What Really Helps Employees to Improve (It’s not Criticism)

“Some employees have more potential than others.”

“The best employees are well-rounded individuals.”

“People can reliably rate others’ performance.”

It’s safe to say most HR professionals wouldn’t take issue with these basic tenets. But Marcus Buckingham flat-out calls them “lies.”

Marcus Buckingham

In [Marcus] Buckingham’s view, another quality which cannot be defined is leadership. He agrees that “followership” can be measured — by the overall success of your team, or people’s willingness to give you their attention — but not leadership, despite what he termed a $50 billion industry built around describing it.

“If we start measuring the traits of leaders, the first thing that strikes you is … [ Read more ]

Marcus Buckingham

Traditional notions about high-potential employees did not escape [Marcus] Buckingham’s criticism. He takes issue with the common practice of identifying certain employees as “HiPo.” For one thing, he said, potential cannot be measured. “Show me the people analytics that has been taught anywhere, ever, that showed you could measure something in [an individual], independent of context or situational role, that’s called ‘potential.’” Nevertheless, he said, … [ Read more ]

Reinventing Performance Management

Performance management is broken. See how Deloitte overhauled its system in this 7-minute video slide deck.

Marcus Buckingham

when, as part of your performance appraisal, we ask your boss to rate you on the organization’s required competencies, we do it because of our belief that these ratings reliably reveal how well you are actually doing on these competencies. The competency gaps your boss identifies then become the basis for your Individual Development Plan for next year. The same applies to the widespread use … [ Read more ]

Creating a Top-Performing Team: Leadership Development for Tomorrow’s Corporations

Billions of dollars are spent annually on leadership development programs, but virtually all of this investment is spent on the same formulaic training model and black-and-white metrics. With their focus almost exclusively on classroom learning and lockstep generic curriculums, these dinosaurs of training simply don’t have what it takes to develop the next generation of leaders, managers and employees.

Most HR Data Is Bad Data

How good a rater do you think you are? The research record reveals that neither you nor any of your peers are reliable raters of anyone. And as a result, virtually all of our people data is fatally flawed.

What if Performance Management Focused on Strengths?

Rating people on a list of competencies is a flawed method for improving their performance. Obviously we need a new system. And what can we say about the new system that would serve us better? Well, the specifics of the system will depend on the company, but we do know that it must have six characteristics, each of which follows logically from the one preceding. … [ Read more ]

Performance Management and the Pony Express

The practice of rating individuals’ performance on a numerical scale doesn’t accomplish the task managers expect from it, which is to accelerate the performance of their people. At best, it serves other goals: allocating compensation fairly, and aligning each individual’s goals with the values and strategies of the company. However, even if these were sufficient goals, managers would still be frustrated by how poorly … [ Read more ]

“Fidel,” Sam Mendes, and Phil Jackson

There are many things you can do to avoid failing as a manager. You can set clear expectations. You can highlight the underlying purpose of people’s work. You can correct people when they do something wrong. And you can praise people when they do something right. If you do all these things often and well, you will not fail as a manager.

However, neither will you … [ Read more ]

Don’t Waste Time and Money

During the past decade, organizations have longed for a disciplined process to select, measure, evaluate, develop, and promote their employees. Competencies promised to bring order and focus to employee development, but they don’t deliver on that promise. Here’s a radically different approach to improving each employee’s total performance.

The Strengths Revolution

At the heart of the strengths revolution is a simple decree: The great organization must not only accommodate the fact that each employee is different, it must capitalize on these differences. It must watch for clues to each employee’s natural talents and then position and develop each employee so that his or her talents are transformed into bona fide strengths.

Great Managers Understand Their People

Average managers treat all their employees the same. Great managers discover each individual’s unique talents and bring these to the surface so everyone wins. An excerpt from Harvard Business Review.

Now, Discover Your Strengths

Amazon.com’s Best of 2001
Effectively managing personnel–as well as one’s own behavior–is an extraordinarily complex task that, not surprisingly, has been the subject of countless books touting what each claims is the true path to success. That said, Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton’s Now, Discover Your Strengths does indeed propose a unique approach: focusing on enhancing people’s strengths rather than eliminating their weaknesses. Following up … [ Read more ]