Tuesday, October 29, 2013

H.A.T.'s off to you!

Around the office, October is annual review time.  It seems that every manager in the organization is scrambling to come up with information about their direct reports that should be included in an annual performance appraisal.  The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  I have a general thought, that most leaders truly share, and that performance feedback should be a process, not a form.

As leaders, our direct and indirect reports should have an understanding of how they are performing throughout a review period.  Rather than looking at appraisals as a "have to do", look at this period as a "get to do". 

We all know when we are on our "A" game and when we are performing at a C+ level (at best).  We understand that we all have good days, and bad days.  When it comes to annual performance appraisals, they should not look at singular events, but a body of work in its entirety.  Much like the saying, "You can't judge a book by it's cover", a leader conducting annual appraisals should look at a persons work in context.

I love this time of year for the following reasons, but in all honesty these are conversations that really need to be occurring throughout the year:

  • I get to celebrate successes of my direct reports
  • I get to another opportunity to provide formal feedback on how they have progressed throughout the year
  • I get to speak one on one and discuss an important topic, them
  • I get to learn a little more about what their expectations are of me as a leader
  • I get to provide my direct report focused feedback as to how they are developing and the direction that we mutually agree they want to go
  • I get to recognize the little things that they do that may be "just in a days work" for them, but make a big difference
Appraisals should never be a surprise for the recipient.  Throughout the year, it is important for leaders to provide consistent developmental feedback.  Development needs not be a negative, but rather a way to capitalize on individual accomplishments and continually setting more aggressive goals and challenging where the bar is set.

As a leader, I have been fortunate to be mentored and developed by true leaders who were interested in the development of others.  As a result, I make every attempt to instill this into the cultures I am a part of, and definitely with the teams I am associated with.  Working in a silo stifles vision and innovation.  Create a forward working culture through consistent and appreciative feedback.  When you do, it makes the annual appraisal a much easier process.

H.A.T.'s (Happy Appraisal Time) off to you if you have culture, environment, a style as described above!

Have a great week!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

MVP or Great Teammate?

It is that time of year when my beloved Boston Red Sox are back in the World Series!!!  Who'd a thunk it?  A year ago under the leadership of Bobby Valentine, the Sox were Horrible for a number of reasons. This year, the best record in the league! 

Leadership has alot to do with this, but so does the culture of the team.  Nothing sums up the culture of this years team more than a picture posted on Facebook today.  It was a quote from second baseman, Dustin Pedroia that said, "We're trying to win, man. Nobody cares what they do personally. It's all about the team." Powerful stuff!!

In sports, it has been said that there is no bigger accolade a professional ball player can receive than they were a great teammate.  MVP's, batting titles, home runs, strikeouts, all of it does not matter. Were you there to support your team and did you do everything that you could do, selflessly, to ensure a "W"?

In our organizations, we come across people that have their personal agenda's.  We all know who "they" are.  Who are the individuals that are digging in and making sure that the job is getting done better today than what it was the day before?  Are you one of them?

As a leader, it should be our goal to make sure that the team is successful.  As in the case of the Red Sox, current manager John Farrell understands the concept of team.  You don't see him trying to be the center of attention, unlike Bobby Valentine, last years Sox manager.

Are you a leader that is willing to work with the team you have to lead them from worst to first?
Are you creating a culture that puts team ahead of individual?
Are you ensuring that successes are being celebrated, but not dwelled on during the journey to greatness?
Are you able to recognize opportunities for development, and put players in roles that best suit the needs of the team?

If so, you my friend are a strong leader.  Let your legacy tell whether you are a great leader.

Have a great week!  Go SOX!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

What's really important?

One of the most peaceful places for me is to be at the beach.  I become very introverted and introspective and it is where I can truly clear my head of all the stresses in life.

Living in Texas, there is so much to do, however, due to my fears of jellyfish, rattlesnakes (yes at the beach I have seen warnings for them), sharks, etc. I tend to stay out of the water.  Up until 3 weeks ago, I had never been to Galveston Island.  Over the last three weeks, I have been there twice. 

The first time it was with the family for a baseball tournament that my son's were playing in.  The games were OK, they both played well, but the important piece was the bonding time we had.  My oldest son is a Senior in high school this year, while my youngest son is a Sophomore.  They are the best of friends, period.  After the tournament we went over to the sea wall and the boys decided they wanted to feel the water.  It was really cool to see them really spend some bonding time with each other aside from being at home or on the ball field.  Next year will be hard on both of them.

My second trip to Galveston was for a work conference.  Like I said earlier, I get very introspective at the beach and spent some time on one of the jetty's.  The picture at the top of this post is one that really focused me on our first visit.  The statue is a family holding on to one other, looking for guidance from a higher power.  WOW! 
It is easy to get so focused on the hustle and bustle of daily life, but all of us really need to take that me time to remember what is truly important in our lives. Take the time to seek guidance, but hold on to those values and beliefs that are most important.
Hope this isn't too deep a post.  Usually I draw inspiration for my posts from reading others posts or based upon what is happening in my daily hustle and bustle.  Unfortunately, I have been away from reading and writing for a couple of weeks, but while these thoughts were in my head, I felt it best to share them.
Regardless of your situation, you should never get too busy to get back to the basics.  The basics will vary for each of us, but when you do, you will feel so much better.
Hope you all have a great weekend!  Let me know what getting back to the basics looks like to you.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My Thoughtful Place

In the words of Winnie the Pooh, I am in my thoughtful place.  Yes, I am at Starbucks writing this post.  Not only is the location my thoughtful place, but so is where I am mentally right now. 

So, my thoughts for the day revolve around change, and how to move yourself from where you perceive you are, to where you want to be.  This is easier said than done, however, it can be done. 

It is easy to be like the crowd, and live in Negativeville, but it takes effort to move yourself from there.  So, here are a couple of characteristics of Negativeville.

  • Do you find yourself finger pointing and focusing on what others are doing, rather than what you are doing?
  • Do your interactions with others generally focus about you, or your frustrations?
  • You are not able to extract any positives from your day.
So, how do you attach a U-Haul to your tuchus, and move out of Negativeville and land in Pleasant Valley, or Positiveland.  Hint: You don't have to travel through Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  Here are some perspectives that have helped me in the past. You may recognize some of these perspectives from baseball or other sports movies.
  • Don't think, it only hurts the team. Meaning, the more I over analyze the situation, the more negative energy I am wasting.  Negative energy is draining and unproductive.
  • I don't have to be the center of attention.  I can be a positive influence by working behind the scenes.
  • When someone gives you a gift, thank them. In other words, be sincere and appreciative of the work of others. Whether or not this is reciprocated does not matter. Be true to yourself.
  • Feed the monster! Everyone likes their ego stroked. By taking the time to do so, you ensure your number gets called.
  • The greatest recognition that an athlete can receive is that they are recognized by their peers as great teammate, not that they hit the most home runs, or scored the most goals, etc. Be the great teammate.
In my thoughtful place, I am taking the time to listen and observe others. I keep my focus on what I am doing, not what others are doing. If someone has a perception that I may not agree with, I can't change their perception with words, but I can with positive actions.

No one is perfect, however, if I strive to improve a consistently positive outlook, I may be able to perfect outcomes. If I focus on situational outcomes, results improve.  Once results improve, I am at that point able to unhook that U-Haul from my tuchus and enjoy where I am.

Remember, your positive actions and attitudes can have a far reaching impact on those who you may not even be aware are paying attention to you. No matter how impactful you may perceive you are, I guarantee you are leaving an impression on someone, why not make it a positive one.

Have a great week!