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 about myself or what we are working on at PCI.

This week, we’ve been exploring ideas from Marshall Goldsmith, and his brilliant book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. Marshall is one of the world’s top executive coaches. He works with leaders to identify and confront behaviors that are holding them back. His coaching philosophy emphasizes the importance of getting feedback from those with whom we work.

One traditional way to receive feedback is the annual performance review. About ten years ago, we at PCI moved away from this practice and implemented what we call a “Quarterly Conversation.”

Two things about QCs: First, every quarter, every associate meets with their direct supervisor for their QC. The quarterly rhythm ensures ongoing communication between the associate and their direct report.

We want to recognize our top performers regularly if things are going well. The statistics show people are starved for recognition and praise.  

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

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

1: CORE VALUES: Before the QC, both the manager and the associate review the five PCI values and provide a ranking around how the associate’s behaviors match up with each PCI value. The idea is to discuss specific actions or behaviors over the last 90 days where the associate did or perhaps did not bring the value to life. 

“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, before the review, both the manager and the associate review the previously agreed upon 3-5 crucial roles and responsibilities for the position and rank the associate on three criteria: “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 you see.

3: ROCKS: Each team establishes 90-day priorities for each person. What are the most important projects or initiatives each person is responsible for? 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 most of the time is spent during the QC. Again, both the supervisor and the associate 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 at most 25% of the time. Ask: “What do you think you could do to improve, and how do you think I could help?”

5: FEEDBACK: The final step is for the manager to ask the team member: “How am I doing? Give me some feedback. What could I do to be more effective as your leader?”

More next week!


Reflection: Is my organization’s performance appraisal process working?

Action: Discuss with my team.

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