How’d you do last year? Did you get the things accomplished that you set out to do at the beginning of the year? Most of them? Some of them? Any of them? If so, great. If not, why not? Now – right now – is the best time to answer the following questions. And remember, the answers to these questions will help you determine directions and realistic expectations for this year.
Look at the Accomplishments: Regarding those things that were successful last year, what made them so? Was it because of you and your leadership, or in spite of? Is it repeatable, and if so, do you know exactly how you did it in the first place? For the people you lead, have you appropriately recognized their successes?
Look at Where You Fell Short: If your organization failed to accomplish some of its plans, goals, or objectives, why? Was it because you failed to do something you could have done, or were there real circumstances beyond your control? For those people you lead who performed less than satisfactorily, are you addressing that performance appropriately?
While you’re asking questions, how have you performed as a leader? Have you asked anyone… like those you lead? If not, now’s the perfect time. And I don’t mean just “hey, Jane, how am I doing as a leader?” Believe it or not, that might not actually elicit a meaningful response.
Nor do I mean some über-elaborate 360-degree feedback effort that has everyone wishing they were never born. I’m talking about just using something simple, like Start, Stop, Continue.
Sit down, one on one, with those you lead directly. Tell them you want and need their feedback to improve, and to make their jobs better (and likely easier). Tell them you’ll be asking three questions, and you would like at least one input or response for each question.
- What should I Start doing that I’m not doing now?
- What should I Stop doing that doesn’t seem to help you or others?
- What should I Continue doing that you feel is positive?
Ask the questions, and then keep quiet while they answer. No defensive drilling down. No “but what about…?” comments. Nothing but “thank you for that input.” And most importantly, don’t forget to follow up with them in a few months to see how you’re doing with their input.