A leader at one of our schools remarked that when done right, performance reviews can be energizing and uplifting but when done wrong they are demoralizing. It appears that the latter is what is happening in most organizations. David Ulrich, the Rensis Likert Professor of Business at the University of Michigan and the “Godfather of HR” just published an article in the latest issue of Talent Quarterly titled “Resolving the Performance Management Paradox.” He cites that 90% of HR professionals are unhappy with their review system, only 14% of CEOs believe that the review system is working and only 8% of HR executives believe that performance management makes a contribution to the success of the organization. Yet, he also cites a long history of studies that clearly indicate that accountability makes a difference. In fact one study identified that just the presence of a performance review system is the greatest predictor of success for hospitals. What can a leader do?
Ulrich recommends that regardless of the process or forms used, leaders embrace conversations: conversations focused on what he calls “positive accountability,” conversations emphasizing learning and improvement opportunities rather than evaluating what went wrong, and conversations primarily focused on the future rather than the past. He suggests that leaders look for opportunities to engage in “real time” conversations that are ongoing and revolve around work events (projects, semester start or finish, work cycle periods, annual milestones, etc.) Leaders should focus on asking questions to discover how employees can sustain success and prepare for the future and help their people look forward to apply what they have learned and address new opportunities or challenges that arise.
A simple conversational model for leaders to use with their performance review process includes the following three steps:
- Know Yourself – ask about and discuss each person’s strengths, weaknesses, passions and interests.
- Action for Growth – ideas and concrete action to leverage individual strengths and interests to support success and on-going development.
- My Value – dialogue focused on the value that each employee provides to the work unit, institution, students, stakeholders or overall organization.
By focusing less on the process and more on the conversation we can make performance reviews a more uplifting experience.
Posted in Accountability, build organizational talent, communication, higher education, Motivation, performance management, talent management
Tagged accountability, asking questions, assessments, career development, communication, engagement, evaluation, feedback, leadership development, paradox, self reflection, talent management
A few years ago I had the chance to interview some of our Minnesota State leaders about mentoring and executive development. Almost without exception, they believed that being an effective mentor was an essential skill for leaders in higher education. Whether it’s a high-potential employee, a new colleague, or a student, we often find ourselves in a position to provide advice and expertise to encourage another’s growth and development.
The role of a mentor is to ask good questions of mentees – then listen actively to what they have to say. You may be able to share your experiences and insights to help them see new perspectives. Other times, you can act as a sounding board.
Here are some good tips on building and sustaining a mentoring relationship.
- Set aside time for regular meetings. Even in informal situations, treat the relationship professionally by giving it the time and attention it deserves.
- Be honest and open. Agree on your mutual expectations for the relationship, and create a climate where you can discuss mistakes as well as success.
- Provide feedback in a way that will be helpful and welcome, and offer advice only when it is requested.
- Provide opportunities for learning, not quick fixes.
- Take a genuine interest in the other person.
I’ve learned that mentors learn as much from the experience as the mentees. Developing strong mentoring relationships can be rewarding both personally and professionally.
What tips do you have for effective mentoring?
Dee Anne Bonebright
MindTools: Mentoring Skills
Blue Sky Coaching: 10 Ways to Be a Good Mentor
Hub Spot: How to be an Amazing Mentor
My team and I just wrapped up our year-end report in June and are launching ahead to FY17 with a new annual work plan. In my talent management team, we work on goals that support “attracting, retaining, and developing a workforce that is diverse and able to meet current and educational needs.” That may sound like an ambiguous and somewhat lofty sound mission, yet our team work plan contains many concrete action strategies that support this mission. It contains clear timelines and quantifiable measures to ensure that we are making progress.
As the leader of this team, part of my work is to have good conversations with each of my team members to ensure that their individual development goals and the performance expectations we agree upon align with our work plan. Those conversations are critical to accomplishing our goals and building organizational talent. It helps each team member clearly understand how they are part of accomplishing our team goals and it helps us refine strategies as we review them.
While it can be time consuming having those individual 1:1 meetings with each staff member, skipping those individual conversations can prove costly. It would invite too many opportunities for disconnects and misalignment, like the picture above of the train tracks that don’t quite meet.
Here are some of the things I discuss with my team members to make sure expectations are aligned:
- What are your 1-3 big goals for the year?
- How do your goals support our mission?
- What is the timeline for that action strategy/effort/project?
- What will you need to learn in order to accomplish this goal?
- What additional resources or support will be needed?
- How are you measuring progress?
- What obstacles or barriers do you face?
- What milestones are you setting?
- What will constitute success?
Of course, through the year, some unexpected things may pop up that displace one or two action strategies for one of my team members. But through good conversations and check-ins, we can re-align to make sure we are working together well and building organizational talent while accomplishing our goals.
How do you make sure that expectations are well aligned within your unit?
In many ways, the first week of employment is one of the most critical times for building organizational talent. That’s when you provide an orientation to the new employee’s role, the institution, and the wider context of the work.
