Business thinking has changed as we emerge from the great recession and there are now new priorities for employers as per a study by Boston Consulting Group and the World Federation of People Management. This study, Creating People Advantage 2010 (September 27, 2010), synthesizes and describes the global thinking on management practices collected through surveys of over 5,500 HR professionals and 153 one on one interviews with business leaders.
Of particular interest is that post recession, the HR executives surveyed have, per Bloomberg Business Week, “reordered the agenda” in terms of management practices that they now hold as priorities when compared with the priorities of 2008. While the top two priorities remain Managing Talent and Improving Leadership Development, Enhancing Employee Engagement and Measuring Workforce Performance moved into the top five (numbers 3 and 4 respectively) replacing Delivering on Recruiting and Managing Work – Life Balance that are now lower priorities.
The financial crisis and recession have created a level of uncertainty and volatility that businesses must adapt to. A key to success will be the ability to retain a quality workforce and allocate resources in the right place at the right time doing the right work. Recognition by HR executives that engaging employees and measuring their performance are top priorities must be reflected by a business’ employee appraisal and recognition system and your participation in it. So… these new priorities for business are new priorities for you. Are you in the right place, at the right time and position to contribute to the success of your organization? How do you ensure that you are creating value for your employer?
I received a call from a client of mine in a panic because her boss – an owner of a management company – called her into his office and told her that she was not working out and that she should try to find another job within the company. Period. End of story…no specifics. She had no agreed upon work plan but rather a loosely constructed idea of what her day-to-day duties would be. Her boss never put the time in to crystallize expectations and provide her with status along the way. My client completed her daily tasks without incident and thought all was fine and was therefore shocked to find out that she was not meeting expectations. HR had to be engaged to work it out. It was a completely avoidable and wasteful emotional roller coaster for both boss and subordinate.
At the start of each year, the two way conversation between manager and direct report to review business strategy, set expectations and agree on deliverables begins the process by which we, as part of a responsible workforce, define our commitments and determine how we will deliver value and contribute to the overall mission of the business.
When developing your work plan with your manager, understand how your specific deliverables contribute to the success of the business:
- Document your agreed upon objectives
- Link your objectives to the overall business objectives
- Ask yourself and your boss – What is the benefit of this deliverable? How does that work align with the larger business plan? Who is the executive sponsor? How is the action prioritized?
- Discuss with your boss how your success will be measured
- Schedule checkpoints that coincide with key deliverable dates so that you can talk about progress, potential roadblocks and plan adjustments.
- Make sure that check points are on the calendar!
Once you have designed your work plan with your boss, review the employee appraisal process with her:
- Determine the timing of the process
- What input is required from you and,
- How you will be rated in terms of scale and rewards
Ask your boss; How can I exceed your expectations? You deserve an answer so expect one. Find out what specifically will demonstrate to your boss that you are a value add. Your results and how you are perceived should never be a mystery. Work with your boss to establish a two – way dialog that will be productive for both of you. One way to ensure that the two of you are in agreement is to restate your understanding with your boss before you end the discussion. Make adjustments as needed based on the reaction. Restate again until you have an agreement that you are both comfortable with.
Most importantly, when you review your accomplishments and actions with your boss, make sure that you can demonstrate alignment with the larger business plan, and your direct contribution. While you should be very clear about how you perform as part of the team, resist the temptation to identify your “competition” and engage in deliverable one-upmanship. Staying focused on your direct contributions to the success of the team and the mission of the business is a more meaningful and productive way to operate and will demonstrate both commitment to team and your unique contribution.
In the new business reality, the key takeaways are these:
· You and your boss have a shared responsibility to understand what is expected of you and how you will demonstrate your value add
· Take time to understand your business’ appraisal system and what it means to you and your boss
· Be prepared to demonstrate your contributions in the context of your current position and how your position continues to be of importance to the goals of the business – it doesn’t matter how well you perform if your job is easily declared surplus – you’ll be scrambling if you don’t know.
Real Leadership Associates uses business coaching and mentoring to help you develop a personal strategy for interaction during the appraisal cycle and present your work in the format needed for the greatest impact and best result. I’ll act as your personal “devil’s advocate” and ask you the tough questions a boss will ask to better prepare you to demonstrate your unique contribution. Additionally, RLA’s adjutant services can help you transform organizational goals to departmental and individual objectives. Contact Beth for more information!
Enjoy the Autumn transformation and all the beauty that it brings. Have a Happy Halloween and I’ll talk to you next month.