Jul 172014

The Gift of Feedback, Part IV

The Gift of Feedback, Part IV

I wrote a few weeks ago about my live 360 – the first time I’ve ever been in the room for my own review discussion.  I now have a development plan drafted coming out of the session, and having cycled it through the contributors to the review, I’m ready to go with it.  As I did in 2008, 2009, and 2011, I’m posting it here publicly.  This time around, there are three development items:

  1. Continue to spend enough time in-market.  In particular, look for opportunities to spend more time with direct clients.  There was a lot of discussion about this at my review.  One director suggested I should spend at least 20% of my time in-market, thinking I was spending less than that.  We track my time to the minute each quarter, and I spend roughly 1/3 of my time in-market.  The problem is the definition of in-market.  We have a lot of large partners (ESPs, ISPs, etc.) with whom I spend a lot of time at senior levels.  Where I spend very little time is with direct clients, either as prospects or as existing clients.  Even though, given our ASP, there isn’t as much leverage in any individual client relationship, I will work harder to engage with both our sales team and a couple of larger accounts to more deeply understand our individual client experience.
  2. Strengthen the Executive Committee as a team as well as using the EC as the primary platform for driving accountability throughout the organization.  On the surface, this sounds like “duh,” isn’t that the CEO’s job in the first place?  But there are some important tactical items underneath this, especially given that we’ve changed over half of our executive team in the last 12 months.  I need to keep my foot on the accelerator in a few specific ways:  using our new goals and metrics process and our system of record (7Geese) rigorously with each team member every week or two; being more authoritative about the goals that end up in the system in the first place to make sure my top priorities for the organization are being met; finishing our new team development plan, which will have an emphasis on organizational accountability; and finding the next opportiunity for our EC to go through a management training program as a team.
  3. Help stakeholders connect with the inherent complexity of the business.  This is an interesting one.  It started out as “make the business less complex,” until I realized that much of the competitive advantage and inherent value from our business comes fom the fact that we’ve built a series of overlapping, complex, data machines that drive unique insights for clients.  So reducing complexity may not make sense.  But helping everyone in and around the business connect with, and understand the complexity, is key.  To execute this item, there are specifics for each major stakeholder.  For the Board, I am going to experiment with a radically simpler format of our Board Book.  For Investors, Customers, and Partners, we are hard at work revising our corporate positioning and messaging.  Internally, there are few things to work on — speaking at more team/department meetings, looking for other opportunities to streamline the organization, and contemplating a single theme or priority for 2015 instead of our usual 3-5 major priorities.

Again, I want to thank everyone who participated in my 360 this year – my board, my team, a few “lucky” skip-levels, and my coach Marc Maltz.  The feedback was rich, the experience of observing the conversation was very powerful, and I hope you like where the development plan came out!

May 052011

The Gift of Feedback, Part III

The Gift of Feedback, Part III

I’ve written about our 360 Review process at Return Path a few times in the past:

And the last two times around, I’ve also posted the output of my own review publicly here in the form of my development plan:

So here we are again.  I have my new development plan all spruced up and ready to go.  Many thanks to my team and Board for this valuable input, and to Angela Baldonero (my fantastic SVP People and in-house coach), and Marc Maltz of Triad Consulting for helping me interpret the data and draft this plan.  Here at a high level is what I’m going to be working on for the next 1-2 years:

  • Institutionalize impatience and lessen the dependency dynamic on me.  What does this mean?  Basically it means that I want to make others in the organization and on my team in particular as impatient as I am for progress, success, reinvention, streamlining and overcoming/minimizing operational realities.  I’ll talk more about something I’ve taken to calling “productive disruption” in a future blog post
  • Focus on making every staff interaction at all levels a coaching session.  Despite some efforts over the years, I still feel like I talk too much when I interact with people in the organization on a 1:1 or small group basis.  I should be asking many more questions and teaching people to fish, not fishing for them
  • Continue to foster deep and sustained engagement at all levels.  We’ve done a lot of this, really well, over the years.  But at nearly 250 people now and growing rapidly, it’s getting harder and harder.  I want to focus some real time and energy in the months to come on making sure we keep this critical element of our culture vibrant at our new size and stage
  • I have some other more tactical goals as well like improving at public speaking and getting more involved with leadership recruiting and management training, but the above items are more or less the nub of it

One thing I know I’ll have to do with some of these items and some of the tactical ones in particular is engage in some form of deliberate practice, as defined by Geoffrey Colvin in his book Talent is Overrated (blog post on the book here).  That will be interesting to figure out.

But that’s the story.  Everyone at Return Path and on my Board – please help me meet these important goals for my development over the next couple of years!

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