Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Performance Empowerment

Throughout this year I have had the pleasure of teaching a seminar on "Cultivating Employee Engagement" to a variety of professionals. I moderate an interactive conversation as we explore the pillars of what attracts and retains great talent.

I told the story of the Goldman Sachs employee who posted his letter of resignation in the New York Times. This example was used to validate the fact that most exit interviews are dismissed as discontent from a soon-to-be former employee. Why wait until your employees are fed up to the point of quitting to ask for their input?

This lead us to the topic of "stay interviews" - a process of checking the organizational pulse by gathering input from all ends of the organization. We were told the story of a company that promoted the "best place to work" survey to their employees...the Executives soon found out that they were the worst place to work....the culture was broken and the brass didn't know.

In all of the sessions there has been one overarching theme....Performance Reviews are not working:
  • Assessing areas of weakness once a year is hardly a retention strategy
  • People need encouragement every day to achieve their goals
  • Everyone should have an opportunity to support their peer's performance
Here's What You Are Not Doing....
If we cannot learn from the past we are doomed to repeat it. However, if our past failures are used to overshadow our past accomplishments, we will be distracted (not motivated).

Let's be very honest. Performance reviews are a way to document areas of concern so in the event you need to fire someone you have documentation. You send along a word document rating hours of human effort and note your areas of concern. So I have put in 3,120 hours away from my family to make the organization better only to receive a 3 out of 5. Hardly motivating.

If you are measuring performance simply as a means to validate termination your culture is broken!

Here's What You Are Doing Right....
What if one-on-one meetings and the annual performance reviews were replaced by daily goal setting sessions? What if you looked forward to interacting with your boss because he/she existed to encourage your success instead of berating your effort? What if performance assessment became goal empowerment?

It would be nice to hug your boss when you see him or her instead of turning in the other direction to avoid criticism.

We know our business critical objectives and we need input to achieve them. We need to be empowered every day! With the recognition of our path to success we get closer to the sunset (instead of doing just enough to stay out of trouble). Picture a world where we all work together to achieve greatness...I would be willing to bet we would get more done with greater purpose.

"Hand me the club and tell me I'm the best golfer in the world"
- Jack Nicklaus

Here's What We Can Achieve Together!  
Working in silos is a way of avoiding transparency. Transparency is avoided not because you suck at your job but because your boss has been forced to act as a manager not empowered to lead.

That's right! That poor review you got is a result of disabled coaching not lack of effort on your behalf.

What if our goals were transparent? If we all knew what we had to achieve together and were able to encourage one another while we navigate our collective path to success. The collective is empowered to help one another instead of using accountability as a means for motivation.

The workplace is changing. Employees have never been more empowered. The greatest organizations are using bottoms up feedback to drive their organizational strategy. No longer is ivory tower dictatorship acceptable. Micro-management will only encourage employees to do one thing: revise their resume.

It is time to help one another succeed instead of planning who to blame when things don't go well. It is time to tear down the silos and tear up the performance reviews.

We all just want to be happy. We are happy when we succeed. It is even more fun to succeed together.

Don't Forget to Remember!


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