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:
1. Regarding those things successful last year, what made them so? Was it because of me and my leadership, or in spite of? Is it repeatable, and if so, do I know exactly how I did it in the first place? For those I lead, have I appropriately recognized their successes?
2. If we failed to accomplish some of our plans, goals, or objectives… why? Was it because we failed to do something we could have done, or were there really – really – circumstances beyond our control (honesty is important on this one)? For those I lead who performed less than satisfactorily, am I addressing that performance appropriately?
Be honest with your answers to these questions; use them to determine directions and realistic expectations for this year.
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 – 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. Then ask…
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, then shut up while they answer. No defensive drilling down, no “but what about…?” comments, nothing but “thank you for that input.”
And don’t forget to follow up with them in a few months to see how you’re doing with their inputs.