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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Get Rid of Performance Review: Post #7

Final Words: This is a book worth reading for managers and HR directors. The author’s voice is engaging and the content well worth the time. Again, the second part of the book provides the “how to,” and the Performance Review Guidelines alone are well worth the purchase price of the book.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Get Rid of Performance Review: Post #6


What to do to keep the ongoing relationship and performance on track? The author provides a good, yet somewhat convoluted, system based loosely on the very types of questions that consultants typically ask when trying to get self evaluation of a situation. Here are three of the six questions that both subordinates and bosses should answer. Also, the author suggests preparing these answers beforehand and using them only as guidelines: 1) What do you get from the other person that you like and helps get results? 2) What do you get from the other person that you don’t like and/or find distracting? 3) What do you not get from the other person that you would find performance-enhancing and like to receive? (p. 201) The authors suggest they should have a follow-up conversation where both discuss how the boss and subordinate can work together for the success of both of them: “What modifications in how we work together are needed for enhancement in results?”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Get Rid of Performance Review: Post #5

What to do when an employee is new? When the manager and employee meet for the first time—or upon reassignment—the authors suggest the following (pp. 198-202) . The subordinate is asked to answer three background questions: 1) What do you like in the way of supervision that helps you operate effectively? 2) What have you gotten from a boss with whom you’ve previously worked that doesn’t sit well with you? 3) What do I need to understand about you that will help me provide the kind of support/advice/treatment that you’d like to receive?” The key here is just to LISTEN. Then the manager poses and answers the following three questions to give the new employee insight: 1) What do you like from a subordinate that allows you to provide oversight and allows you to give insights? 2) What inclinations (behaviors) have subordinates demonstrated that has hurt their performance in your eyes? 3) What is your management style; what kind of a relationship do you want with a subordinate; how do you discuss an issue when things get off track; and what are some things I should know about you? Again, the key is to LISTEN. This technique is like an on boarding intervention that can save months of adjustment and untold misunderstandings.

Get Rid of Performance Review: Post #4

What’s the answer to this dilemma? In short: The Performance Preview (PP). Rather than performance reviews (also called assessments, appraisals, or evaluations) that spend time focused on what went wrong, did not meet expectations, or marginally contributed, Culbert and Rout push for something more effective. Their alternative is called the performance preview (PP). This performance preview offers a new collaborative model that holds both manager and employee responsible for successd employee to come to the table as partners rather than adversaries.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Get Rid of Performance Review: Post #3

Who are the culprits who sustain the sham of performance reviews? The manager who expects straight talk while holding an administrative gun to the employee’s head. The employee for expecting things will change as s/he continues to sustain what I call the mushroom theory: feed them BS and keep them in the dark. Finally, the Human Resources department…which the author all but excoriates as power hungry beings who will fight to the death for PR, because it gives them a seat at the power table of the company. I think the authors overdid the mugging on the HR departments. Again, I understand the energy necessary to overcome the status quo.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Get Rid of Performance Review: Post #2

What’s wrong with performance review? According to the authors, just about everything. Not only do both managers and employees dislike the process, but also nothing good seems to happen. And the most important piece that gets lost in the process is “straight talk.” Because the manager holds all the power, there is no way the employee will routinely risk telling the truth, especially when it’s tough, uncomfortable and may involve the boss. My biggest criticism of the book remains solid: The author(s) spent too much of the book beating PR into the ground (over half the book). It started to feel like piling on…and I wanted the solution earlier. That said, I understand what might be the reason—overcoming the status quo (PR) is never easy.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Get Rid of Performance Review: Overview (Post#1)

Get Rid of The Performance Review! How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing—and Focus on What Really Matters, by Samuel A. Culbert with Lawrence Rout (2010, Business Plus). Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

