Shred the Dread from Year-End Reviews

Princess Bride fans know the character above by many names, one of which is Dread Pirate Roberts. The most feared pirate on any sea was actually several pirates that kept passing down the name. This is actually phenomenal fear marketing as it's very unlikely someone would surrender to Dread Pirate Westley (and Dread Pirate Fleming would actually never set sail as I get sea sick).  

You see, dread is defined as  "great fear or apprehension". Perfect for describing pirates but also far too often a perfect description of the year end performance review process. 

Bosses are chocked full of dread this time of year. And unfortunately, they enjoy repeatedly speaking in many public forums about how many reviews they "have to get done this week". These public decrees are often in the presence of the very people who will be on the receiving end of these reviews. Bosses, this behavior as to stop. Now. This year. 

These meetings are too important. In fact, since everyone is so busy, 1:1 meetings throughout the year are either skipped or turned into project updates only, limiting or eliminating career discussion time. 

Shred the Dread with these 5 tips for bosses:

(1) Pinpoint at least one 1:1 meeting each month to START with a career discussion so it's not all bottled up into one year end meeting. 

(2) Do not utter a single word about the time reviews require. Not one. And no complaining about the form you must fill out, either. Put in the time to make this discussion great. 

(3) Use very specific examples when you are praising and offering constructive feedback. Leave no place for misinterpretation. Show examples of the level of performance you expect and appreciate. And throughout the year, try to provide this coaching "in the moment". 

(4) Get input from colleagues across the organization at all levels. Many times people are perceived quite differently from department to department. This info provides great coaching material. 

(5) Let your employee talk first -- the typical expectation is that you will be doing most of the talking. This is your chance, before anything you say can bias the discussion, to hear what's on his or her mind. 

The review process can ignite great performance. Inconceivable? No, conceivable. 


Stop saying "we've always done it this way"

If you want to create breakthrough solutions to your business challenges, stop completing the same projects the same way year after year. Stale. Boring. But easy. And fine.

Fine is the worst word of all. It's what all of us who have high school students get as an answer to "how was your day at school?". It's not an acceptable answer. And neither is settling for a "fine" solution at the office. 

Push yourself to spark some creativity. Add some passion to a project and you'll be amazed at the results. Plus, you will be inspiring your colleagues at the same time. 


Always Peek at the Peaks

Teaching Marketing Leadership at Colorado College

Business travel. Away from the family. Often long days.

Many times we go straight from the airport to the hotel to the meeting room to our hotel room back to the meeting room back to the shuttle bus and back on the plane to head home. This pattern is toxic. No matter where you are, make an effort to take in America The Beautiful. Experience something new. 

I had the great pleasure to speak at Colorado College this week (picture above is of Pike's Peak). The splendor and grandeur of Colorado Springs is breathtaking.  This followed trips to Miami for an Innovation Workshop with Diageo (hello Atlantic Ocean) and a full day of programs igniting passion for the awesome team at Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in AZ (greetings to you Sonoran desert). I believe connections are critical to success so I like to connect with the people, culture, sights, and sounds of the local areas as often as I can. 

I'm glad I took some time to take it all in and I encourage you to do the same. 

Great Moments Are Born From Great Opportunity

This is the beginning of the speech that Herb Brooks delivered to the US hockey team before their epic victory over the Russian national team in 1980. 

They were heavy underdogs but seized the opportunity and created a lifetime of memories -- truly a great moment in US Olympic and sporting history, dubbed "The Miracle On Ice".

You, too, will get great opportunities at work in your life. It's what you do with them that matters. If you believe in yourself, and recognize the opportunity, not the challenge, that is presented before you, great moments will follow.

This is your time. Now go out there and take it. 



3 Tips For Productive 1:1 Meetings With Your Boss


1:1 meetings are on everyone’s calendar. But, they are treated poorly, often cut short, moved, or canceled. And yet, I believe this is one of the most important meetings on your calendar. Here are 3 tips to maximize these meetings:

(1) Prepare an agenda. It keeps your boss on point and ensures your most important topics are covered before time runs out.

(2) Remove weather reporting from this meeting. Send project updates in an email. Use this time to get your boss’s help and input.

(3) Make sure at least one 1:1 meeting each month is 100% about your career. Discuss the steps it will take to get your dream job at the company and the role your boss can play to help you get there.

I provide the inside scoop that drives people, culture, and results.

Perform Positive Pop-ins


Managers who invest their discretionary time in their teams are more likely to succeed. Period. If you are reading this right now at the office, get up, and head over to the desk of someone on your team.

That person’s reaction as you approach will likely be this: “oh no, here comes more work”. Why? Because your team is used to you only showing up with a deadline or project attached to your visit. That is the mindset that positive pop-ins can change.

Show up and talk about your families. Movies. Sports. Then feel free to ask how you can help with a project. Great managers connect. Great managers clear paths for their teams. Great managers perform positive pop-ins.