Topic 6 from the “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics” series
transcript written by Wayne Brown
Hello and welcome back to our series “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics”.
Today we continue our discussions related to 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 5 leadership basics.
And by now your team would be motivated and heavily engaged, whilst working on their assigned and chosen tasks. They will be able to see and share their progress & at the same time receiving 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.
First for a quick series recap…
Given that we at the half way juncture of this series however and before plunging head long into this topic, let’s quickly recap on what we have covered in the first 5 topics.
Topic 1: Understanding your place in the team – looking at 9 key stakeholders and how to manage and set expectations
Topic 2: Motivating your future team – turning our focus to one of the key stakeholders and learning about 7 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 & 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.
Way of the Future…
And one last item before we start our discussion on replacing the traditional performance review with our Topic 6 alternative, called Achievement reviews.
First to technology using web and mobile-based applications that offer instant real time feedback to employees and leaders alike. In addition many of these applications offer a modern version of the 360-degree employee assessment.
This approach is being adopted by more and more organizations from start-ups thru to fortune 500 companies and 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) where Dalio explains the process adopted with-in 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 is able to provide feedback to each other member of the team. The receiving team member can receive this feedback immediately and react or adjust accordingly. I’m sure you see the connection here to the approach we introduced in the previous topics with our gaming world and weekly meetings.
Click here to access the 2019 review of Performance Management & Appraisal software
Or here to review 15 Employee Feedback Tools to Track Your Team’s Engagement in 2019
Breaking from tradition…
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 turns the focus towards the successes rather than the improvement gaps or failures.
To kick start this we start with a long standing motivational theory. How many of you recall in topic 2, that we spoke about a number of motivational theories? One of these was the Motivation Theory or Acquired Needs Theory from David McClelland. From his research he concluded that people have motivating drivers that are directly linked to need, regardless of age, gender, culture or race and identified 4 of these needs – achievement, affiliation, power & avoidance.
David McClelland also developed the iceberg model using the McClelland Motivation Theory. The Iceberg model looks at a person’s visible behaviour, knowledge and skills and the underlying unexpressed and unconscious deeper layers. It provides an insight into the (learned) needs of someone by his McClelland Motivation Theory and links this to what this person does (above water level) and what they think and want (below the water level).
In short we want to utilize the learnings from this theory and model to understand how we can maintain our employees motivation during this dreaded once or twice year event depending on the company HR system but ensuring that we focus on achievement, affiliation and power, being careful not to trigger any hidden (below the water) reaction in the minds of our team.
Softly, gently, transitioning…
Rather than go cold turkey and turn off the performance evaluation mentality all at once, we’re going to provide here a soft transition – offering an interim step for those whom might feel more comfortable doing this gradually – therefore we discuss first a practice which has become quite popular in recent years and that is the use of 360 degree appraisal / feedback.
The traditional method has always been quite costly to perform where a large volume of participants were involved and therefore they tended to be conducted less frequently and for a special occasion 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, but 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, as the cross section of respondents provide 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. The real challenge however is to ensure that the results are interrupted correctly and feed back with concrete actions as an outcome.
The downside to the 360 degree assessment process is that it is seldom specific to the individuals role or tasks and tends to be more centered around their personalities.
And now for the “Piece de Resistance”…
The final method addresses that issue and is therefore 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 that past 6 or 12 months – if this leader has adopted our methods from topics 1- 5 then this will simply be a consolidation activity of all the tasks or projects completed and discussed weekly through-out the year.
- The initial meeting will still be done, in private, 1 on 1.
And the continuing on from our earlier online gaming phenomenon, the results of each employee and their successful projects will be known already to the other team members and therefore 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. (again remember McClelland’s theory and the Affiliation and Power Needs).
Through this method you skillfully satisfy all 3 motivational needs and is a result based the visible behavior (i.e. above water actions) whilst shaping the below water thinking and wants. The outcome is reinforcement of great performance, which becomes somewhat self-perpetuating for the employee and a sustained results driven team.
Hopefully you’re able to see how each of these six topics feed into and support each other. Its not a linear approach but a truly, powerful combination of parallel skills and activities. In short an excellent way to the end topic 6 and our focus on feedback.
Well almost – in topic 7 we acknowledge that even the best leaders and their teams have 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.
If you remember the learnings from the SCARF model you will recall that we each have our own unique personal behavior preferences which ensures we can perceive situations just as easily as a threat 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, what’s next…
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 that everyone can learn and grow from.
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 also to 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 a elevator-escalator tribe executive is productive, fruitful and safe. Bye for now.