and empowerment.
working with rational & emotional strategies and identifying how to motivate by addressing inner needs through extrinsic and intrinsic means
And then finally to the SCARF model, looking at the 5 domains of social experience and ensuring we trigger the positive, reward response, not the negative, threat reaction.
Next, Delegation and Feedback…
We now move to the beginning of a major subject which will spans multiple episodes – Delegation and Feedback. Starting with the basics behind the delegation process and establishing of the “WHY, WHAT and HOW”.
In our checklist you will find these questions under Topic 3 – Creative Delegation Techniques. Each is list as a broad headings and under that, the key items which you as the leader need to know and practice.
You may recall we kicked off with the 3 reasons behind the“WHY” question – and we said that;
we delegate to ensure we meet stakeholder expectations,
to help with team development and growth,
as well as to simply allow us enough time to lead.
introduced a couple of tools and a series of questions under the “WHAT” portion, which gave us a way of determining the tasks to delegate based
on identified priorities and to which members of your team were most suitable
in handling the challenge.
Then finally under the “HOW” we bought to the table a series of newer concepts. Ideas centered around what we have learnt from theoretical and practical research, which indicate people want some freedom to work on activities of their own choosing.
Additionally, they also want the see that they are making progress, hence we introduced to Activities of Choice and the weekly team meetings where individuals were able to showcase their project, discuss issues and report progress.
Then, to establish the rules and objectives…
Still under the heading of “How” and related to delegation, we introduced Topic 4 – SMART rules and reward goals.
Here traditional goal setting meets online gaming, where we took our old favorite the SMART goal setting tool and looked at how we could make the process more engaging during the task delegation.
First, we used the tool to set the expectations on both sides, ensuring clarity, together with a few do’s and don’ts to observe.
applied these requirements in our weekly progress reporting. But until that
point there wasn’t really that much new, and we weren’t so confident that with
these few steps would engage with all 4 generations.
wanted to shake it up a little and see whether we could learn something from
the online gaming world.
We discovered that game designers essentially work on three core elements when building their products
games must be goal driven,
challenge intense and
offer immediate feedback
All whilst providing a rich experience through-out their time online.
Gamers are motivated to achieve their goals by being rewarded or penalized along the way, based on their own skill and performance – the potential carrot and stick is there in the background, but it’s much more intrinsic, driven by a personal desire to do well and to receive instant gratification and feedback.
Hence, we reviewed our SMART process to ensure we captured the traditional 5 elements for clarity, but modernized our approach with our weekly meetings, ensuring transparent progress reviews, team collaboration and immediate gratification or feedback.
It was a
win-win formula which bodes well with all in our workforce.
learnings didn’t stop there however, and although any leader that has applied
the lessons from topics 1 – 4 will be far ahead of the pack, we wanted to
ensure that these wins became the norm and were locked into our workplace
You will notice how we enable you to work through & capture this practice via the checklist.
Therefore, during Topics 5 & 6, we turned our focus to different Feedback Strategies, commencing with an understanding of what happens in people’s heads when they are given feedback – be it from colleagues, their boss or even friends and family.
The amygdala hijacking triggers that threat or reward response as studied in Topic 2.
effort to help us manage the whole feedback topic more effectively, we provided
a 4-step strategy as a guide for Leaders. This strategy commenced with;
the need to educate everyone involved on the value in seeking feedback and learning how to effectively receive feedback. And we explored multiple ways that we might do so.
Then we moved into the considerations and actions required during the preparation and planning of your feedback sessions
both of these steps in place, it was time to dive into two types of feedback,
which we again supported with some simple tools to make your life a little
Our first feedback approach was the informal version. The type of thing you might expect walking down the corridor or when you see your boss whilst getting a coffee.
always, that offering
guidance on improvement is critical; without it, the person will be uncertain
as to how to avoid the same or similar issues in the future.
To assist we intro’d a tool called FAST which stands for Frequent, Actionable, Specific and Timely.
And finally, to the more formal feedback – the F2F sessions, where we ensure we have privacy and a number of other pre-requisites in place from the outset.
During this portion of the episode we reviewed briefly (3) three different feedback tools and suggested the two most common today are which are called BOOST and SBI.
One area which has become quite controversial and somewhat dated was the annual performance review.
we decided to bring the entire process into the 21 century with the use of
technology and a continuation of our earlier journey with regular weekly or
bi-weekly reviews and feedback.
Adopting Achievement Reviews as a replacement to those dreaded Performance improvement discussions.
looked at what current technology offered and how leading companies where
starting to utilize these tools.
we also wanted to ensure that there was some research supporting the switch and
that this was not purely a gut feeling we had but that it was right direction.
we found ample evidence that supported our direction.
Starting with our motivational theories and David McClelland’s Acquired Needs Theory and his Iceberg Model, then further through Intrinsic Motivators and with the SCARF theory.
All supported us on our quest.
And further, when we were able to couple these theories with many research papers from leading University professors and noticed that fortune 500 companies were beginning to shift in a similar direction, our confidence and belief that we were heading in the right direction skyrocketed.
To ensure we left no one behind in our transition however, we decided to offer an interim step in shifting from performance to achievement reviews – this was the humble 360 degree report which offers a buffer between the sole opinion of the immediate boss, by including feedback from colleagues, customers, suppliers, your team as well as your boss.
nice deflection indeed and made even more attractive today due to the price
decrease possible as a result of technology advances.
the end of the day, this is a great extension along our journey – if you had applied the
earlier strategies we spoke of, then the results of each employee’s successful projects will be known already to the other team members.
