Podcast: Leadership Amplitude Episode 6

Take a deep dive into leadership development and team optimization.

Talent management: Updating the vision

The overarching goal of performance management is to address “What are we trying to achieve?”


Anna Slaydon: How do you update the vision for your organization while still keeping your employees dialed into it? We’ll talk with Chuck Gaskin, Chief Associate Engagement Officer from BB&T as he explains a little bit more.

Chuck Gaskin: The overarching goal of performance management, if you want to use the HREs, the HR term, performance management, the overarching goal is to begin at the top and for the CEO, for the board of directors, for the C-Suite talent, the owners, the people who have control in the day to day operations of the organization, it’s for them to sit down and say, “What are we trying to achieve?” It begins at the top. It begins with vision, with mission, with the values of the organization.

Anna, I’ve had so many wonderful opportunities to get to know incredible leaders in multiple industries and it’s always an honor when I think of the vision they have for their business, for their industry and for the contribution that what they do and what their business does, the contribution it can make to society, what it can do for individuals throughout their communities. And so it really begins there, Anna. When you think about performance management, it begins where leaders love to live and that is this vision. It’s why you do it as a leader. It’s why you get up. It may be the reason your grandmother started the business.

It might be when you were passed the baton as CEO, you were chief operating officer and you got the baton and now, it’s your time to lead the organization and you’re going to have a season in the sun with this company and you want to lead it everywhere it can go and then some and make your impact your imprint on what the company’s all about. So it begins there and I’m going to ask you to pause and think about that first and foremost. Do you have a clear vision? Do you have a clear mission? Have you looked at your industry or the competitive forces that are impacting your industry? The global economy?

All the things we think of in business, have you looked at that and reframed, updated, recast, whatever you need to do to make sure that that is where you want to go? And so we start there. Now, Anna, once we do that, this is where leaders struggle the most. You see, I would assert that most leaders more natural think about strategies. They live sort of up in the 30,000 foot arena. They’re able to see the full landscape. They understand where they’re going. They have a longer term vision. They have peripheral vision. They can see out of the corner of their eyes. They can hear faint signals of potential opportunities where gosh, if we do this, we can own more of the market share. Leaders are real good at that.

But what they struggle with sometimes is really translating that to the day to day performance objectives of their company. And when I say day to day, really it’s an operating year, whatever that may be. Typically, I find the better run companies focus on an operating year, a fiscal year and they look at seasonality. They look at the various forces that impact their business throughout the year and then they say, “Okay. What kinda people do I need in those roles?” I’m going to challenge our listeners to really think in that context. It doesn’t mean you clean the deck and you start over with people. No. That would be really foolhardy.

What you want to do instead is say, “Wait a minute. Let’s look forward. Where are we going? What’s our vision? Our mission? What are the kinds of things we’re going to have to do as a business to get there and what are the kinda people that we need?” Now, once we figure that out and leaders, that takes some time, and really, you almost have to sequester yourself along with the other senior leaders and get a whiteboard, get a flipchart, however you want to do it and have open dialogue and you say, “This is where we’re going. This is where we are. There are some skillsets we need that we don’t currently have. We’re going to need them six months from now, a year from now, whatever it may be.” And you begin thinking in terms of how do you get there.

And the way you do that then is you set five to seven core objectives for your teams. For each individual. Now, you may have job families where those five to seven objectives might be pretty common and that’s very common in businesses where you have a job family. You might have structural engineers for example and their five to seven goals might be pretty similar. You might have an administrative team where those five to seven would be common. But you want to sit down and think about five to seven.

Now, here’s the twist. Here’s the nugget. You don't do it in a vacuum. Guess who you include in that process? It’s pretty obvious as I ask the question that way, isn’t it? You make sure the individuals doing the work or who are going to do the work are included in that process. Big, big, big mistake that leaders make, boy, it’s common and it’s understandable at a certain level but when you think about it in the way I’m about to share it, it’s like, “I shouldn’t have done it that way.” The big mistake is that we set those goals and objectives but without hearing the voice of the employees, instead of it being something I can put my heart into as an employee where I’m going to willingly give you the very best I have, instead of that, you’re telling me what to do.

