January 2009Newsletter

I don't know what you did on New Year's Eve, but I know one thing: If you went out and you have children, you had to find a babysitter.

Unlike so many evenings that we don't have to plan for quite so far ahead  — going to the movies midweek, for example — going out on New Year's requires planning.

To find a babysitter, you have to start weeks, if not months, before December 31.

Imagine my surprise, then, when my friend told me that her son, the father of two pre-school boys, called her a day prior to New Year's Eve to ask whether she thought her 12-year-old nephew had begun babysitting.

"Tom," she said, “you aren't looking for someone for tomorrow night, are you?"  Sheepishly he admitted he was.  “You should have made arrangements months ago,” she told him. Later I learned that my friend babysat for her son's children. (Maybe he did have a plan after all!)

I got to thinking: Planning for New Year's Eve is a lot like performance reviews – in both cases you need to look ahead.  In the case of a New Year's Eve on the town, this is obvious. You need to find a sitter before they are all taken.

In the case of performance reviews, however, my statement might confuse you. So let me explain:

What I'm suggesting is that in this New Year you ask your managers to think of employee performance in terms of describing what you want to see in the future rather than looking back at failures. In other words, replace performance reviews with performance PREviews.


Because to get where you want to go, you need your very best workers running your organization AND you need to spell out for yourself and for your workers what the future will look like.

Most likely, you are now questioning what I mean by preview and how in the world you can get rid of performance reviews.  Often when leaders and planners talk about eliminating the performance review, their colleagues feel threatened. They think they are being forbidden from noting behavior that does not benefit their organization. Some even think they must retain poorly performing employees.

Let me put these thoughts to rest. Here's what I have in mind:
Performance previews — with the emphasis on "pre" — are designed to get managers to talk about what they want to see. They look to the future and achieve something positive for your organization.

Performance previews are helpful because 
Here's how such a preview might unfold:

Manager: Melinda, let's talk about how to handle our new client. It is a company with a reputation of moving fast, and the management team expects attention to detail as well as great ideas. What are your thoughts on getting started? 

Melinda: I'd like to put Josh and Carol on the project. Carol has great big-picture ideas, and so does Josh. But he is strong on the details, too, and I will need him to double-check me as I plan the rollout.

Manager: Yes – all of you worked well together on the project you just finished. I wonder if you would also consider bringing in Katy on the financials. She has strengths that we need. And let me have a look at the proposal at regular intervals, too. I need to build up the team as much as possible. What else do we need to talk about before we get started?

Melinda: You know that juggling multiple projects might get in the way of meeting deadlines. Could we set some priorities and plan our deadlines from back to front so that we can break this project into pieces?

Do you see how a forward-looking approach that requires contributions by both the manager and Melinda can get this project off on the right foot?

Notice how the manager spells out exactly what behavior this project requires and yet asks Melinda for her thoughts. For the relationship and the company, this approach is much more productive than rehashing what did not work six months previously.

Of course, in implementing performance previews, you must keep in mind the following caveats:

Top personnel experts today know that the annual performance review is an ineffective, one-sided game with one person holding all the marbles.  Further, surviving…and thriving…organizations recognize that employees are always at the heart of their business. To survive, they know, they need the very best workers available to run their organizations.

And they know that in this economy especially, they must look unflinchingly at the future and plan for it the best they can.  So take your cues from thriving businesses. Consider instituting performance PREviews at your organization.

Because believe me. If you don't plan ahead, you may have picked out a place to go but you won't have a babysitter to mind the details to help you get there.

Pop Quiz: Test Your Coaching IQ?  

1. What is an important first step for a coach to take with an employee?
 a. Direct actions needed.
 b. Encourage the client or employee to rely on the coach.
 c. Ask questions that provoke thoughtful answers.
 d. Listen well.
 e. Both a and d.
 f. Both c and d.
 g. Both a and b.

