Friday, June 25, 2004

Employee Review Time

Mid-year reviews can be a real pain - on managers and employees alike. First, no one likes to be judged, and frankly, that's exactly what these exercises are all about. Second, it takes time to figure out what you want to say about someone in their review - and then to articulate it in a way that doesn't sound all wrong. And third, when it inevitably does sound wrong, the ensuing conversation is typically pretty uncomfortable.

But the worst part is that after everything is said and done, these reviews don't even matter all that much - that is to say that no salary change typically occur as a result of them. So what's the point?!

Well, the point is that people have a right to know how they're doing. And if they're doing poorly (or not fabulously) they deserve to know that so that they can do something about it ... if they so choose.

That's why I've created special report called Employee Performance Discussions: 10 Important Things a Manager MUST Know How to Say.

If you're a manager, and find it particularly stressful (or distasteful) to do these mid-year reviews, or you're just interested in doing the best you can with respect to your employee's performance reviews, you may want to get yourself a copy of this special report.


Monday, June 21, 2004

Career Day Comments

Over the weekend, I attended the CCASTD Career Development Day, volunteering to work in the information area and to provide free 15-minute 'laser' coaching sessions to interested attendees. Good fun that was. And during my free time, I also had the chance to attend a few of the presentations being given, which was a nice surprise, as well.

What really struck me about the day, though, was this - almost all of the attendees I spoke with that day confided that they already knew what they needed to do to find work; they just weren't all that motivated to go do it! Sure they showed up to the conference, which was good. (And there were a LOT of programs, presentations, models, speakers, books, and such, to learn from.) But in their heart-of-hearts, these attendees were anything but fully engaged in the process of finding themselves their next job. And what was worse was that things like fear, frustration, confusion, regret, among other things, were keeping them from getting UNstuck. It was kind of sad, actually.

I guess that's why I love to coach so much. In coaching, we don't try to overlay some boiler-plate model of someone else's success on people. We don't think we have better answers. Instead, we listen to people - as in REALLY listen - to find out what it is that's keeping them from being their Absolute Best. And we ask questions about what to do about THAT.

It's interesting what coaching creates. And my Career Day conversations were no different. Here's a sampling:

+ I asked one person what he'd rather do than job hunt. He said that he loved woodworking, but he felt guilty about it because he knew he should be looking for a job. The double-entendre struck me as particularly poignant - he would love working! (How ironic is that?!) So we talked about his woodshop and I asked him what he might build to represent his job search. He replied by saying he'd build a workbench! (There was that word work again! We decided that there were some interesting parallel processes to building a workbench and finding a job. He seemed very intrigued by that and found himself eager to work on both projects, in tandem, to better understand the connection.

+ A woman I spoke with was already working but wanted to find a better job. Her background, her skills, her work ethic, they were all amazingly aligned with what she wanted to do. But although she knew that on an intellectual level, she couldn't feel it in her heart or stomach. This lack of confidence and lack of courage was derailing her from doing what she knew she needed to do. In talking with her, she decided she would to talk with several of her best friends and ask them to remind her what they liked about her, what she was good at, and what they saw for her in the future as a way of better owning who she already was but just wasn't realizing it. Who isn't motivated when they're connected with their Best Self like that?

+ Then there was this fella who wanted to take his career to the next level. He knew what he wanted - and knew what to do. The problem, though, was that he had so many ideas that he didn't know where to start. So part of our talk was spent using the metaphor of an archery target to help clarify his thinking and focus it more clearly on what was at the center of the bulls-eye. Since he happened to be a newspaper man, as well, I gave him the assignment of coming up with a dynamite headline to capture the essence of what he wanted to do. I think that really sparked his enthusiasm and captured his imagination.
They say that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But when it comes to the job hunt - and any of a number of other personal/professional stretch goals - it's not so much a matter of distance as it is a matter of movement. These three people got unstuck. And they did it in a way that was totally unique to themselves and totally in keeping with who they really are and what they wanted to be. It was so evident that their motivation, focus, courage, stick-to-itiveness, happiness, and resolve had kicked into high gear. They were ready to rock 'n roll!

Helping people get to that place is what the power of coaching is all about. It's a bee-YOU-tee-full thing!


Thursday, June 17, 2004

Happy B'Day GottaGettaBlog!

Well, it was one year ago to the day that I began this weblog. Hard to believe. So if you're so inclined, please celebrate along with me by perusing the archives of the last twelve months. And should you find one or two that reamain particularly relevant for you, feel free to drop me an email to tell me so.

Thanks, everyone!


