He loved his performance reviews! Seriously?
If I asked you what you enjoyed about working for your company, would you say performance appraisals? I could say lots of things about places I’ve worked. For example, “They all sucked at performance appraisals.”
I asked former Chief Operating Officer of Microsoft Bob Herbold what he enjoyed about his early days at Proctor & Gamble. He shocked me by saying, “Performance appraisals.” I’m sure he enjoyed the work, the people, and the organization as a whole. He was, after all, at P&G for 26 years before moving to Microsoft.
I almost fell over when Bob explained he received formal quarterly reviews. Yes! Four times a year. In addition, he enjoyed daily informal feedback.
I told Bob it sounded oppressive. He said, “It was refreshing.”
Bob’s responses flowed quickly and naturally when he explained it felt good to always know where he stood. Performance appraisals laid out a clear path to exceptional performance and personal development.
After our conversation I jotted down these three words.
Clarity concerning the elements of exceptional performance enables people to work with confidence.
Confidence fuels passion. On the other hand, ambiguity creates uncertainty and uncertainty drains passion.
I believe clarity is the first and fundamental operational component for creating high performance environments.
What do organizations and individuals need clarity about?
How can you give someone the gift of clarity today?
Don’t miss a single issue of Leadership Freak, subscribe today. It’s free. It’s private. Go to the main page of Leadership Freak by clicking the banner at the top of this page, look in the right-hand navigation bar, enter your email and click subscribe. Your email address is always kept private. Note: if it doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter for a confirmation email.
Bob’s new book, “What’s Holding You Back,” includes material on how Microsoft does performance reviews.
Interesting post. I had both extremes in my career. At one point, I worked for someone who would give me feedback once a year…whether I needed it or not. 😉 I also worked for a person who provided me frequent feedback, although it was less formal than a written review. I always take it upon myself to ask the people I work with for feedback on how I’m doing.
Having this kind of clarity on my performance enables me to continue to improve and deliver value to my company. And clarity about the vision and purpose of the company is critical to inspiring employees as you’ve pointed out in recent posts. I also believe that clarity about how employee goals align to and support the vision is important.
Your line, “whether I needed it or not” made me smile. Love the humor. It drives home the important need we all have to know how we are doing.
Thanks for connecting clarity with an ability to improve and deliver value. It all sounds so simple. It’s sad that so many complain about lack of feedback.
Excellent post Dan. I would add one more C to your list. Consistency. Whether is is consistantly offering feedback on performance or process, holding true to a plan, or true to your culture, a leader who is consistent and creates an environment where people can count on what you say and do has a distinct competitive advantage – and so does their organization.
Amen to this. Lack of consistency is the enemy of clarity — it introduces doubt.
Ka Pow! Great addition.
Few things are more demoralizing than having the boss “move the cheese” in mid stream.
Thanks for adding value.
It sounds like P&G has/had a leadership culture that truely realized the value in performance feedback and therefore embraced it and lived it.
Unfortunately, if leadership at Company B hears about what P&G is doing and then comes back and demands that, “We at Company B need to start doing quarterly reviews immediately”, it will likely become a check-in-the-box activity — probably much like Gary’s comment implies by “feedback once a year…whether I needed it or not.”
Great point. Reviews and Feedback must be part of the company culture.
One thing that makes P&G successful is they are deeply committed to the success of their people.
BTW, Bob does not suggest 1/4 reviews. they don’t do them at Microsoft.
Thanks for your comment,
What do organizations need clarity about? Goals — what exactly is it we’re trying to get done here? Ask 10 of your team members that question, and chances are you’ll find some with answers different than yours. What do employees need clarity about? Your opinion of them. If they don’t know what you think, they’ll try to guess. Feedback, positive and negative, needs to happen as close to the event in question as possible to provide that clarity. Employees should never hear something for the first time in a formal performance review.
Thank you for adding value!
I agree, when an employee is blindsided the boss is the problem!
Thanks for sharing and peeking my interest! As an HR Director, I would love to hear more about what made their performance appraisals “refreshing” and how they trained their managers in this. I would assume they had a vision and mission that made this a part of their culture.
Where I work, we did not have an official appraisal period where the employees were given regular feedback. When I started, we didn’t even have an HR department. Over the past two years we have started to shift in this area, but we are not where I would like us to be. Working in a church environment, it is a little different than in a corporate one, but not much. People are still people and I believe they like to know when they are doing well and like direction when they aren’t doing so well.
You have peeked my curiosity with this one! Thank you!
Here is a basic overview from P&G of their orientation toward leadership development. http://www.pg.com/en_US/company/purpose_people/leadership_development.shtml
Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
Interesting post – thanks.
From what I’ve seen, most companies stink at performance reviews because many managers stink at giving feedback.
A performance review should be the formal documentation of what’s been informally happening all along (i.e. performance feedback). People shouldn’t have to wait until performance review time to get feedback, it should be a normal and natural part of the employee-manager relationship.
Unfortunately this is the exception more than it’s the norm (and it’s not necessarily easy!).
You have an ability to nail it. I think you are right on. The connection between persistent, consistent feedback and a performance review should be seamless.
I would say most organizations need clarity about their vision. Without vision clarity, goals will not align to allow you to work towards the vision.