And here’s what happens when you tell an employee what to do and this is coming from a guy who’s been in HR management for 37 years. What happens when I tell an employee what to do is they’ll do it. And you say, “Well, Chuck. I don’t see a problem there. What’s the problem? I’m telling them what they need to do and you’re telling me they’ll do it.” Oh, yeah. They’ll do it. They’ll comply. If you tell me, “This is what you’re to do and this is how I’m going to evaluate you, then I’ll comply,” why will I comply? Well, I need a paycheck. I’ve got a mortgage [laughs]. I got a car payment. I’ve got all these—I’m raising kids. Whatever story is, there’s multiple things.

Oh, I’ll comply. I’ll do it because I’ve got to have a job. I’ll do what you ask me to do. I’ll do what you require me to do. The twist is that you don’t want employees to do what you tell them to do. You don’t want them to do what’s on a goal and objective sheet. Oh, you want them to do that but what you really want and what the really well-run companies get is they get what employees want to do, what I’m willing to give you. I’ll go the extra mile. I’ll do the very best I can do.

I had the great fortune, Anna, this past week in my own life, in my own career, where this came into play. I was asked to speak. I do a lot of public speaking and I was asked to speak to a leadership team at BB&T led by one of the finest leaders I’ve ever met in my life. And this leader is overcoming her own challenges health wise. She’s doing much better and she’s just a tremendous inspiration to everyone around her. Well, when I was invited to speak, I’m invited to speak on a fairly regular basis to a lot of organizations and teams and I’m always honored to do that but this one was special.

This was one where I got invited to speak to a leader who is my role model. This is a leader who I absolutely think is a hero in the way she leads, in the way she conveys the vision and the mission of the organization and I was so deeply honored to be asked. And when I spoke, I was able to give my A plus game and the reason I gave it is because she deserved it. She deserved the very best I could be. Now, leaders, did you hear the word I just used? I said she deserved it so I gave her the very best.

Is that in my goals and objectives? Absolutely. I’m to do presentations among many other things but that’s not why I gave it the A plus. I gave it the A plus because my heart was absolutely in it because I was deeply honored and I wanted to give her, because she deserved it, the very best I had. She asked for one thing and I wanted to give her more because she’s my hero and I wanted to give her the best I could. That’s the point, isn’t it? It’s clarifying that this is what we’re trying to achieve as a company. These are the kinds of challenges we have. These are the people we have. We don’t need to go out and hire 20 new people. We might have to hire a few extra people as we grow our business. Of course.

But we want to look at our talent and we want to say who do we have and what is their potential? Where is their heart? And we want to get the very best from them. We want to define roles where they participate. They say, “I can do more than that. I want to do more than that because this is my company. This is my team. You’re my leader. I want to give you the very best I have.” And think about your best employees. Think about the best performers you have. Do they know how, what you expect of them? What are the core, those five to seven core objectives that you really need them to achieve and go beyond that if they can possibly do that?

And my assertion would be that yes, they can, when you create the kind of environment where they want to do that. I really talked about how you develop the vision, the mission, the strategies of the organization, you get the top of the house really in that and you do it on a regular basis. This is not a once every three years kind of endeavor. It’s certainly at least once a year but I would revisit these things throughout the year and then you communicate. You identify the core objectives that are necessary in order for the organization to achieve that as it relates to the people and then you get those people and you get—you listen and you understand where they might see an obstacle.

And instead of saying, “Well, no, no, no, I don’t want to hear about obstacles. We gotta get this done,” instead of patronizing, instead, say, “Wait a minute. I want to hear about possible obstacles here because there might be a better way to get at this. Let’s figure out a way to overcome this obstacle. I want to hear from you Anna. What is your—what’s the obstacle you’re seeing? Let’s look at this objective from your perspective.” And when we do that, when we communicate it in that manner, when we create relationships of trust with our employees, we can have a highly effective agile performance management process that’s not over-engineered and the key to it is really connecting with your employees on a regular basis, hearing from them and making sure that everything aligns with the company’s core vision, mission, and values.

Anna Slaydon: Thanks for listening in on our conversation. We’ll pick back up on the next episode. In the meantime, I have some great news. We have been steadily growing. Not only in new content with thought provoking, new episodes lined up but also in audio quality. Help us continue to grow in 2019 by rating and reviewing our podcast, as well as sharing us with a friend or colleague. Episodes are available anywhere you get your podcast including iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify. For show notes or for additional information, find us at BBTleadershipinstitute.com. Leadership Amplitude is a podcast production of The BB&T Leadership Institute. All rights reserved.

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