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“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

— Albert Einstein

Let’s talk performance management.

What; no?

You don’t want to talk about performance reviews?  Self assessments? 360 assessments? Competencies? Behaviorally-anchored rating scales? Weighting schemes?  Performance descriptors?

I don’t either.

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I just ran across a rather simple idea, and I am intrigued with it.  In fact, I want to run with it.

But I want to know if you see possibility.

Ldr-MgmtThe idea — have subordinates rate their managers by simply placing a dot on a graph to indicate the degree to which they believe their manager is effective in LEADING (establishing a sense of mission, creating a compelling vision, inspiring people to produce their best work, etc.) as well as MANAGING (utilizing time and resources, communicating clear roles, expectations, and priorities, resolving conflicts, etc.)

They would do this individually.  One task; place the dot.  Send it in.

The back end process would analyze for each manager — what’s the average placement, the team distribution — and for all managers, showing the distribution …Ldr-Mgmt2

Imagine if a manager saw that all her direct reports were essentially in lockstep agreement that she was pretty good on the leadership dimension but not good at all on the management dimension … Perhaps the conversation can easily progress to “what management skill(s) should I work on that will make a difference for us?”

Imagine if an associate saw that he was Ldr-Mgmt3significantly out of step in his assessment of his manager vis-à-vis his peers … Perhaps that associate will be moved to self-reflect, and open up to be influenced by his team and led by his manager?

Imagine if the all-manager composite showed that associates across multiple teams see their managers as not really skilled in the leadership dimension … Perhaps that can boost support for budgeting for some difference-making leadership development?Ldr-Mgmt4

And might mentoring relationships evolve?  One manager reach out to another to talk about how to inspire; another manager might see possibility in connecting with a peer to talk about how to more effectively manage projects…

And might self-development activity sprout?  Managers taking action on their own?

But it simply starts (or starts simply?) with one dot representing an assessment on two dimensions.

Any value in this?

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And what if we flip this?

What if the manager “dotted” each of his/her employees?  And what if the manager asked each employee to “dot” themselves; then a performance discussion could start by simply comparing the two pictures?

Of course, we’d have to modify the two dimensions … leadership could become PERSONAL LEADERSHIP (behaviors consistent with company values, relationships with team members, dealing with stress, etc.) and management could become SELF-MANAGEMENT (staying on task, delivering on commitments, taking initiative, etc.) … or some other scheme that makes sense and supports organizational performance.

If there’s a performance review process in place, this could be the “runway” into the more detailed appraisal process.

If there’s not anything in place currently, why not start simple?

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I’d love to test these … Anyone?

I long to make feedback and performance management as simple as possible.

But not simpler.

So is this too simple?

Since Albert’s not around to tell me … would you?