YES! We should ditch performance appraisals!

YES! We should ditch performance appraisals!

There’s a tide of supporting evidence rising for why we should really ditch performance appraisals as we know them. Over the past year, I’ve been lucky to work with two different large clients to help them do just that. Here’s what I’ve learned so far from the research, preparation, and roll-outs of these huge cultural changes:

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Three Great New Leadership Books

Three Great New Leadership Books

I’m happy to share three new leadership books with you that are launching in the coming days. Each brings a unique and helpful perspective to ease the work of leaders and create new opportunities for developing leadership skills: Leaders Open Doors by Bill Treasurer, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative by Scott Eblin, and The Discomfort Zone by Marcia Reynolds. Here's my short review of each - go get all three!

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Halelly's ASTD 2014 Conference Presentation Covered by Bloomberg Human Resource Report

Halelly's ASTD 2014 Conference Presentation Covered by Bloomberg Human Resource Report

Halelly's ASTD 2014 International Conference and Expo Presentation was covered by Bloomberg BNA in their publication, Human Resource Report. The article, "Speaker Discusses Sustainable Engagement, Mentoring, Retaining Institutional Knowledge", describes some of the key points Halelly made in her well-attended concurrent session entitled, "Engaging Employees Across the Generations by Using Social and Informal Learning" on May 6, 2014, in Washington, DC. Read the article here.

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Employee Development Done Right: ASTD Interviews Halelly Azulay

Employee Development Done Right: ASTD Interviews Halelly Azulay
Listen to a short and upbeat interview by ASTD's Ann Parker in which Halelly Azulay discusses why employee development is as important as ever even in the current workplace climate, how to ensure employee development strategies are beneficial to both the employee and the organization, and how to implement good employee development strategies in your organization.
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Employee Development on a Shoestring on Top Ten Summer Reading List

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I was pleased to learn that ASTD Press has published a Top Ten Summer Reading list featuring Employee Development on a Shoestring.

What's on YOUR summer reading list?


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Leading for Compliance vs. Commitment [vlog]

Is your leadership style all about ensuring compliance or engendering commitment? In this vlog (video-blog) episode, I discuss the difference in the business results and employee engagement that can result from each leadership approach. What do you think? Use the comments below to jump into the conversation - I look forward to hearing from you!

TRANSCRIPT

Halelly: Welcome to this episode of the TalentGrow vlog, where I’m going to discuss two concepts that come up a whole lot in my work with leaders. Those are the issue of compliance versus commitment. Now, think about this – compliance and commitment, two very different kinds of goals. But when you have employees orienting their work toward one or the other, the kind of work that results is going to be of a very different quality.

So let’s think about how do people work when their goal is to be compliant? Compliance means that you’re trying to meet some requirement that’s stipulated by policy, by a law, by procedures, by instructions, very specific and oriented toward the control of the way in which you work, so that the results match some predetermined quality. This is important, and in a lot of work places this is something that cannot be ignored. But if all of the leader’s work is oriented toward achieving compliance, something else is going to happen that they may not have planned on. How do people work when they’re trying to meet the minimum requirements? Do they give discretionary effort? Do they go above and beyond the call of duty? Typically not. Are they able to think innovatively, to change the way that they’re doing things because they have a new idea or because they think that they can improve on it? A lot of times they can’t. They don’t feel like they have the freedom to do it. So compliance gets people to work hard toward the minimum requirements and that’s about as far as they’ll go.

Now, let’s think about commitment as something very different. When people work in a way that’s oriented towards commitment, it means that they care about the results, that they have some kind of a drive to achieve a purpose or a mission that they think is important. Now, the kind of work that this generates is really different than the kind of work compliance generates. Because if you’re doing something you care about, you’re not going to do the minimum requirements. Since when do we work on something that’s important just to meet some minimum requirements? We don’t do that. Employees are going to work through commitment in a way that really gives them the opportunity to be innovative, to put their whole effort into it, to give above and beyond, because they want the results to be good, because they think that the results matter.

So as a leader, are you generating work that meets compliance? Or are you generating commitment and generating results that surpass compliance and go above and beyond? It’s in the way you lead. Think about it.