2. What is the major difference between coaches and mentors?
 a. The coach focuses on the job, and the mentor on the person.
 b. The mentor is usually an older friend, and the coach is a boss.
 c. The mentor is wealthy.
 d. The mentor is often a business partner; the coach is never a partner.

3. Who needs a coach?
 a. The coach.
 b. Direct reports.
 c. Peers.
 d. All of the above.

4. What should I look for in a coach?
a. Certification.
 b. Questioning and listening skills.
 c. Vast experience in the area I want to excel.
 d. Terseness.

5. Only the top echelons of management need coaches.
 a. True
 b. False

6. The reasons people give for not needing or wanting coaches include:
 a. They don't have time to commit to coaching.
 b. They have read management books and know what to do on the job.
 c. Coaches are meddlers.
 d. All of the above.

7. The need for coaching can be traced to:
 a. Organizations' increasing focus on collaborative management.
 b. Brain drain as Baby Boomers retire.
 c. Challenges presented by several different generations working side-by-side.
 d. All of the above.

8. In the coaching relationship, who is the expert at deciding what is best for the person coached?
 a. The person coached.
 b. The coach.
 c. The coached person's boss.
 d. The coached person's peers and direct reports.

9. What key things does a coach do to build trust?
 a. Promise the person coached a raise and/or a promotion in a year's time.
 b. Help the person coached to focus on issues.
 c. Point out the bad behavior of the coached person's peers.
 d. Counsel the person coached against risk-taking.

10. Why do organizations need coaches?
 a. To help improve productivity.
 b. To help people navigate organizational changes.
 c. To aid new managers in job transitions, often to promotions.
 d. All of the above

Answers: 1. f. 2. a (although opinions often differ), 3. d, 4. b, 5. b, 6. d, 7. d, 8. a, 9. b, 10. d.  

1-3 correct answers:   Work a bit more on your attitude.
4-7 correct answers:   Growth is your biggest need. You could use a coach!
8-10 correct answers:  Bravo! You’re the organization's dream!


Your Solution Toolbox: Check Out This List When Planning Your New Year

Looking for employee solutions to help you meet your New Year resolution to improve your bottom line? Profiles International has products to fit anyone's budget and needs. Further, you can tailor some to fit your specific needs. Check out this list:

ProfileXT® — You'll find a variety of uses for ProfileXT®: coaching, training, promotion, managing and succession planning. It offers up-to-date technology to help place the right people in the right jobs by allowing managers to see the total person including his or her reasoning style, occupational interests and behavioral traits. PXT's Coaching Report focuses on employee development reducing turnover and increasing productivity.

Profile XT® Sales — Lay a foundation for a high-performance sales team. Profile XT® Sales will help you select, train and coach superior salespeople.

Checkpoint 360 — This tool gives managers the opportunity to see evaluations of their job performance from everyone including immediate supervisors, peers and direct reports. This assessment can fortify perceptions about strengths and offer insight into areas needing improvement.

Checkpoint Skillbuilder Series — This system helps the good get better and the best stay at the top by emphasizing key characteristics: listening, processing information, effective communication, relationship building, thinking creatively, helping teams work together and much more.

Profiles’ Performance Indicator — If you need to smooth out workflow, PPI can help get you beyond disagreement to focus on real work. It will help you understand different people and how to motivate each employee successfully.

Profiles’ Team Analysis, compiled from data collected through Profiles’ Performance Indicator™, makes team building challenging and rewarding. This system highlights the attributes of each team member, reveals group strengths and alerts the leader to potential problems helping to eliminate conflict, build cooperation, improve communication and assure that the team achieves desired results.

Profiles’ Workforce Compatibility™ measures important skills and provides understanding of them. It helps define relationships between employees and managers in areas of self-assurance, self-reliance, conformity, optimism, decisiveness, objectivity and approach to learning. It helps managers and employees communicate better, spot conflicts before they occur, and successfully resolve problems.

Call me at 952-322-3330 if you have questions about any of Profiles’ products. Or, alternatively, send an e-mail to mgorski@mgassessments.com. 

News Articles     Search