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360 Review (#8-26-14) Newsletter #156

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Sep 1, 2014

Recently one of my clients introduced a 360 Review to their leadership team coupled with a six month Topgrading Evaluation.  The latter process involves using the same Job Summary Scorecard used to hire someone for the position to evaluate the performance of the current position holder.  It’s great because it serves two purposes and allows you to evaluate how the person is performing against your “A” standards you’ve previously setup.  The 360 is a look inside those people who should know you the best in your management position.  It asks to score you on several leadership and management qualities so you can get their view of your capabilities.  If you have not done a 360 on your leadership team or yourself, I’d encourage you to do so.  Here’s why: 

Review360 resized 600Each Leadership team member including the CEO was reviewed by the staff in the following ten areas:  Leadership, Planning & Managing Achievement, Flexibility, Collaboration, Innovation, Risk Management, Organizational Sensitivity, Strategic Thinking, Managing Customers, Networking, and Personal Impact.  Grade levels were on a scale of 1 through 7, with the bottom level extremely poor and the top level excellent.  There were also categories for Not Applicable, and Don’t Know, in case the evaluator had not had an experience with the person or simply had no context to grade them. 

Participants were also asked to comment on three questions:

What are this Manager's Strengths?

What are this Manager's Weaknesses?

What Steps does this Manager need to take to increase his or her skills as a Manager?

I must warn you that the process of reviewing the 360’s as well as the Topgrading Evaluation is time consuming.  To perform both required a minimum of 90 minutes with each process.  In some cases the participant required longer as we dove into some aspects that required more attention seeking to solve some deep rooted issues. 

Only if your business and your leadership team is truly committed to growth and self-improvement should you decide to undertake this. Only a business that is truly committed to its people would invest the time to complete this arduous yet rewarding engagement.

A link was set up to allow everyone to provide their score anonymously.   Once the results were received the outcome is provided to the leadership team member ahead of their meeting.  My customer did the meetings in tandem with the CEO and I providing observations and input along with taking notes from the meeting.  The first step is to review the grades and determine the validity of the scores from the individual’s perspective.  It is one thing to hear an employee you’re supervising make a comment, it’s quite another to see the results of them scoring you on these leadership skills and have several others agree.  That includes positive and negative results.

Are your people truly interested in improving their performance and ability to manage and lead?  I can tell you each of the leadership team members I sat in on were excited to get this feedback.  They truly are invested in their future.  They were eager to see the results and willing to discover where they can improve their leadership styles.

We’ve discussed the idea of Priority, The One Thing focus that we emphasize with our customers in coaching them to grow. The same target is ideal for growth and improvement generated from the results of the 360 reviews. 

While there are arguments and discussions about some of the results, at least in our meetings there was always agreement from the leadership member on some aspect where they could improve.  The key is developing a plan to initiate and make that change occur.

The 360 Action Plan is precisely for this.  It asks the individual to assess the results, brainstorm ideas for correcting or improving a behavior, discover obstacles and support for making the improvement, and then to take specific steps to achieve the desired change.  It asks for whom you will have support you, how you might reward yourself for achieving the desired result and finally a commitment statement as to what you wish to achieve. The emphasis here is on focusing to improve or change one thing. 

Most importantly this isn’t intended to be a canvas of commitments and changes, rather a focus on one change, one improvement, one acknowledged area that you, your team members you supervise, and your peers agree that would make a difference in the quality of your leadership ability.  One Thing is the priority.

Most people will want to change multiple elements.  I urge you to suppress their ambition for doing this.  More progress will be made focusing on one change or performance improving skill set than by selecting more.  Indeed it’s likely that other scores will improve by simply improving one area.

If you’re looking for questions to ask in a 360 you can ask Positioning Systems for help or search the web or articles like Sample Questions for 360 Reviews.  It’s important to ask the right questions, yet without a dedicated desire to improve and an action plan to follow the possibility of achieving any results from this exhausting exercise will be precious little.  Furthermore without an impact from this the likelihood of those who participated enthusiastically responding again greatly diminishes.

If you’re going to launch this process you should do so with the commitment from the people being reviewed that they intend to utilize the results and make measureable improvements in their behavior and skills from the feedback received.  Otherwise the gains from this will be negligible now and for the future.

Do you have a leadership team that is sincerely committed to improving?  Are you looking for a tool that provides feedback to expose and discover aspects of leadership and management that will help them improve their performance?  Consider the 360 Review/Feedback.