Overview: I’ve always detested getting and giving performance reviews (PR). Something about the process made it seem artificial and skewed toward whoever held the upper hand: Management. Professor Samuel Culbert (UCLA) and Lawrence Rout, senior editor at the Wall Street Journal, have helped me finally understand how PR can have unintended consequences for both manager and employee. In an accessible, immensely easy-to-read style with funny asides to the reader, the book feels like Culbert is whispering in your ear, Hey, you know this performance review stuff is such BS…you know it and I know it. In fact, he does say roughly that (I think he leaves out the “hey”). Without mincing words, Culbert presents PR with all its wants and warts. He analyzes the big culprits: Management theory, management control, and Human Resources (who he all but demonizes—overdone in my opinion). However, he demonstrates in the first half of the book why PR remains an ineffective, top down leadership tool. He then spends the rest of the book offering an alternative, the performance preview (PP). This performance preview offers a new collaborative model that holds both manager and employee responsible for success (in fact, Peter Drucker contends in his writings that managers are responsible for employee success or failure). The payoff comes later in the book when Culbert offers “Performance Review Guidelines” (pp. 198-202). Every manager would do very well to read the two conversation guidelines he offers—one question-based conversation for a new or recently assigned employee and the other question-based conversation about progress. Both manager and employee can significantly benefit from such conversations. And any thoughtful manager can benefit from this book.

Starfish and Spider #8 FINAL words

Final Words about Starfish: Today’s world is morphing with dizzying speed. I’d call it hyperadaptive. If you don’t like a particular function of Skype, Wikipedia and craigslist, just wait a few days and someone will update it. And often the changes are coming from users/customers who have found a better way and just want to share it. Companies that are strong enough to let power filter down to a more decentralized organization, despite the feeling of chaos and even perhaps loss of control, will have a better chance to compete in a freer, more open-source world. Such an organization needs to realize that the best ideas come from those closest to the customer, everyone wants to contribute, and catalysts and values are crucial to success. A final suggestion: Decentralize, and consider making your company the starfish of your industry.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Starfish and Spinder #7

Appreciative Inquiry: David Cooperrider, a professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, has developed this method to get people within the organization, from the janitor to the CEO, talking to each other—to appreciate what everyone brings to the table. Cooperrider encourages conversations between people at very different levels of the organization to get to know each other on both a personal and professional level. The basic premise: Get people to talk and know each other as people, not as functions on an org chart, and they can solve the worst of problems.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Starfish and Spider: Post #6

The Hybrid Organization: Neither centralized nor decentralized organizations are good or bad. In fact, there are some interesting models out there that show how the two can live happily ever after (or at least live together without fighting all the time). Look at eBay and Amazon for examples. Notice how eBay has employed (free of charge) its very own users/customers to monitor their system with “user ratings” that provide input and keep sellers honest (core to eBay’s success). All this is done by the customers. Also, Amazon’s user-generated book reviews are powerful influencers for consumers. The users/readers themselves from around the world supply the brainpower. Sun Microsystems, IBM and Google have also let their customers have a say in what they do. And if you look at companies with active social websites, you have a glimpse of others dipping their toes into being a hybrid organization.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Starfish and Spider: Post #5

Taking on Decentralization: The authors offer a few tips for taking on decentralized competitors. In short, they suggest: 1) Centralize them (how introducing property rights changes the equation); 2) Decentralize yourself (if you can’t beat them join them). To this last point, consider al Qaeda or the Taliban as very good examples of starfish….albeit ones with clearly evil intent. If a conventional army tries to fight them, you can see the results. Just look at Vietnam for a projection of the possibility of success. What beats such “evil” starfish will be other starfish—drones, Special Forces, etc.—not conventional warfare.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Starfish and Spider: Post #4

The CEO vs the Catalyst. CEOs run more top-down models and are in charge. Catalysts trust the community to make the best choices. Here’s an interesting comparison chart from p. 130:

CEO Catalyst
The Boss A Peer
Command/Control Trust
Rational Emotionally Intelligent
Powerful Inspirational
Directive Collaborative
In the Spotlight Behind the Scenes
Order Ambiguity
Organizing Connecting