Therefore, these results can be made visible to the entire team, thus creating a form of competition, but also offering the opportunity for continued immediate gratitude and feedback from all.
Now onto Topic 7, where it’s time to shift gear slightly, and start by assuming that “Utopia” in business seldom exists and that from time to time we are bound to find ourselves challenged with problems, be they related to people or to systems and processes.
We as managers and leaders need to be effective in working towards and identifying solutions. Enter this topic and the bundle of new skills it introduces for us.
We commenced by analysing our conflict management awareness and determining which of the 5 default styles we adopt when confronted with conflict.
will see in the checklist the 5 styles and a link to the questionnaire which
will help you make your own and or a team members assessment.
We also explored the typical reaction we can expect from our team when they are questioned about an issue or situation. Both are very useful for your preparations as well as deepening your leadership self-awareness.
then, we move broader and deeper and ask “but what if the problem is larger and
involving more than one person – what then”?
This is where we introduced you to various problem-solving techniques and tools.
Again, you will see these under Topic 7 of your Game Plan checklist.
And finally, we said that whilst few leaders today are well equipped with these skills and knowledge, we want you to have even more options in your tool kit and therefore introduced the concepts of incorporating Creative and Critical Thinking into the Problem-solving mix.
outcome is a truly dynamic process which will help you nail 99% of the issues
you encounter in your career.
Then the icing on the cake – looking at how to take some of those creative juices and apply with the problem solving equation by including group dynamics, diversity and visualization to map out the end to end process and identify gaps which enable you to strengthen the overall process design – a magic, modern day twist to the solution formula.
reaching Topic 8, we know that the skills shared so far will have placed you in
great shape as a Leader among leaders, and someone that your team will follow,
whilst other stakeholders are happy to collaborate with.
final 2 topics are to further consolidate those abilities and prepare you for
the advanced series which will follow soon after the conclusion of this basic
So, in this topic 8 we begin speaking about Change and why as a Leader you need to first understand yourself, that change is an essential component of everything in our lives – since birth through to now and beyond until you pass to the other side. And this reality is no different with-in your career and for your company.
As Steven Covey was famous for stating “The only Constant is Change”.
So in our Game Plan checklist, we help to visualize this reality and offer guidance on the typical psychological impact we all have as a consequence of any change.
this provides you the opportunity to see when a member of your team is stuck
and needs support as they transition along the curve from denial and anger to
acceptance and adoption.
this knowledge is not sufficient, we also wanted to provide you the tools,
which you can utilise and make your own, when your career requires that you do
so – if you
haven’t already been involved in a change initiative, then it’s probably only a matter of
time before this is thrust upon you. – remember “the only constant in life…”.
with this knowledge and tools you have your starter kit in place and ready to
test the waters.
One foundational skill set which you must possess for success with Change is the ability to communicate. We offered you an insight on how to structure your communications here, but unless you are already a natural story-teller, then this is one area where you are going to require further information and coaching.
Finding the balance between values and performance…
In Topic 2 we began by providing 5 leadership traits which you must process – Trust, Listen, Accept, Share and Enable. Whilst these are 5 essentials, they are not the only hallmarks of a strong leader.
We mentioned your ability to communication just a moment ago, so I won’t list it again here, but in addition, a leader that functions with and consistently demonstrates humility, empathy, self-awarenessand operates from a values base of ethics, integrity and compassion, will thrive with all generations of the workforce today.
And so, it
was a logical inclusion as the final basic skill that we speak about the
Values-based leader. This is someone that understands the benefits of having a
diverse team and seeks opportunities for inclusion of that diversity in
But it’s also a leader that understands that a pure,
may not foster the company culture it desires. That a pure, values-based leader
may lack the drive to perform and grow.
In this regard the Leader needs to seek the perfect blend between values and performance as one with-out the other is seldom sustainable.
that right balance tends to result in a company whose culture is based on
fairness and compassion but also shares the desire to be successful and drives
together towards profitable outcomes.
review topic in our checklist therefore incorporates those key considerations
and sets the target for finding that harmonious blend.
And so, to this last Topic 10 – Running with your Game Plan…
we have summarized this Basics series with you, where we hope that you have
made additional notes and highlighted lessons which you and your team might
still benefit further from.
It’s now your turn to outline your blueprint for taking your team and your own performance from “Good to Great” and beyond – to borrow from Jim Collins and his best selling book.
the core changes which you will make next week, to drive improvements, be it
with any of the 9 stakeholder groups, but most importantly with the team and
Our journey led us from Stakeholder engagement to Team Motivation and Delegation, Feedback, through Problem Solving and Change Management to leading with Values.
It’s a truly powerful set of core basic skills, which can only help to serve and better your career as a Leader.
As we have mentioned through-out this Basics series our plan is to now dive deeper into more advanced discussions – many of which are dear to my heart and which our brand-new company Skills 4 Executives, will be focused on providing for this industry.
I hope that
you have enjoyed this series and if so, please subscribe below if you haven’t already. We really look forward to you
joining us as we launch into the “Leaders Advance” series.
perform strongly and grow daily. Bye for now.