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STOP Evaluating Performance and START Inspiring Excellence

Seldom are performance reviews insightful, productive, or pleasant — for the manager or the employee. In fact, performance evaluation perennially has the poorest showing in employee satisfaction surveys with most employees believing evaluations are not relevant to their jobs. Even the best workers view evaluations as highly demotivating and of little value. For mangers, the outcome is worse; 95% of managers are dissatisfied giving evaluations and 90% of HR heads report that these evaluations produce inaccurate information. Conversely, organizations that drop these evaluations experience even lower employee performance.


Evaluating performance is necessary but all too often treated as a tactical headache to check a box instead of as a source of value creation. Detached from day-to-day activities, annual evaluation offers no motivation or learning to help employees build capability. Thus, ironically, performance evaluation engenders mediocrity. How then can leaders evaluate performance to inspire excellence and create value?


This program introduces to leaders at all levels of an organization — supervisors, managers, and executives — an approach and system that can transform the drudgery of performance evaluations into a strategic advantage for themselves, their workforce, and their organization.  Worker productivity can quickly advance, organizational values can be lived up to, and implementation of strategic initiatives can accelerate with the right leadership approach and system to performance management. Mastery of this approach and system can lift individuals and make the organization more agile, effective, and efficient.


The program begins by discussing underlying reasons why performance evaluations are flawed. It comes down to three factors. First, traditional performance evaluation systems were designed to support the logic of an industrial age, not an information age in which jobs are more complex, dynamically changing, and highly interdependent.


Second, attempts to improve performance evaluation often fail to consider the leadership capabilities needed to support such changes. For instance, the information age shifts the supervisory need from behavior control to cognitive coaching about how to think, learn, and grow. Few leaders are selected and developed in a way to serve this need.


Third, any new approach must be designed to address demands of information age jobs and human limitations.  Complex, dynamic, and interdependent jobs can create fear, anxiety, and threat responses that undermine thinking, juggling, prioritizing, and adapting. Evaluation must help workers overcome these impediments to enhance learning and improvement as well as assess performance.


The program continues by introducing a leadership approach and system of coaching, communicating, and cadence of employee advancement. Leaders must understand the difference between coaching and mentoring. Coaching is in the service the employee whereas mentoring is telling them what to do. Leaders coach by helping employees coordinate, adapt, and learn, especially as they may have far better information about what is happening around the organization and in the future. A vital aspect of coaching is learning how to communicate in a way that builds trust, inclusion, and belonging without triggering fear, anxiety, and threat. These communication skills are in surprisingly short supply.


The multiple cadences of conversations and assessment needs to occur at three levels. The cadence of coaching, which is relatively high frequency, is one level conversation in which some informal assessments are made. The cadence of reflection asks for periodic informal reflections (between 1-4 times a year) done simultaneously by employee and supervisor with respect to fulfilling tasks, living up to organizational values, and implementing strategic initiatives. They share these assessments and discuss them to generate convergent expectations about what the employee has done well and what they can do better. A final cadence involves supervisors coming together to discuss their interconnected employees with each other to generate to create convergent expectations across a leadership team. The program closes by exploring how to avoid biases and micromanaging as well as satisfy the needs of HR.


Mastery of the competencies of coaching, communicating, and cadence of employee advancement inspires excellence in today’s information age.


Typical Program Schedule


Day 1:  (2-hours)  Content delivery

Day 2:  (2-hours)  Content delivery

Day 3:  (2-hours)  Optional simulation experience

Day 16: (1-hour)  First EPC meeting, one for each team

Day 30: (1-hour)  Second EPC meeting, one for each team

Day 44: (1-hour)  First meeting of micro-learning community peer coaching meetings

Day 60: (1/2-hour)  Learning reflection and assessment meetings, one for each team

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