Archive for January, 2016

You pay them a lot of money, so….

“OK” Gemma said.  “So let my people know what I expect, set them up to deliver it, then expect it.  That’s all I have to do is it?”  Gemma and I were working through the true work of her Executive role.  And her tone of voice made it clear this wasn’t exactly a question.

“No, that’s not all you have to do” I replied.  “There’s other stuff.  But let’s be clear – if any of the above three are missed, or you don’t give these three the priority they need, then you owe money.”

“Owe money?  To who?”

“Who do you think?  The organisation!  You are paid to make sure that the work of each of your managers is valuable, so the extent to which you are not doing this is the amount of salary you owe back”

“Alright, I see what you mean.  But I’m pretty sure I’ve done this.  At least the first one, I’ve let my people know what I expect”.

“When did that happen?” I asked

“The planning process” Gemma replied.  “Three months ago.  I had each of my Senior Managers write out the plan for their area, real strategic stuff, looking into the future.  Was a challenge for them to be honest, they were used to just doing a budget for next year”.

“What did you do with these plans?”

“I reviewed them.  Made comments, some changes, then gave them back to them.”

“So how did they know what their plan was supposed to cover?” I asked.

“They had a template”

I hadn’t been clear.  “Sorry, what I meant was, how did they know what they were planning to deliver? How did they know their key results, the things the organisation really needed?”

“Well, us Execs had developed the purpose of the organisation together and the key strategies, I communicated that, so then I expected them to work out how they were going to contribute.”

“And where you didn’t agree with them, you then corrected it.  Like a teacher marking an assignment”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“I know.  But it’s what you did.”

“But they are Senior Managers.  They are paid a lot of money, I shouldn’t have to tell them what to do”.

“Nope.  It’s the exact opposite.  They are paid a lot of money…so maybe you should tell them what to do”.


Leadership – it can’t be that simple

I could tell Gemma was frustrated.  Normally she stood up and greeted visitors with a smile, but this time she sat sullenly in her chair.  I sat opposite her just as a thick report landed in my lap.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“The latest leadership thing” she replied.

I flicked through.  Spiderweb diagrams, colours, bar charts.  Looked nice.  Even had some words.

“So what are you going to do with this?” was my next question.

“Well, perhaps I can run a gap analysis with…THIS” and this time landed a 5-page brochure in my lap.

I flicked through.  Spiderweb diagrams, colours, bar charts.  Looked nice.  Even had some words.

“I get the impression you’re not happy” I ventured.

“Not happy?  Well then I need to adjust my leadership style.  Perhaps I need….THIS” she said loudly, poking her monitor then spinning it to show me a website with the words ‘LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES’ blazoned across the top, and a colourful diagram with the words ‘competencies’ written in the middle.  I spied the words ‘strategic architect’ before she angrily spun the monitor back around.

I waited.  Gemma stared at me, then gradually a smile appeared.

“What’s the problem?” I asked.

“This leadership business.  Leadership, leadership, leadership.  All over the place.  My people have been subjected to all sorts of soul-searching, feedback and various versions of amateur therapy and it seems that the whole thing is just a bunch of teaching adults how to get along.”

“Do you think most adults get along?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, do you think most adults in the world have the ability to work with another adult without ending up in a fight?”

Gemma raised her eyebrows.  “I suppose….” she said.

“So maybe the reason leadership in your organisation isn’t delivering any more results is that you’re teaching adults what they already know”

Gemma slumped back in her char.

“Any ideas then?”

“Yep.  We’re going to do this.  We’re going to ask every manager in the organisation to:

  1. Let their people know what’s expected of them
  2. Set them up so they can deliver it
  3. Then expect it”

Gemma looked at me like I had just turned into Beetlejuice.  “It can’t be that simple”

“Why not?”

From the Inbox: Advice on performance reviews

From the Inbox, a question from a small business owner:

Hi Adam,

I  think it is time to do a performance review for my staff. 

I know I have asked this once before but wanted to get your thoughts on options for methods on doing it. 

I am pretty keen to get the individual employees ideas on how they have gone against some KPI’s set up last year also. 

Anything you are able to help with appreciated as always.


Performance reviews – the mindset to have is you are the coach sitting down with the player to go over the year with them – what they did well, what was not so good, what they were asked to get better at, how they did (this means you a keep a notebook during the year where you note each piece of feedback…start that now for next year)

The individual employee’s ideas on their performance, while important,  is not the most important thing.  Regardless of how well a player thinks they are performing, what they need to know to get better is the coach’s judgement on how they are doing, and examples as to why the coach came to that conclusion.

This does not mean, however, that it’s a one-way street.  Read more…