In a traditional performance evaluation, someone is assigned to compile and review with each executive a summary of her/his strengths, contributions, growth, and opportunities for improvement. The traditional process has many weaknesses which are summarized in this article recently published by Flevy.com, such as:
Compiling a quality performance assessment is difficult; consequently it often gets put off to be done at the last minute but it also takes time to do a good job and time runs out.
Assessment content tends to be arbitrary based on ability, skills, and perspective of the reviewer and may not represent the best thinking or interests of the team.
Reviewers tend to avoid raising and dealing with tough matters that should be addressed aggressively because it is uncomfortable and they are not trained or motivated to do otherwise.
Leaders of fast growing, early-stage organizations operate at a fast pace. Often the last thing there is time to do is assess the top team’s performance to determine how to prepare them for the next stage of growth.
Most team members know each other pretty well. They have a good idea what each other is good at, has contributed, how they have grown, and what each should focus on next for success. However, team members rarely have the time, energy, training, or nerve to share what they know in a forthright, supportive conversation with one another.
Yet there are serious consequences to not providing feedback when it is needed most. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “How To Tell If You Are a Jerk in the Office” (C-Suite Strategies, Journal Report, Feb 23, 2015), for example, highlights the importance of confidential feedback for executives. Not only are leaders and co-workers affected adversely by dysfunctional behavior but business performance and customer service can be damaged, often permanently, if poor behavior continues.
IntelliVen, a San Francisco-based organization improvement firm, uses a proprietary approach to help leaders and their top teams address top executive feedback head-on. Early this year, for example, IntelliVen worked with a rapidly evolving, $10M financial analytics firm serving Freddie Mac, US Treasury, and Capital One among other leading US financial institutions. The IntelliVen approach was used to assess the top team of senior executives relative to norms for successful organizations at a similar stage of evolution and to identify individual and team opportunities for learning.
Many intelliven.com blog posts are based on the slides and lecture notes from a masters class in Organization Development called Organization Analysis and Strategy offered at American University and taught by Peter DiGiammarino. These posts and other material from class, including:
Slide shows, and
are available from Amazon as a softcover workbook or from iTunes as an iBook titledManage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World.
Whether one wants to change personal habits, implement a new information system, improve a business process, get team members to work together, increase a community’s appreciation for diversity, or even to topple a monarchy, taking seven actions driven by seven disarmingly simple truths will individually and collectively help achieve the goal.
Manage to Lead presents a framework to describe and assess any organization. It also provides a structured approach to plan and implement next steps for an organization as it strives for long-term growth and performance.
Readers are invited to select a familiar organization on which to apply the tools and templates introduced throughout the workbook. Exercises in each chapter produce essential elements for the organization’s annual strategic plan and lay the groundwork for implementing that plan.
Readers can package the key elements from Organization Exercises to form a strategic plan that communicates how the organization sees itself and where it is headed. At the end of the year leaders can compare actual results with what was described in the strategic plan to study what happened, why what happened was different than plan, what is to be learned from that, and what to do differently going forward as a result.
Repeat the process over several years and compare actual to planned results year-to-year to see the organization mature, perform, and grow to its full potential.
Deep: Look for an extraordinary depth of competence in a functional or technical area or a methodology that is essential to the organization’s business;
Conceptual: The best leaders have an ability to abstract fully-formed concepts from a collection of parts and are able to communicate complex concepts clearly even to those who are not conceptual;
Connected: Target those who have strong interpersonal relationships with prospective or current clients, employees, partners, or funding sources; and
Driven: Look for an extraordinary inner commitment to achieve targeted results on time, on target, and on budget.
A diverse team of Deep, Conceptual, Connected, and Driven leaders who really like working with each other and who seek to accomplish the same end-result for the same reason and in the same way, have the collective capacity to accomplish nearly anything!
Core Leaders who all describe the problem their organization solves for whom in the same way are apt to provide more consistent guidance and direction and so increase the odds of better performance across the board.
To get clear or to test for clarity, invite each Core Leader to:
Every organization has room to improve. Most organization leaders know improvement is needed as well as how specifically they would like to evolve but do not have the time or energy to bring their clear ideas to fruition because they are short on leadership capacity.
There is almost always a great deal of untapped capacity right under their noses embodied in those in their organization who are itching for a way to make a difference and who are ready to step up and lead the way to making things better.
No one leader, and not even any two, has the breadth of competence and depth of capacity to do anything of much significance alone. Successful organizations often have a core leadership team of three to seven top executives who are aligned to accomplish specific goals as a cohesive unit.
The odds of success go way up when the top team has at least three players with different but complementary strengths that are all important to the business and who have:
Established relationships; i.e., they know and understand each other well and