Progress Meetings Defined

The Progress Meeting is not an-after-the-fact appraisal meeting. No one is being judged or appraised. It is a proactive coaching meeting designed to produce feedback, conversation, next steps, and alignment. It is designed to give power and support, not to give judgment and assessment. As a precursor to Progress Meetings, employees and managers work together to build a Performance Agreement based on the employees accountabilities and goals of the employee. Progress Meetings are 30 minute meetings every month to discuss the progress being made towards demonstrating the company values, fulfilling job accountabilities, and achievement of goals. For Progress Meetings, typically I wear my Sundays finest – kidding – usually I am in just shorts and sandals – kidding again. Dress how you typically dress. Certainly face-to-face meetings are the best. I like meeting at a coffee shop or restaurant; however, the phone and screen sharing/web conferencing work. The rest of the Progress Meeting is a gap analysis between the manager’s and employee’s perceptions of the employee’s job accountabilities, demonstration of the corporate values, and the status of his/her goals. During the meeting, the employee and manager trade views. The meeting is about listening and reflecting. I have participated in this process as both employee and manager and, in my opinion, listening to the view and scores of the other is the best part. The meeting also lays out a great process from which to hold conversations about performance. Learn more about progress meetings...

Types of Meetings

Many different meetings occur in business between managers and employees. The most typical meetings can be categorized as firefighting meetings. Firefighting meetings occur on an ad hoc basis to solve specific problems such as: 1. Customer X did not get the right product 2. Machine number 6 is not functioning properly; etc. The purpose of these meetings is simply to resolve issues. Issues discussed are hot topics that need to be resolved immediately. A Progress Meeting is not this kind of firefighting meeting. Another type of meeting is a departmental meeting. In this type of meeting, participants shuffle into a conference room and sit around. Someone speaks and updates on various issues. Frequently, people’s attention wanders off and they do not pay attention. They might look like they do but they actually are not and may well be texting and the like. At the end of the meeting, everyone shuffles out of the conference room and scurries off to their next meeting. This process repeats. A Progress Meeting is not that kind of meeting. Then there is the yearly appraisal process with associated meetings. This is least celebrated and underappreciated type of meeting that goes on in organizations. In fact, in most organizations it is downright hated. Typically this meeting occurs at the end of the year. It entails the Manager evaluating the employee’s accomplishments and skill development. This process turns into a bureaucratic chore pushed by HR so that they can update their records. Most of the time the employees’ goals were not tracked or discussed during the year; thus the appraisal is often incomplete and inaccurate. The...

A Keyne Way to Coach Employees and Improve Performance

I have run my own business and coached employees for years but the whole notion of calling meetings between Employee and Manager “Progress Meetings” is something I learned from Wayne. Most of this material comes out of my collaboration and association with Wayne Nelsen and the Keyne Method. Wayne is the president of Keyne Insight, a firm dedicated to identifying and proving the concepts of execution management. He is also the creator of KeyneLink; a cutting edge execution management system that is used by many companies globally. The distinction between progress meetings and all other meetings is simple and elegant and makes all the difference in changing the context of the meeting. The meeting is not an appraisal meeting where the manager is judging the accomplishments or lack thereof. A progress meeting is a formal opportunity to review, reflect, and give feedback on the progress that the employee is making on their goals. More on this in the next couple of blog posts. Learn more about KeyneLink and Progress Meetings...

