Imagine you are at a party with the most successful business leaders in the world. One of them comes up to you, and after a brief introduction, says, “If you can share something valuable for me and my business, I will pay you $270,000.
What advice would you share that would translate into $270,000 worth of value for one of the world’s most successful business leaders?
This was the scene in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1890, as detailed in Richard Rumelt’s book, “Good Strategy, Bad Strategy”.
Andrew Carnegie, one of the most successful businesspersons of the day, was introduced to Frederick Taylor, who was becoming very well known as an expert on organizing work.
Carnegie put it this way:
“Young man”, Carnegie said, addressing Taylor, “If you can tell me something about management that is worth hearing, I will send you a check for $10,000.
Conversations stopped and the room became quiet.
“Mr. Carnegie”, Taylor replied, “I would advise you to make a list of the ten most important things you can do. Then, start doing number one.”
One week later Taylor received a check for ten thousand dollars. (In today’s money, this is $270,000.)
As Rumelt reflects, “The value that Carnegie perceived was not from the list itself, but from constructing the list. Value generation (for Carnegie) was illuminated at the crossroads of what was strategically important and personally actionable.
You can do many things this year. Many will keep you busy and maintain the status quo. Other actions will serve as a catalyst and contribute to the highest vision you have for yourself and your business.
Focus on the crossroads of strategic priorities and purposeful action.
Read on for additional ideas to help you make the most of yourself and your year.
“Relevant & pragmatic ideas, tools and insights to play at your best.”
I nearly fell off my chair during a meeting at the close of last year.
A senior leader said to me, “I am so stressed out because on top of everything else on my agenda, I have to complete a dozen performance appraisals by the end of January”.
I could not believe what I was hearing.
I was at risk of going into a righteous rage; instead, I went to “my mental balcony”, counted to three, came back to the meeting. I did my best to empathize with his situation and gently remind him that these upcoming performance appraisals are the most important meetings of his entire year.
That is right. The most important meetings of the year. Here is why:
The performance appraisal is the single most important meeting of the year. It is the “sacred intersection” that connects the talent, effort, aspirations and growth of your people with the organizational strategy and future of the company.
Recognizing and honoring this “sacred intersection” is fundamental to people engagement and organizational success. You cannot fake it and simply go through the motions. It demands that you make an ownershift.
Make sure that you have a structure that covers the basics:
- Review past performance
- Discuss and exchange future performance and targets
- Explore and co-create a plan for employee growth opportunities
- Gather feedback how you, as a leader, can better support this person, (and the team) going forward
Here are four guidelines that will support constructive performance appraisal experiences:
No surprises. Do not drop any bombshells or critic performance that has not already been shared via feedback with your employee. Remember that feedback must be fresh to be constructive.
Do not be consumed with past performance. In my early managerial life, I spent far too much time and energy going play by play over past performance. The past is important, but it is the future that inspires people and leads to growth.
It is conversation, not a monologue. Keep in mind that your employees have a lot to share during these sessions so keep them balanced. My first boss, Tim, always asked me to fill out the performance appraisal on myself and we compared notes. This is a practice that I have continued to use during hundreds of performance appraisals.
Check the energy. Do you and your employee have a positive, respectful and energizing perspective about how the appraisal went? If not, chances are you might not have fully engaged people driving themselves and the business forward in the New Year.
If you have finished your appraisals and performance agreements for the coming year; swing back around to your people, see how they experienced their “most important meeting of the year” and gather ideas and suggestions for improvement that you use during your quarterly or bi-annual sessions.
If you still have 2018 appraisals in front of you, it is not too late to recalibrate and bring the importance and meaning to these exchanges that they deserve.
For You & Your Team
Do you know how when your team feels they are overcommitted; and, at the same time, know they are underperforming?
Make the effort and take the time to see that this does not continue. It is de-energizing for a team and robs them of the opportunity to succeed. When teams do not succeed, nobody wins.
This is a matter of setting and managing priorities.
Start from the top. Let us say that you run a functional team in the global supply chain organization. Surely, you know the five functional priorities of your team. But do you and your team members know the top five priorities of the overall supply chain organization, and who collaborates with who to achieve these priorities? When people become familiar with priorities above them, beside them and below them, transparency is created that helps avoid over commitment.
Secondly, continually review where you spend time or resources on activities that do not support your strategic priorities. As a team, practice strategic abandonment (letting go) of things that do not contribute to your strategic targets.
Last but not last, preparing your strategic priorities for the year is a bit like loading a wagon. As you move towards your destination, if you continue to load your wagon with additional priorities as they come up during the year, you may get to the point where you cannot pull the wagon any more, due to the added weight.
It can seem easy in the heat of the moment to take a new idea, create a new priority and throw it on the wagon, without taking anything off the wagon.
Every wagon has it limits.
Make commitments to priorities that you can fulfill. In other words, keep your promises.
When you keep your promises, you create trust. Trust is the emotional currency of high performance teams and organizations.
For You, Your Team & Your Business
“I need to delegate more ownership.”
What is wrong with this statement?
The statement is wrong because it is not possible to delegate ownership.
While creating a culture of ownership is highly desirable, (because it leads to the highest levels of engagement) we simply cannot delegate it to others. Let me explain.
Start with responsibility. You can delegate responsibility and this leads to clarity, an important component of engagement. Responsibility can be collectively delegated, meaning many people can be responsible for something.
Accountability is similar to responsibility, as it can be delegated as well. Yet accountability is different from responsibility because it cannot be collectively distributed. It belongs to one person. A petty cash box is a simple example. Only one person can be accountable for the petty cash balance, so only one person has access or a set of keys to the petty cash box.
Now to ownership. Ownership cannot be delegated; people must choose to take ownership for something. Leaders can create an environment that invites people to take ownership, yet it is the “I choose to commit to this” attitude that encourages discretionary efforts, the gold standard of engagement. This is why ownership is so highly desired, because when someone decides to demonstrate ownership, people exercise the highest level of engagement.
Responsibility gets you in the game, accountability helps you win the game and ownership enables you to dominate the game.
Reflect on this and in the next issue of news2use, I will share the nine markers of an ownership culture.
People, Places & Technology
Leadership Growth Labs 2019
I am very excited and motivated to kick off the Leadership Growth Lab this year.
While most of my work supports executive and strategic leadership teams, there are some highly ambitious leaders whose team is not prepared to work on themselves as a team.
This is why the Leadership Growth Lab could be a place for you to “take off” in 2019. Visit the link and go to “growth labs” for more info. Drop me an email or ring me and we can see how you could profit from a Leadership Growth Lab in 2019.
Thought for the Day
“Talent wins games,
but teamwork wins championships.”