An effective onboarding program carries on throughout the first year, Research has shown that onboarding heightens a new employee’s confidence, increases understanding of their role and expectations, and helps them integrate into social networks.
The Society for Human Resource Management suggests that an onboarding program needs to focus on four key areas:
- Compliance: the basic legal and policy requirements of their role.
- Clarification: the roles and expectations for the new positions.
- Culture: introduction to formal and informal organizational norms
- Connection: integrating new employees into the work group.
At Minnesota State, we have an orientation and onboarding toolkit with tips and suggestions for each of the four Cs. You can view it through the Office 365 SharePoint site. Whether or not you’re part of Minnesota State, check out the article below for a useful overview.
Which of the four Cs have you been focusing on? We’d love to hear some of your tips and suggestions for effective onboarding.
Dee Anne Bonebright
Adapted from: Bauer, Tayla N. (2010). Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success. Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
“Talk to me, please!”
The Gallup Q12 poll highlights the fact that people need to know that their manager actively supports their development. Yet research by Gallup indicates that less than 20% of employees get regular feedback from their boss. In fact, over 50% meet less than once a month. That is not enough talking about development!
Roland Smith and Michael Campbell from the Center for Creative Leadership suggest that leaders have an opportunity to turn this around quickly by talking talent with their people – in their words start having regular talent conversations. Sincere and direct dialogue with your people focused on their interests, their job, the work that needs to be done and what support or development they need to be successful.
What I like best about talent conversations is that they are for everyone. Not just people who “need” development and not just under-performers. Talking about what is needed to maintain current and future success demonstrates that you are supporting your people.
At Minnesota State we will be working this year to help our supervisors have talent conversations with their people. The first step is to identify the goal for the conversation for each team member based on their current job-related competency and their own personal development needs or interest in growth. In general you will discover that each person on your team will be interested in one of the following four goals:
- Develop full competence. Focus on acquiring the skills and developing the competences needed to become a solid performer in their current role.
- Explore growth while developing competence. Similar to the first group but also include conversations about future opportunities and how current develop will support growth.
- Maintaining their expertise and staying successful in the future. This group will be interested in deepening their skills, sharing their expertise and staying up-to-date in their current role.
- Accelerating their development. These folks are competent and want to learn new skills and develop competencies needed for bigger roles.
Having a simple and clear goal for your talent conversations will make it easier to dive in and start talking talent!
Last Friday, after one of our year-long leadership development programs was wrapping up, I joined a group of the participants for lunch. The program they had completed included two intensive week-long sessions in residence (one year apart), combined with journaling, mentoring, coaching, and an action learning team project spanning the entire year.
At lunch, I asked them: “What was the highlight of the program for you?” Then I listened. For the next 10 minutes, each person at the table shared stories about how much they appreciated and learned from the other participants in the program. They talked about strong relationships that they built with people from other colleges and universities in our system. And they shared how much they respected each other.
I asked what made it possible for them to build these relationships in the program and listened again. They talked about the ground rule of “no rank in the room” that made it possible to respect everyone and what they had to say whether they were a staff member, faculty, or administrator. They learned that they all had something to share and to learn from each other. One person shared that this last week especially, there were more breaks built in so that participants could connect with each other and get to know each other. There were also social activities in the evenings that encouraged them to build relationship with each other.
On my drive home from the program Friday afternoon I reflected on what they had to say and how it affirmed the 70:20:10 model of learning and development. If you recall from my earlier blog, 20% of development should come through relationship building, whether it is through mentoring, coaching, or working with your peers. Each graduate in this program now has a trusted group of colleagues to contact when they are looking to build collaborative partnerships across institutions or are navigating a new challenge, or struggling with a tough issue. That’s pretty powerful.
It made me think: “How can leaders make sure their people are building strong relationships and learning from others in their organization, even when they are not in a cohort-based program like this?”
Here are a few ideas I’ll offer up:
- Assign your staff to cross-functional teams on projects where they have to build expertise or stretch their skills
- Ensure the teams are setting ground rules that respect differences
- Encourage team members to create safe spaces within their work to question the project and the process and conduct regular debriefs to reflect on their work
- Include team-building activities into your team’s agenda
What has worked for you to build organizational talent through encouraging good working relationships?
Picture this scene – you are having coffee with a friend and mention that you had a coaching meeting with one of your staff. What is your friend’s response?
- “That’s too bad. I had to do a coaching last week and it’s my least favorite part of being a supervisor.”
- “How did it go? I’ve been coaching one of my staff and it’s really great to see how they’re growing in their job. I wish I had more time to devote to coaching.”
Depending on the organizational context, either response is possible. For some supervisors, coaching is something that only occurs when an employee is headed down a wrong path and needs correction. For others, coaching is a normal part of their development interactions with each of their employees.
If you’ve participated in our Art of Supervision course, you learned about both kinds of coaching. Todd shared useful process from that course here: Do you have two minutes?