A Very Keyne Way to Set Goals Continued

Last week we defined goals according to the Keyne Method.  This week we continue to outline the process. Tension often exists between setting realistic goals and stretch goals. The Keyne Method creates a breakthrough solution for this issue; when outlining goals, define the criteria for meeting the goal, exceeding the goal, and missing the goal. The exceeded criterion allows you to create a realistic stretch goal. Almost everyone likes to produce results beyond their set goals. I noticed that my clients who follow this process focus on exceeding the goals. This method also forces you to really think about your goal. It is such a simple concept. It works quite elegantly. Of course, each target of meeting, exceeding, and missing needs to be quantifiable. Here is an example: Goal: Attain $10 million in new sales revenue for 2019 Score   Definition   Missed   Attain $9 million or less in new sales revenue for 2019   Met   Attain $9-11 million in new sales revenue for 2019   Exceeded   Attain $11 million or more in new sales revenue for 2019 We encourage our clients to set goals in partnership with their manager. Employees that set goals with their managers really create alignment. It allows employees to define what they are actually committing to and allows managers to understand and agree to those commitments. I love this aspect; it is very powerful and positive.  As I said previously, all goals have clear measurable results with a target date. Target dates ensure achievement of goals. Can you imagine a goal that said Company X will attain $250 Million Net Profit...

A Very Keyne Way To Set Goals

Goals are where the rubber meets the road. Goals create high performance organizations. Goals create accountability. Goals have clear measurable results with a target date. A side note; much of the philosophy of this article is taken from the Keyne Method which was created by recovering strategic planning consultants Wayne and Kelly Nelson. They are also the developers of KeyneLink; a cutting edge execution management system that is used by many companies globally. The Keyne Method categorizes goals into four types: individual, departmental, developmental and team. In today’s post we will look at each of these in more detail.  Next week we will continue discussing the Keyne Method of goal setting. Individual Productivity Goals • Represent how each individual will be involved in meeting the corporate initiatives • Are totally within your power; nobody else is involved • Example:  An individual sales goal Department/Management Goals • The department’s or group’s contribution to a corporate initiative • The manager’s productivity goals for the department • Example:  Keeping the sales motif in mind: the sales department will attain 10 million in new sales revenue for 2019 Professional Development Goals • Goals that advance an employee in his or her professional development • May be related to leadership skills, technical skills, specific job-related skills, or the like. • Examples: Graduating with an MBA by 2019, completing a course/seminar by 2019, attending a conference in 2019, etc. Developmental goals are really positive; knowledgeable employees are more valuable to the company and better suited to drive the corporate initiatives forward. All of our clients mandate that every employee including the CEO have at least one developmental...

A, B, C Quick Summary

Over the past few weeks,  I’ve outlined a methodology guaranteed to drive mediocrity out of your organization from the bottom up.  Below is a quick summary. 1. Whenever you engage with this process, it is very important that you hum Michael Jackson’s “ABC” song. That really is the secret to success. 2. Introduce the process to your organization by asking Managers to read the recommended articles: “ABCs” by Bruce Hodes or “A New Game Plan for C Players” by Beth Axelrod, Helen Hadfield-Jones, and Ed Michaels. 3. In a scheduled group session with your Managers, rank your employees as an A, B or C. 4. Deal with any C Players you may have. Remember the options: Put them in a new role, coach them, or ethically and honorably move on to better options. 5. Treat your B Players as a resource. 6. Identify the A Players on your team.  A Players need plans that develop and train them so they are indeed ready to be promoted; I advise incorporating A Players as full partners in developing those plans. 7. Follow up with the Leadership group in two months to ensure that issues are actually being addressed. Watch me talk about A, B, C Players at a conference...

The Next Steps for A, B, and C Players

What’s good about CMI’s A, B, C system of ranking employees is that the issues are on the table, and managers can act accordingly. A Plan for C Players Once an employee has been identified as a C Player, there can be three resolutions: 1. He/She can be put into a new role, where his/her skill set might allow him/her to become a B Player. For example, the Engineering Manager for a company I worked with was, at best, marginal in his position. He was moved from having direct reports into being part of the sales team. Since then, company sales grew dramatically, and new customers are better cared for. With an open mind and strong knowledge of an employee’s strengths, placing an employee in a new role can greatly improve outcomes. 2. The Manager can take the employee on for development and coach him/her into becoming a B Player. At this point, the employee understands that his/her job is on the line, and the Manager clearly outlines the required behavioral changes. For the next few months, the Manager coaches and supports the employee. Turnarounds can happen. 3. It might be decided that the only alternative is to move on and replace the employee. The decision then is how to proceed in an ethical and honorable manner. A question I ask is: “Does the employee know that his or her job is on the line?” Managers often hem and haw and say they “think so” or that the employee “should know.” The standard I set is higher: “Did you say to the employee that these performance issues need to be addressed...