Bobby, Thanks for jumping in…
Many individuals and organizations go through indefinite periods of time where they have stopped asking (or never started asking) “why am I doing this?” It is so easy to get caught up in a routine that generates a paycheck (individuals) or an income (organizations) but is simultaneously deducting from the individual or corporate soul’s reserves. Why are you there? If you don’t know, it’s time to be honest with yourself and ask the hard questions.
As far as giving the gift of clarity, I just finished reading a book that led to an important observation. The book was “Better – A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance” by Atul Gawande, the author of The Checklist Manifesto. He ends the book with a five-point speech he wrote for a commencement address. Point Number One is “ask an unscripted question.” In a situation where someone you regularly deal with expects you to ask, “did you meet your production numbers yesterday?” start instead with “what types of challenges or successes did you encounter yesterday?” Gawande’s point is that clarity is sometimes achieved by a less than straightforward route – by understanding the individual behind the process, both parties involved can gain a clearer mutual understanding.
The entire text of the address can be found via this link: http://www.leighbureau.com/speakers/AGawande/essays/Harvard.pdf
Thanks for your comment and extending the conversation with a link to another resource.
I absolutely love the idea of “unscripted questions.”
Best to you,
Paula is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read her bio at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/paula-kiger
I recently read Atul’s book based partly on Paula’s past posts (love the alliteration!) Great read!
Paula, I love the unscripted questions addition to the performance meeting. Reviewing how things have gone thus far should really only be a fraction of what is actually discussed. That lagging indicator information shouldn’t be the focus of the meeting, but rather should be used as discussion point for how to influence the results moving forward. Questions like you suggested are great openers to get that conversation started. When it’s a discussion, rather than a talking-to, people are much more willing to open up and share their thoughts, frustrations, and ideas.
Thanks for the link – I’m interested in reading more!
I think organizations and individuals need clarity about DEF. Decision, effort and fulfillment. They should have clear about taking collective, consenus and right decision in the best interest of the organisation than any individual. They should be clear about taking effort honestly, sincerely and collectively to achieve organisational goal. Leader and individual should be very clear about meeting their individual and collective promise.
The person who is consistent in his decision, action, behaviour should get gift of clarity. Above all, he should be reliable, initiator and motivator.
In performance appraisal, Leader should act more fairly and unbiased manner. They should not be influenced by any other factors like regionalism, castesim, race, sex etc. I can say these things with authority that leaders are influenced by these.
Leader should use their authorisy in right spirit and intention. They decision should be ethical and subject to scrutiny by any one.
Your first sentence is great. DEF! Bingo.
Thank you for adding value.
Best regards to you,
Ajay is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. YOu can read his bio at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/ajay-gupta
Clarity is the cornerstone of treating employees humanely. Thanks for this post.
Lisa, Wonderful application. Thanks, Dan
I’m with Bob. Every appraisal I received in over 9 years with P&G was a great event. I always benefited from new insights, and whether the review was positive or tough love, I always felt appreciated and better for the feedback. Feedback was continuous, and formal reviews were frequent enough and always felt somehow significant.
I’d like to think that I learned enough that every review I gave at P&G and at the various career stops since was similarly insightful and significant. But I can tell you, every one I have received since P&G felt lacking, felt like it somehow trivialized me by forcing performance into a set of competencies and numbers. Yuck. That was not the P&G way.
Clarity Performance Appraisals Clarity Performance Appraisals…which to tackle!
Okay, organizations need clarity with their performance appraisal process. How do they value them, or not. How are they integrated into the vision, or not. How do they appraise/celebrate that person’s contribution to the organization, or not. PAs can be such a powerful enagement tool and yet, most organizations relegate them to the ‘have to do’ pile if even that.
Any organization that does not see how valuable PAs can truly be lacks clarity in their HR department and in their VMV. How sad.
Great to learn on how good PA system can inspire people to perform better and move forward in career. It helps build confidence amongst people by overcoming the limitations as pointed by a superior in the earnest interest of developing individuals. Surely, such unbiased feedback at regular intervals inspire people to perform to newer heights and helps build organization culture.
P & G, as we know, is a professionally managed company where in good systems and procedures prevail and opportunities are given to insiders to grow with positive contributions. People are valued and there is a self-pride with high degree of job satisfaction.
Clarity of the Job Role, Defined Key Responsibilities and Objective Measurement of Results are the 3 essentials for PA to be effective. Moreover, the appraiser has a definite concern for the overall development of his subordinates and practices fairness and keeps good transparency in the appraisal process. Investing sufficient time and diligent efforts in carrying out this key exercise are the key ingredients to PA and its success.
Great post, for me too nowhere near enough is made of embedding regular PAs into organisations to drive improved performance. In fact in my experience it should be monthly – surely every manager can find a minimum of 30 minutes a month to have the kind of dialogue others are recommending here? Daily informal feedback is very important as well.
The PA should cover 3 main sections
1) how the individual is performing against the key 5 deliverables of the job (and furthermore against the goals of the company), helping them prioritise tasks if necessary to those key deliverables and away from the stuff they may prefer to do.
2) how the individual is performing against the Shared Values of the organisation – by definition these need to be published and understood by everyone in the company.
3) how the manager is managing the individual – removes second-guessing from both sides as to how the employee would like their manager to manage them.
All 3 areas have feedback and coaching running right through them.
If every manager in the company does this EVERY month, then this creates tremendous consistency and clarity for everyone, not just the best managers. In short everyone knows, no matter what role they are in or what their manager is like, that they are all going through the same PA process.