Getting better at getting better is what RiseWithDrew is all about.

Monday through Thursday we explore ideas from authors, thought leaders, and exemplary organizations.  On Friday, I share something we are doing at PCI in our quest to earn a spot on Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Traditionally, January has been the month of the “annual review.”  What word best describes the emotions around this process?


Each leader dreads the hours it takes to prepare the reviews.  The People Department dreads the crushing amount of time required to review the reviews.  And, almost no one looks forward to the sometimes awkward conversations which are jammed into the calendar to meet the deadline.  

There is a better way.  

At PCI, we utilize the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) as a framework to help manage our business.  One of the key elements of EOS is the Quarterly Conversation or QC.  Between now and the end of the month, every associate in our organization will meet with their leader to review how things are going.

Two things about a QC:  First, it’s quarterly.  Checking in once a year doesn’t work.  If things are going well, we need to be recognizing our top performers regularly.  The statistics show people are starved for recognition and praise.  

If things aren’t going well, the issues need to be addressed.  Now.  

The quarterly rhythm ensures there is an on-going communication between the associate and their direct report.

Second: the QC is intended to be informal.  The agenda is simple:

1: CORE VALUES: Prior to the QC, the individual and the manager both review the five PCI values and give a ranking around how the associate’s behaviors match each of the PCI values. The idea is to discuss specific actions or behaviors over the last 90 days where the associate did or perhaps did not go above and beyond in any core value.

“Did you see them behave in a way that was contrary to a core value?” suggests Mike Kotsis in his article, “A Simple Habit to Crank Up Accountability at Your Company.  “Bring it to their attention and seek to understand what happened.  It can be uncomfortable to go there, but if you don’t, you’ll be left to make assumptions.  And worse yet, they may not even realize that something was wrong.”  

A good approach?  Simply ask: “Help me understand—this is what I thought I saw.  Can you give me some insight to what happened?”

2:  ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: Again, prior the review, both people review the previously agreed upon 3-5 crucial roles and responsibilities for the position and rank whether the person: “Gets it,” “Wants it” and “Has the capacity to do it.” 

“Have them explain in their own words how they’re doing with each [of the five roles],” writes Mike.  “Give feedback on how you see it.  Compliment them in the areas where they’re excelling, and address any gaps that you see.

3: ROCKS:  Each of our teams establish 90-day priorities for each person on the team.  What are the most important projects or initiatives each person is responsible for?  During the QC, we check in on their progress.  Are we on track?  Are there obstacles in the way?  Do we know what success looks like? 

4: WHAT’S WORKING / WHAT’S NOT WORKING: This agenda item is where a majority of the time is spent during the QC.  Again, both people prepare in advance a list of what’s working and what isn’t.  Then, together, we discuss each issue and agree upon next steps. 

The manager’s primary role is to listen.  A good rule of thumb is to talk no more than 25% of the time.  Ask: “What do you think you could do to improve, and how do you think I could help?”

5: FEEDBACK:  Ask: “How am I doing?  Give me some feedback.  What could I do to be more effective as your leader?”


Reflection: Is our performance review process working?

Action: Discuss with my team.

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