What do we want? Performance Management training for Line Managers! When do we want it? Now!

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This is the rallying cry according to a recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) which is highlighted in this article on HR.BLR.Com; too much of the training is focused on the how to complete the form and follow the process rather than the in the skills required to hold constructive conversations.

Much of it chimes with our own view around the concept of ‘Meaningful Conversations’ and in particular our recent webinar on Performance Appraisals.

A checklist of what will help Line Managers ensure Performance Management conversations go well includes such things as regular feedback, evidence gathering, and developing a relationship with team members that allows for honest and open discussion about performance.

Inform Line Managers around the form & process; train Line Managers around the skills required to hold conversations with purpose and which preserve trust.

John

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Trying to be honest in a review

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We’re setting our business goals for 2015 in the next few weeks.  Trying to assess priorities, build on a successful 2014, and get the focus right in 2015.  As a matter of course we do a “looking back” exercise.  Rather similar to a personal review session, we try to honestly review the year gone by.

Being honest can be quite difficult.  It is very easy to deceive oneself, to not see the truth hidden amongst the noise, or avoid difficult issues and potential decisions.  Some things help.  Here is what has come to work for us as a business – and would work equally well in a personal review.

  • Find useful facts and accept them.  You may think sales have increased on last year and your CRM may say they  have but have they?  Look in the accounts; what has been invoiced?!  Accept the facts and spend energy looking at what led to those facts rather than finding a nuanced point that explains one element of them.  Facts are often hard to come by and should be treasured.
  • Look impersonally at the events of the year.  This isn’t an excercise in working out who did what.  It is “what happened”.  We’re not after a human interest story and we are certainly not looking for who to blame for things that didn’t happen.  We want to impersonally review the year.  Did what we planned to do, happen?  If not, what happened?  If it did, what should we learn?  If it was just luck then be honest.  If it was genius then be honest about that as well.
  • Look for the trends and fish out the unusual.  Now, this is where you have to be very honest.  Is this year’s million pound deal a one-off or the start of a trend.  How are client numbers looking?  Are we retaining or not?  Are our customers happier with us this year than last?
  • Look the whole way back.  What happened in January is more likely to have had an impact on the year’s performance than the new idea you had in November.  Understanding what did and did not work over the year and honestly accounting for it helps everyone share the lessons and embed them.

Looking back is very healthy – it embeds organisational learning and saves you trying out the same experiments each year.  It has to be done honestly.

 

Brendan

 

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Performance Appraisal – Top 3 points from our webinar (Recording now available)

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We ran the last of our Meaningful Conversations’ webinars for this year on Friday last week; the topic was ‘Conducting effective Performance Appraisals’. [For free access to the recording with supporting slides & guide, see end of post]

There was a good level of interaction as ever within the webinar, and some great sharing of experience and ideas which helped further enhance the learning for everyone involved.

The session looked at three key elements; context, preparation and structure.

It was interesting to draw the focus of participants into what we see as the fundamental principles which makes for a successful Performance Appraisal:

  • The success of a Performance Appraisal is in part dependent on the quality of the other Performance Management conversations during the year
  • Prepare thoroughly; gather evidence throughout the year
  • It’s a joint process, a dialogue; not a school report
Despite the constant barracking of blog posts and articles lamenting the demise of performance appraisals, the participants in the webinar recognised that if you adhere to these principles, the value of performance appraisal as an exercise in reflection and learning is enormous.

 

If you would like free access to the recording of the webinar complete with supporting slides and our HR guide to Performance Appraisals, then simply contact us via our central information email address below with the subject ‘PA Webinar Slides’ for the link to be sent to you automatically.

 

info@bowlandsolutions.com

 

John
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360 Degree Feedback in the US military

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A fascinating short article in the ‘Foreign Policy’ website regarding a former serving soldier’s experience in the US Army in which he wishes how the promise of 360 degree feedback could have been better delivered upon in the assessment of leadership.

He highlights many of the pitfalls we see when implementing 360, particularly those which make it a process which is merely ticking boxes, rather than genuinely acting as a useful catalyst for individual change; a ‘toothless tiger’ as he would call it.

