Archive for Performance Management

A Little Bit of Anarchy

People will meet performance evaluation before they exceed expectation.

People will meet performance evaluation before they exceed expectation.

Many businesses going through a transformation do so for two reasons:

1. Their business is struggling and they need to stop the bleeding.
2. Their leadership is intent on maintaining a continual path to improvement and growth as they remain competitive.

The latter speaks for a leadership who understands that a little bit of anarchy or disruption can feed innovative solutions, and perhaps create innovation itself. But these leaders don’t make change for the sake of change.

Fear of change is a well-documented and well-understood reaction to ‘doing things differently’, but it is not necessarily true that people don’t like change itself. Ask anyone who is on the hunt for a new car, a bigger house, a better job, or who has solved a significant problem – change is exciting and worth the anticipation. The kind of change people dislike is the kind that is thrust upon them, without consideration of the impact it has on lives, jobs, teams, or culture.

Companies that ‘change right’ are open to positive anarchy and growth disruption. Their leadership does not need to pretend they know it all, they make great efforts to be involved with the process and are open to learning from their front-line experts.

Leaders who fight change? Sometimes it comes down to ego and those egos might just need a shake while they learn to measure for what they are seeking from their teams.

· Measure performance like you want your teams to innovate, and they will live up to it.
· Measure performance solely based on cost cutting and your teams will live up to it.

On average, people will meet performance evaluation before they exceed expectation.

Straight across cost cutting does not grow a company. Innovative companies that grow are not afraid to investigate ways to grow, many stick to the 70-20-10 rule. 70% of time on core business, 20% of time in supporting efforts for the core business and 10% of time reaching outside the core to innovate and grow the business, and they measure their teams’ performance accordingly, creating an environment for innovation.

Funny, companies with a top-down structure have a fear of disruption, and are often unwilling to change, yet they are the companies who eventually land themselves as the first example; they will struggle and be forced to change to stop the bleeding – somewhere down the road.

Which company do you work for?


A Letter To The CEO

IdeasWorkshop: We’ve written a fictitious ‘Letter to the CEO’. This letter is written by an imaginary worker and is applicable for use across industries. We work with your team through discussion to dissect and create coaching opportunities that the fictitious CEO might address.

It is also an effective tool to promote introspection….it’s a bit long, but we believe worth the read. If you believe this has been helpful in your team meetings or leadership practices, please let us know. Leave a comment on the blog or connect with us through our contact page.

Dear CEO,

I am a regular employee, I don’t have a fancy title and I am not seeking to one day have your job. I like what I do, because I went to school for it and selected it to be my career of choice. The role has worked its way into something I never expected, because that’s just how life works out sometimes, but I like it.

I wanted to write you a letter because I never get the chance to see or talk to you and I know you are very busy with the running of the company, travelling, keeping shareholders happy, and I don’t really know what other responsibilities you have but I am guessing they are enormous.

I don’t wish to complain, I like what I do and the company is a good one. Perhaps we are of little significance down here and don’t want to interrupt the important things happening up in your executive offices, but we do see many things you might not see. If you will humour me I have a few questions that need some clarification, then I will feel that I have a voice.

Strategy Sessions – we know your executive goes away once or twice a year on a strategy session and while I’m certain these are important, the folks at our level have never really heard about a new strategy or direction. Everything here seems to tick along quite the same as it has for the 12 years I have been here. Do we have a company strategy? What does it look like? I would like to know if what I do every day is what the company really wants or that my work somehow feeds the ‘strategy’ you all have laid out for us.

Mission/Vision/Goals – The other day I was dealing with a customer service issue and the customer directed me to our public web page. They said I was not following our Mission. I looked kind-of stupid because I asked him what he was talking about. Then I saw we had one! When did we define a mission for our company and when did we add the vision and goals? I have never heard of any of it and so I printed it out and shared it with a few of the people I work with. They had never seen it either. Is there someone I can talk to so I can find out how to make what I do match the things we tell our customers we do, because those two things are not in alignment?

Expectation – I really like what I do! I also don’t want to sound like a complainer, but I worked for about 6 weeks on a project my manager asked me to commit time and energy toward. I worked quite a bit of overtime to meet his deadline and I missed out on some very important family commitments to do it, I was willing to offer the 540 hours rather than the 240 regular hours to meet the deadline. I was happy to do that because it meant I was getting the work done, and on time, it’s good to take pride in your work. It’s not the first project that I’ve committed this much time toward. Unfortunately, he failed to tell me that I was not being paid any overtime for the work I had to do. Do we have a project planning tool to help us understand the number of real hours it takes to complete a project or is it the expectation here that I will be committing 90 hour weeks to every project for the same salary?

Value – I am not quite certain I understand my role here. Don’t get me wrong, I like what I do, the work is something I selected, but I am struggling to see where I add any significant value to the organization. I want to make a difference, want to utilize my strengths and my skills to really add value to the team, within the organization and for the people I work with. There are some skills I have that I believe would truly contribute to helping the customers be happier and stop the project over-runs. I have taken it to my manager, but he says it’s not within my job description and to keep doing what I am doing. Isn’t it the responsibility of every employee to try and improve the company? If my own manager doesn’t believe in me, should I be looking for work somewhere else?

Performance – I have been passed over for a promotion 3 times in the last 3 years. I don’t want to head up the executive or management ladder, I am definitely happy being good at a specific technical role here, but I have 12 years of experience in this company. I work extremely hard and every year I ask my manager what I can do to improve so that next year I have the opportunity to be promoted. He always says, keep doing what you are doing, you are exactly where you should be. For some people that might be nice to hear, but I want to get better, I want to be someone my manager really needs on his team and I want to know I have a future. Life gets more expensive every year for my family and keeping a continual salary for 3 years makes me feel like I have somehow failed. Am I able to become technically good at what I do without moving into management and still receive increases or am I now a liability? You see, people with far less company knowledge have been surpassing me in promotions and yet no one will tell me why.

The Rah, Rah Meeting – Thank you so much for a neat day away from the office 3 weeks ago. It was fun to leave the building and have a day with people from other groups. I liked the hike and the food afterward was really, really good. It must have cost a lot of money, and in these struggling economic times it is highly appreciated. At the end it was nice to see you pop in there for an hour and to hear what you had to say, because it is the only time in a year I get to see you. I want in the worst way to believe I work in the company like the one you described. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel that way. The other employees I work with are frustrated, angry and disgruntled. No one seems to know what is going on, the layoffs two months ago were devastating and we are all scared. The company you described was more like working for Google, and as much as I want to believe your description, it just isn’t real. How do I remove all the daily negativity of the workplace and bring what you described in that meeting into my every day when management does not lead that way?

CEO, I want to be the best employee you have ever seen. I want success for the company because it is the company I know and the work I understand. I want to see people happy and customers thrilled to come back for more. But I have to admit, I am struggling to understand why our managers are not trained to help us get there. I struggle to know why you see such a different picture of the company than we do. Please help me to find answers to how I can make it different. I am already walking in with a positive attitude, I already look for ways I can contribute more and I keep far away from the gossip chain. I support my co-workers with good feedback. But none of this is enough, there seems to be something missing because things are not going well at my level. Can you suggest what more I can do?


Your Loyal Worker

No direct relationship to a specific organization or company is being intended. The letter is written in generalized form taking into consideration issues of employees at various organizations.

If you would like a copy of the facilitation guide for this exercise, please contact us on the contact tab and write “A Letter to the CEO, Facilitation Guide” in the comments.

(The first paragraph of this post was updated on Feb. 5, 2017)