Supervisory coaching starts with providing feedback for all employees that is:
- related to a specific event or action
- tailored to the individual
Along with ongoing feedback, supervisory coaching includes helping employees create and implement development plans. In some cases, you might sponsor an employee for additional training and learning opportunities. Besides helping employees succeed in their current positions, coaching may also involve helping people grow into new roles.
Think back over the past couple of months. Which kinds of coaching have you done? What coaching activities have been on hold, and how can you make time for them? Including coaching as an intentional part of supervision can be one of the most rewarding and productive parts of your role.
Dee Anne Bonebright
Do you recognize this form? My daughter will be a freshman in college next year so the long and complicated FAFSA form is near and dear to my heart. It reminds me of a form that many leaders and HR Offices use – the IDP or Individual Development Plan. Ask yourself, who likes to fill out forms and sign “on the line?” Not me, I imagine not you, and certainly not the people on your team. Yet we continue to be surprised that a once-a-year form-based event does not engage our people or lead to robust conversations and actual professional development.
Authors and employee development experts Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni agree and wrote Redeveloping the Individual Development Plan to address this concern. Instead filling out an Individual Development Plan once a year they recommend leaders initiate Iterative Dialogue around Possibilities (IDP) with their people. Working together, employees and leaders can embed continuous learning and development into their day-to-day work.
This new approach to IDPs relies on the following four key ideas that are easy to try out.
- Start a new conversation. Begin having regular dialogue focused on asking questions and exploring interests. Demonstrate sincere curiosity in your people’s interests and be open to their questions. Clearly demonstrate that you expect and are confident that everyone can learn and develop.
- Move away from complicated forms and plans and try development “Post-Its.” Simplify the process and make it an iterative and flexible approach that can be easily modified, re-sequenced, and updated.
- Promote possibility thinking. Encourage your people to be creative and unbound when they think about development. Ask to to build long and diverse lists of ideas and options for development to discuss and share. Facilitate team members working together to explore development strategies and experiences.
- Distribute development. Move development conversations and actions into the day-to-day work and communication of your team. Include updates and debriefing conversations into staff meetings, one-on-one meetings, prep time, and other regular work activities.
Together, you and your people can energize both the conversation and the action that is needed to continuously develop everyone in your workforce.
As it happens, we are in a budget crunch and so the budget for my team’s professional development has been cut by 75%. I’ve often heard leaders bemoan this circumstance, saying that there is nothing they can do to build organizational talent, if they don’t have funds to invest in conferences, courses, or certifications for their staff.
While having few professional development funds can be limiting, there are other strategies that leaders can employ to ensure that their staff are continuing to build their knowledge, skills, and abilities and grow in their careers. In fact, research conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership in the 1980s demonstrated that 70% of learning by successful managers comes from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others, and only 10% from formal educational events. It’s called the 70:20:10 model for learning and development.
Think about it. When did you learn the most in your career? Was it by taking a course? Or was it by tackling a new job or assignment that had a steep learning curve? I know my most challenging assignments have produced the greatest learning for me. The times I learned from my own mistakes, while humbling, also were the most valuable. And the times when I had caring mentors who were willing to give me good feedback increased my learning.
Using the 70:20:10 model as a guide, leaders can mine opportunities to develop their staff by making sure that they have stretch assignments or goals that help them expand or refine their job-related skills, make decisions, and address tough challenges. Giving staff increased opportunities to interact with influential people, cross-functional teams, and mentors can also build their skill and confidence. And giving staff immediate performance feedback and encouraging them to learn from their mistakes provides invaluable growth opportunities that can’t be replicated in a conference or a course.
This week I had a chance to go bike riding with Anita and Todd. It would be accurate to say that I was nervous. If you have been reading our blog for a while you know that Todd is a serious biker (for example, view here). Anita also bikes for fun and exercise. On the other hand, I’m lucky to get on a bike once a month.
As it turned out, we had a good time. Stopping to take a few selfies was fun too. I saw them glance over occasionally to be sure I was keeping up, but they included me in the group and we all kept pace. It made me want to do more biking this summer.
Back in high school, I was invited to ride with a couple of friends. I showed up with my three-speed Schwinn, and they arrived in full bike gear with the latest lightweight bikes. I found out later that one of them was training for an Iron Man competition. I felt completely outclassed and made the first available excuse to let them go on without me.
When I told that story to Todd, he said: “You don’t invite someone for a social ride and then show up for hard core biking.” Clearly he knows how to be inclusive of people who have different skill levels and help them enjoy his sport.
As leaders, we are often in this situation. Building organizational talent means making space for people to experiment and learn, even when we could do it quicker (and maybe better) by ourselves. Sometimes we have to slow down so other people can keep pace. Showing up for hard core biking can make new team members or those who are still learning feel intimidated, and they may check out – just like I did in high school.
What do you do to help less experienced colleagues become involved in your work?