Newsletter 24-6: Nurturing Empathy and Courage for Organizational Success

When we look at the responsibilities of executives, leaders, and employees throughout the year, why do we consistently find ourselves caught between the need for scheduled activities that empower, develop, and retain top talent, and the urgency to meet business targets and stretch goals?

Recently, I had the opportunity to collaborate with a client who was navigating the common challenges of year-end performance reviews. The workforce was grappling with the conflicting demands of the annual review process and the pressing expectations for Q1 deliverables.

When we look at the responsibilities of executives, leaders, and employees throughout the year, why do we consistently find ourselves caught between the need for scheduled activities that empower, develop, and retain top talent, and the urgency to meet business targets and stretch goals?

It is time to acknowledge that there is ample opportunity to achieve all desired results and meet expectations when we effectively manage and balance workloads for ourselves and our teams. Frequently, if a company falls short of the prior year's numbers, Q1 and Q2 become overwhelming for everyone involved, as leadership places the burden and expectation on employees to "make up for what wasn't achieved last year."

Furthermore, it is imperative for leaders to dedicate a significant portion of their job responsibilities (around 10 to 25%) to actively manage, mentor, coach, train, engage, and communicate with their staff. By embracing the notion that one of the primary responsibilities of managing others is investing time in their development, we will discover that the routine activities of performance reviews, engagement conversations, and succession planning become significantly easier. We will no longer be attempting to cram these crucial interactions into just a few mandatory meetings.

Additionally, executives within these organizations should learn how to support and empower their people leaders. This will decrease the need for extensive oversight and review before delegating management tasks. When an organization implements an annual performance assessment process that includes employee self-assessment, manager self-assessment, and even 360 feedback, the requirement for additional layers of scrutiny implies a lack of trust, ownership, and training. This not only erodes psychological safety but also diminishes courage within the organization.

Here are three suggested ideas to improve the current challenges:

  1. Prioritizing time management and workload balance: Encourage employees to effectively manage their time and create a balanced workload by setting realistic goals and deadlines. Leaders should provide guidance and support to ensure that individuals and teams do not become overwhelmed.
  2. Invest in leadership development: Organize training programs and resources that equip leaders with the necessary skills to effectively manage, mentor, coach, and engage their staff. This will foster an environment of trust, ownership, and growth within the organization.
  3. Streamline the review process: Evaluate and simplify the performance review process, eliminating unnecessary layers of scrutiny. Implementing efficient systems and technologies can alleviate the administrative burden while maintaining accuracy and fairness.
  4. Foster open communication channels: Encourage open and transparent communication between employees and leaders. This includes creating opportunities for regular check-ins, feedback sessions, and discussions about goals and growth.
  5. Cultivate a culture of trust: Promote trust and psychological safety within the organization by empowering employees to take ownership of their work, valuing their input, and rewarding their efforts. This will encourage bravery and foster a culture of continuous improvement and success.

By implementing these strategies, we can ensure that the organization thrives and achieves both its annual objectives and long-term goals, all while fostering empathy and courage throughout.

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