Friday, October 15, 2010

Starfish and Spider: Post #3

The Five Legs of a Starfish: Real starfish have 5 legs and so does this analogous organizational model.
--Leg 1=Circles. In starfish organizations, people are more part of a circle than an organizational chart. Think independence and contribution. Nobody’s really in charge and, at the same time, everyone is expected to live by norms of the group and contribute as they are able.
--Leg 2=Catalysts. Circles don’t just appear. They happen because of catalysts—you remember them from high school chemistry…they accelerate chemical reactions without being consumed by them. So, the catalyst develops and promotes the idea but ultimately doesn’t own it; everyone in the circle does.
--Leg 3=Ideology. Starfish organizations are motivated and directed by ideology, not profit. AA’s ideology is simple: People like you and me can help other people like us out of addiction. Think of ideology as the “calling” of the group.
--Leg 4=The Preexisting Network. Both the Quakers (with the anti-slavery issue) and AA (with its 12-step solution to alcoholism) provided structures that allowed great change to take place. The Internet is perfectly posed to spawn such future organizations due to its easy to use/equality-based structure.
--Leg 5=The Champion. While groups need a catalyst to start and then to spread, champions take things to the next level. As natural salespeople and leaders, they draw in people and spread the message.

The Starfish and the Spider (Portfolio/Penguin Group, 2006) Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Starfish and Spider: Post #2


The Starfish and the Spider (Portfolio/Penguin Group, 2006) Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

The Starfish Concept: According to the authors, in a pure starfish organization there is no one in charge and no headquarters; it can survive having its head cut off; knowledge is distributed; the organization is flexible; you can’t count the participants. Alcoholics Anonymous is a great example. Founded by one man, Bill Wilson, in 1935, AA remains a decentralized, locally run program that subscribes to the 12-step program. There’s no application to get in, no CEO, and it’s everywhere. Such an “open system” allows users/customers to participate and contribute to issues central to the organization in a way that spreads these organizations like wildfire. Look how long it took the Internet to take over the world—with no president. Here’s what the authors say: “…open systems [starfish] are about the users, not the leadership.”

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Starfish and Spider: Introduction

This week: The Starfish and the Spider (Portfolio/Penguin Group, 2006).
Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.


The authors offer an immensely useful and entertaining exploration about why and how so many institutions have undergone such change and why others risk becoming irrelevant almost overnight. A quick history lesson: Hernando Cortes conquered the Aztec empire by attacking a “spider” organization—a central head (Montezuma) controlling vast assets, now Mexico. Indeed, the Spanish conqueror dominated the young continent of North America until he met the Apaches. More like a “starfish” organization that regenerates itself, the Apaches had no head, per se. They were nomadic, decentralized (like trying to nail Jello to a tree) and fierce warriors led more by Nant’ans (spiritual leaders) than by a chief. Fast forward to the present. Spiders are like any large concrete and mortar company—just find a huge building with a name on it in any city and you’re likely looking at a spider with a head—a CEO. Now check out the Internet, Wikipedia, Skype, and craigslist—finding the CEO is more difficult. In fact, organizations that have become hybrids, like eBay and Amazon, seem to have figured out that decentralization—power to the people—is an incredibly unstoppable model. The message: recognize a starfish, embrace its value, and whatever you do, don’t try to chop off its head…or two more will appear. Just ask the music industry about that as they tried to stop music swapping.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October HBR: FINAL Post

HBR Tidbits:

• One CEO showed that the flexibility afforded by a domestic factory more than made up for the 15% per unit savings at a factory abroad (p. 86).

• Building a new marketing engine at GE revealed three success factors: Principles, people, and process (p. 92).

• A nonprofit’s financial report reveals nothing about its effectiveness or efficiency in creating social value (p. 112).

Monday, October 11, 2010

HBR Post #5

Harvard Business Review Tidbits:

• Google found three reasons that employees stayed at Google: 1) the mission; 2) the quality of the people; 3) the chance to build the skill set to become a better leader or entrepreneur (p. 57).

• When your ideas get attacked: John Kotter (change management guru) notes that ideas get attacked three ways: 1) That sounds bad, just like…(the attacker draws an often spurious comparison of your idea to another, often more extreme, plan); 2) No one else does this…if this was such a good idea, why is no one else doing it? 3) This isn’t the right time…we have so much going on, the timing isn’t right for this issue (pp. 129-132).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Harvard Business Review October: Post #4

Competing on Talent Analytics (Davenport, Harris, and Shapiro, pp. 53-58).