He goes on to share how he would see it work better within the military, but naturally the essence of what he suggests could carry into any corporate organisation; in short, he believes that over time, if you repeat 360 and draw in as many views as possible from colleagues and alike, the ‘truth’ will out.

John

 

 

 

 

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There are many truths

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Over the course of a year we find ourselves reading a large number 360 feedback reports and research or survey results.  Often we hear the same event, conference, or conversation described by people in very different ways.  Indeed, often it can take a little while to realise you are hearing about the same situation or message due to the level of contradictory perspectives.  Everyone has honestly given an account but they have unconsciously applied filters, biases, values, and experience to form their own view.   There are many truths.

This can be intensely frustrating within an organisation.   There are two solutions that I see working.  One is acceptance that there will be many truths and to allow for that variety.  The other is to realise that important messages require repetition and visible actions that match the message.  This reduces the variety of truths on the key communications.  A tight culture, confidence and know-how can build around the core values of the organisation.

At a personal one-to-one level it can avoid considerable frustration if you accept that one person’s truth may not be the same as yours.

 

 

Brendan

 

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Top 5 tips in how to conduct a meaningful conversation

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Our ongoing series of ‘Meaningful Conversations’ webinars concludes this Friday 21st with a look at conducting effective Performance Appraisals. (Register here if you haven’t already!)

What underpins this and all the other preceding modules is the concept of a ‘meaningful conversation’; we defined this as a conversation which:

- delivers against it’s stated purpose

- builds or maintains a high trust relationship

If either one of these components is missing, then the conversation just becomes coercive, or a friendly chat, or meaningless, or sometimes all three in quick succession.

We often see the ability of a Line Manager to deliver on the trust dimension as being the most demanding and least attended to; why? Time pressures, inexperience, lack of skills, etc.

So, what top 5 tips would we offer someone looking to improve in this area?

1. Understand your own communication style and that of others – if they like facts, give them facts; if they prefer stories, craft the story.

2. Understand their frame of reference – Your world view is but one, place yourself in theirs; ask for clarification of terms i.e. When you say this, do you mean that?

3. Build rapport; your content/language, verbal qualities, non-verbal qualities

4. Ask great questions; ones that serve the purpose of the conversation and lead to greater mutual understanding.

5. Listen empathetically; from their frame of reference, not yours.

 

There’s a lot beneath these; but awareness is a good starting point.

John

 

 

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Busting Urban Myths – Failure to see the big picture

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Can 360 Degree Feedback help you rewrite your story?

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A brief, but as always noteworthy post from Seth Godin on plasticity – can you change? It’s sometimes the case when we debrief individuals around their 360 degree feedback report, that familiar themes emerge; there are no surprises for them, it’s expected, they have heard this feedback before.

If the primary aim of 360 degree feedback is to be a catalyst for change, then one might argue that there is the truth of it; we cannot change – that our story is set and cannot be written differently.

The other view as expressed in Seth Godin’s post would be that we can change; it’s just hard, but the biggest challenge isn’t the work to be done in changing a habit, tempering a behaviour, learning a new skill, etc. but in simply believing that you can rewrite (and keep rewriting) your story.

John

 

 

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Leadership – some problems need a good long soak

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We ate macaroni cheese last night.  As I loaded the dishwasher I looked at the dish it had been cooked in.  The bowl was not a pretty sight with the burnt bits brazed to the side of the bowl.  What to do?

Option 1 – put it in the dishwasher.  We all know it won’t work and half of the stuff will still be stuck to it.  At which point we can just send it round again knowing at some point we’ll have to really tackle the really tough bits or hope that someone else will empty the dishwasher and clean it properly for us.  Tempting.

Option 2 – see if someone still sells Brillo pads and work really hard to clean it.  It’s going to take a while.  I might ruin the pot with the effort I put in.  I’ll get very frustrated and I’ll be put off macaroni cheese for life.   Not tempting.

Option 3 – scrape off the easy bits, run some hot water in it together with a bit of Fairy liquid.  Leave to soak.  In the morning it will be fine and the problem bits will wash away.

You can’t always pick option 3 but some problems are best for a good long soak rather than being ignored or hacked at.  Sometimes the results you get are the best and the easiest to achieve.

 

 

Brendan

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Busting Urban Myths – Johari Window in a nutshell

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