By all means ditch the Annual Appraisal, but please let’s not stop reviewing performance!

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching Skills for Managers

Like a House of cards

Lately I’ve seen a number of articles suggesting it’s time to abandon performance reviews, claiming they’re a tired relic of 20thcentury manual-work that has no relevance to today’s knowledge-work environments.

There are certainly some obvious problems: how to ensure managers’ views of Excellent, Average,etc are the same; how to link the outcomes to pay without destroying motivation and how to stop staff and managers bending the system to suit themselves. (I worked with a company a couple of years back where someone told me that the staff pooled their Force Ranked bonuses and then redistributed them evenly amongst themselves!)

It’s also true that many managers and leaders can lack the skill or the inclination to conduct effective review conversations, as beautifully captured in the classic “Keith’s Appraisal” scene in The Office

According to an article I found on Forbes from Jan 18 some 35 out of 37 managers would happily give up performance reviews and this is what makes me nervous, because I wonder what they’ll do instead.

Whilst I whole heartedly agree that formalised Annual Appraisal type systems are largely outdated and pretty ineffective, I cannot agree that it is not a useful business process to review performance in an effort to understand what’s going well and what’s going less well.

In my experience, people need five key questions answered as they consider their work performance:

  • What is my job?
  • How well do I have to do it?
  • How am I doing?
  • How have I done?
  • What’s next?

But answering these does not require endless forms (or their electronic equivalent), hours of time in meeting rooms, or complex consistency checks by senior management.

In fact, an annual appraisal is simple if we’ve held regular one to ones, which are easy if we coach regularly, which we can do readily if we talk to our teams often, which we can do if we’re out of our cubicles and engaging regularly around the five questions above.

In that way, even if we do have to follow some kind of organisational process, we can get through it quickly knowing that the valuable stuff has already happened.

I’d be really keen to hear from anyone who’s swapped a formal appraisal system from an informal review approach and seen great results.

Coaching at Work : Open programme

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching Skills for Managers

Coaching at Work : Open programmeIt has been a few year’s since we’ve run our coaching programme on an open
basis, but we have a client with three people who need the training. This
is too few for an in-house course and so I’m contacting other clients to
see if they have one or two people with a training need in coaching skills.

I am looking at late October, probably in the Darlington (North East England) area.

I am happy to charge our old price of £750 + VAT per person which covers
the 2 days of training and 1 night’s dinner, bed and breakfast at the venue.

I’m only looking foe expressions of interest at this stage and so would be
grateful if you could leave a comment if you’re interested.

How to coach your boss

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching Skills for Managers

How to coach your boss

How to coach your boss

I am often asked, can I coach my boss?

The simple answer is yes you can and the coaching principles are exactly the same. You do however need to be subtle, making sure you don’t usurp their authority and doing everything you can to work in a relationship of trust. The relationship you have with your boss is very important on both a professional and a personal level. It can have a significant influence on your day-to-day job satisfaction as well as your long-term career success. The relationship is also important to your boss who is counting on you, and your colleagues, to satisfy customers, meet deadlines and achieve objectives. But keeping this relationship healthy and productive is not about ‘managing’ your boss: it’s about understanding them, and yourself, and then choosing to behave in a way that gets the best results for you, your boss and your organisation.

Only by understanding your mutual needs, styles, expectations, strengths and weaknesses can you develop a relationship that works for both of you. In any relationship what you say and do influences the other person. You can’t change your boss but you can control your own behaviour. It’s important, therefore, to understand what you do that either helps or hinders the relationship. Here are some actions you can take to make the relationship work.

Take responsibility for your own career and personal development. Ask for feedback and coaching throughout the year – don’t just wait for performance reviews. Have a view on your own performance – what are you doing well; what do you need to improve on and be willing to discuss these things.

Take responsibility for coaching sessions. Not all bosses are good at holding coaching conversations so help by being as positive as you can be, even if you don’t like some of the criticism you may receive. Find out what your boss’s expectations are and share your own. Tell your boss what development and support you need. Don’t assume they’ll automatically know.

Use your boss’s time well. Your boss’s time is limited so make good use of it, don’t waste it. Find out if your boss is a lark (good first thing in the morning) or an owl (better later in the day) and choose your moment to raise issues and suggest coaching exchanges.

Use coaching to identify your boss’s preferred working style

How do they like to receive information – face-to- face, in writing, by email?

How much do they like to be involved in decisions?

How organised are they – can they cope with a little chaos?

How comfortable are they with risk taking?

How ‘hands-on’ or ‘hands-off’ are they – can you use your own initiative?

Recognise and appreciate your boss’s strengths. Compliment your boss when they do something you like; that way they’ll learn the actions and attitudes that work for you. Remember, bosses are human and make mistakes too. If your boss is reasonable when you make a mistake then you should be prepared to be the same for them.