The authors track six “talent analytics” that separate the better companies from the pack. 1) Human-Capital Facts—what facts predict what outcomes? Jet Blue monitors employee engagement and promotion of the company to predict financial performance; 2) Analytical HR—collects data to predict or detect issues. For example, high turnover rates in a particular department will signal leadership issues; 3) Human-capital investment analysis—Sysco studied a number of metrics about their delivery associates (drivers) and found that highly satisfied employees produced more and stayed longer (duh!); 4) Workforce Forecasts—these analytics can predict turnover, assist with succession planning, and address other issues well before they happen. Dow uses this analytical approach to accurately forecast issues in the volatile world of the chemical industry; 5) Talent value model—answers the question, Why do employees choose to stay with our company? Google uses such analytics to identify its top and bottom 5% of performing employees. Then the company works with the bottom 5%—often finding that those people were misplaced or mismanaged in the organization; 6) Talent supply chain—these analytics help companies adapt their workforce to the changing business environment. Retailers, especially, can use these numbers to forecast upticks and downswings and thus adjust payroll to workflow.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

HBR Post #3

Here's an article summary from the Harvard Business Review (October 2010):

Why Succession Shouldn’t be a Horse Race (Anne Mulcahy, pp. 47-50). The former CEO at Xerox, Anne Mulcahy discovered Ursula Burns nearly a decade before Burns succeeded Mulcahy in the first woman-to-woman CEO succession at a Fortune 500. The big difference between the Xerox succession scenario and the one at GE when Jack Welch left might demonstrate the difference between men and women: Collaboration vs. Competition. Welch set up a three way competition. The result was turbulence, and the two losers left GE. The Mulcahy-Burns succession was more thoughtful and resulted in a much smoother ride.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Harvard Business Review October: Post #2

HBR Idea Watch—I like this section of up-and-coming issues:

--Robo-calling (pp. 27-29)—can be annoying, but such a disruptive technology is proving more economical and accurate despite small response rates.

--Beyond Zipcar (p. 30)—Netflix and Zipcar are two examples of how people have made businesses from sharing products. Not only is this better for the environment but it’s also a great model for increased profits.

--Can You Open-Source Your Strategy? (p. 32)—Typically done at an offsite and involving only the company’s hierarchy. What happens if you make the process more open and bring in your clients and the community? Wikipedians experimented to get alignment—who’s next?

--The Power of Alumni Networks (p. 34)—Investment fund managers tend to place more frequent as well as larger investments in companies where the senior executive of the firm and fund both went to the same college.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Harvard Business Review October: Post #1

This month’s HBR issue focuses on the supply chain:

1. Don’t Tweak Your Supply Chain—Rethink it End to End (Hau Lee-Stanford, p. 62). Rather than take a piecemeal approach to change, companies like Esquel and Posco have taken a much more systematic approach and made a real difference.

2. The Sustainable Supply Chain (an interview with Peter Senge, p. 70). You’ll likely remember Senge—the MIT professor who wrote the bestseller The Fifth Discipline. A great quote from him on sustainability: “They might not say this, but most companies act as if sustainability is being less bad.” Indeed, the lack of trust between retailers and suppliers causes a lot of waste and more transaction than transformation.

3. The Transparent Supply Chain (Steve New, Hertford College at Oxford, p. 77). In an increasingly consumer social awareness—where a product comes from (ethically as well as geographically) make a big difference. Walmart, Tesco, and Kroger are using new technologies to authenticate their products for their customers.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Tribal Leadership: FINAL Words

Final Words on Tribal Leadership: Dave Logan and his partners have written a remarkable book. I’d recommend that every CEO discuss the book at the next corporate offsite. And if you want the kind of questions to ask, here you go: Setting your strategy requires two things—a noble cause and values that are aligned in the tribe and produce action linked to real passion. If everyone can align around those two things, you’ll thrive. So, ask the gathering of leaders:
a. Values: a)What are our values? (What do we stand for and/or what principles do we have without which life would seem worthless?); b)What are you proud of?
b. Noble Cause: a)What are we shooting for? b)Ask “the big four” questions (What’s working well? What’s not working? What can we do to make things work better? Anything else?)

Tribal Leadership is one of those VERY important books you come across now and then. I’m just lucky to have met Dave Logan at a coaching conference a year ago and to have read his books.

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