We are now well into the season of Performance Management and Reviews. Surely, the assessment is over, new goals set, development actions identified and Bingo – another year – a new start! Really? Here is one of many real life stories on keeping commitments, the dark side of one’s own performance.
Varun hated his boss – not a surprise, considering the universality of such a view of the “boss” across the corporate world! However, his hate was a bit different – it was not pure hate as in detesting someone but tinged, one might call it that, with a degree of respect! He hated her for her uncanny ability to follow up; on tasks that Varun had promised to deliver but had not! Her ability to keep her varied commitments was truly inspiring and did indeed infuse a bit of jealousy. The recent performance discussions highlighted this gap for Varun.
So while reflecting, Varun got around to the insight that this ability that he secretly admired of his boss was not about the boss but of himself – his inability to deliver on the promise! Varun was not alone – he had good company!
So why does this happen or better still, what do we need to do to come across as someone who values his or her own word and lives a life built on credibility and respect. Here is a suggested approach:
1. Embrace the rule, Think, Plan and Do.
Think Plan Do is an interesting framework, where Think is bigger than Plan and Plan is bigger than Do! What this means is that we need to spend a lot more time thinking of our goals and its execution. Similarly, with Plan, more time needs to be spent planning the execution.
We fire without taking aim! Successful people always think of their goals in terms of relevance to the role / business and then meticulously plan the steps to achieve their goals; the actual doing then becomes easy! The push back on this approach is the difficulty in going through with discipline on the thinking steps for execution. We think we know what they are and then alas, the goal doesn’t get delivered! It is important at this stage to write down the execution steps with the corresponding time lines and milestones.
2. Monitor Goals as you would of your Bank balance!
This is so obvious and yet most prevalent in its absence! The needle of suspicion points to the lack of rigour and habit formation of the Think , Plan, Do cycle. We get to the thick of doing that we forget to take time off to review! The best thing to do would be to diarise your review dates and timings and make them an integral part of your work behaviour. It would be no exaggeration to say that many plans and goals turn to dust for failing to systematically review and monitor.
As you monitor your goals, engage with your stake holders including your boss on the progress, directionally as well as quantitatively – this would help to get involvement as well offer warning signals, should you be needing correction? Constant dialogue and engagement with your reporting head as well your stakeholders will offer many insights that can be worked on.
The key to great performance lies in one’s ability to monitor and review! Let us remember the old time tested advice , success is enabled by constantly reviewing progress – Ask any sports person !
3. Never accept a task responsibility that cannot be delivered by you.
Many of us falter at this initial step – we take on a responsibility because it has been sounded out or we think we should be doing it or that it will earn us a few brownie points. However, actually, deliberating on it and thinking through whether it can be delivered or otherwise is a very important step that needs to precede committing the timeline. Deliberate thinking through of the suggested task responsibility is the key here. The deliberate thinking must involve first spotting whether the new commitment is in line with one’s KRAs and then checking whether it will help in furthering the goals in the chosen KRAs. In case the answer to both is a No, then think thrice before agreeing!
It is never shameful to be able to stand up and say, “No – that is something , which I won’t be able to deliver”. We often acquiesce as it is easy and without thinking (a trigger reaction) and pay for the consequences of not keeping our word. In addition, ask yourself, if the new responsibility that you are taking up will need additional resources and make sure you have them before you accept and set off on your journey.
You are doing yourself no favour by taking up something and failing!
4. Suggesting a Timeline/ Date for goal accomplishment
Many of us get carried away and suggest timelines or dates that are going to be impossible to meet – doomed to fail! Here again careful planning is the key.
How does my calendar and diary look, how much time will this take, and whom do I need to talk to or discuss with, are all aspects that need to be examined before a date or timeline is given. Again, careful planning is the answer to not being hauled up for failed timelines and dates. Nobody likes to feel inferior or not living by some principles? Follow-ups by the boss do that –precisely!
We can be smarter!
5. Embrace Goals as if your honour and pride are at stake!
It is important for us to realise that we are seen by our colleagues and Team members through the lens of “commitments that we either keep or do not keep”. So keeping commitments involves our Self Image as well as our Self Esteem. Moreover, the good thing here is that no one wants to be a failure! So , once having embraced a goal or a commitment make sure that you plan the execution actions , keep track of it , monitor for progress , take corrective actions and deliver! There are very few things in life that give us a greater aha moment of joy than delivering to our promise! It is not about the delivery but of one’s self esteem –positive affirmation to oneself that we seek so much.