A new trend in performance management is changing the landscape in the relationship between leaders and followers. In a recent article (At Kimberly-Clark, ‘Dead Wood’ Workers Have Nowhere to Hide) the Wall Street Journal reported on how organizations like Coca-Cola, GE, and Accenture are moving away from traditional yearly performance reviews to more real-time coaching and feedback. Top performers in all the generations, from millennials to baby boomers, are applauding this shift. Those who desire feedback to grow and improve are ready to get more frequent, relevant, and actionable input on their performance.
The Story: A Tale Of Two Perspectives
Remmy had worked with Shelia as a market analyst for 18 months. While Shelia considered Remmy a solid performer, her perspective is that he is not anywhere near ready for the promotion he asked for at his year-end review 6 months ago.
Shelia's Perspective Remmy has a solid development plan that was put in place 6 months ago. We reviewed the plan at our monthly one-on-one meeting, and for every two steps forward Remmy takes another one backward. He has done a much better job of partnering with his marketing and training colleagues. Remmy just doesn't seem to hear the coaching and feedback I am giving him on being more assertive in sharing the data he collects.
Remmy's Perspective I have learned everything I need to take the next step in my career. I have done all of the items on my development plan but I don't know how Shelia would know. When we meet it is always her agenda and some new fire that needs put out. "Be more assertive," she says. But really what she wants is for me to just be more like her. We never seem to have time to review how projects have gone or even use 10 minutes of our monthly one-on one time for me to get any feedback besides be more assertive. Shelia is so busy and I feel like if I am proactive with her about my development she will just give me some line about millennials all being alike. "Impatient" is the label she uses most. I heard a podcast recently that said if you want to get ahead you had to switch companies. I like it here, but maybe the reality is I need to move on.
What Shelia is Missing
Emotional Intelligence is being aware of your emotions and those around you. Self Awareness is where this discipline begins. Part of this self-awareness is recognizing your perspectives and biases as a leader. Another important part is being able to express them.
I want to acknowledge that there is a lot going on in the case study above. There are many twists and turns it could take.
The aspect I want to focus on is Shelia's perspective. This is what needs to change. I would argue that Shelia has all the skill she needs. She is most likely transfixed on a perspective that has served her well in the past. The question is, does this perspective still serve her today?
Shelia observed at some point that Remmy could be more assertive. Point taken. Is she self-aware enough to know her investment in Remmy has been less than adequate? Is she aware that Remmy has developed, but that what is stuck is her perspective?
There are three dimensions she needs to consider improving in executing her role as the leader of her team and individuals like Remmy. Using a leadership model like emotional intelligence can give Shelia the real-time implementable change she needs to coach Remmy to higher levels of performance.
The days of leaders being able to interact infrequently and provide feedback on irregular intervals are in the past. Shelia could consider her:
- Emotional Self-Awareness - Is she aware of the impact her emotion is having on the situation? Are her emotions clouding her thinking?
- Interpersonal Relationships - Has she taken the time for the relationship to be mutually satisfying? Does she realize she is reaping the reward of her investment ?
Relevant coaching and feedback means that you have the other person's best interest in mind and that what is being coached can actually be observed and has context for the improvement.
- Self-Regard - Having enough confidence in herself and her expectations. Not only stating what can change but why this change gets the person being coached where they want to be.
- Reality Testing - Ensuring she has all of the assumptions she needs to make accurate decisions. What data could she be missing? Is she seeing everything as it really is?
- Emotional Expression - Is she being honest with Remmy about how she is feeling or is she defaulting to biases and generalizations?
- Assertiveness - Can she be assertive and compassionate at the same time?
Emotional Intelligence is a powerful lens for leaders to reflect, examine, and develop their leadership abilities. As expectations for leaders continue to change, what preferences and perspectives are you using that need to be reexamined? Could emotional intelligence be a valuable lens for your self-examination?
What one change do you need to make in your approach to development discussions? Perhaps you see individual development as a long-term process and you are thinking about repositioning this into short-term events. Thinking about development as taking bites of a meal rather than dinner itself. How could focusing on developing your emotional intelligence help you make this change that is rooted in preference?