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Lackluster Results from Pay-for-Performance

As reported in today's Wall Street Journal, "Many companies' efforts to link employees' performance to their salaries are yielding lackluster results." Findings are based on Hewitt Associates research. So why might this be?

Hewitt suggests that it's a result of what they call 'learning curve' issues - that companies haven't yet figured out how to do it. I strikes me, though, that it's the managers who are having the real problems.

First, they need to be able to articulate exactly what it is that they want their direct reports to achieve. And frankly, that's not easy to do, especially when most managers are professional problem solvers, not employee development experts. Clearly, bosses are far better abled to recognize when someone does something wrong than to tell their employees what it is they're looking for from them ahead of time.

Second, because of their problem-solving mentality, bosses see mistakes as things to clean up and not employee development opportunities. There's simply far too much blame and not nearly enough insight or instruction to help direct reports learn the right lessons from their mistakes.

Third, managers tend to focus far more on criticizing employee weaknesses than on identifying and leveraging employee strengths. But while mitigating weaknesses may stop people from screwing up, real success can only come from focusing on, and better utilizing, an employee's strengths. But alas, most managers simply don't know how to do that in a way that encourages and motivates direct reports to truly excel.

So all you managers out there - as you work on your mid-year reviews, please keep this in mind. It's up to YOU to help your employees understand what's expected of them. It's up to YOU to articulate it in such a way that they not only understand it, but they can achieve it as well. It's up to YOU to help them be their Absolute Best.

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Friday, June 11, 2004

Great Inventions

I was looking at a list of Great Inventions, as determined by Encyclopedia Britannica and several of them caught my eye:
=> beer, before 6000 BC (Sumerians, Bablyonians)
=> mail-order catalog, 1872 (Aaron Montgomery Ward)
=> compact disc, 1980 (Sony Corp.)
=> ring-shaped donut, 1847 (Hanson Crockett Gregory)
=> wire coat hanger, 1903 (Albert J. Parkhouse)
=> miniature golf, circa 1930 (Garnet Carter)
=> Muzak, 1922 (George Owen Squier)
=> paper towel, 1931 (Arthur Scott)
=> television remote control, 1950 (Robert Adler)
=> postage stamps, 1840 (Sir Rowland Hill)
=> sunglasses, 1752 (James Ayscough)
=> the wheel, about 3500 BC (proto-Aryan perople or Sumerians)
=> the zipper, 1893 (Whitcomb L. Judson)
Quite a sampling, yes?

What are some of your favoirte inventions? And what inventions do you wish would make to make your life/job more enjoyable?

(Hey, c'mon, it's Friday afternoon ... daydream a little!)

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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Noise Pollution

The Chicago Tribune reported (courtesy of Newsday) that New York City is trying to quiet itself - the Mayor is trying to revise their noise-control code. Some of the things proposed include:
=> noise 'barriers' for construction sites
=> noise 'blankets' over power equipment
=> fewer construction permits for nighttime and weekends
=> citing motorcyclists whose bikes are 'plainly audible'
=> citing stereo enthusiasts with that boom-boom bass.
I've actually got a related noise problem here in the beautiful suburbs of Chicago. When it's nice outside, I like to coach from my side yard - the fresh air, the sun, the gentle breeze, the birds and squirrels and chipmunks, all that greenery - who says a work environment can't be downright inspiring?! But then the landscapers come with their industrial-strength edgers and blowers and lawn mowers. And they're EVERYWHERE. Sheeesh! It's really hard to hear my clients with all that noise going on.

Maybe I'll visit Village Hall to register a complaint. Better yet, maybe I'll call them so they can hear for themselves just how noisy and disruptive this all is to our otherwise beautiful community!


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Why I Coach

In a recent email from a client in Europe I was asked why do I do coaching. Here's some of how I responded:

"Ah, thank you for asking. I do coaching for a few reasons. First, I really love doing it. There's something that just lights up inside me when I see a client suddenly understanding something in a new way. It's like a whole new world has opened up and it's really a wonderful moment. I also do coaching because it allows me to interact with people on a much deeper and more emotionally intimate level than most. And that's very fulfilling to me. Now I love to banter back and forth about nothing in particular with friends and family, but I feel I'm doing something very important when I'm talking with someone on a deeper, more coach-like level. I also do coaching because it's a way to help people. I know how to get them to focus on the important things. I know how to help them face whatever issues they're avoiding and I'm able to do it in ways that they tend to find very supportive, safe, and motivational. I like to brainstorm, and I really like getting people to see their own learning."
I thought that might be an intersting excerpt to share here at GottaGettaBlog!