Defining the Players

The following is what I mean by A, B, or C Players What were you thinking? If you are a CEO or Manager with direct reports who would come up with D’s and F’s in a school grading system, I cannot help you. Tolerating employees of this quality in your company does not allow you to respond appropriately to — let alone thrive in our current business environment. These low-grade employees (and the Managers who tolerate them) are impacting the rest of your organization. Not only do low-grade employees drag down the company, but they also negatively impact your great and superstar employees. In short, if you have more than a few D and F employees, sell the firm and do something to save yourself. Your prognosis (and that of your company) is — at the very best — grim. In the next minute, you will be falling off a high cliff. Good luck and start to pray! Out with Mediocrity From now on, I’ll refer to mediocre employees as “C Players.” These employees are marginal in their performance and unremarkable in any positive attribute they bring to the workplace. They exist, take up space, and just get their jobs done, sort of. A test for “C-ness” is putting yourself in this scenario: If one of these employees came up to you and said they were quitting, would you be relieved? Would your relief be because you’re certain you could do better by recruiting a new employee from the open marketplace? If so, you have a classic C Player on your hands. Know anyone like this? Grab a piece of...

Open Assessments

The “ABC” process I’m going to tell you about is designed to give your company both a people and a performance edge. During my clients’ strategic planning meetings, I have each manager stand in front of the room. The managers are then asked to rank—one at a time—their direct reports as an A, B, or C Player.  The group has to be mature, sophisticated, and responsible enough for this type of activity. I ask managers to read several articles about the process in advance, so everyone already understands the process. Once the manager ranks employees and has explained his/her rationale, others at the table can give their views. Only those who have real work-related experience with that person state their rankings and justifications. I’ve seen very positive results from the dialogue that managers hold with the leadership team about key employees. Managers realize how others perceive their direct reports. Below the surface issues are brought to light. The team can then design actions to deal with those issues. Another disclaimer: This exercise is not about hearsay and gossip. Participants must have adult sophistication. For example, absolute confidentiality is a must. What goes on in the meeting room stays in the meeting room; all participants need to understand and honor this. To take the discussion out of context and share with anyone outside of the room is a fireable offense. Next week I’ll define what each type of player...

ABC’s Oh Baby Now

A lot of factors impact the long-term success of a business entity, and achieving success is complex. As businesspeople, we cannot control the economy, our competition, taxes, healthcare plans, or national events. However, I think we can agree that the quality of employees within an organization directly affects that organization’s performance. Even with unions, executives and managers do ultimately control who works in the company. Leveraging the “people piece” is essential to enhance a company’s performance advantage. People are one of your most important business assets. By calling people “assets,” I do not mean to objectify them — but maximizing resources is one of the responsibilities of business leadership. The “ABC” process I’m going to tell you about is designed to give your company both a people and a performance edge. An article called “A New Game Plan for C Players,” by Beth Axelrod, Helen Hadfield-Jones, and Ed Michaels helped crystallize my ideas about working with management teams. The article also reinforced solutions that I am successfully implementing with my clients — namely, improving companies by driving out mediocrity. By raising the bottom of a company, you automatically raise the top. Before we go on, let me make a disclaimer. Management’s ranking of employees is controversial. Forced ranking is something that many large, publicly traded companies do. I am not endorsing this methodology or that of Jack Welch, who supposedly advocated culling the bottom 10 percent of the GE herd each year. What I am endorsing, and heartily proposing, is that you only have truly outstanding and incredible employees in your company. Now there is a radical thought!  If...