Hi, I am Mark Debinski, Chief Talent Officer of Bluewater Advisory.
I would like to share a short story with you to share how we can use the basic tool of a report card to bring clarity around an executive’s actual performance, as opposed to one’s perceived performance.
One of my coaching clients, Heide is the President of a 600-person organization with a few dozen locations throughout the US. Heide was promoted to President three years ago is considered by most stakeholders to have been the right choice to lead the company.
At a recent coaching session, Heide was describing her challenge of meeting the demanding strategic needs in her role as President while also ensuring the day-to-day portion of the business ran smoothly. Sensing a higher than normal stress level in Heide, we endeavored to find the cause of the stress.
Things like work-life balance and never-having-enough-hours in the day came up. I also heard Heide complain about several of her key staff members, which was not unusual yet amplified in this particular session.
Unable to pinpoint the problem but sensing it had something to do with her staff, I first asked Heide to grade herself in her role as President. Confident yet humble, Heide gave herself an A-.
Then I went to the whiteboard, listed Heide’s six key staff members and asked her to grade them on a scale of 1 to 4 with 4 being the highest. It looked like this:
- Mike -4
- Sharon – 2
- Ted – 3
- Scott – 2
- Angel -3
- Amy – 3
I asked Heide to comment on the grades of her staff. She felt that overall it was pretty good, pointing to her solid A-player Mike, followed by three managers with scores of 3, and noting only two of her staff really needed some work.
Not relishing the fact that I was about to burst her bubble, as her coach I needed to point out in a candid yet respectful way that the average of those six scores is 2.8, and when I went to school a 2.8 was a C+.
We then discussed how as a leader, her overall performance is a measure of those she is leading, and her current grade was at best a C.
While this was a bit of a humbling experience, it was conducted in a safe environment with good intentions. The result was the eye-opening realization that for Heide to be truly successful in her role, she needed to hold her staff to the same performance standards for which she held herself.
We then drafted specific development components for each of Heide’s staff and prioritized those components with target dates, which will allow us to measure results and also keep the project from becoming overwhelming in the short term.
In fact, Heide found the exercise so enlightening, she asked me to share it with other CEO’s as her contribution to the betterment of business.
So the next time you want to get a quick read on how one of your managers is performing or how YOU are performing, try the report-card exercise. See if you agree with the grade, and ask yourself what you need to do to improve your performance and your team’s performance.