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Empowering Employees: The Most Laissez-Faire Employee Handbook I've Ever Seen

Wow. I finally got around to reading the much-discussed copy of game design company Valve's employee handbook, which has been posted on the Internet for all to see. Probably to put all other handbooks to shame. And, I am impressed.

In a nutshell, it seems that Valve has taken some key principles of Laissez-Faire Capitalism and applied them to one company's corporate culture. 

Here are just a few of the impressive highlights:

Valve is a flat organization. For real. No one 'tells you' what to do. You don't 'report to' anyone. As in a truly free society, it is a group of individuals who are not beholden to anyone, who are free to pursue their own ideas in a rational, voluntary fashion.

Employees choose their own work 100% of the time. Not like those other companies I described in chapter 11 of Employee Development on a Shoestring (e.g., Google, Atlassian, 3M, Facebook, and Twitter) that give people the choice for a percentage of their time. Valve employees are fully self-directed - they are not forced to follow the whims of others.

"you were not hired to fill a specific job description. You were hired to constantly be looking around for the most valuable work you could be doing. At the end of a project, you may end up well outside what you thought was your core area of expertise. There’s no rule book for choosing a project or task at Valve. But it’s useful to answer questions like these:

  • of all the projects currently under way, what’s the most valuable thing I can be working on?
  • Which project will have the highest direct impact on our customers? How much will the work I ship
  • benefit them?
  • Is Valve not doing something that it should be doing?
  • What’s interesting? What’s rewarding? What leverages my individual strengths the most?"

Because all work is self-directed, it's up to employees to constantly communicate to learn about what others are working on and to let others know what they want to work on, what experience they've had, and what their strengths are (as seen in the funny 'Fig. 2-4 graphic above). Their desks have wheels and they can roll their desk to any location and work with any group of people they want to. And when they find something they are interested in, they can just get started working on it - no approval process is necessary. "You will be welcomed—there is no approval process or red tape involved. Quite the opposite—it’s your job to insert yourself wherever you think you should be." (p. 14)

Work-life Balance. Valve promotes a healthy work-life balance and effective time management. "While people occasionally choose to push themselves to work some extra hours at times when something big is going out the door, for the most part working overtime for extended periods indicates a fundamental failure in planning or communication. If this happens at Valve, it’s a sign that something needs to be reevaluated and corrected." (p. 17) This means that employees act with enlightened, rational self-interest, being productive and taking care of themselves to ensure they can remain productive.

Supply and demand hiring practices. "Hiring well is the most important thing in the universe.  Nothing else comes close. It’s more important than breathing." (p. 44) Now that's a pretty unambiguous statement! Valve wants people who are highly collaborative and who possess skills that are 'T-shaped': broad-range generalists with a deep expertise in one area. And everyone is involved in the hiring process, since there are no 'managers'. Everyone is accountable for the results that are produced by their peers, so everyone has a vested interest in helping to ensure that every hire is a good fit and successfully acculturates. So while working in their own rational self-interest, all employees have an inherent interest in the success of others with whom they are interdependently linked to achieve a shared goal.

Finally, I liked how Valve also included an Epilogue in which they disclose what they're NOT good at, such as onboarding new people, mentoring, and disseminating information internally. These can become project opportunities for those employees who choose them as points of focus. Or they may just be 'warnings' to those who may feel compelled to complain about their absence, as in, "we told you so!"

What do you think - how similar is this to your company's employee handbook? How would you like to work in this kind of environment? What else do you think about this? I'd love to have a dialogue in the comments, below!

Image: Valve Employee Handbook Fig. 2-4


Sign up to my free weekly newsletter and get more actionable tips and ideas for making yourself a better leader and a more effective communicator! It’s very short and relevant with quick tips, links, and news about leadership, communication, and self-development. Sign up now!

Also, subscribe to my podcast, The TalentGrow Show, on iTunes to always be the first in the know about new episodes of The TalentGrow Show! http://apple.co/1NiWyZo

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YES! We should ditch performance appraisals!