It’s too early to tell the outcome from these initial meetings but judging by the tenor and tone of the meetings, plus the degree of commitment I felt from these leadership team members, I’ll be very surprised if this leadership team doesn’t take a dramatic step forward in their performance and ability to lead their teams.

You can download an example of the 360 in Action to provide your team with a way to take action on their results.  Ask Positioning Systems if you’d like help initiating this growth exercise tool in your business.  

Topics: Employee Feedback, employee engagement, Business Growth, employee performance, mentor, 360 Review, Employee Evaluations

People Lazy or Exhausted? #105 5-25-10

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Sat, Mar 29, 2014

Question:  I can’t get my people to follow the systems I’ve designed.  I think they are just plain lazy.  How can I tell whether or not they’re lazy or if there’s something wrong with the system I’m asking them to follow?

Answer: As an E-Myth coach we learned the first place to look is your system.  The book Switch by Dan and Pat Heath reinforced this with an emphasis on what looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.  It’s a new take on an old E-Myth coaching philosophy that every frustration is due to the lack of a system. 

Further evidence of this paradigm lies in the research Switch provides on how test subjects wear out when they are required to use high levels of discipline.  Self-control they discovered is an exhaustible resource.  The longer they use their discipline the less likely they are to be able to respond when they are in a stressful situation. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are your people managing the impression they are trying to make on others? [Here’s another good reason to hire people for their strengths, people who don’t exhibit strengths in influencing others will wear out sooner in a job that demands them to.]
  • Are your people coping with fears with the changes you’ve made to your system?  [Consequences like possibly losing their job could increase their level of self-control and exhaust them faster.]
  • Are they required to control spending or watch carefully that they don’t expend resources unnecessarily?  [I’ve found that businesses that are under severe financial constraints get exhausted faster and fail to concentrate on building their business.  They’re in a position of severe self-control.]
  • Are they trying to focus on the opposite of what they should be producing?  “Don’t make a mistake, philosophy.”

If you’ve changed a system after your people have been accustomed to performing it a certain way you will find it takes time to establish new patterns.  Getting upset or placing further consequences probably will increase the pattern you are seeing and confirm your suspicion that they are simply lazy.  Instead they are exhausted. 

The bigger the change you’ve suggested the more it saps their self-control.  When you change things you are tinkering with behaviors that have become automatic, and changing those behaviors requires supervision by what Switch describes as the “Rider.”

When your people exhaust their self-control they’re exhausting the mental muscles needed to think creatively, to focus to inhibit impulses and persist due to frustration or failure. 

Looking for the bright spots [Switch] or conducting Appreciative Inquiry may be difficult to do especially when you’ve invested a lot of time and energy to improve a system.  However it can help build your teams confidence and give them the support they need to carry on and overcome the exhaustion that is preventing them from achieving success.

Here are the steps Dan and Chip Heath describe to Shape the Rider in their book Switch:describe the image

FOLLOW THE BRIGHT SPOTS. Investigate what’s working and clone it.

SCRIPT THE CRITICAL MOVES. Don’t think big picture, think in terms of specific behaviors.

POINT TO THE DESTINATION. Change is easier when you know where you’re going and why it’s worth it.

It could be you’ve also been using negative reinforcement to direct your employees versus positive reinforcement.  If so you need to review your practices and consider the difference between how you manage.   A good look into this is provided in my blog Positive and Negative Reinforcement – Oops [From Aubrey Daniels book Bringing out the Best in People.]

Effective leaders are able to recognize human nature.  It is easy to blame your people.  They may be the culprit. You can exhaust a great deal of energy and spend a great deal of money chasing symptom.  Focus first on the situation or system.  Make sure you’ve gotten to the core of your issue before you begin changing people. 


Topics: employee performance, People, People Decisions, Switch, change, Aubrey Daniels

Missing Ingredient in Orientation: Your Core Purpose (#11-26-13) Newsletter #147

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Nov 25, 2013

describe the imageA client of mine has an extraordinary systemized approach to his business.  The owner, through his previous business, adopted the E-Myth systematic approach to documenting his business.  In addition he has a zealous approach to detail at the operating level of his business.  A recent hire, despite the meticulous training provided failed to completely understand the nature of their business, particularly the emotional satisfying elements that they offer customers.  It’s lead them to re-examine their Core Purpose.  Do they have a meaningful Core Purpose? How well is it communicated to staff and in the orientation process? Here’s some of the elements we are reviewing and why you may wish to examine why you need a solid Core Purpose:

