Mar 052008

The Gift of Feedback

The Gift of Feedback

My colleague Anita Absey always says that “feedback is a gift.”  I’ve written in the past about our extensive 360 review process at Return Path, and also about how I handle my review and bring the Board in on it.  But this past week, I finished delivering all of our senior staff 360 reviews, and I received the write-up and analysis of my own review.  And once again, I have to say, the process is incredibly valuable. 

For the first time in a long time this year, I got a resounding “much improved” on all of my prior year’s development items from my team and from the Board.  This was great to hear.  As usual, this year’s development items are similarly thoughtful and build on the prior ones, in the context of where the business is going.  Since one of my prior year’s items was “be as transparent as possible,” I thought I’d share my development plan for the coming 12-18 months here on my blog.  If you’re reading this and you report to me, you’ll get a longer form debrief at our next offsite.

1. Continue making the organization more of a Hedgehog, lending more focus to our mission and removing distractions wherever possible.

2. Move the organization’s leadership team from “pacesetting” to “authoritative” management styles by focusing more on :

    a. standards of excellence around employee behavior and performance: develop a more clear performance management system, raise the bar on accountability around leadership and management issues, shift management training from tools to values-based coaching

    b. clear communication loops: balance open door policy with manager empowerment by getting the executive in charge to fix issues (instead of fixing them myself) and/or facilitating stronger manager-employee communication

    c. constant translation of vision into execution: foster clearer context and deeper employee engagement by not just communicating vision, but communicating HOW the vision becomes reality at every opportunity

3. Sharpen elbows further around leadership team: identify key attributes of success, weed out underperformers, re-scope other roles, and clarify “partner for success” opportunities as part of core responsibilities. Make each individual’s development needs public in the senior team (I guess this is the first step towards that!)

4. Make the organization more nimble, inspiring a bias for action through shifts in priorities and cross-functional swat teams where required

So there you go.  If you work at Return Path, please feel free to hold my feet to the fire in the coming months on these points!

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