Leadership based on attention versus leadership based on control.

In my early years in the profession, when my boss ignored me, it was a good sign. Everything was going well. On the other hand, when he called me at his office, it was most likely to correct a task. It wasn’t good news …

Years later, I remember the appearance of the first performance management systems. My boss became my manager and that was a step forward. At the very least, he had the opportunity to have a scheduled annual interview about how he was doing.

The problem of traditional performance appraisal.

Over time I lost faith in those performance appraisal systems. Why? Fundamentally for three reasons.

  • Feedback with such a long time cadence is not efficient. The behaviors that give rise to the evaluation are forgotten and the conversation becomes ethereal, soft, without substance. And all the biases that social psychology experts teach us in training these models come into play.
  • The conversation focuses on weaknesses and not strengths. The competency management model itself speaks of gaps, that is, of differences between the correct level and the one you have, and then they assign you a plan for advancement or improvement. This is called, euphemistically, developing your areas of improvement.
  • Manager bias remains, regardless of whether the person or team being evaluated changes. Over time I learned that this is called the idiosyncratic qualifier effect and it means that every manager has a grading pattern (for example, hard / soft). When the person evaluated changes, the meaning of the grades should change, but this is not the case. In fact, according to recent studies, 64% of the qualification depends on the qualifier and not the qualifier

A new model of continuous feedback.

In short, trying to pigeonhole people based on a model is a mistake. What is the alternative?

Every day I believe more firmly in continuous feedback around what you do best. It is a very simple, free system that does not require elaborate software to carry it out. It just requires self-confidence and iteration. Let’s see it:

Each week a check-in session must be held with each member of the team. One by one. It’s about setting aside 15-20 minutes of your time to ask two questions:

  • What are the priorities for next week?
  • How can I help you?

And it is used to congratulate a job well done, but not in general – that must be done in public. The good work! It should be the beginning of a conversation (How did you think about that? How did you do it?, …). It’s like replaying a winning play.

If this exercise is done 52 times a year -without holidays-, in a predictable and scheduled way, with each and every one of the team members, individual and collective performance will rise. Any impediment will be detected and attacked quickly and interpersonal trust will be greater.

And despite this evidence, there are still managers who do not practice this continuous feedback and limit their interactions to managing emergencies or, what is worse, the scheduled performance assessment process.

The impediments to continuous feedback.

In my experience I have only found two impediments to the practice of continuous feedback.

  • The manager finds it boring or monotonous. Many confuse that practice with control. It’s not about practicing spanning control, it’s about practicing spanning attention. If the feedback is repeated every week, nothing happens; be paying attention to the employee, and that is leading. If you can’t, you should think about doing something else.
  • The manager has too many people in charge. Many organizations lack precisely that, organization. And I’m not talking about the organization chart, I’m talking about efficient team segmentation. Remember that, by definition, small teams are more efficient. agile and with greater capacity to adapt to change.

In short, beyond the typical cascade of objectives, continuous feedback allows companies to cascade meanings and commitments. Worth it.