If you’re like me you’ve worked for a number of companies in your career.  Looking back at the companies I’ve worked for it’s easy to determine which had a core purpose and which didn’t.  In fact I don’t recall any of the companies I worked for having one. That includes, I’m embarrassed to say, the company I was responsible for starting with 5 other partners twenty years ago.  This despite the vision and intentions I had when we started the radio station, and despite one of my partners suggesting we follow the lead of Jim Collins in Built to Last

The best company I worked for had an outstanding employee orientation process.  I spent two weeks in training learning the policies and procedures, the company history, and actually serving in several support roles in the warehouse and administration to help me understand how the company functioned.  Despite this excellent training, I never recall being told why the company existed.  

Recently a good friend and former client of mine sent me a video link to a message by Nick Vujicic  If you’ve not seen it I highly recommend it. In the video he quotes William Barclay, “There are two great days in a person's life -- the day we are born and the day we discover why.”

I you believe this is true for each of us as individuals, then why wouldn’t it be true for your business to have a why?

Of course if you’ve read Built to Last, by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, then you know they’ve already discussed and established the importance of your business having a set of fundamental reasons for a company’s existence beyond just making money.  They noted that a company continually pursues but never fully achieves or completes its purpose.  As Walt Disney noted, “Disneyland will never be completed, as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

In Jim Stengel’s Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies, Stengel not only emphasizes the importance of Core Purpose, or Brand Ideal as he calls it.  He provides proof that “Doing well by doing good” is not only attainable, but the two are actually inseparable. The Stengel 50 (see chart) describe the imageproves companies with a brand ideal perform nearly 400% better than those that don’t.  

Stengel notes A Brand Ideal should at the fundamental level:

  • Elicit joy
  • Enable Connection
  • Inspire Exploration
  • Impact Society
  • Evoke Pride

He also asks the following questions:

  • Why are you in business?
  • Does your company operate around a brand ideal? If not, did it ever? Don’t try to “invent” an ideal - a true brand ideal can’t be developed by a task force. But your company may have been founded on an ideal that will still be relevant once it’s unearthed. 
  • Consider your company’s heritage. 
  • What did your founders believe in?  Why did they get into business?
  • What need did they set out to address? Why do employees believe in what they do?

As noted in my introduction one of my clients recently hired a sales person, who met their diligent and stringent Topgrading standards.  Yet she didn’t reachthe ultimate standards they expected in their 90 day probationary period.  Her performance graded at average to good, yet they felt there was something missing. It was as if she failed to understand the compelling reason customers should choose their business and its proprietary system to solve their problems.

In several of our weekly meetings we discussed their sales process, sales standards, training system and the manager’s performance in holding this person accountable and to properly training them.  We explored the Topgrading interview process and everything else to make sure there wasn’t an issue with the hiring and recruiting process.  What did we miss?

Ultimately it was determined that for some reason this person didn’t have the deep conviction and emotional understanding of what the company delivered as a solution to the prospects problems.  She would work the system effectively.  When it came time to close she couldn’t answer to her prospects nor to the company’s team exactly why they should choose to move forward with them.

The Why is critical.

In my coaching discussions we’d spoke about the company having a mission statement, and each time the president felt secure that they had not only identified it through other strategic decisions (Strategy Statement, Inside Advantage, Brand Promise), but that there was no need to explore or identify this further.

For the first time he realized that perhaps they hadn’t effectively identified this to everyone, and particularly to new employees.

Why does your business exist? 

Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States recognized this same vital element to business success that Jim Collins and Jerry Porras identified in Built to Last with these words, “ needs a lifting purpose greater than the struggle for materialism.”

Another of my clients has identified their Core Purpose.  Each leadership meeting they require their leadership team to answer a series of questions on the critical elements of their business including Core Values, Strategy Statement and Purpose.  Their Core Purpose has become a tremendous source of pride and differentiation through their sales and marketing force.  Each day they head out into the market with a significant degree of motivation inspired by their Core Purpose.  It’s helped them to succeed in shaving significant market share from the national leader in their market for three consecutive years.

The subjective elements of the business are frequently overlooked when building your business.  Yet these are often the most vital and compelling pieces to forge your business growth and competitive advantage in the market place.  Don’t overlook them!  

Topics: employee engagement, employee performance, Core Purpose, Built to Last, Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the Wo


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